Thursday, August 30, 2018

Grab a Line

Railing against the continuing abasement of the language, writers who don't know the difference between "lay" and "lie," editors who don't understand comma placement, and people who use "impact" as a verb has left us feeling like King Canute ordering the waves back from the shore.

So it is with pleasure that we offer a mild round of applause for a few lines we've observed in public places recently. There is, for example, this one, plugging public transit: "A bus is just a limo full of people you haven't met yet."

And how about this: "With flavors like these, it must be summer."

CKNW, long the top dog of talk radio, has a billboard barking "Yeah, we're talking to you."

More canny canine conversation: a rival station, and rival billboard, tells us "We've found your dog." A complete non sequitur, to which the only response can be "Huh?" and therefore the prize line of the day.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Retiring from Competition

The Labor Day weekend approaches, which has always meant three things: putting away the white shoes and seersucker suit, switching from gin and tonic to bourbon, and tackling the 3-Day Novel. This year, we're abandoning the third of these.

After a decade of Labor Day weekends spent consuming lethal quantities of coffee and ignoring the classic football games while hunched over a keyboard, we are packing in our nouns and verbs and adjectives.

No more dangling participles, split infinitives, mixed metaphors, groaning gerunds and fractured syntax. 3-Day Novel, we're done. Pass the bourbon. Bring on the football.

(But if they come up with a 5-Day Novel contest, let us know.)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

John McCain, RIP

Was John McCain the last decent, honourable, independent man in the United States? Of course not. But he might have been the last in the US Congress.

The news of his death, while long expected, still hurt. Exit a man of true bravery and inflexible principle, while President Bone Spurs and his weakling supporters continue.

Apart from that, why does his death affect us so? Because, as John Donne wrote, centuries ago, "Any man's death diminishes me..therefore, never send to ask for whom the bell tolls."

To move our mind away, we listened to Barbara Hannigan's great "Crazy Girl Crazy" and watched some more football.

Did that help? Maybe a little.

John McCain. As they say, "Rest in peace. Rise in glory."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Talking to the Herbs

Prince Charles isn't the only friend of flora who chats with plants. This morning, we spent some time on the deck talking to the herbs.

It has been a stressful summer for our little green pals. Mimi Mint said, "It has been draining. How I longed to be muddled with some Kentucky bourbon in a tall glass full of ice."

"I know how you feel," said Tom Tarragon. "I dream of a creamy béarnaise."

"And how about that smoke?" said Orville Oregano. "I know there is smoked oregano, but this not the way to do it."

Sage nodded wisely.

"I have not been so upset," lamented Basil B. Basil, "since people started pronouncing my name Bayzil, to rhyme with nasal. Could you bring that watering can over here? And maybe add a splash of vodka?"

The only plant that seems to have thrived during the heat wave is the strawberry. "You know what they say," smiled Jerry S. Berry, casually flicking away a beetle. "Strawberry fields forever."

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Slap Maxwell called it wrong

...and so did everyone else, except, perhaps, Roughriders coach Chris Jones and his offensive coordinator, Stephen McAdoo. Nobody thought the Saskatchewan green and white could beat the mighty Calgary Stampeders, who had gone seven games without a loss, the only undefeated team in the CFL. We had predicted a miserable afternoon for the fans in watermelon helmets, but it didn't turn out that way, thanks to Zach Collaros's arm, Nick Marshall's two-way performance, Charleston Hughes's sack-happy rush, and Jones's brilliant defence, which, for the first half, had Calgary completely confused. The Stampeders figured it out at half-time, came back strong, and Bo Levi Mitchell threw four touchdown passes. Still not enough. Final score: Roughriders 40, Stampeders 27.

And more positive news: Roughriders fans seem to have given up wearing watermelon helmets. And watermelon brassieres.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Arf! Arf!

In a time when the level of discourse has descended to abusive tweets and a book with the title "Liars, Leakers and Liberals" can top the best seller lists, it was a pleasure to find this charming message tacked inside a bus shelter:

DOG WALKING 101 (followed by a paw print)

- Cheap rates
- Let us know about allergies, if the dog can have treats, or if the dog needs to be trained
- Small to medium-sized dogs, maximum 50 lbs.
- $2 per walk
- We all love dogs very much!

The weight limit may rule out St. Bernards and Irish wolfhounds, but in a neighborhood where one often sees very large persons walking very small dogs, this could be a valued service.

 Let us know if you want the phone number.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Department of Clarification

"Department of Clarification" was once an intermittent feature of The New Yorker, in which the magazine moved to clear something up, or just make a correction. Which, now, we are about to do, on something appearing in the August 6-13 edition of The New Yorker.

There is a short, front of the book piece about Parker Posey (who sounds like a fun person to know, in an unpredictable way). In it, Posey is quoted saying, of someone, "She was a moldy fig" and then explaining, "Moldy figs were jazz enthusiasts who thought Duke Ellington was a sellout."

Having been around in the late 1940s when the term "moldy fig" was coined, we must tell you this is not what it meant. A moldy fig was someone who rejected the new jazz of that time--the Charlie Parker-Dizzy Gillespie led bebop movement--and wanted to stick with the more accessible swing of the big band days.

There was even a bop recording called "No Figs," and when this was played on a radio show, and one of the guests--an accomplished musician of the old school--dismissed it as junk or noise or something, we suggested that he was himself a moldy fig.

We still regret this. Sorry, Mr. Burrell.

P.S.: "No Figs," composed by the brilliant Lennie Tristano, was recorded by the 1950 Metronome All-Stars. It is a great blessing that we can still hear it, on YouTube.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Foot in the Door

One of the recurrent situations in the comic strip "Blondie" ( Elmo walking in on Dagwood in the bathtub, Dagwood knocking over the mailman running for the bus) when the strip's genius/creator Chic Young was still writing it, was the persistent door-to-door salesman, who would stick his foot in the door and keep it there until Dagwood bought a potato peeler or whatever gadget the guy was pushing.

The door-to-door salesman is just a memory of the past. I believe there are stuffed examples in museums. What we now have instead, and just as annoying, are the telephone sales people. They time their calls to come just when you're taking a souffle out of the oven or when the 6:00 news anchor is about to reveal the day's big story. The calls always carry some unknown area code, and the caller, speaking from someplace that sounds like a garage, begins by addressing you by name, which he will mispronounce, even if your name is Brown.

"Mr. Broom," he'll say, "how are you today?" As if he cares. What always throws the caller off is to ask, "Who is this calling?" The question startles the caller, and he has to consult his script to find an answer. By this time, of course, you will have wished him good luck and hung up, vowing never ever to answer the phone again when Caller ID fails to supply a name.

There are some callers who will leave a message, usually something like "This is Inspector Masterson of Division 346. Return this call at once. Failure to respond will mean the issuance of a warrant and your arrest, possibly for life." All "Inspector Masterson" wants is the security code to your bank accounts and your credit card numbers.

And then there are the e-mail intrusions cum scams, but that's another story. What we need to know is how would Dagwood deal with all this? Chic Young, come back!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Bing Crosby Day. Or maybe Bob.

Here we are again, at BC Day--named, it's believed, for Bing Crosby, although some contend it commemorates Bing's younger brother, Bob, leader of the Dixieland Bob-Cats. That means that tonight the hills will be alive with either Bing's "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" or Bob's "South Rampart Street Parade."

And there are other factions claiming BC Day for their heroes. Among those thought to be saluted on this day: Buddy Clark, Bill Coleman, Buddy Chilvers, Buster Crabbe, Burton Cummings, Bradley Cooper, Billy Connolly, Bruce Cockburn, Brian Cox, Bob Cousy and Brent Carver.

And don't forget Bozo the Clown.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Calling the Plays

No one expected the BC Lions to beat the seemingly invulnerable Calgary Stampeders. Even so, we have to ask: despite the restructuring of the team, the arrival of tough Ed Hervey, the big build-up to the season, and Wally Buono's decision to "take chances," is this going to be a second year in which the Lions fail to make the playoffs? Or perhaps trade places with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in an East Division crossover? Tell us the Lions are not turning into the Alouettes of the west. Please say the sainted Wally can have a better windup season than this.

And will this be another year when Dave Dickenson's Stampeders roll proudly and inexorably to the Grey Cup, and then find a way to lose to an inferior eastern team?

And is there a night when Wally Buono doesn't lie awake wondering how the Lions let Mike Reilly get away to the Eskimos?

Just asking, grid fans.  Slap Maxwell.