Wednesday, October 16, 2019

McTurk is Ready

A CNN reporter was able to get a moment with Steve McTurk, and said, "Mr. McTurk, you've scored a great victory in swinging people away from turkeys on the Canadian Thanksgiving, but you realize the American Thanksgiving is still to come."

"We're ready for that," said McTurk. "We've engaged Alan Dershowitz. He is prepared to declare the consumption of innocent birds unconstitutional, and will take that all the way to the Supreme Court."

"The Supreme Court, Mr. McTurk?"

"Right. We'll go for an injunction first, and then he'll present our case while the Justices are sitting, and to seal the deal, he'll send in a platter of Plant Burgers."

Sunday, October 13, 2019

McTurk at Work

As Thanksgiving approaches, with families looking forward to the traditional feast, Steve McTurk, legendary hero of guerrilla warfare to defend turkeys, is leading a mass protest. McTurk and several thousand turkeys are gathered on Parliament Hill, demanding that, in his words, "the barbaric consumption of turkeys comes to an end." Said McTurk: "Let them eat tofu."

Similar protests are taking place in major cities across the country. In Toronto, marchers carried banners reading "Stop being jerks--lay off the turks." In Vancouver, signs said "Leave us alone, and get stuffed yourself."

McTurk said the protest on behalf of turkeys should in no way be confused with support for Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "He is not one of us," said McTurk. "If he had feathers he'd be a vulture."

When one reporter commented that it was unusual to see a poultry protest, saying, "We've never seen your barnyard neighbors engage in this aggressive manner," Steve McTurk had a quick answer: "Yeah," he said. "Now you know why they call them chickens."

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Book Clubs, take note

After a year of standing in the corner, the arbiters of the Nobel Prize in Literature have proclaimed two new laureates: Olga Tokarczuk of Poland receives the 2018 award; Peter Handke, originally of Austria, is the 2019 winner.

Hands up, all those familiar with their work. A challenge for book clubs through winter.

Hemingway's first words on being named the 1954 winner: "No writer who knows the great writers who did not receive the Prize can accept it other than with humility."

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Horsetail Tackle

Note from a friend who went with three buddies to last week's Seahawks-Rams game in Seattle: "We had fabulous seats, five rows up at the 40 behind the Rams bench. Of course, we could have pooled the tickets price and bought a car."

Back in the CFL, another nine hours of eye-glazing, mind-numbing Saturday action. Most memorable moment came when a running back was pulled down by his crimson hair. What is known as a horse collar tackle is illegal, but not what one commentator correctly dubbed a "horsetail tackle." The rule is that if a player's hair is long enough to come down over his jersey, it is considered part of his uniform.

All football fans, in their home stadiums, now take it upon themselves to make a lot of noise, intended to throw the visiting team off its game. Some of the fans rise and wave their arms, conducting the cacophony. And while there is an element of craziness among all devoted followers, Saskatchewan Roughriders fans must take the prize for goofiest costumes, ever since inventing the watermelon helmet and watermelon brassiere.

A bad day on the road for the Edmonton Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts. They would have had long, gloomy flights home, especially the Argos, who fell to the kind of score Vancouver's Notre Dame high school used to inflict: 55-8. One viewer tweeted that the Argos have proven themselves "masters of dark humor."

And finally, Winnipeg Blue Bombers may have lost their number one position in the west, but Coach Mike O'Shea has shown himself to be a serious contender in the Ernest Hemingway Lookalike Contest.

--Slap Maxwell.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

One More Giant Gone

Jessye Norman, a singer majestic in every sense, has died, at what seems to us the still too young age of seventy-four.

Some of us remember her performance in Vancouver during Expo 86. She sang, of course, the Strauss "Four Last Songs," with which she will always be identified, but she also gave us a few cabaret numbers, adopting a wickedly witty Dietrich accent.

Among the scores of recordings she made--and for which she was awarded five Grammys--was a collection of spirituals, in duets with Kathleen Battle. No two singers could be more unlike, but it worked. And in 1997, she recorded a number of Michel Legrand songs--"The Summer Knows,""I Was Born in Love with You," "What are You doing the Rest of Your Life?" She had a knowledgeable appreciation of jazz, and while she wasn't a jazz singer herself, she was entirely at home with Legrand at piano, Ron Carter on bass and Grady Tate on drums.

Perhaps the most memorable image of Jessye Norman came on Bastille Day in 1989, the two hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution. She appeared draped in the French flag and sang "La Marseillaise."

We like to think of her entering heaven in the same triumphant way.

Footnote: One of the songs on the Jessye Norman-Michel Legrand album is "Dis-Moi" ("Tell Me"). The lyrics are by Francoise Sagan, remembered as the 18-year-old author of "Bonjour Tristesse."

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Noshing our way thru Rosh Hashanah

A happy new year to all--and bon appetit!

We plan on several days of brisket and latkes, chopped liver and tongue, sour dill pickles, scrambled eggs with pastrami, kugel, challah, chicken soup with matzo balls and kreplak, schmaltz herring and eggplant, corned beef and smoked meat, bagels and cream cheese, honey cake and komish cookies.

Remembered with pleasure: Rubin's Delicatessen on Granville, with Mama Rubin's New York cheesecake, and Lindy's on West Fourth, where the sandwich menu told us:

"One not enough,
Two too many?
Order one and a half,
You won't leave any."

And we never did leave any.

So, here we go, noshing our way thru Rosh Hashanah.

But we do remember what Gerry Altman said, leaning over our shoulder as we spooned up borscht at Rubin's: "It doesn't matter how much bagels and lox you eat, it won't make you Jewish."

Friday, September 27, 2019

White House Favorites

What are the happy folks humming at the White House this week? These are a few of their favourites:

"Whistle While You Work"

"Give a Little Whistle"

"Whistle a Happy Tune"

"Anyone Can Whistle"

And, a new tune commissioned for the boss: "Whistleblower Blues."

Monday, September 23, 2019

What, Autumn Already?

And we were just getting used to Spring. Ah, well--time to assemble our Autumn Playlist, with recommended versions.

"'Tis Autumn"--Chet Baker

"Autumn Serenade"--Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane

"Early Autumn"--the coda to Ralph Burns's "Summer Sequence"--the Woody Herman original, with Stan Getz and Terry Gibbs

"Early Autumn"--Ella Fitzgerald, to hear Johnny Mercer's lyrics--"There's a dance pavilion in the rain..."

"Autumn Leaves"--has to be Yves Montand. "Les Feuilles Mortes"

"Autumn in New York"--Jo Stafford

"September Song"--only and always Walter Huston

"September in the Rain"--the recording that introduced the George Shearing Quintet. As terrific today  as it was in 1949.

"Indian Summer"--Sinatra with Ellington

"Indian Summer"--Sarah Vaughan with Basie

"Lullaby of the Leaves"--Vic Dickenson and/or Dizzy Gillespie with strings

"The Things We Did Last Summer"--Nancy Wilson with Shearing

"When October Goes"--Johnny Mercer's last lyrics, set to music by Barry Manilow, with an assist from Sergei Rachmaninoff--Rosemary Clooney

Friday, September 20, 2019


This year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the release of the film "Amadeus." Presumably, it will be screened many times, sales of the recorded score may increase, and symphony orchestras and opera companies will program Mozart works.

We have been trying to get financial backing for a production of our show, but strangely, no one seems to be interested in a comedy called "Moe and Sal."

Thursday, September 19, 2019

POOP Protest

Pirates were outraged today when a photograph surfaced showing a political candidate in a pirate costume he wore at a school Hallowe'en party in 1972. The photo was revealed by the Dig Up Dirt Society (DUDS).

"This is a cruel mockery of the brave men and women who ravaged and plundered the seas, and a clear case of identity theft," declared Waldo Phipps, who prefers to be known as Jolly Roger. Phipps is president of the Pirates Of Old Platoon (POOP).

"This person," Phipps said, "had the effrontery to wear an eyepatch and a skull and crossbones shirt. He even had a stuffed parrot on his shoulder. I know some of his defenders are saying he was only eight years old at the time, but we stand ready to protect our heritage, in the name of Long John Silver."

The dimpled leader of an opposition party said, "I was shocked and dismayed by this insensitivity. I, too, went trick or treating, but I always went as Little Bo-Peep."

Meanwhile, another political nominee was assailed when a video appeared showing her wearing a black peaked hat and carrying a broom. "We are deeply offended," said a spokeswoman for Witches of the World (WOW). We intend to cast a curse on her."

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

September Playlist

1. "Soon It's Gonna Rain"

2. "Baby, the Rain Must Fall"

3. "Rain On the Roof"

4. "Isn't It a Lovely Day (to be Caught in the Rain)?"

5. "Famous Blue Raincoat"

6. "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella"

7. "Here's That Rainy Day"

8. "Stormy Weather"

9. "Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall (but too much is falling in mine)"

10. "The Day That the Rains Came Down"

11. "A Garden in the Rain"

12. "Till the Clouds Roll By" ("Helter-skelter, we must run for shelter")

13. "The Wind and the Rain in Your Hair"

14. "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"

15. "Cloudburst"

16. "Stormy Monday (seems like Tuesday's just as bad)"

17. "MacArthur Park (someone left the cake out in the rain)"

18. "Singin' in the Rain"

19. "September in the Rain"

Friday, September 13, 2019

Of course we're not superstitious. But...

So it's Friday the 13th. So what. Think we're worried? Hah? Let us give you a list of the superstitions we've discarded:

* Avoiding walking under a ladder.

* Throwing spilled salt over the left shoulder.

* Never putting a hat on a bed.

* Not being the third person on a match.

* Staying clear of black cats.

* Never opening an umbrella indoors (unless it's raining indoors, which is another problem).

If one is in the theatre, there are superstitions peculiar to an actor's life, which include:

* Never whistling backstage.

* Always referring to "Macbeth" as "the Scottish play."

* Never wishing a performer good luck. The accepted wish is "Break a leg."

So let's breeze happily and free of superstitions through Friday the 13th. (Although just to be safe, we're staying indoors all day.)

Monday, September 9, 2019

Slap's Financial Counselling Service

Dear Ms. Andreescu:

First of all, congratulations on your historic victory at the U.S. Open! I was with you all the way, wearing my Canadian maple leaf shorts while eating pomona porcului and listening to Zamfir.

I know this win is going to be difficult to deal with emotionally, and especially wondering how to handle that $3.85 million prize money. And so, allow me to offer my services as a seasoned financial counsellor.

The right investments can  grow that prize money substantially, and I believe I have a great opportunity for you in my invention of the combination flask and portable popcorn popper, a revolutionary device sure to appeal to sports fans.

Looking forward to hearing from you by return mail.

Yours for even greater triumphs on the court and in the market--Slap Maxwell.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Sonny Rollins, Last of the Tenor Titans

September 7: Sonny Rollins turns 89. Sonny Rollins, last of the big throated, muscular saxophonists who came out of Coleman Hawkins. Born this late summer day in Harlem, but his West Indies heritage has been apparent in such works as the calypso "St. Thomas," his best known composition. Others: "Airegin," "Pent-up House," "Tenor Madness" and "Valse Hot," plus the score for the film "Alfie."

It seems incongruous to call an 89-year-old Sonny, but nobody's going to go back to his straight name, which is Theodore. You can see the young, unbearded Sonny in the famous photograph "A Great Day in Harlem." Of the dozens in the picture, and the many he played with over the decades--Bud Powell, Fats Navarro, Thelonious Monk, Clifford Brown, Max Roach--he is one of the few left standing. Brown's death in a car crash hit him especially hard. Max Roach told writer Chris Grove, "I called Sonny and George [Morrow] down to my room and told them what had happened. Sonny went to his room, and I heard him play the saxophone all night. He just played all night."

That was in 1956. Three years later, Rollins took a break from playing in public, and spent two years  working on his sound--on the catwalk, it was said, over the Williamsburg Bridge.

In the mid-70s, Sonny had a three- or four-night run at Oil Can Harry's in Vancouver, nights of impossibly long runs of improvisation, which may have left some listeners confused. Rollins also has a sense of humor, which turns up in some of his curious choices of material--"I'm An Old Cowhand," "A Chapel in the Moonlight," "If You Were the Only Girl in the World"--and he has had a long list of memorable albums, including "Saxophone Colossus," The Freedom Suite" and "Way Out West," one of the handful of albums to receive a five-star rating from Down Beat magazine.

Sonny Rollins may no longer be playing into the small hours at Manhattan jazz clubs, and he may feel surrounded by ghosts, but he seems content. Today on his birthday he tweeted "Greetings, everybody. Sonny Rollins is alive and well and living in upstate NY. Not only living, but learning. In this world there is a big picture and a little picture. I'm all about the big picture, and it's good all the time. See you later. Sonny."

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Aging Lust

We were taken aback this morning to read in the daily astrological guide that Raquel Welch is 79 years old.

Raquel Welch! Who played Lust in "Bedazzled"!

If the ravages of time have overtaken the most glamorous of the Seven Deadly Sins, what of the others? Has Anger become a mild-mannered mediator? Has Gluttony gone vegan? Has Sloth taken a steady job?

Bad days for Satan's mob. All he has left are a few goofball politicians with bad hair.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Eternal Detention

As teachers and students streamed into classrooms this sunny September, full of promise and optimism and good cheer, we had a sudden, chilling thought: what if afterlife meant a return to school? Especially for those who dropped out early?

Consider a purgatory where you are trapped in Mr. Nelson's math class and cannot be freed until you pass Grade 10 algebra. This would mean spending eternity trying to figure out 3x + 2y = P.

And then, maybe if you finally, after couple of millennia got it right ("Are you sure you weren't looking at someone else's paper?") being required to interpret the final equation: E = mc2.

That does it. We're staying here.

Friday, August 30, 2019

September Song

"Oh, its a long, long time.." But no, we're not going to talk about that. Instead, we're considering these last days of August, when your thoughts may be on these topics:

* Realizing you have less than a week left to wear your whites

* Facing a return to the classroom, whether student or teacher

* Wondering whether to bet on the Roughriders or the Blue Bombers in the Banjo Bowl

For some, though--an elite group of masochists--all their energy and intelligence will be focussed on the 3-Day Novel Contest--the annual literary marathon, in which competitors are challenged to write a complete novel in 72 hours. The frantic scribbling begins at 12:01 a.m. August 31 and must end by 11:59 p.m. September 2.

As a veteran of these contests, bearing the scars of split infinitives, dangling participles, mixed metaphors and fractured syntax, we stand at the sidelines, offering sympathy and frequent boosts of nuclear strength coffee.

Write on!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A-Rod and Luo

Scott Stinson, who continues to demonstrate that sports writers are the best in the business, writes that Alex Rodriguez claims to have had $500,000 worth of items lifted from his rented SUV.

Good that Jennifer Lopez wasn't in the car, or she'd be gone, too.

In other sports news, the Florida Panthers have announced they are retiring the jersey of goaltender Roberto Luongo. There is some discussion on whether the Vancouver Canucks should do the same.
We do not have a vote on this, but we think Cioppino's should name Luongo's regular pre-game dish in his honor: Luo's Lobster Linguine.

--Slap Maxwell.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Welcome, Agnes!

There are many of us--well, perhaps not many--who lament the ending of the Golden Age of Comic Strips. No more Li'l Abner. No more Steve Canyon. Or Moon Mullins, Smokey Stover, the Nutt Brothers, Ches and Wall, or The Phantom, the Ghost Who Walks.

There was a period when we had Doonesbury, Bloom County, Ernie, Calvin and Hobbes, but they, too, have returned to their creators' ink pots.

For the last long time, we have clung to Monty, the way a wanderer stranded in a desert clings to a water hole. But recently, we have been blessed with the arrival of Agnes, a strip of refreshing quirkiness.

Agnes, the work of Tony Cochran, is the most minimalist of cartoons since Krazy Kat. Usually only two characters appear: Agnes and her androgynous friend Trout. Their principal activity is dumpster diving. When not engaged in searching for junk Agnes always proclaims priceless (a glass door knob is "the biggest diamond ever found in the state of Iowa") they lie foot to foot in a backyard kiddies' pool exploring the meaning of life. Agnes is said to live in a trailer court with her grandmother, but the grandmother seldom appears.

We were surprised, after our scholarly research, to find that the comic strip Agnes has been around since 1999. We're glad to report it has finally surfaced in a newspaper near you.

You may also want to know that Amazon has one (1) copy of the cartoonist's autograph. It reads "Be good. Tony Cochran." As Agnes would point out, it is undoubtedly a priceless treasure.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Every Underdog has its Day

Dave Frishberg, who wrote the lyrics for Al Cohn's "The Underdog," would have like Thursday's CFL games, in both of which the underdog triumphed.

The most dramatic turnaround saw the lowly Toronto Argonauts, coming from a string of six defeats, triumphing over the Winnipeg Bluebombers, a team that had enjoyed five straight wins, and generally acknowledged the league's best. It was a grand night for Corey Chamblin, the Billy Eckstine handsome Argos coach, and for the quarterback with the CFL's most memorable name: McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Who knows what further Cinderella turns the season may take?

Not me. But it will be fun to watch.

--Slap Maxwell.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

"May I suggest a Diet Coke?"

Considering imposing punitive tariffs on French wines, US President Donald Trump said, "I've always liked American wines better than French wines, even though I don't drink wine."

This indicates a career possibility for Trump if he loses the 2020 election: sommelier at a KFC outlet.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Victory for Bad Hair

The rise of Boris Johnson to 10 Downing Street is further proof (Trump, Kim Jong-Un) that a politician still can triumph, even if every day is a bad hair day.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Mary of Magdala. And Marseilles.

July 22 is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, a Biblical figure of continuing fascination and mystery.

She was called Magdalene because she was from the fishing village of Magdala, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was said that Jesus expelled seven demons from her, but no one knows what these demons represented. It is known that she traveled with Jesus and the Apostles, and that she was the first person to encounter Jesus after his resurrection.

Jim Christy told of the legend that she later went to sea, and after months of sailing, landed at what is now Marseilles. "She is," Christy wrote, "considered the founder and saint of that seafaring town."

And, he added, suggesting that a statue of Mary Magdalene be placed on Vancouver's waterfront, "She could be ours."

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Sorrows of Reilly

"The Life of Riley" has long been a synonym for luck and luxury, and for a while, there was a comic radio show with that title. But the life of Reilly on the football field has been miserable. According to sports commentators and their backups keeping tabs, the BC Lions quarterback has endured something between eighty and one hundred pressures (i.e., tackle rushes) and twenty sacks (ouch!) in the first five games of the season. Seeing Reilly pull himself up out of one more 800 pound pile, you know he is thinking of a Duke Ellington number: "What Am I Here For?"

And what, indeed? How could his coach send him back in for the last ninety seconds of a game that was clearly lost to be battered once more? Or maybe Reilly wanted to go back. There's no business like show business.

We hope the rest of the season brings a better life for Reilly.

--Slap Maxwell.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Sending Trump Back

US President Donald Trump has called for a quartet of Congresswomen to "go back to where they came from." This has caused a number of persons to demand that Trump go back to where he came from--which, in his case, is the borough of Queens.

Residents of Queens, however vigorously oppose the idea. "We thought we'd gotten him out of here," said Eustace Harley, a Queens dry cleaner. Violet Bloom, a Queens housewife, said, "Without Trump, this is a better place."

The President is not unwelcome everywhere. If things don't go his way in the 2020 election, "We would be pleased to welcome him," said Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Cracking the Purple Ceiling

Delegates to the first General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada in 1893, including New Westminster's Bishop Acton Windyer Sillitoe, would not have believed it if they had been told that 126 years later, a woman would be elected Primate.

But that is what happened Saturday at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, when Bishop Linda Nicholls of Toronto was chosen. And it is significant that second place went to Jane Alexander of Edmonton. Among the five nominees, only the two women carried large blocks of voters through four ballots.

Ms. Nicholls--who now becomes Archbishop Nicholls--is not the first woman to lead a church denomination: in 2006, Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, and the United Church of Canada has had more than one female chief executive. But Saturday's vote was remarkable for a church which would not even ordain women as priests until 1976.

Not all of Saturday's decisions were as satisfying. Although priests and lay delegates voted by a large majority to endorse the marriage of same sex couples, the motion failed to get the support required from two-thirds of the bishops. This will not prevent dioceses that already sanction the ceremony from continuing to do so, but it was, nonetheless, disheartening.

Still, with the election of a woman as primate and the overwhelming support of most delegates for same-sex marriages, the Anglican Church of Canada continues to move forward in ways the bishops of 1893 never could have imagined.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Catching Up, Waving Farewell

Once again, the near peerless Mike Reilly was flattened like a pancake by an opposing squad's pass rush. Reilly may be, as many sportswriters have noted, tough as a two-dollar steak, but his expression, as he pulled himself out of another pileup, clearly showed frustration. He must have been wondering if his offensive line, supposedly there to protect him, was in fact receiving signals from a foreign power.

In even less upbeat sports news, Jim Bouton has been sent to the dugout of eternity. Bouton, author of the controversial but highly regarded "Ball Four," was eighty years old. With luck, you might be able to catch a screening of Robert Altman's film of Raymond Chandler's "The Long Goodbye," in which Bouton, a buddy of star Elliott Gould, played the key role of the charming and mysterious Terry Lennox.

Finally, we said farewell this week to Rip Torn."Rip" wasn't his straight name, but wouldn't someone christened Elmore Rual prefer Rip? Not surprisingly, several fellow actors tweeted "R.I.P. Rip." What was surprising was that in the many accounts of his career, none mentioned what may have been his best film: "Payday," directed by Daryl Duke, in which he played a brilliant and destructive country singer in the style of Hank Williams.

Somewhere, perhaps, all these large personalities will get together. Except for Reilly, who, we hope, will get a tougher O line and play for many a season more.

--Slap Maxwell.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

UK Ambassador to US appointed

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office announced today that a new Ambassador to the United States has been appointed, following the resignation of Sir Kim Darroch.

The spokesman said that Prime Minister Theresa May had personally approached two possible successors to the post: Ricky Gervais and Adele. Unfortunately, prior commitments prevented them from accepting.

Now, however, a new Ambassador is in place, ready to take up his position in Washington. The Foreign Office spokesman said, "We believe President Trump will be pleased to welcome our government's distinguished representative: Mr. Bean."

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Viva FIFA! (Or at least the Us World Cup team)

The most exciting soccer player we know
Has to be Megan Rapinoe.
We do admire Christine Sinclair,
But she lack's Pinoe's lavender hair.
We also think Rapinoe's slick
For standing (or kneeling) with Colin Kaepernick.
And she gave Donald Trump one more reason to grouse
When she said she would not go to "the %#$@^% White House."
So let us toast, with Napa vino,
World Cup star Megan Rapinoe!

--Slap Maxwell, Locker Room Poet Laureate.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Yankee Doodle and other Dandys

We hope you saved some sparklers and Roman candles from Canada Day to light up the sky on the Glorious Fourth.

And we hope you're set to celebrate with grilled burgers and loaded hotdogs, corn on the cob and fried chicken, a chilled brew, and perhaps a bourbon Old Fashioned. For dessert, consider this: a Fourth of July cake, created by Erin McDowell, iced and decorated to represent the US flag, with blueberries as stars and raspberries as stripes.

The two names that come to mind (our mind, anyway) on this day are Louis Armstrong and George M. Cohan, both of whom claimed to have been born on the Fourth of July. Which may not be entirely  accurate, but as the newspaper editor says in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

We can't imagine better music for the day than the recordings made between 1926 and 1929 by Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven, groups that included Kid Ory, Johnny Dodds, Zutty Singleton, Lil Hardin Armstrong, and even Earl Hines. Sip that Old Fashioned and listen to "Struttin' with Some Barbecue."

Cohan wrote "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and you can see James Cagney playing him on film, doing his own fine struttin'. If you don't want to sit through the full movie, turn to YouTube to see Cagney dance, in a way no one else ever has.

Then you, too, will be ready to 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."

A glorious Fourth to all, and especially those linked forever to Bad Axe, Michigan.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Ooooh, Canada!

As we celebrate Canada Day
Let's raise a glass to Sir John A.
And also Wilfrid Laurier.
And in our patriotic frenzy,
Let's not forget Alex Mackenzie,
John Thompson and Mackenzie Bowell,
Who helped the nation rock 'n' roll.
Robert Borden, Sir Charles Tupper,
Pull up a chair and stay for supper.
At karaoke, we'll all sing
With Arthur Meighen, Mackenzie King.
Count on Louis St. Laurent
To bring the party all we want.
Bennett, Pearson, Diefenbaker--
All solid dudes, not one a faker.
Then comes the cool Pierre Trudeau,
Cause of Trudeaumania,
Followed by Joe Clark, and the country grew much sanier.
John Turner--Princess Margaret danced with him--
Big-jawed Mulroney, and Ms. Kim.
Jean Chretien, our jovial frère,
Stephen Harper, just a little square.
And now, with charm and smiles his rivals rue,
We're in the days of Trudeau Two.
Who'll come next in this illustrious line?
Whoever it is, Canada will still be fine!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sing a Song of Summer

Summer has arrived--school's out, there are picnics in the park, sand in your shoes at the beach, perhaps a wedding or two, all sorts of reasons to sing.

And there are many singable summer songs, including "Summer in the City," the Brubecks' "Summer Song," and the best known, "Summertime," from "Porgy and Bess" (which is really a lullaby, but we like the austere reading given by Miles Davis with Gil Evans, and John Coltrane's version, which turns the Gershwin song into a very funky blues).

Our new favorite, however, our choice for this summer, is "Now that the Summer's Here," by clever Michael Franks, composer-singer of such quirky numbers as "Eggplant" and "Popsicle Toes." Franks is a native of La Jolla, but he studied contemporary culture at the University of Montreal, and we wouldn't be surprised to learn that one of his mentors there was Marshall McLuhan.

Here's one verse from "Now that the Summer's Here":

"With my chores I only flirt
Hung in my hammock reading Kurt
Struggling to remain inert
Now that the summer's here."

If you can't find the record, try YouTube, and at least check the lyrics.
Meanwhile, we're going back to struggling to remain inert.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

New Season, Ancient Song

With the turn of the season, it is time once again to blend our voices in the oldest known English song: "Sumer is Icumen In," composed sometime in the 13th century. We trust your Wessex-accented Middle English is in good form as we link arms and sing together:

Sumer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Growep sed and blowep med
And springp pbe wde nu
Sing cuccu!

Awe bleep after lomb
Lhoup after calue cu.
Bulloch stertep, buck uertep,
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, wei singe pu cuccu.
Ne wik pu nauer nu.

Sing cuccu, sing cuccu.
Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu!

And now, a 20th century translation. Caution: occasional vulgarity.

Summer has come in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew.
Sing, Cuckoo!
The ewe bleats after the lamb.
The cow lows after the calf.
The bullock stirs, the stag farts.
Merrily sing, Cuckoo!
Cuckoo, Cuckoo, well you sing, Cuckoo.
Don't you ever stop now.

Sing Cuckoo now. Sing, Cuckoo!
Sing Cuckoo. Sing Cuckoo now!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Ciao, Count Negroni

June 24-30 has been declared Negroni Week--seven days in which to raise a glass to Count Camillo Negroni, who created the cocktail. The year was 1919 and the city was Florence. Count Negroni enjoyed an Americano, but thought the drink would have more zip if its soda water were replaced by gin.

Thus, the Negroni: Campari, gin, and a splash of Italian vermouth over a large ice cube, with an orange wedge on the side. (One imaginative bartender rubs the rim of the glass with orange peel.)

A wonderfully refreshing drink, especially on a warm summer day, except for those whose palates reject the bitterness of Campari. One friend told us, "They should give that to people who want to stop drinking."

The American cousin of the Negroni is the Boulevardier, in which gin is replaced by bourbon. Equally tasty, if more Kentucky than Florence.

Also of interest: the grapefruit-Campari sorbetto, one of the 238 flavours offered at La Casa Gelato, on Venables Street in east Vancouver.

So, next week is Negroni Week. But if you can't wait, there's no rule that says we can't start practicing now.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Father's Day Play List. Or: Pops for Pops

If you're putting together a mix tape for the paterfamilias, we suggest you skip the schmaltzy "O Mein Papa."

There is, however, still a certain cowpoke charm to "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine." And while the song has been recorded by everyone from Johnny Cash to Simon and Garfunkel, we would stick with the original, by the guy who wrote it: Gene Autry.

But on the silver standard, the classiest of all songs in this rather small category is Horace Silver's "Song for My Father."

There is, of course, the plea to a parent who spends his hours in a saloon, a temperance song from 1864: "Father, Dear Father, Come Home with Me Now."

But our choice remains Woody Herman's 1945 "Your Father's Moustache," by the reliably rowdy Herman Herd. Catch it on YouTube. Note that in Woody's pronunciation it becomes "Your Fahdah's Moustache."

Stay happy, Pappy.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Presidential Sumo Debates

Inspired by his recent visit to Japan and attendance at championship Sumo wrestling matches has given Donald Trump an idea: "I propose that in 2020, the Presidential debates be changed to a series of wrestling bouts."

One commentator said, "Trump could have the edge. He has a lot of flab to grab."

But Sumo experts are not sure he can make the weight. "It is unlikely," said Hideko Yamaguchi, "that by 2020 he could match the weight of the great Orora." Orora, of the USSR, hit the scales, or possibly demolished the scales, at 644 pounds.

However, Trump has announced he is bulking up. Aides are now pushing the triple Quarter-Pounder Breakfast.

"I'll be ready," he says."Bring on Beto O'Rourke or Pete What's-His-Name or Skinny Joe Biden. I'll flatten 'em all."

The challenge now is to change the President's famous hairstyle into the traditional Sumo topknot, or gingko leaf shape. A team recruited from the "Game of Thrones" makeup crew said, "We're working on it."

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Traveling with Trump

Sorry to have been out of touch the past few days, but your correspondent has been traveling with Big Don.

Not entirely a success, but it might have been worse. It's true his white waistcoat was too long with his tails at the Royal dinner, but I did talk him out of wearing his Make America Great Again tee shirt. And when the Champagne toasts were raised, I managed to cancel his Diet Coke.

It was unfortunate that he wanted to demonstrate some Sumo moves to Her Majesty, but everyone cheered when she defeated him at arm wrestling.

And that was that for the President's UK state visit, apart from offering Theresa May a job at one of his golf courses and meeting Boris Johnson to compare hair.

More notes to come.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Sister Acts

The term "bromance" has long been in use to describe a buddy-buddy relationship between two guys, but what word might denote a similar relationship between two women?

It's time to give it serious thought, for we have a new team on the scene. Here, so far, is the stellar lineup of sister acts:

* Laverne and Shirley
* Thelma and Louise
* Grace and Frankie
* And now--Jodi and Jane.

All suggestions welcomed. No prizes to be awarded.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Lusty Month of May

Is May really a month of unbridled lust? Sir Thomas Malory was the first to declare it, in "Le Morte d'Arthur." He wrote, "It giveth unto all others courage, that lusty month of May."

There is some tradition to this. Virgil wrote that in May, Roman youths would sing and dance in the fields, in honour of Flora, goddess of fruit and flowers.

And some centuries later, Alan Jay Lerner, in his lyrics for "Camelot," another Arthurian romance, wrote, "Tra la, it's May, that lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray."

But the month is coming to a close--not much time left to go blissfully astray.

Still, June will soon be bustin' out all over, and you know what happens when the feeling gets so intense that the young Virginia creepers are hugging the bejeepers out of all the morning glories on the fence.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Digressor Rides Again

Abundant thanks to all those who showered this department with flowers, candy, et cetera while we were in the auto body shop for a semi-centennial tuneup. We would like to say we were relaxin' at Camarillo, but that was another time.

But now here we are bursting on the edge of summer, along with the rhododendrons and tulips and hydrangeas. (Farewell to the lovely cherry blossoms, magnolias and azaleas, which bloomed beautifully, briefly, and departed.)

We are also at the beginning of the CFL season, and the BC Lions, with such high performance, high personality players as Mike Reilly, Duron Carter and Bryan Burnham should provide much entertainment (or, as the broadcasters say, material for the highlights reel).

And today is the birthdate of Miles Davis, born May 26, 1926. You might observe the day by playing "Sketches of Spain" or "Kind of Blue" or one of the early great quintet recordings.

What would Miles say if he were still with us? We can hear his rasp now: "How'd I get so #$%^*+* old?"

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Temporary Closure

The proprietors regret that this service will close for an indefinite period to facilitate psychic repairs.

We apologize for this break in service, and recommend that followers, in the meantime, read The Borowitz Report.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Justin Sings the Blues

When I came into this office,
I thought I couldn't lose.
Had my pals around me
And nothin' but good news.
But now I feel downhearted--
Got those Jodi Wilson-Raybould blues.

Sunny ways, I told folks,
Smilin' on the news.
Scheer and Jagmeet, they don't scare me,
I'm not an easy guy to bruise.
But I just took a sucker punch
And got the Jodi Wilson-Raybould blues.

I know things will get sunny,
Know once again I'll cruise.
Then we'll think this all was funny
When Gerr and I share a few brews.
Meanwhile I'll keep on smilin'
Through the Jodi Wilson-Raybould blues.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Kindergarten Chaos on Parliament Hill

Following the disturbance caused during Finance Minister Morneau's attempt to deliver his budget speech, the Conservative Members of Parliament have had their nap time doubled and their chocolate milk treat denied for one day. Except for little Andrew Scheer, who, the Speaker said, "clearly had consumed too much chocolate milk and gone completely off the rails." He will be on plain skim for the next week.

Later in the day, the now calm Conservative MPs were seen being led around the Parliament Buildings in an orderly line, two by two, holding hands.

"If they continue to behave," the Speaker said, "they'll be allowed back in the sandbox."

Friday, March 8, 2019

Giving Up Politics for Lent

I know, this may not seem to be a great sacrifice, but on the other hand, it's not easy--politics can be addictive. Dangerously addictive. Mind threatening.

So here we go for forty politics-free days. Rosemary Barton and Anderson Cooper, you're on your own. John Horgan and Rachel Notley, make nice. Justin and Jody, see a councillor. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, have a cup of tea. Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh, get some new lines. Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, keep on dancing. With Joe Biden. We're out of here, possibly until the next election.

But Robert Mueller, if you get anything, you have my number.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lenten discipline

We are approaching the season of Lent, when it is customary for many to deny themselves some pleasure, as a mark of penitence.

We have known people who have given up chocolate, cigarettes, and going to the movies, but the strangest case on record may be that of one Chris Schryer of Toronto, who one year gave up all solid food. For forty days, according to the Anglican News, not a morsel of solid food passed Mr. Schryer's pious lips.

What did Mr. Schryer survive on? Dopplebock, a peculiarly powerful dark beer, brewed originally by German monks. Throughout Lent, Mr. Schryer consumed nothing but dopplebock.

Now there's a man who knew how to do penance.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Scamming in Your Language of Choice

Picking up the telephone the other day, we were accosted by a recorded message in a language we did not understand.

This was not the first time we had received multilingual demands for money, and we thought, with a certain amount of civic pride: this really has become a cosmopolitan society! Scams in a colorful range of world languages!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Monarchists and Philatelists

The post office clerk said people had been telephoning, wanting to know when the new Canadian stamp bearing the image of Queen Elizabeth II would be available. And it is now.

It is a particularly attractive picture of Her Majesty, taken on her 2010 Canadian tour by Chris Jackson. The camera has always been fond of the Queen, but this photograph--light purple ensemble, maple leaf brooch, rather sly smile--may be the best in years.

The portraits of British monarchs have appeared on postage stamps since 1840, when the world's first stamp was issued. It bore the crowned profile of Queen Victoria, and is known to collectors as the Penny Black.

Stamps that followed have carried the images of both Edwards, VII and VIII, and both Georges, V and VI. There was even one stamp, during the rein of George VI, showing the family--King and Queen and young princesses--on a palace balcony.

The value of these stamps among philatelists varies widely, and is surprising. The famous Penny Black, depending on its condition, can bring anything from $20 to $7,000. The Edward stamps, seldom seen, are not as valuable as one might think. The exception is a set of three intended to mark the coronation of Edward VIII. As the coronation never took place, the stamps were never issued. If you can turn them up, they're worth $332.99.

The most valuable of the British Royal stamps is the 1841 Penny Red. Estimated current price: $9.5 million.

But you can own one of the new Canadian stamps featuring Queen Elizabeth II for $1.05.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Presidential Valentines

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all--
I'm giving you a great big wall!

Time to cuddle and get cosy--
But I'm sending bricks to Ms. Pelosi.

Hearts and flowers, that's the law,
And a six-pack for Brett Kavanaugh.

And one from the Prime Minister:

Some say that I must hit the roady,
Please say we're still okay, Ms. Jody!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Rams win at Hop & Vine

On Super Bowl Sunday, the Hop & Vine Taphouse, located a convenient crawling distance from the Pointless Digressions headquarters, offered patrons Team Burgers.

The Patriot Burgers came with bacon and blue cheese; the Ram Burgers, in a nod to Southern California, came with avocado, sun-dried tomato, onion and feta.

Following the game, your correspondent checked to see which Team Burger had triumphed. "It was close," a server told us, "but in my section, the Ram Burgers won."

This may not be a great comfort to Sean McVay, but one takes what one can get.

Pass the ketchup.

--Slap Maxwell.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Grooming Tips from the White House

Tune in tonight for the State of the Union message and hear Make-Up Secrets and Hairstyling Tips from the President.

Bonus follow-up feature: Sarah Huckabee Sanders's Fitness Routine.

Make America Gorgeous Again!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Diction Lesson

The hardest word in the dictionary
To pronounce is February.

Yes, it's here again, the month feared by radio announcers everywhere, except those on CBC's French network--Fevrier is much easier.

But we're here to help, and to show that with a little practice, you can beat the February jinx.

Just try mouthing this: Feb-roo-AIR-ee. Now do it again. And once more.

You've got it! By George, I think you've got it!

Next we're going to provide remedial instruction to all those who believe "route" rhymes with "gout," that "basil" rhymes with "nasal," and that the accent is on the first syllable in "research."

Friday, February 1, 2019

DeVone picks the Rams

DeVone Claybrooks, who has both Super Bowl and Grey Cup rings, has picked the Los Angeles Rams to win Sunday's Super Bowl. "Rams by three," Claybrooks said on CBC's "Early Edition," predicting a field goal victory in Atlanta. Place your bets.

Claybrooks is the new head coach of the BC Lions, succeeding Wally Buono. Talk about a tough act to follow. This year's Super Bowl coaches are Sean McVay for the Rams and Bill Belichick for the seemingly invincible New England Patriots. It is interesting that McVay, at thirty-three, is half the age of Belichick.

Asked about differences between the NFL Super Bowl and the CFL Grey Cup, Claybrooks said the big wins are similar. But while you might see a CFL star like Mike Reilly or Bo Levi Mitchell having lunch and go to their table to get an autograph, you would have to get through twenty lines of security to get near the Patriots' Tom Brady.

Slap Maxwell says he has never been awed or blown off his feet by a superstar quarterback, but he has been overwhelmed by a couple of cheerleaders.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Adieu, Michel Legrand

Michel Legrand has departed this world for whatever paradise awaits.

Almost everyone knows at least one Michel Legrand song--"The Summer Knows," "Windmills of Your Mind," "Watch What Happens," "Pieces of Dreams"--a gorgeous bouquet. One of the most interesting collections of these was recorded by Jessye Norman, with Legrand at the keyboard, Ron Carter, bass, and Grady Tate, drums. Norman sings many of the lyrics in French, which is good, because it means avoiding some English lyrics that have done a disservice to the melodies.

Not as many, perhaps, know what a fine pianist and composer Legrand was in jazz. The album we'll play today is "Michel Legrand: After the Rain," recorded in New York in 1982 with Zoot Sims, Joe Wilder, Phil Woods, Gene Bertoncini, Carter and Tate, and Legrand on keyboards, acoustic and electric pianos, and organ.

All of the pieces on the disc were composed by Legrand (like so many, a student of Nadia Boulanger), and all were recorded in one morning, in the brief time Legrand had between flights from Los Angeles to Paris. The liner notes say there were no formal charts, only lead lines, but another account has Legrand saying he wanted musicians who could sight read instantly, and as the pieces are so well structured, it would seem he had arrangements in mind. However it was done, it is a remarkable achievement, which rewards listening after listening (declares the old deejay).

Adieu, Michel Legrand. May the music continue thru eternity.

Friday, January 25, 2019

More Haggis, More Scotch!

Here we are again at Burns Day, commemorating the birth in 1759 of Scottish bard Robert Burns. It is an occasion for steamed haggis and a great bowl of atholl brose, which is a concoction of whisky and oatmeal.

It struck us this morning (after a few mugs of atholl brose) that Burns is the only writer whose birthdate is celebrated. There is no Shakespeare Day, Tolstoy Day, Proust Day, Jane Austen Day. The closest equivalent is Bloomsday, which doesn't fall on James Joyce's birthday, but on June 16, the day in Joyce's "Ulysses" on which we follow the peregrinations of the hapless Leopold Bloom.

We're not sure how to rectify this, although we would like to have a P.G. Wodehouse Day and a Dashiell Hammett Day.

More haggis, please. More Scotch.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

And the Oscar goes to...

Every year, when nominations for the Academy Awards are announced, there are the same reactions: who should have been nominated and wasn't, who did get nominated and shouldn't have been. It undoubtedly has been that way since 1927, when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences had 230 members until today, when there are more than 6,000.

Louis B. Mayer was the principal behind the formation of the Academy, and one of its achievements was the creation of the first program in film studies, at the University of Southern California. The initial faculty included D.W. Griffith and Ernst Lubitsch.

No one is sure how the golden statue presented to award winners got its nickname, but there is a story that Bette Davis dubbed it Oscar after noting its resemblance, in certain features, to one of her husbands.

The usual complaints about the awards ceremony: too long, too dull, too many dreary acceptance speeches, poor choice of host, etc. Even so, most people will remain glued to their television sets until the last cork is popped.

There have been a few changes, at a glacial pace. One of the least necessary, it seemed, was expanding the number of best picture nominees from five to ten, even though five remains the number in other categories. (Oddly, this year, even with ten spots open, only eight films made the cut for best picture.)

It might be an idea to open all categories to ten nominations. Had that been so this year, we might have seen, among the best actor nominees, Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood, whose absence was a disappointment to movie goers of a certain vintage.

Enjoy February viewing with the usual menus and accoutrements: the Super Bowl on the 3rd (chili, beer, team jersey), the Academy Awards on the 24th (Champagne, popcorn, white tie).

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Transgender Presidency

Brrring! Brring!

"Is that Ann Coulter again? She's so hard on me."

"No, Mr. President. It's your son, Eric."

"Oh, good. Eric, how are you?"

"Great, Dad. I want you to know I've enlisted in the Marines."

"That's wonderful, Eric. As you know, I have a military background. I went to a military school, even though I didn't actually get to serve in the forces."

"I know, Dad. That's why you're called Sergeant Bone Spurs."

"So, Eric, when do you go to boot camp?"

"Well, there's this problem, Dad."

"Problem? What problem, Eric? What can't I fix with an executive order?"

"Well, today the Supreme Court held up your ruling on transgender persons in the military.."

"I know, my people came through for me."

"And Dad, I'm no longer Eric."


"I'm Erica. I've transed."

"Son, uh, son--daughter, whatever you are--I don't know what to say. What do your siblings think about this?"

"You mean Donalda and Ivan? Gotta go, Dad. There's a transgender protest march tonight. Maybe see you in front of the White House."


"Whoosh. Mick, I'm staggered. I would say I'm totally nonplussed, if I knew what that meant."

"Sir, there's another call for you. I believe it's the First Lady."

"Thank heavens, or whoever's in charge. Hello, Sweetie. I'm glad you called, Melania."

"Don. I have news for you. It's no longer Melania--it's Melvin."

Monday, January 21, 2019

St. Vince

The legendary Vince Lombardi never accepted a loss. When his Green Bay Packers came up on the short end of a score, Vince would say, "We just ran out of time."

The coaches of both the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs could say the same thing, after their narrow losses in the finals leading to February's Super Bowl. Both games were the kind where you knew whichever team had the ball last would win.

And so, the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots (again) move forward to Atlanta. As for the Saints and the Chiefs--they just ran out of time.

--Slap Maxwell.

P.S.:  And however the Super Bowl goes, it will be great to hear Gladys Knight sing "The Star Spangled Banner"!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hello, Central? Give Me Moscow.

Brrring! Brrring!

"Vlad? Vlad, it's me, Don."

"Don. Have I not told you never to call me at this number?"

"I know, Vlad, but this is an emergency."

"And especially do not call when I am watching 'Two and a Half Men.' So what is the emergency? The deep fryer at your local KFC broke down? You got the wrong dye and your hair is now green? Ann Coulter and Judge Pirro are mud wrestling on the White House lawn?"

"Actually, Vlad, I'd like to see that. But no, it's worse than all those things, frightening as they are. It's  the new crowd in the House of Representatives. They're going to start issuing subpoenas, and some people might say bad things about me."

"Do you not run that government? Can you not send those Representatives to a gulag somewhere? Don't you still have Alaska?"

"It doesn't work that way here, Vlad. It's one of the problems with democracy."

"Listen, Don, don't think I'm not sympathetic, but I have to go. It's almost time for 'The Big Bang Theory.' Speaking of which, I've instructed our military to make more bombs. I'll tell you what I'll do, Don: I'll send you a case of Stolichnaya."

"But Vlad, you know I don't drink."

"Probably you should start."

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What Not to Watch Tonight

Donald Trump, the Anti-Mr. Rogers, returns to the screen tonight, having commandeered prime time from all major television networks and cable channels.They didn't have to give him this time (and if he were paying for it, he would have to ask Congress for another $5.7 billion), but they caved anyway.

This, however, does not mean you have to watch Agent Orange. There's always Guy's Grocery Games or All-Star Bowling or that holiday fireplace.

Or you could check YouTube and watch Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dance on a rooftop. Or you could even read a book. Maybe Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America."

Monday, January 7, 2019

Golden Globes High and Whoas

Watching awards shows is something like eating a quart of candy cane ice cream while reading a stack of fanzines and listening to "The Greatest Hits of Alvin and the Chipmunks."  Even so, we were drawn into the Golden Globes, and found these moments memorable, or possibly just difficult to forget.

Best moment: Christian Bale, accepting an award for his portrayal of Dick Cheney, and thanking Satan for inspiration.

Most overwrought moment: Lady Gaga's emotional collapse on hearing "Shallow" cited best song. If she had won best actress, they would have had to carry her to the stage on a stretcher.

Worst beard: Jeff Bridges.

Please explain the reason for this beard: Hugh Grant.

Geriatric triumph: "The Kominsky Method," and applause for the cast making it up the steps unaided.

Most welcome wins: Justin Hurwitz, the "La La Land" composer, for best score, for "First Man;" Richard Madden, for "The Bodyguard."

Best presenter: Steve Carell, announcing that the nominees for the Carol Burnett Award included Christopher Bale and Antonio Banderas, as well as Ms. Burnett.

Best tearing up: Amy Adams, watching Patricia Clarkson accept an award for "Sharp Objects."

Most gracious: Carol Burnett, both serious and funny, and working hard not to tear up.

We now have about six weeks to prepare for the Academy Awards. Stock up on popcorn and Twizzlers.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Morning After

It seems appropriate, following a night of global partying (we presume it was global, although we've heard nothing from Pyongyang) to quote once again Jack Wasserman's immortal words: "It's better to have a few mornings after than never to have a night before."

There are any number of remedies for the morning after, including Jack Webster's and Kingsley Amis's, and a few books, including the recent "Hungover," by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, winner of the Best Author's Name of the Year Award.

But the classic remains "Floyd on Hangovers," by the ever entertaining Keith Floyd, which begins "I have been sitting here for at least an hour with a packet of frozen peas on my head."

Floyd gives recipes for various hangover remedies with names like "The Silly Sod" and "The Gormless Idiot," and concludes with a five-day detoxification program, which might be prescribed for the truly serious, non-ending hangover.

But the most famous remedy may be the one served to Bertie Wooster by the impeccable, imperturbable Jeeves, who says, "Gentlemen have told me they have found it extremely invigorating after a late evening."

The concoction is simple: raw egg, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper. Bertie Wooster, after downing it, said that at first it felt as though someone had exploded a bomb in his mouth and was running down his throat with a flaming torch. But then, the therapeutic effect kicked in, and, said Bertie, "The sun shone in the window, birds twittered in the treetops, and hope dawned once more."

May it be so for you.