Saturday, April 30, 2016


The busiest writers in the United States right now are those charged with coming up with responses to political jibes. Candidates for the U.S. presidency, knocked off balance by an opponent's remark, call up their writers, and say, "Quick, gimme a comeback!"

Thus, when former Speaker John Boehner said Ted Cruz is "Lucifer in the flesh," the resident hack in the Cruz camp gave the Texas senator this line: "John is channeling his inner Donald Trump."

And when Trump accused Hillary Clinton of playing "the women's card," Clinton's ghost gave her something like "If fighting for equality in pay and protecting women's right to choose is playing the women's card, then deal me in!"

The follow-up to Boehner's hit on Cruz--"Lucifer in the flesh"--should be "And Lucifer has called to complain." As for Trump and the women's card, the gag possibilities are too obvious, and too lame, to pursue.

But Ms. Clinton, and Messrs. Trump, Cruz, Sanders and Kasich, when you need a fast comeback, you know whom to call: Zingers-R-Us.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ted and Carly, Donald and...?

Ted Cruz has surprised many by announcing a running mate for his US Presidential campaign. This despite the fact that he is unlikely to have a campaign that goes past the primaries. Even so, Senator Ted has selected Carly Fiorina to be his vice president. "I love her work," said Cruz. "Especially 'You're So Vain'."

Donald Trump has not announced who would be his running mate. He seemed confused, saying, "I mean, it's just a term, right? We don't actually have to, like, mate, do we?"

Said to have been at the top of his list was Lena Dunham, but Ms. Dunham has since said that if Mr. Trump were to be elected president, she would move to Canada. "Let her go," said Trump. "I'll fly her in my personal jet. And by the way, that's one more reason to make me president--I'll bring my own plane."

Hillary Clinton has not revealed whom she would pick as her sidekick on the road to Pennsylvania Avenue, but the list is said to include Chris Rock, Woody Harrelson, and the Amazing Spider-Man.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Beauty Queens

Jennifer Aniston has been declared the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. Brad Pitt said, "Now they tell me."

Ms. Aniston's coronation by People magazine will come as a surprise to admirers of Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Lawrence and Beyonce. Michelle Obama. The Duchess of Cambridge.

And how would today's beauty queens compare with legendary beauties of the past? Hedy Lamarr, Grace Kelly, Lena Horne, Marilyn Monroe? And Ava Gardner, who famously declared, "Elizabeth Taylor is not beautiful. Elizabeth Taylor is pretty. I'm beautiful."

The appearance of beauty is subjective, of course, but Keats, who did not write for People magazine, told us:

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

Monday, April 25, 2016

Old Radio Guys Never Die...

...they just get tuned out.

Once or twice a year there is a gathering of radio veterans who still possess a pulse. The event was conceived by Red Robinson, and it's known as RPM. This stands for Radio Performers Membership, but we prefer to think of it as Red's Post Mortem.

The most recent party (a luncheon happening, as many have to get home for an afternoon nap) was a fine, collegial occasion. Much happy camaraderie, even though some of the guests were once fierce rivals, ready to cut each other's microphone cords for better ratings. It was an event that would have been well chronicled by Denny Boyd or Jack Wasserman. Malcolm Parry, the current Vancouver Sun party columnist, would not have attended, as no one there looked rich, and there was a complete absence of cleavage.

There were, however, a lot of white beards. The George "Gabby" Hayes look seems to be trending. Exceptions were the onetime DJ who resembled Digger O'Dell, the friendly undertaker, and the police beat reporter who looked remarkably like Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Our friend the one-armed writer-lawyer, surveying photos of the event, remarked that if the participants were to march into any Vancouver radio station and take over the microphones, audience ratings would double in twenty-four hours. He also said, "That crowd should be entitled to have a whole generation of Vancouverites pick up the bill. There is no way anyone there should be paying for their own drinks."

Not sure about his first point--but agree enthusiastically with the second.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Celebrating Will and George

Today is both the birthday of William Shakespeare and St. George's Day.

Write a sonnet.

Slay a dragon.

Friday, April 22, 2016

David Granger, Esq.

If you haven't done so already, you may want to pick up the current copy of Esquire, the one with Key and Peele on the cover. It's not the most memorable issue of the magazine, but it is the last one to carry David Granger's name as editor.

Granger wasn't as innovative or brilliant an editor as Arnold Gingrich, the magazine's founder, or Harold Hayes, who presided in the 1960s over what was called the "New Journalism." But he did put together a solid magazine that endured and satisfied while scores of others vanished from newsstands, never to be seen again.

There are final notes from Granger still to come--his "exit interviews" with George Clooney and Bill Murray. But no more Letters from the Editor over his name.

The thing is, magazine editors are in roughly the same vulnerable position as hockey coaches. They all need to keep their suitcases packed. As one said, "Publishers woo you for weeks, they have to have you, you're the only one for the job. Six months later, they fire you."

The new editor of Esquire is Jay Fielden, brought over by Hearst from Town and Country. Good luck, Mr. Fielden.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Journaiism Notes

Reports on the CBC Radio network that reporters were "live blogging" from the courtroom where judgments were being delivered in the Mike Duffy case reminded us of Jack Webster making his name in the 1950s Vancouver police probe by taking down testimony in shorthand and then running to a pay phone to call in the story to CJOR listeners.

Would Webster be live blogging today? Probably. And he would still be the best on the beat.

Meanwhile, in the great Press Club in the Sky, Webster and Wasserman continue their examination of the redesigned Vancouver Sun.

Wasserman: Have you seen the new head shots of the columnists?

Webster: Yes. They look like passport photos taken by a bad-tempered photographer.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sing a Song of Springtime

Is April the month with the most songs? Think "April Showers," "April in Paris," "Lost April," "April Love," "April in Portugal" and "I'll Remember April."

June has to be a close second, for what rhymes more easily than June? Except for May, but there are not a lot of May songs, apart from Hoagy Carmichael's lovely "One Morning in May." There are, though, the operetta "Maytime" and Jerome Kern's last and ill-fated musical, "Very Warm for May." Only twenty people turned up for the second night, despite the show having some of Kern's greatest songs, including "All the Things You Are."

Not many songs for the autumn months, except for songs about autumn ("Early Autumn," "Autumn Leaves," "Autumn in New York"). September has two memorable songs--"September Song" and "September in the Rain," and there is a little-known Johnny Mercer-Barry Manilow ballad called "When October Goes." But who ever wrote a song about November?

January sneaks in on the coat tails of June ("June in January"), but there's no February song, unless you count "My Funny Valentine."

April lovers, we leave you with a haunting line from Dorothy Parker's lyrics for "I Wished on the Moon." The singer wishes for "an April day that will not run away."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ted Goes to Hollywood

Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas), now running for his party's nomination for the US Presidency, says that California is where the decision will be made. And he also has revealed that at one time he considered going to California to pursue a career as an actor. A great idea, he thought, except "I don't have the good looks or the talent." Who can argue? TrustTed.

But lack of Brad Pitt looks has not prevented others from becoming actors. In fact, Senator Ted bears a resemblance to another Ted--Ted de Corsia, who made a good living in the 1940s playing thugs in Warner Brothers movies. De Corsia had almost the same serpentine look as Cruz. In Jake Hinkson's words, he appeared to have been born "with a sneer on his lips and a head full of pomade."

To be fair to all, none of the candidates has the looks of many who have played presidents, among them Henry Fonda, Raymond Massey and Daniel Day-Lewis, all Lincoln; Edward Herman and Bill Murray, FDR; Kevin Kline and Michael Douglas, whose lines Cruz keeps using; and Jeff Bridges, the pragmatic chief executive in "The Contender," who had his own bowling alley in the White House basement.

And none of those running has the charisma of Robert Redford in "The Candidate," although Bernie Sanders bears some resemblance to Melvyn Douglas, who played Redford's senator father. Hillary Clinton sometimes brings an unnerving memory of Angela Lansbury in "The Manchurian Candidate," but we're sure the similarity ends there. Aren't we?

Ronald Reagan proved years ago that the worlds of Hollywood and politics can come together. Why not? Chris Rock for President!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Here Comes the Sun

Scene: The great Press Club in the Sky. A group of onetime Vancouver Sun staffers has gathered to review the "new" Vancouver Sun.

Webster: Flipping unreadable! The Glasgow Daily Sketch was a better paper in 1939!

Wasserman: New graphics.

Webster: But same bad writing.

Boyd: Except for the sports page.

Beddoes: The sportswriters always were the class of the paper.

Weir: I beg your pardon!

Beddoes: Sorry, Harold. The Op-Ed guys were okay, too.

Webster: Until Mather and Philpott went into politics, a treacherous swamp into which no self-respecting journalist should venture.

Boyd: Maybe it's a gag, like the ones Hughie Watson used to pull on Erwin. Remember the nonexistent Howe Sound Basketball League?

Beddoes: Hughie Watson--a man of infinite jest.

Wasserman: Look, they're not running the names in the gossip column in bold face! How can you drop names without bold face?

Weir: Obviously a desperation move by these PostMedia people. The benefit of filling the paper with Toronto columnists is that we no longer have to purchase the National Post to be offended.

Boyd: I wonder if the new people will try any of the wacko ideas Cromie had, like sending Marie Moreau to interview Castro.

Beddoes: And Stukus to meet Chiang Kai-shek. How was that, Stuke?

Stukus: It was okay, but I really wanted to get to know Madame Chiang.

Boyd: Who wouldn't?

Webster: What's that mournful thing you're humming, Jacko?

Wasserman: "St. Louis Blues." You know--"I hate to see that evenin' sun go down."

Weir: Most appropriate.

Stukus: At least we're still getting morning delivery.

Webster: Right. Someone should tip that angel.

Wasserman: And ask him to start bringing the New York Times.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cracking Down on the Chess Gang

It has been reported that Park Royal Shopping Mall has declared chess playing in its food court verboten. A group of players has been gathering there for years--at least one of them for half a century--to challenge one another in this cerebrally demanding game. But no more, say the Park Royal people. Set up those boards again, and we'll call the cops. We need that space so more people can consume chicken wings and pizza slices.

On hearing this, we were reminded of an incident in Edmonton in 1979. Here is the story, as written by Jenny Jackson in the Edmonton Journal:

"Allan Ogonoski, owner of the Noorr Hour restaurant at 11015 Jasper Ave., is wiser but $75 poorer after he pleaded guilty on behalf of his restaurant to running a common gaming house.

"It all started when Mr. Ogonoski, a chess enthusiast, thought it would be nice to have a place to play chess, backgammon or cards over a sandwich at noon.

"His small, six-table restaurant had been open six weeks when vice police swooped in on astonished customers.

"It's illegal to rent out a game of chance. So Mr. and Mrs. Ogonoski were breaking the law renting out backgammon boards.

"S.Sgt. Frank Ashworth of the city police morality squad said it's the first time the charge has been laid for backgammon in Edmonton, although similar charges have been laid in eastern Canada.

"Mrs. Ogonoski said the police raid was a complete surprise. 'It's the kind of thing you see on TV. You don't expect it to happen to yourself and when it does, boy...'"

Edmonton has been made safe. Park Royal chess players, take note.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bang Bang

Gun manufacturers in the United States have developed a weapon that looks like a camera, and is therefore easily concealed, because, they say, "a firearm is essential in this modern world." Uh-huh. An internet item describes one model as being "both discreet and accurate, making it a good choice for assassinations."

A higher consumer rating, however, is given a gun camouflaged as a briefcase "since it contains a 9mm PPK which is a heavier calibre and longer range weapon that could be fired multiple times."

One more advance for civilization.

Watch for guns disguised as iPods, baby bottles and Tootsie Rolls.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1 Breaking News

Today's headlines:

* President Barack Obama, noting Donald Trump's popularity, said, "This guy is obviously so good, I am retiring now and giving him the key to the Oval Office."

* Preparing for North Korea's Workers Congress, the first in 36 years, Kim Jong-Un, seeing the need for a dramatic and historic change, has had Justin Trudeau's hairstylist kidnapped.

* Vancouver Canucks Coach Willie Desjardins announced a hot new prospect: "We've signed Steve Harper," said Desjardins. "He'll be our enforcer." Among his new teammates, the former prime minister is known as "Slash."

* Reacting to a television commercial showing a nude photograph of his wife, Donald Trump posted a nude photograph of Ted Cruz. "And I gotta tell you," said Trump, "it ain't pretty."

* Responding to NDP leader John Horgan's reference to LNG as "Look, no gas," BC Premier Christy Clark chuckled merrily, and said, "I love John's sense of humor."

* Hillary Clinton has announced she is retiring from politics and entering a nunnery. "And," she said, "Bill may join me."