Saturday, October 31, 2015


"Our guest today is Marvin Ghoulburger, president of Ghosts-R-Us. Marvin, tell us about your company."

"Well, P.D., it's very simple, really. It's like an escort service, except we don't supply companions, we supply ghosts."

"Hallowe'en must be a busy time for you."

"You know it, P.D. Hauntings, seances--hard to keep up with the demand."

"What are some of your more popular ghosts?"

"Vlad the Impaler. Rasputin. Richard III--or Dick Three, as the gang calls him. Anne Boleyn is a real favourite--comes with her head tucked underneath her arm. And one who's always up for the night is Bela Lugosi--says he loves to get back in costume."

"Wow, that's quite a lineup of the Walking Dead!"

"I would blush, except vampires don't blush."

"'re a vampire?"

"Let me remove that speck from your neck. No--ha ha--just a light humorous remark. Well, this has been great, but gotta run--always a lot of last-minute shoppers to supply, and most of our ghosts are spoken for."

"So what can you offer instead?"

"We have a few witches, some trained bats, packages of ectoplasm, and a new item this year--the Psychopathic Pumpkin."

"The Psychopathic Pumpkin?"

"You've heard of Jack-o-Lanterns?"

"Of course."

"Well ours is Jack-o-Ripper."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trick or Treat

All Hallow's Eve is upon us, and tricksters are hurrying to find costumes. Checking with shops that specialize in the three Gs (Ghouls, Gorgons and Ghosts) we have learned that there has been a drop in calls for the Stephen Harper hairpiece, but demand for the Donald Trump wig is high.

One Canadian family is hoping to score a first. Marvin Ecklesworth, his wife and three children, are going as Harper, Mulcair, Trudeau, May and Duceppe. And, he promises, "We're going to have a debate on every doorstep." Mrs. Ecklesworth agrees, and says, "In both official languages!"

Our neighbours, Fred and Ernie, are planning to go as Jay Z and Beyonce. "Ernie," we said, "you do not possess a striking resemblance to Beyonce." "Shut up," he said, "and zip up my gown."

There are no takers, we've found, for the Bashar al-Assad mask, because, it has been pointed out, al-Assad looks like the eraser end of a pencil.

So, Hallowe'en night, there will be knocking on doors at houses all over the country. Except at 24 Sussex Drive. "We're staying away from there," said one young man. "Place is full of ghosts and bad karma."

"And cats," said another.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Moods of Autumn

With the arrival of autumn, many of us who were privileged to be at CHQM in the 1960s and '70s ("toiling in the vineyards of radio," as we used to say) will remember that changing seasons required a change of moods.

"Moods" was the name given to short, semi-poetic program introductions. Example:

"The leaves of summer begin their metamorphosis from green to gold, from scarlet to brown. It's the palette of autumn, on CHQM's Candlelight and Wine."

It was program director Terry Garner who would remind us--forcefully--when it was time for a change of moods; Jurgen Gothe was among the word-spinners who wrote them; and they were recorded, usually, in the deep, dark, Cognac-rich voice of Jack Wilson.

Here's another:

"The hiss of tires on a rain-streaked street.." Jack breaking in: "Rain-streaked street? How the &#$@!* am I supposed to say that?"

But of course, he could and did, and it was "..the sound of fall, on CHQM's Gaslight."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mark Murphy, on the road.

Mark Murphy, the always astonishing vocal improviser, has--as jazz musicians say--caught the last bus. He was 83, a significant age in the jazz world, outlasting Charlie Parker by almost fifty yeare and Bix Beiderbecke by nearer sixty.

Murphy exploded on the scene in the late 1950s with his recording of Steve Allen's "This Could Be the Start of Something." He was unlike any other male singer--and there were great ones, from Herb Jeffries to Sinatra to Johnny Hartman; instead, he was closer to Betty Carter, and perhaps Sheila Jordan, with an approach to melody that regarded it as a runway, from which he could soar above the clouds of imagining.

We remember his inventive two-way performance of "Long Ago and Far Away," blending the 1944 Jerome Kern-Ira Gershwin ballad with James Taylor's same-titled 1971 lament. But the Mark Murphy album we play most often is "Bop for Kerouac."

In this 1981 recording, made in San Francisco, where he spent most of his career, Murphy, backed by a solid group of players, including Richie Cole, Bill Mays, Bruce Forman, Bob Magnusson and Jeff Hamilton, sings lyrics to music of Parker, Mingus, Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis. He also croons, and that, for once, is the right word, David Raksin's theme from "The Bad and the Beautiful," and the anxious sensuality of "You Better Go Now" ("because I like you much too much--you have a way with you").

Most impressive are Murphy's readings from Kerouac's "The Subterraneans" and "On the Road." Mark Murphy is now on the road himself. Maybe he'll meet Kerouac along the way.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Coaches Island

There are now so many unemployed football coaches on the loose, with perhaps more to follow, we think the Canadian Football League has to take steps to relocate them.

Obviously, TSN--The Sports Network--can't fit many more on their panel. They already have Paul LaPolice ("Lappo"), formerly with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Matt Dunigan ("Matty"), best remembered as a player, but also briefly a coach (Calgary Stampeders, 2004), and recently have added Mike Benevides ("Benny"), ex-BC Lions coach.

Our solution: The CFL should purchase a small island in the Gulf of Georgia and sequester ex-coaches there. It might also accommodate ex-hockey coaches, although the NHL has so large a number, they might require an island of their own (Keenan's Paradise).

We can see it now--Coaches Island--where the inhabitants sit around in the evening watching old game films (but only films of the games they won).

Friday, October 23, 2015

Going to the Library

Striding forth in the autumn sunshine the other day, we were asked by a genial gentleman, "Where are you off to this morning?"

We answered. "To the library."

"What?" he said, "do people still go to the library?"

When I told this to a Pointless pal, she said, "At least he didn't ask 'What's a library?'"

We are happy to report that there are still many library habitu├ęs, and not only for free computer time. There are, indeed, people still borrowing books.

As we have often said, the card we would least like to lose is our library card.

We would also like to say that we have paid enough in fines to stock an entire row of library shelves. And happy so to do.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New Cabinet Appointments

Many of us had thought we might see a federal cabinet with Rob and Doug in key positions, but instead, a new team has been appointed, and we are pleased to announce that we have been made Minister of Political Incorrectness.

This position includes maintenance of Unfortunate Faux Pas, Embarrassing Public Utterances, Social Media Improprieties, and Damaging Gaffes. Already approved by the Ministry are the following:

"Stephen Harper--just not ready to be in opposition."

"Justin Trudeau greeted supporters this morning at a Montreal subway station. Stephen Harper and Tom Mulcair greeted lineups at an Employment Canada office."

"U-Haul vans ordered for 24 Sussex Drive and Stornaway."

"Wait a minute--didn't people read our editorial?" -- Paul Godfrey.

"Laureen, take off that niqab! That's not funny!"

We are pleased also to control the Department of Schadenfreude, devoted to laughing meanly at our opponents' misfortune.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Here's to the Losers

Teams of grief counsellors are in place, ready to comfort would-be Members of Parliament who fail to receive enough votes in the 2015 federal election. "I wore out three pairs of sneakers going door-to-door," we can hear knocked-out nominees sob. "My knuckles are calloused from pounding on doors, my lips are swollen from kissing babies."

It is anticipated also that some defeated nominees will demand a recount. "I'm not conceding until the ballots are counted again! I only lost by 6,000 votes!"

Who knows what the result will be? Our advice: Save those lawn signs.

And as consolation for those suffering post-election tristesse: Each losing candidate will be given a DVD of Stephen Harper performing "Let It Be."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Steve's Party Time

It's party time with Rob and Doug,
B.Y.O.D.--bring your own drug.
We thought we'd take another crack
To get our campaign back on track.
Forget Trudeau and Mulcair,
Both of them so very square.
Vote for us at the election,
The slightly older One Direction!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Knock! Knock!

Many Conservative candidates, asked why they have not attended all-candidates debates, say, "I'm too busy being out there knocking on doors." Which may be true. Or may be the party line handed down from Conservative HQ. Or both.

But, to be fair, which we seldom are, other parties' candidates also knock on doors. It was reported today that one Calgary candidate--a Liberal--has been disturbing dwellers since sometime in 2014. So far, he has hammered the door or pressed the bell at about 150,000 homes.

The problem with the Conservatives' scripted response is that most all-candidates meetings take place in the evening, so how welcoming would you be when someone knocks on your door at 9:00 p.m.? When you're reading your three-year-old "Curious George" or at a critical moment in "The Good Wife"?

Our advice: Don't answer the door. Or turn all the lights off, and hope the candidate trips over a planter (but doesn't sue). Or jigger your doorbell to emit an electrical charge.

The only time you want night visitors is Hallowe'en eve. But watch out. Even though the election will be over by then, some candidates may still be coming down the street carrying bags and saying, "Okay, I didn't get your vote, but have you got any Snickers?"

Friday, October 9, 2015

Turkey Talk

Old Tom, the wise man of the brood, was having his Thanksgiving chat with the youngsters. "You know," he said, "it wasn't always like this--living in waterfront condos, driving imported autos, going to private schools. No, youngsters, hard as it may be to believe, there was a time when turkeys lived in pens and had to scratch on the ground for food."

"Gosh, Papa Tom," said one listener. "How did we escape that?'

"Well," said Old Tom, "it began on the farm of Bruno 'The Brute' McGurk. He had thousands of turkeys enslaved. And he used them to create his products: McGurk's Turkey Burgers, McGurk's Turkey Lasagna, McGurk's Turkey Chowder.

"Then, one day, he thought of a new one--McGurk's Turkey Jerky. And he had what he thought was a brilliant idea: to get turkey tough and chewy enough--"

He stopped, as two of his listeners fell to the floor in a faint.

"Sorry, youngsters. But to return to the story, McGurk's idea was to give the turkeys steroids. He thought the bigger the bird, the bigger the profits. But he didn't count on one thing."

"What was that, Papa Tom?'

"The more steroids he put in their feed, the bigger and stronger and tougher they got. It led to a rebellion, led by our legendary hero, Steve McTurk. One Saturday that fall, Steve led the steroid-powered turkeys in a rampage."

"What happened to Bruno 'The Brute' McGurk?"

"Last anyone saw of him, he was turning slowly on a rotisserie."

"And Steve McTurk?"

"Went on to become a media celebrity. In fact, it's time for his show. Let's tune in, as the announcer says''--

"And now, North America's Number One opinion show, where there's never any gobbledygook. Welcome our host, Steve McTurk, open the lines, and 'Let's Talk Turkey!'"