Thursday, July 27, 2017

Happiness by Aristotle

"Happiness is the exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope."

-- Aristotle

Motivation Inspiration from Goethe

"At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assure your success."

-- Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hey, Let's Make a Musical About It!

Beautiful - the Carole King Musical is currently playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre here in Toronto; and is scheduled to do so until September 3rd. There are adverts everywhere: radio, television, and on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission).

I'm a King fan, and maybe I should get off my butt (and "but..."), pull open my wallet, rather, siphon a substantial sum from my bank account, and see the show.

All these musicals get me thinking: It makes sense that a musical is produced about a musician or based on a piece of music, but why are there ones about odd things? On that theme, why hasn't anyone done a musical about pest control?


Monday, July 24, 2017

Sold a Bag of The Goods

Ten o'clock in the evening may be too early to hit the silk. Woke up at about a half past four this morning.

Forget it; it's not going to happen.

Arise, make a coffee, pop on the television and watch that CBC show called The Goods. I'd seen the adverts but not the actual deal.

At least my caffeine-based drink was good; the cast of The Goods needs decaf. "Slow down, guys." Anyone who knows me must know I'm serious when I say something like that. They are trying too hard. So too are the show's producers.

It finished. Then came the morning's news via the CBC's Radio One (99.1 FM). On my television?....


Sunday, July 23, 2017

What Canadian FIlm is This?

Whatever it's called I saw it about fifteen years ago on the CBC, late night. The premise is, at least the way I remember it, and I did join the flick in progress, a T-shirted, beer drinking, bearded male in his thirties plays and narrates home movies live-to-film.

We hear his French-Canadian-inflected voice: The man talks a bit as he changes reels on the Super-8 film projector; when the film is threaded he starts the projector. We see the lab-spliced Kodak white film leader run, and a few seconds later, just like the real deal, we have 'picture'. This happens a few times throughout the movie.

This proud researcher admits that he has come up empty handed. (I also admit that my efforts have been perhaps cursory at best.) Any help identifying this Canadian unknown classic would be much appreciated.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

CBC Tonight: The Filmmakers - Atom Egoyan

At 8:30pm tonight, on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, is part one of a new half-hour interview program I never knew existed until minutes ago:

The Filmmakers (interviews with Canadian filmmakers of the last 20 years)

Tonight's episode: "The Sweet Hereafter - Atom Egoyan"


The New Doctor Who

I found out this past week that the next "Doctor" will be played by a woman. It's about bleedin' time!

While I did clock some episodes in the new Doctor Who's first season (2005) I do not watch the show, but I know when it's time for a long-running television series to change with the times -- even when it's behind the times.

et prudentem in femina dolor


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Employing a Question of Labour

Some parties here in Ontario, Canada, are whining about a proposal by the Kathleen Wynne government to raise the minimum wage from $11.40 to $15 per hour.

It's not just small businesses that are worried about the admittedly substantial in-one-shot increase, but big ones too.

What? Why?

How?

In 1981, while I whistled while I worked at CGE (Canadian General Electric) my efforts were rewarded with a rate of $8 per hour ($20 today). In 1984, as I did some last minute saving-up for school, the Radio Shack warehouse paid me over $6 per 60 minutes. (In both cases I was not 'union'. It's a brain-busting case, I know.)

Dirty little secret: Today, 2017, many if not most companies of industry pay "staffing" agencies 17 - 19, sometimes more, dollars an hour per employee. These middlemen turn around and pay workers our now gorgeous minimum wage.

Go figure it out.


Newton's Waste

Image Orthicon ---- Immy ---- Emmy.




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Radio from my Youthful Old Age

"At the age of ten I was already an old man."

So opened my look back at my childhood's radio mornings. When the NHL (National Hockey League) mattered to me; before I got older and let the ice age slide into my then brief past.


From April 4, 2016:
Jack Dennett, CFRB, and Me

At the age of ten I was already an old man.

My favourite radio station at the time was Toronto's "old person's" CFRB. This past week long time CFRB morning show host Wally Crouter died and this sad news reminded me that every school morning in the early to mid 1970s I would tune my Sanyo portable radio to catch the news and, more importantly, grab the previous night's National Hockey League scores from sports man Jack Dennett.

There I'd be sitting, on a chair with my Molson NHL schedule in hand ready to jot down the final scores as Dennett read them out to me. Like any good radio man, he gave you the impression he was speaking to you directly. I can still "hear" Dennett's relaxed voice: "The Boston Bruins beat the California Golden Seals by a score of seven to one."

Unfortunately this comfortable arrangement all came to an end in August of 1975 when Jack Dennett died of cancer. About this time my interest in the NHL was beginning to wane, anyway, as it does for most young men who start discovering other things: like, movies; and other things. Less than a week after Dennett passed away I was in high school.

Needless to say, CFRB is hardly the radio station it was forty-plus years ago. The market has changed. Times have changed. Now we get lots of pasteurized crap (with a Stretch Cunningham-like I.Q. of "one").

If CFRB were to go back to its olde format and sensibility I'd be ready for them in little more than ten or fifteen years.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I've Been Asking for What City?

This morning I saw a television advert for a new movie that looks an awful lot like a run-of-the-mill video/computer game.

Titled Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets it looks like one of those contraptions that begs the viewer to look at every point in the frame before the next image rolls along. (I am aware of its comic book origins. Which is probably where it should have stayed.)

While the ad wound down I could swear I saw a critical rave text piece that said something like: "The movie you've been asking for!"

I don't know about that. I've been asking for a good movie.


(Post Script: It looks to me like Valerian needs some Valium.)


Monday, July 17, 2017

A Precious Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Photograph


Nineteen sixty-seven was a long time ago, folks. Canada celebrated its 100th birthday that year.

This year, a solid fifty years later, this great country is hitting the 1-5-0. And the Toronto Maple Leafs is celebrating the fully-solidified half century that has passed since that above photo was taken. (Half century. That's a lot of years.)

Here's to fifty more....


Sunday, July 16, 2017

From the Vandal

Interpretation keeps incontrovertibility at bay; certainly in 'art'. An acrylic painting of an apple is one thing, but a painter's acrylic painting of an apple is quite another.


From August 24, 2016:
Graphic Vandalism Graphic

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bonding Songs on Zoomer Radio

I'm whistling while I work. "Saturday Night Bandstand" on Toronto station Zoomer Radio AM740 plays in my background.

Show host Tarzan Dan played some songs from the "Bond" films.

Great!

Well, great until the first in the cinema chain played Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" (kill me now) -- before you get your knickers in a knot, I'm a Paul McCartney fan, but I think his Bond tune is one of the worst.

Then Dan played one of the best, "The Spy Who Loved Me". That's what I call a comeback.

On to the very best, "Goldfinger".

The ring was complete.

Until Tarzan Dan capped it off with "Skyfall", in my over-charged opinion, the absolute worst of the Bond songs; and one warbled by Adele.

The night the whistling stopped....


Decisions at the Imperial Six in 1978's Summer

While I was visiting Toronto with a friend in the summer of 1978 a decision had to be made: the right one could bring cinematic pleasure (not that kind of movie!), the wrong one could make us reel. We were teenagers, sponges, but James and I did want to do the right thing that beautifully warm and sunny day.

Outside the Imperial Six Theatre on Yonge Street -- remember that? those? -- we stood, monitoring the colour television monitors which unreeled clips from the movies on offer.

Should we make a bee-line for the Master of Disaster's new epic, The Swarm, or take a promised ride with some novice's Corvette Summer?

This could take some time, and it did, believe me. Deciding some years later what VHS tape should be rented from the local video store had nothing on trying to pick between two new hot summer films -- ones aimed perfectly at teenagers.

Corvette Summer, starring that Mark Hamill guy from the summer before, was not bad. Entertaining with some good characterizations.

The Swarm?! Word got around quickly regarding that disaster; James and I must have known....


Movie Showbill: Irwin Allen's Submarine Voyage Picture

While writing my previous blog posting today I noticed that I have in my picture files a poster for the 1961 Irwin Allen epic feature film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

For anyone of a certain age who saw the film there may be warm feelings and fond memories of that futuristic submarine tale.

See it now and one may be surprised to hear Ringo Starr's "Octopus's Garden" in Voyage's opening theme song.

I'm wondering if my peer, the talented blogger and author, John Kenneth Muir has treated this in one of his superior film and television analyses. I should check when I get a few moments: reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.ca


Mums Can Be Wrong

I've not seen the CBC's comedic series Schitt's Creek in about a year. Maybe it's time I give it another try.

Try I did a year ago. With a little Second City Television and Monty Python's Flying Circus thrown in for good measuring.


From July 15, 2016:
Mums! (Aren't Always Right)

Tonight I watched an episode of the CBC 'comedy' series Schitt's Creek and I got a flashback: Seeing comedic actors Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara ply their trade in material far away beneath their talents reminded me how funny they were in the classic Canadian comedy series SCTV.

I discovered the show when it was titled, simply, Second City Television. How we stumble upon a certain television series, especially one that goes on to great heights, has long interested me. In the case of me and SCTV it all started in early 1977 through my weekly scans of TV Guide magazine. For many weeks I would note the listing for something called Second City. It would appear with the numbers 6 and 41, which translated as the Global Television Network. ("Global" in those days was the new kid on the dial but it delivered a fine range of fare; unlike the plastic rubbish can it is today, and has been for years.)

One evening I decided to sit down and sample this "Second City" thing. I liked it. My fifteen-year-old head got much of the humour. I did not know it at the time but what I had watched was an episode from the first batch, which was produced at the Global studios on Barber Greene Road in Toronto.

I had to tell others of my great discovery, one I categorized as a video equivalent of David Livingstone's discovery of Victoria Falls....well, Mosi-oa-Tunya, more properly.

Mum! She'll be my first convert. As this week's episode unreeled on the Zenith, she and I sat in silence. That's right, as in "no laughter". I wanted to laugh but I realized that emitting anything even mildly resembling a positive reaction might read as lacking class to my British born and raised mum.

End credits: The next day I brought up the issue with my mother. "Why didn't you like it?", I asked, darn well knowing the answer about to come my way. My dad overheard this and became curious as to what serious discussion was playing out before him: "What's that?..."

I figured it was prudent to let mum answer: "Oh, it's called Second City. They're trying to do a Monty Python but it doesn't work."

Mum was so wrong....


Thursday, July 13, 2017

What's With Animals Posing as Humans?

There is a bank ("financial institution") here in Canada which seems to think that animals act like human beings and take hotel rooms and hang out in outdoor cafes.

Just recently I saw a television commercial for another company that uses the same premise. In this ad campaign is an Owl dressed in a bathrobe; a rather sporty and sharp bathrobe, but a bathrobe all the same.

I love animals, but find the idea of them trying to be 'us' absurd.  Wild animals are too smart for that nonsense.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Poetry Cornered

Poetry was at one time my least favourite written form. Times change.


From June 8, 2016:
And Then For Something Completely Different



Time Merchants

This morning I coffeed           
on Yonge Street               
with an old friend
caught up on
issues since

I last saw him
last week

He and I disbanded:
My friend went back
to his conference and
I decided
to do something I
rarely do
anymore

walk up Yonge

"Look at all the
bloody
Vertical
Cracker
Boxes!
(going up
or already spiking
the cloudy sky)"

This town is out of
control
Zoning going to
The Twilight Zone

Yonge Street has
changed
much these last few years
helped
by Premium stacks
sprouting
from holes

Before I made it
to Bloor Street I
was stopped by

a woman selling
something
in front of a shop

Cosmetics
Me?

Why not?....

No, I
don't use facial moisturizers
but I should

Perhaps
I could

The sales lady was
in top form
having worked a little sales

I know the bad
and
the good

The cosmetic's test was done
on my forearm
but
I can imagine

With every peek into the bathroom
mirror my imagination tweaks
with age

** return **

Bloor Street
away

less

eventful


****
2016
Simon St. Laurent


___

From June 28, 2016:
"The Cobbler's Cat" - a Poem

The Cobbler's Cat

It's the Cobbler's Cat
for this the
pet's got the
nicest shoes
makin' for the
finest moves

a twist in tail
the 'tude of
a Street Dude
this furry feline
don't get no
boos!

that's what's
a
Cobbler's Cat




****
2016
Simon St. Laurent


___

From March 10, 2017:
Poem: The Cat's But

My cat asked for
my homage

But

If I failed to
comply
He would pay
homage to
me and my


****
2017
Simon St. Laurent


___

From March 12, 2017:
Poem: whenever

My mind waits
on the day

While in the
daze of sleep

my mind
wanders in
a nightie
and slippers


****

2017
Simon St. Laurent


___

From April 19, 2017:
Poem: Friends Tell Coffee Time

Of Saturday it is!

Do you meet still
with availability?

Soap, water, squirrels
about my now laundry

In sanity punches....


****

2017
Simon St. Laurent



Find that Star Trek Track!

Recently I met up with a friend who I haven't seen in a few months. While we chatted about something, he interrrupted with: "Sorry for interrupting, I didn't tell you that my friend ____ is (a key crewmember) on the new Star Trek series". I raised an eyebrow: "Wow."

He told me about the problems with the production, ones which were told by the industry trades some months ago, but knowing the inside scoop allowed my buddy to editorialize: "It's a (beep) disaster!"

We ran with the theme for a few minutes. Neither one of us, two fans of the original and best Trek, one of the best television series' ever, no longer has any desire to sit down with the new. (The CTV network is running the first installment before the show proper ends up as a streaming-only deal. No deal. I do plan to watch the premiere, though.)

My Trek-mate had a good point, one which has blown up on the Internet: "It doesn't even look like Star Trek....it looks like Star Wars."

Alexander Courage's brilliant Star Trek theme, the call, is being used in the Star Trek: Discovery promos, but if it's used for the series in even the simplest way, I know that alone is not enough -- all departments are rumoured to be closed for the time being.


From May 4, 2016:
Cue the Alexander Courage Siren

Don't be surprised if Toronto City Hall makes an appearance as Starfleet Headquarters. Imagine the jokes.

Star Trek is coming to Toronto.

It's exciting news if you're a city film tech and a Trekkie, certainly.

Production of that television franchise has gone on for way too long. Not only won't Star Trek: Whatever go away, but the latest one sets course for the great city of Toronto.

In all seriousness, "Star Trek With No Name As of Yet" is scheduled to premiere on January 22nd of next year on CBS's All-Access streaming service. It no doubt will be an even more tightly budgeted affair given that it's not on the main network, one of the "big three", but perhaps we'll witness good Trek storytelling on a reasonably regular basis for the first time in over four decades. Maybe the characters will be something more than the standard one-dimensional bores that have staffed the various programmes -- with the exception of the original, of course.

Which reminds me:

The news stories I've seen on the soon-to-be Trek utilize clips and stills from the original series; it's almost as though the other TV Treks don't exist. Psst: They don't. There's been subspace chatter about it for months. Rumour has it they all got crushed by a Class G Solar Star.

(CBS owns Star Trek, the original.)

When it first ran, I assimilated the first two years of Star Trek: The Next Generation off and on but few episodes after that. About five years ago I decided to give it another try; that was enough. No more.

As for the others, I scanned the first two episodes of each and an episode or two later. I felt no great need to deactivate any more hours of my time.

How do I know the stories are on average unimpressive given that I'm not terribly familiar with the many incarnations? Sensor readings and ship's records told me.

Will I give the new TV Trek a try? Darn right I will. It's being shot in Toronto!

"Commodore Tory!....I viewed tapes of your lectures while I was a cadet at Starfleet Academy, but I never imagined I'd ever meet you in person."


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Bernstein, Wagner, and Me

This past weekend I watched a fine documentary on the late, great American conductor Leonard Bernstein; this flick, Leonard Bernstein Reflections, reminded me of an experience of mine from years ago:

Years ago I worked at an "optical house" where I was the afternoon shift camera guy. This entailed frequently working into the wee hours of the morning; using the technical side of your brain when it would rather be in sleep mode.

My coworker -- the day cameraman -- would leave the radio on for me after we discussed what it was I had to shoot and how I could shoot it. Unfortunately the radio station was one of the moronic pop stations, which only served to annoy me as I tried to shoot opticals. After a few days of annoyance I decided it would be best for my sanity if I were to change the station to a classical one. Great: I could shoot film while dancing to Schumann's Symphony No 3. (Known to fantasy movie fans as the theme to the 1988 crappic, Willow.)

One night the classical station's host played a little Richard Wagner but before he started rolling the music track he talked a bit about conductor Leonard Bernstein. The maestro was quoted giving his feelings on Wagner. Bernstein despised the Uber composer on solid grounds: Wagner was a racist, an anti-Semite, and so on: "I hate Wagner, but I hate him on my knees!"

After I heard that, I was on my knees!....


Saturday, July 8, 2017

I'm in, if not from, The Twilight Zone

A couple of weeks ago I read a book about Rod Serling; written by his daughter Anne, As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling is a revealing look at the Twilight Zone creator from the perspective of his youngest child.

Anne Serling states in the book that she did not know what her father did -- other than writing -- until she was six or seven years old, and did not watch a lot in the way of The Twilight Zone (1959 - 1964) until she was a few years older. The first episode that Anne remembers watching was "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", a superb episode, one starring William Shatner, with her father. Although that teleplay was written by Richard Matheson it still gave Anne an idea what took so much of her father's time when she was a child.

(I knew what my father did at a fairly young age; something to do with explosives, although I never saw him at his place of work, for obvious reasons: the Canadian military -- specifically the RCAF.)

There's something inherently interesting, I find, about memoirs from the offspring of a well-known figure; certainly a talented, and introspective, creator of a upper-case television program -- even if historically the competition is anemic, to put it kindly. ("Television? No thanks.")

My own positive reaction to Ms. Serling's memoirs made me re-explore some episodes of The Twilight Zone.

Confirmed.

Along with The Outer Limits (1963 - 1965), TZ is the best of its kind; that of dramatic television fantasy/science fiction.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Driver Harassment on the TTC

I was on a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) bus a few days ago and witnessed something that I could not quite comprehend:

The bus route shall remain unstated since it is not integral to the story. I was sitting near the back of the bus as the driver drove the vehicle from the station. As we made our way out the driver applied the brakes. Fine; up ahead, in front of the stopped bus in front of us, one also about to take its passengers somewhere, were three pedestrians traversing the designated crosswalk.

Suddenly, and without warning, our driver punched the bus's horn. I looked ahead to see what could have prompted the driver to honk out loud. "He's honking at the bus in front of us, at the driver who is doing the proper and procedural thing by letting the walkers cross the road?"

That is my TTC WTH story. I'm generally supportive of my 'wheels', the TTC, but I have to admit that on this occasion I was thoroughly unimpressed.


It's Coffee Time, Again

Coffee. Seeing that word makes me believe that I sometimes drink too much, even if it's just two mugs-full per day.

I just got to work; to the kitchenette and coffee....


From April 24, 2016:
Tips for French Press Coffee


My favourite coffee shop, of the franchise kind, has to be Second Cup.

I stopped by my local SC store yesterday to grab a half pound of ground Colombian medium roast coffee. After the order was filled by the worker lady she handed me the bag of gold, and a piece of paper; on it were some handwritten notes:

Tips for French press coffee;

1. Steep coffee in water for 6 to 8 minutes

2. Wrap French press in a tea towel while brewing to preserve warmth

3. When ready to press; do so Gently & Slowly

4. Immediately pour your coffee out after pressing


I was impressed. What service!

The "tea towel" advice is good. I find that the coffee cools quickly after brewing; if I let it sit in the press for any length of time I'm racing to empty my mug.

Coffee from a French Press is pretty fine. Which reminds me....


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Letters to the Editors

Once in a while I will write letters to the "Letters to the Editor" section of various newspapers. This needle-pinning "Lefty" most often gets published by right-wing dailies. Go figure.


With the Toronto Sun about to close its doors, or rather, Postmedia, its new owners, will shutter the Sun, I thought it time I reprint an earlier column of my own.


From April 12, 2016:
A Letter to the Editor: Toronto Sun

I can't believe it was seven years ago that I had the following letter published in the "Letters" page of the Toronto Sun (March 24th, 2009). The years know only Warp Factor 9; there's no other setting, apparently.

When I pressed "send" I had a gut feeling the paper would print it, even though the piece is almost 300 words in length -- double what they usually accept.

My letter, along with another writer's, was given its own space away from the pack. Kudos to the Toronto Sun "Letters" editor for keeping it intact, with just a couple of small edits (which I think improved the flow of my piece in those places).

The subject: There was a funny guy by the name of Greg Gutfeld who worked for Fox News. He thought he was being cute by slagging Canada and its outstanding military. I doubt Gutfeld knows much about Canada over and above the stereotypes; he probably thinks we're all Leafs fans up here.

To paraphrase the great Elwy Yost: Dim the houselights, and cue the Rózsa trumpets!


THOSE IN THE KNOW GET IT

Like many Canadians I am rather disturbed by the ridiculous, caustic, and childish comments from Fox News Red Eye host Greg Gutfeld and his merry band of oblivious panelists.

But when Gutfeld mocks Canadian Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie's name by saying "an unusual name for a man," then you know he is not to be taken seriously. And certainly not as a satirist as he claims to be. U.S. servicemen and women know the score.

While in England a few years ago I was travelling on a train and a group of American F-15 fighter pilots were in the particular car where I was sitting. Almost immediately several of them introduced themselves and welcomed me aboard. One particular pilot and his weapons officer took me under their wing and we struck up a pleasant conversation. I told them my own father was in the Canadian air force and this seemed to give us a connection. The young fly-boy said, "you guys have great pilots ... we fly with you all the time." Another chap, a cool customer who ignored a drunk who tried several times to ruffle his feathers, told me he had recently been on a pilots' exchange program in Goose Bay and had a lot of fun flying with Canadians.

When we disembarked, the Americans helped with my luggage and wished me a pleasant trip.

My point? Well, we Canadians are understood by those who are in the know. Gentlemen like those I met have the utmost respect for our military and what it represents.

It is an argument or concept not understood by Gutfeld and only helps undermine his whole ignorant and feeble rant.

SIMON ST. LAURENT
TORONTO

(Our military: Underfunded, under-equipped and just outstanding)



___


Postmedia's National Post will continue on; for a right-wing paper it's not too bad.


From April 13, 2016:
An F-35 Lighting II Strike in Letters

Yesterday I posted a piece about a letter of mine that was published in the Toronto Sun "Letters" page back in 2009. I was excited when it was printed and I'm excited now even thinking about it.

The excitement continues: Some folk in Ottawa and the RCAF want the Lockheed Martin F-35 "Lightning II" fighter jet really badly; so much so that they're willing to pay for it. "Pay" is about it. This military aviation enthusiast, one who admits he has not actually flown the aircraft, thinks the ever escalating price-tag is insane and that Canada should pull out of the F-35 program. (Keep in mind that whatever quantity of aircraft Canada may settle on in the end does not mean those machines will all be up and running at any one time. Key term: "Hangar Queens." Yeah, kinda like that smartphone you bought that one time. Except this one flies a little better.)

To validate my feelings on the matter, here is a letter I had published in the National Post back on April 13th, 2012.

Cue the jug band. And don't forget to pass the hat around....


Re: Good Aircraft Are Worth The Cost, letter to the editor, April 11.

While I appreciate Major Charles Hooker’s opinion on the subject of Canada possibly acquiring the F-35, I have a big question: How do we know the F-35 is “the best aircraft available (in the procurement time frame)”?

The fact is, the F-35 is unproven. Give me a wad of cash and some dice and I’ll decide for you — the difference being, I won’t charge to toss the dice. Huge savings, guaranteed.

Simon St. Laurent, Toronto.


Protection Copy

For your reading pleasure, here is one of my more popular pieces -- in spite of the lame title. "Rubbers" might have been more fitting;


From April 11, 2016:
Play it Safe Again, Sam

After I posted admissions regarding my lack of activity in the now shuttered Brunswick House, I remembered an odd, though hardly unexpected, experience from The Madison Avenue Pub. (“The Maddy" is a hot spot for local students, not just those from the University of Toronto, and professors and Annexians alike.)

Years ago, when I was a regular occupant of the Maddy, I witnessed a potentially ugly incident. One night as I was leaving the establishment after soaking down with friends of mine, I heard a provocative discussion happening in real (but a bit blurry) time on the stairway leading from near the main entrance up to the second floor:

"Man! Give him his rubbers back!" Again: "Man, give him his rubbers back." And: "Come on, man!"

Remembering that I was carrying several packets of condoms in my left back pocket I made an offer to the swaying young bloke amongst the three who clearly was operating sans "rubbers". My kindly gesture might give the lad a night to remember.

"Hey. These are yours. They should last you the night." While tossing a "Thanks, Man!" he extended his right arm but inexplicably missed my personal space. I helped by intercepting his hand, a dance much in the way a Soyuz-Progress spacecraft might mate with the International Space Station. The cargo had been delivered. "Contact."

My hope was he would not notice the expiry date; that the alcohol had disconnected any primal urge to check the potentially prize-winning numbers on yellowing packaging.

As I took the two steps down to the main floor, I turned and looked up to my grateful pal: "Have fun....but be careful."

I spun a half turn toward the opened exit door but a sweeping voice chased me: "What'd'ya mean, be careful?"

I wasn't so inebriated that I could not walk an uncountable pace. That was all I heard. No more "what?". He had probably already forgotten me.

As I walked north on Madison Avenue, a young man – they all seem young after you've punched a third decade in the head – approached with measurable non-precision and puttered a question to my broadside as he wobbled around me.

"Hey, man. Do you got any rubbers?"

"Funny you should ask. Sorry, Sam, I just gave the last of them away. Have a good night."

(I should have gone into business for myself. A tall, skinny, well-dressed, in a Metrosexual way, and sober guy is of the sort that must be equipped with condoms-for-sale. It all makes sense.)













A clarification: The above story is a work of creative fiction based on actual events. Not all details are authentic and certain liberties are taken in order to tell an entertaining story; I hope. ("Reality" drifts to the mundane.)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

From a Dependent Brat: Hercules Lifts

For some reason I did not originally post the following piece under the "From a Dependent Brat" banner.


From April 9, 2016:
Hercules: Magnificent Transporter of the RCAF


For a Canadian Air Force Brat it is not an uncommon privilege to enjoy a trip on a transport aircraft like the Lockheed CC-130 "Hercules". This hitch-a-ride in the RCAF is referred to as a "flip". If there's space beside the cargo a serviceman/servicewoman and their dependents can hop on, but this cannot happen with just any flight, obviously: In the 1970s my dad escorted a cargo of explosives aboard a Herc on an overseas flight to England.

After many years my experiences flying on this machine are still vivid and memorable. "An Air Pocket Over Europe: film at eleven!" Soon.

This past Tuesday a CC-130E Hercules made its final trip after 50 years of service, leaving 8 Wing CFB Trenton for the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. This story is described in County Live.

My father served with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force (and the Canadian Armed Forces), and my mother served with the Royal Air Force. I served with no air force. Great.

At least I was a brat.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

From a Dependent Brat: Canada Day

My mother looked through the Hammond World Atlas with me. She showed me where we were going to to be living in Ontario, Canada, once my dad was posted to CFB Borden.

The good news was that we would be surrounded by water -- "surrounded" in a Canadian sense.

What I remember most about the planned return to Canada, was this plan of mine: When I stepped onto the tarmac after exiting the Canadian Armed Forces Boeing 707 I would kiss the ground. (I was Drama even at nine years of age.)

I loved West Germany, but this kid was excited about returning to this country -- and the Montreal Canadiens.

I didn't kiss the ground after touching Canadian soil (or concrete) for the first time in four years, but I made my point.



Friday, June 30, 2017

And Again....

I'm still working on it, dad.


From March 21, 2016:
Some Fine Fatherly Advice, For Some

This morning a friend of mine seemed to be a little annoyed after reading a newspaper story on a guy, with less than minimal film & television production experience, who got a decent job on a television series.

My late father, who was "career air force", knew the score for those of us who haboured any pretensions of wanting to work and excel in the film and television business. He dispensed a certain line of sage advice on more than one occasion, even after I had a small record of the Barrie Examiner, Barrie Banner, and CKVR Television doing stories on me and my pals making film. Here it is, made even more relevant now that the wonderful explosion in media technologies allows anyone to make video:

"You have to know how to sell yourself. Stand out from the pack. Otherwise you just get lost in the crowd."


Thursday, June 29, 2017

I Remember the Other One

In two days Canada turns 150 years of age.

"I remember the one-hundredth birthday celebrations", I explained to the young person who asked me what I was doing for Canada Day: "They were big. I was living in (West) Germany at the time....Bobby Gimby made an appearance."

Seconds later I asked myself, and got no answer of real substance: "How do I remember that?"

I must be over fifty years old.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Writing Advice from The Twilight Zone

Yet another great old quote from Twilight Zone creator and writer Rod Serling; this one in regards to writing for television:

"A final note to aspiring writers . . . Do westerns and make your horses gray and if you have any burning desire to write anything that has two sides to it, do a magazine piece on window cleaning."


Note: Serling specified 'westerns' since he wrote the above when that form of entertainment was all the rage on early 1960s television.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Season of the Which

Here in the great city of Toronto walk "Jays" jerseys and caps. Yes, the Toronto Blue Jays are the heat of this city's sporting world.

That team logo is seemingly everywhere this time of the year, and into the latter part of the year. What occurred to me this morning was that when the Toronto Maple Leafs are skating cold in the winter season, one does not see much in the way of "Leafs" identifying marks.

We hear often that the Toronto Maple Leafs is Toronto's sports team.

I had long wondered where the term "The Dead of Winter" came from....


Certain Truths, from the Twilight Zone

I watched recently the outstanding documentary "Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval". Produced in 1995 for the PBS series American Masters, this 90 minute film is recommended to anyone who fights with and for the creative process, especially one attempting to fuel a commercial form.

Mr. Serling was known for his 'can opener' opinions, like this one:

"I happen to think that the singular evil of our time is prejudice. It is from this evil that all other evils grow and multiply. In almost everything I've written there is a thread of this: a man's seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself."


In this Age of Trump, a comment like the above contains fortified resonance.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Let's Choose Life

Here in Toronto we've received a lot of rain lately. Rain reminds me of earth and life. And reminds me of how we choose to treat our planet and all its inhabitants.


From February, 19, 2016:
A Cosmonaut's Special View



Space travellers, Astronauts and Cosmonauts, posses a special appreciation for Planet Earth and all its inhabitants. Having a global view, literally, helps one come up with something like the following profound observation:

 "When we look into the sky it seems to us to be endless. We breathe without thinking about it, as is natural... and then you sit aboard a spacecraft, you tear away from Earth, and within ten minutes you have been carried straight through the layer of air, and beyond there is nothing! The 'boundless' blue sky, the ocean which gives us breath and protects us from endless black and death, is but an infinitesimally thin film. How dangerous it is to threaten even the smallest part of this gossamer covering, this conserver of life."

- Cosmonaut Vladimir Shatalov
(Soyuz 4, Soyuz 8, Soyuz 10)

Even More Better Now Donald

With Donald J. Trump as President of the United States of America, my piece about "Imminent Peril" may be even more relevant.


From February 9, 2016:
It's Called "Imminent Peril"

Hot off the press:

"It is an incontrovertible truth that the civil institutions of the United States of America have been seriously affected, and that they now stand in imminent peril from the rapid and enormous increase of the body of residents of foreign birth, imbued with foreign feelings, and of an ignorant and immoral character, who receive, under the present lax and unreasonable laws of naturalization, the elective franchise and the right of eligibility to political office."


When was the above written? It was part of a speech given in Philadelphia at the first national convention of the Native American Party; the event was held in the year 1845.

While the quote may give one the impression it comes from the pen of Donald Trump, it reads as a little bit too articulate for The Donald.


A Friend is Taking His Cats With Him

An old friend of mine and his wife are leaving the city later in the year. I'll miss them, I'm sure, but his two cats have elected to do the move with their human captors.

This cat-sitter, a specialist in the field, will miss the kids.


From March 7, 2016:
A Swinging Cat Moment

An old friend of mine occasionally needs someone to take care of his two fine felines for a few days. At first he utilized the fine services of his friend Dave, and this arrangement worked on a few occasions. One day, a couple of years ago, Dave found he was unable to deal with two cats that had decided suddenly to settle an old score. Apparently he was "pretty upset" by the paw-fight and wasn't so sure he wanted to undertake his special role anymore.

Next time: My friend called me. "Do you mind doing it, Si?"

"Of course not! You're calling the cat expert."

These cats have not fought on my watch; they've wanted to, but this human knows how to defuse a house-cat-sized political squabble. Admittedly I'm well armed: A cup of water (which I've never had to use), and a great finger-snap. "No!... No!...."

Now: This cat lover naturally would take a few pictures while lounging around on a back patio with two bored cats. I was organizing some picture files on my computer recently and I had not realized that I had captured a special moment: A Certain Feline did not appreciate my camera's flashing red-eye reduction light.

That's one squirrely cat:

···  ··  −−  −−−  −·

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blast-Off! From the Past

This space cadet of the Soviet/Russian space program must one day witness a live launch of a Soyuz rocket. In person.

Two years ago TVOntario ran a two-part documentary on the very subject of the "Soviet/Russian space program". At about this time last year that educational network repeated the documentary, Cosmonauts: How Russian Won the Space Race. I wrote a little tie-in piece of sorts putting forth my opinion on the whole subject.


From June 7, 2016:
Yes, Russia Did Win the Space Race. And How!

Tonight on Ontario's superlative television network, "TVOntario", plays 'part one' of the fine BBC documentary film Cosmonauts: How Russia Won the Space Race.

That great race to the island in the sky was won clearly by the USA, leaving the USSR in Earth orbit.


But.

The contest itself was not only of note but of one note.

The Soviets were never serious about the affair. I won't go into a political history lesson here, but suffice to say, where the Americans hit the moon several times their opposition stayed in town, so to speak, establishing an outpost around Earth in the form of the Salyut (and later, Mir) space stations. On these platforms they learned about human physiology in weightlessness and conducted numerous scientific experiments.

From the Soviet Union's "feigned" moon attempt sprouted the outstanding Soyuz spacecraft, modified versions of which ferry men/women and supplies to the International Space Station today. (This space cadet considers the Soyuz "system" to be one of the great man-made machines.)

Throughout the 1960s the game became the moon: the ice hockey net; the basketball hoop; the goal line and the uprights. Easy to say in hindsight, yes, but there was a whole field to be played.

There's so much more to the story.


Cosmonauts: How Russia Won the Space Race
Tonight at 10 p.m. on TVOntario

Monday, June 19, 2017

I'm No Woody Allen, But....

Years ago I read aloud some of Woody Allen's best "dark" quotes to a friend of mine. She responded regularly with a sour: "That's not funny!"

I thought they were funny; every time I managed to get one out I folded, almost collapsing.

Minutes ago I decided I would try to conjure up a dark quote that may look as though it came from the great comedian's pen:

"I'm not afraid of dying, but I am worried about the possibility that I won't be around to enjoy it."



Sunday, June 18, 2017

It's Father's Day

H.W. St. Laurent, Royal Canadian Air Force
and Royal Air Force

Saturday, June 17, 2017

RAF 626 Squadron - Posting 6

In celebration of the "Hamilton" Lancaster bomber taking to the skies for the first time this year, I thought it might be a good time to re-post pieces I've written about Royal Air Force 626 Squadron and my father's experiences therein.


From January 13, 2013:
12 & 626 Squadron Memorial Service

Back on September 9th of last year, there was a memorial service for No 12 and 626 Squadrons at Wickenby Airfield, Lincolnshire.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

When Moral Fibre Was Woven Easily

Re-posting five blog pieces today on the Avro Lancaster bomber and Royal Air Force 626 Squadron got me thinking about why we volunteer to fight in a war.

On May 30th of last year I wrote about what makes one decides to join a military conflict:

Why One Goes to War

Last night I watched a fine feature length documentary on WWII. Produced by the National Geographic Channel, "Inside WWII" overviews, in the hyper-speed mode so typical of info-dump docs made these days, the 20th century's largest conflict.

Some of the interview subjects explain why they joined the war. I remember the day in 1984 when I finally got around to asking my own father why he enlisted and why he chose RAF Bomber Command:

"I was pissed off. I was doing poorly in school and my mind was on the war overseas."

His rational for joining the bomber force as a gunner was expedient:

"You got overseas quickly that way . . . It was an eight-week air gunners' course in Montreal."

(He knew that flying as "aircrew" in Bomber Command was dangerous work. Many young men, men too young, got "The Chop".)

As was the norm at the time in this neck of the woods my dad was sent to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds for dispersal. From that famous Canadian site began the process of getting "shipped overseas", but as this was wartime it wasn't quite that easy. German U-boats roamed the North Atlantic in search of prey, and a steamer loaded with fresh faces was a prime and highly-prized target.

I will stop here: The above bits and pieces are stressful enough, never mind the few combat stories my dad did let out over the years. (While on one of my trips to England, as part of my ongoing research on RAF Bomber Command I spoke with historian Martin Middlebrook and he gave me some sage advice which I understood too well: "Don't ask your father. He won't tell you anything.")

A few years after the war ended he joined the RCAF and enjoyed a long career with Canada's finest service.

I left the best for last; the big "and" part of my dad's explanation for wanting to see action overseas:

"... And I wanted to get the Germans."

(A childhood friend did not come home; he died when his bomber was shot down over France. Kinda sobering, ain't it?)

Passions of the time, those were.

My father loved Germany and the Germans. We moved to West Germany in October of 1966, just twenty-one years after he flew in a Lancaster bomber doing a job he felt he must do.

Royal Air Force No. 626 Squadron - May 1945


(I had not realized until reading my Washington Post this morning that today is "Memorial Day" in the States.)

RAF 626 Squadron - Posting 5

In celebration of the "Hamilton" Lancaster bomber taking to the skies for the first time this year, I thought it might be a good time to re-post pieces I've written about Royal Air Force 626 Squadron and my father's experiences therein.


From September 22nd, 2012:
An Operational Record Book (Partial)

The postings on this blog with some of the biggest hit counts are those regarding RAF Bomber Command No. 626 Squadron, with which my father flew during the war.  I thought it time to add a little more information regarding his operational record.

Here is a partial list -- culled from material provided to me by Dave Stapleton of The 626 Squadron Research Project -- of "ops" flown by Flying Officer A.R. Screen and crew:

Date - Target - Notes

12 March 1945 - Dortmund
13 March 1945 - Herne - The target was a Benzol Plant
23 March 1945 - Bremen Bridge
14 April 1945 - Potsdam
22 April 1945 - Bremen - Mission abandoned on Master Bomber’s orders.
25 April 1945 - Berchtesgaden - Hitler’s Eagles Nest in Bavaria (specifically, the SS Barracks)

With the Allied forces now advancing well into Germany, Bomber Command now turned its attention to humanitarian sorties and 626 Squadron was similarly tasked. (The Squadron’s Lancasters were converted to carry sacks of food in the bomb bays. Each aircraft carried 284 sacks; these were dropped from 500ft.) The crew flew two of these sorties:

30 April 1945 - Rotterdam - Operation Manna
2 May 1945 - Rotterdam - Operation Manna


Special thanks to:
Dave Stapleton
The 626 Squadron Research Project
Copyright 2010 ©


Post script:

A few weeks ago I was telling a friend how young these guys were who flew in RAF Bomber Command. My dad was nineteen; his crewmates would have been that age or a year or two older. I joked with my buddy that if this particular aircrew was known for doing something special during the war, and a movie were made about their experiences, the guy in the role of my dad would probably be an actor in his late twenties or early thirties. And Flying Officer Screen would no doubt be played by someone like Johnny Depp.

Film producers, who aren't known for being a bright lot to begin with, often miss on details like the above.

RAF 626 Squadron - Posting 4

In celebration of the "Hamilton" Lancaster bomber taking to the skies for the first time this year, I thought it might be a good time to re-post pieces I've written about Royal Air Force 626 Squadron and my father's experiences therein.


From November 10th, 2011:
RAF '626 Squadron' Lancasters Over Berchtesgaden - April 25, 1945

In previous postings I talked about my father's experiences during WW2 with RAF Bomber Command No 626 Squadron. Below is a photo I discovered on the Internet (Tom Bint's webpage, www.626-squadron.co.uk), taken during 626's final major operation of the war: The bombing of the SS Barracks in Berchtesgaden, on April 25th, 1945.

RAF 626 Squadron - Posting 3

In celebration of the "Hamilton" Lancaster bomber taking to the skies for the first time this year, I thought it might be a good time to re-post pieces I've written about Royal Air Force 626 Squadron and my father's experiences therein.


From September 27th, 2010
Aircrew - RAF No. 626 Squadron Lancaster 1945

Further to my posts below, here is some information provided to me courtesy of Dave Stapleton of "The 626 Squadron Research Project". Here is the roster of my dad's crew-mates on a 626 Squadron Lancaster bomber:

Pilot Officer A R Screen - RAF - Pilot
Flying Officer R J Lovell - RCAF - Navigator
Warrant Officer E A Ellum - RAF - Wireless Operator
Flying Officer D H Mitchell - RCAF - Bomb Aimer
Sergeant W R Bradley - RAF - Flight Engineer
Sergeant H W St. Laurent - RCAF - Mid-Upper Gunner
Sergeant C Rodger - RCAF - Rear Gunner


As indicated by the listing, RAF bomber aircrews were made up of men from different Commonwealth countries, not just from the U.K. Hence four Canadians. If memory serves, my father told me that Sergeant Rodger was from Toronto.

Those guys were a brave bunch. When I was in my late teens or early 20s, I would bellyache something like: "Ohh... where's the bus? My feet are cold." Okay, jerk, try the following: Cold or even frostbitten hands (if you were a gunner); flak exploding all around; getting 'coned' in searchlights over a city; coming under attack from a lurking night fighter, with your pilot sending your bomber into a violent corkscrew maneuver -- as the gunners open fire and fill the inside of the fuselage with fumes of cordite -- to increase your chances of seeing home that night; a bomb dropped by a friendly bomber above hitting your own aircraft, and right beside where you are sitting (that happened to my dad on a trip); wondering if you might end up bobbing about on the North Sea in the middle of the night, or having to bail out over enemy territory....

Those cold feet don't seem to be so bad, after all.

RAF 626 Squadron - Posting 2

In celebration of the "Hamilton" Lancaster bomber taking to the skies for the first time this year, I thought it might be a good time to re-post pieces I've written about Royal Air Force 626 Squadron and my father's experiences therein.


From May 11th, 2010:
Royal Air Force 626 Squadron - May 1945




Dave Stapleton of http://626squadron.org/ supplied me with the above picture to help identify my father. It was taken on May 30th, 1945, and shows RAF 626 Squadron airmen wearing their "Best Blues".

Just a few weeks before, my dad and his crew flew twice to Rotterdam as part of "Operation Manna", a series of sorties which involved air-dropping sacks of food for the starving Dutch population.

Those were different times.

Nothing's changed, eh? How we never learn.

RAF 626 Squadron - Posting 1

In celebration of the "Hamilton" Lancaster bomber taking to the skies for the first time this year, I thought it might be a good time to re-post pieces I've written about Royal Air Force 626 Squadron and my father's experiences therein.


From March 7th, 2010:
626 Squadron - Royal Air Force



I’m just old enough to have had a father who served in World War II. I say this as when the subject comes up I am asked how I can be the offspring of a Second World War veteran – I’m 48, and I am one of the second batch as my late father had been married before.

In reference to that great opening speech in one of my favourite movies, Patton (1970), where George C. Scott as George S. Patton addresses an unseen crowd of soldiers, my father did not ‘shovel shit in Louisiana’. He served in RAF Bomber Command; specifically as an Air Gunner on Lancasters with number 626 Squadron. I say this, I suppose, partly in the hope to snag those former aircrew who might be surfing the Net after keying “626 Squadron” into their search engines. My dad’s “Skipper” was Pilot Officer A. R. Screen; referred to by his crew as “three engine Screen” as their Lanc often lost an engine on sorties.

As I discovered a few years ago after keying the said search I found out that there is a British gentleman, by the name of Dave Stapleton, who dedicates time to researching the very same squadron – he too has a connection to 626. Last week Dave sent me a nice panorama shot which had been taken of the squadron's crewmembers a couple of weeks after VE-Day. These large-format photographs were taken of the squadron previously during the war (as they were for other squadrons) but what is interesting about this one is that these guys survived the war. My dad is in there somewhere but, as the picture does not come with a “key”, I have to corroborate this one with the siblings.

Not to go on too much about the subject, Dave also supplied me with my dad’s Operational Record, but I will end with this: “This raid on Berchtesgaden was the last operational sortie flown by 626 Squadron, and the last major raid of the war in Europe. Two targets were identified for the raid, the Eagles Nest itself and the SS Barracks nearby. 626 Squadron’s target was the SS Barracks.”

Thanks again to Dave Stapleton for his fine research work: http://626squadron.org/


* The photo above is of the very Lancaster that my father flew in on the ‘Berchtesgaden’ operation; in addition to two earlier raids, including one on Bremen three days before. (The crew pictured here is not his crew.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Star Wars: Real Fans on the Top Floor

A couple of years ago my old friend Dom was in town. He's a big reader, so he and I visited Toronto's super BMV Books (the "Bloor Street" location).

Dom likes Star Wars but his interests are wide; he's not one to become too obsessed by a movie franchise.

We went up to the top floor, a level I had not bothered ascending to before that time. It's a haven of sorts for real Star Wars fans. My buddy stood a few feet before me as he looked, surveyed, the room's profusion of paper material. Dom rested both hands on his hips and said, within easy earshot of the customers: "Just think, Si, for a lot of Star Wars fans this is their whole world."


Weekday Night Fever 1993

For reasons unknown I did not see Saturday Night Fever upon its first release in December of 1977. However, I made up for that missed opportunity in early 1993 when the fabulous Bloor Cinema here in Toronto fulfilled its role as a top repertory movie house. In 1992 alone I saw about 150 movies there. What was playing was not an issue at all to this movie fan: I would pop out of the subway -- "Bathurst" station -- on my way home from work and pop into the royal movie place. (Once I double-dipped without realizing it. "I've seen this; when it came out.")

I was glad to finally get around to seeing the Fever. Much of the audience had seen it, that much was clear to me. They howled during the opening credits sequence, specifically the very low shot of John Travolta's boots Ping-Ponging to and from the camera lens. I too laughed. Awesome filmmaking. Later, when the star applied the essential 1970s hair blowdryer, the audience went nuts.

I loved the film, as a film. It deserves its "classic" status. The dance scenes are almost transcendental.

Last night I watched it again, this time on DVD. Absolutely a wonderful and joyous piece of movie entertainment; even with the non-PG moments.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sporting Admissions from the Past

From February 13, 2016:
An Admission 46 Years Later (Emotional Football)

Something has been bugging me lately: I've been prone to tossing and turning at two or three o'clock in the morning, unable to sleep, because I did a certain "bad" almost forty-six years ago.

In June of 1970 my family and I were visiting relatives in Bristol, UK; that month the 1970 FIFA World Cup was being played, or rather, resolved, in Mexico. On the 14th of June, England matched with West Germany as part of the quarter-finals round and I watched this contest on television, live and in colour, with my British cousins. (This was just the year after the Beeb switched to colour broadcasting). All is fine in my admissions thus far.

The problems start now: I was rooting for West Germany. Needless to say, appreciating the Brits' pride for their national football team, I kept my cheers a private matter. Even at such a young age I was hyper-aware that in the interest of self preservation it would be prudent of me to keep any elation to myself: I was contained in a room with British supporters; off-side behaviour of any colour could be bloody dangerous!

West Germany went on to win the match by a score of 3-2 and I was a happy young man.

Shortly after returning to West Germany, a German might have asked me: "Schadenfreude?"

"Me? No. For a reason of which I am not aware, known only to the recesses of my still-developing brain, I chose to support the Germans."

"Du bist ein guter Deutscher."

Perhaps.

Knowing the English football fans' predilection for being unwilling or unable to let certain histories "go", and having more than a few British relatives of my own, I decided to withhold this sensitive bit from my past. Only now am I able to come to terms with my Yellow Card.

I doubt – hope – they'll ever stumble upon this posting.

___


From March 18, 2016
An Admission 45 Years Later (Maple Leafs Forever)

On Saturday, February the 13th , I came clean by making a long awaited admission of misplaced support from 1970.

Today I will admit something about "misplaced support" from 1971.

In April of that year, deep in the National Hockey League playoffs, I, for some bizarre and inexplicable reason, was hopeful for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team in eternal question was playing against the New York Rangers, a good, solid club, and one coached by the great Emile Francis.

The date was April 15th, it was game 6 of the quarter final round between these two members of the "original six". The Rangers led the best-of-seven series by three games to two.

Overtime: This match, tied at 1-1, was resolved with venomous brutality when a Rangers player (Jean Ratelle? Walt Tkaczuk?) scooted down the ice over the Leafs blue-line, through a hapless Leafs defenceman (Jim McKenny?), and snapped off a quick shot. Goaltender Jacques Plante shot out his right leg, he stretched out his toes, but failed to stop or deflect the smoking disc-shaped piece of vulcanized rubber from fulfilling its Nomad-like programming. The next event was more acoustic in nature; the sound of what happens after a speeding 6-ounce hockey puck motions past a Leafs goalie at such a critical time in the NHL season. "Clank!!!"

(Forever Futility.)

I did my job quite well: I was a pro. I (got a wee bit upset).

My dad laughed, no doubt amused by a hockey-loving kid who had yet to snap out of a silly phase. I can still picture him, to my right, getting a kick out of my "upset". Translation: "Kid, it's just a bleedin' game. It means absolutely nothing in and among the grand schemes of life." (My dad was right, of course; except when his beloved Habs lost.)

For decades I've asked myself the question: "Why?" Not the question of why a Leafs goalie would fail to stop or deflect an ice hockey puck, which even an answer of "42" could not explain away, but why I would waste allegiances on a total, complete, absolute, non-achiever. This memorable match had played out mere weeks after my 10th birthday, and after the Leafs team began to brush up on all the interesting local golf courses and beer halls, I would, in guided prescience and with great leaps of maturation, shoot my affections to the Montreal Canadiens. This would pay off -- sorry for the spoiler, young ones -- and my reaction this time around would be one of: Joy.

Toronto-based sports journalist Peter Gross reported on the wireless this morning that the Toronto Maple Leafs are just one loss away from being "mathematically eliminated" from making the playoffs this year.

This cynic must admit: That loosey-goosey sports organization has been improving since 1971. By way of avoiding playoff games on a regular yearly basis they spare many a 10-year-old from having certain hopes and, more importantly, breakdowns. And from having anything of relevant interest to write about 45 years later.

(Replay: "Claaaaank"!)