Thursday, May 31, 2018

Time for Twin Peaks

An old friend of mine is a big Twin Peaks fan; and my brother raved about the series back when it first ran (1990 - 1991). I, in my usual style, ignored it: nothing personal; I ignore just about every television series -- since I hit my late teens, that is.

I can ignore Twin Peaks no longer: my old friend handed me the DVD set, and I will watch.

All I really know about the show is "Laura Palmer". Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Club With Too Few Members

There is so much potential power in this simple cut of paper; a voting ballot for the upcoming Ontario provincial election:

As an Ontarian, I exercised my democratic right: I voted in the advance poll.

A friend of mine came to Canada from his native country years ago. I asked him, somewhat already knowing the answer, if he was allowed to "speak out" while living there.

"Are you kidding?! You could talk about how red the tomatoes were, or how green the cucumbers, but don't dare say anything out loud against the government. You had to be really careful who you were talking to."

We Canadians have so much to be thankful for, including our freedoms. Canada is a member of an all too exclusive club. Here, my friend could talk about how amazingly fresh our produce looks: "The cucumbers sure look green; but so too do certain members of our government."

Doug Ford's Scare Tactics

Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader Doug Ford is terrified (to use his own often repeated word) the Ontario NDP is pulling ahead in the polls. Check the latest Pollara poll.

He addressed a crowd of supporters and reporters and dispensed something like this: "(the NDP) will reach into your pocket and steal every dollar you've ever earned."

(And repeat; and repeat.)

Mr Ford spoke in the past tense. If the New Democrats take office in June, will they journey back in a time machine and steal every dollar I've ever earned? (By the way, why would every dollar someone has ever earned still be in his or her pocket? Ford ended up contradicting himself.)

The thought of the NDP pulling off such a sneaky play really pisses me off!

And that time machine will be built with my money! Okay, now I'm really angry!!!....

Monday, May 28, 2018

War of Attrition, Ontario Election Style

The Ontario leaders' debate took place here in Toronto last night. It was the third and final one, with the election to be held on June 7th. (The advance polls have already opened.)

As I suspected, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader Doug Ford added nothing; he repeated, often within the same volley, the usual lines: "I care about the taxpayer of Ontario . . . the little guy ... I'll lower taxes...."

After Mr Ford managed to eject one of his oft-repeated bites he'd snap into that stare; a happy version of the 'thousand yard stare'.

"I'm the only one...." opened up many of his lines. Really, sir. Try this: "I'm the only one who hasn't released a platform, so you, the voter of Ontario, who I care about way more than these other two, as I like to keep telling you, over and over again, won't know what I will spring on you when I take office."

Both Ontario Liberal leader, and sitting premier, Kathleen Wynne, and the NDP's Andrea Horwath both asked Mr Ford why his party has not released a party platform. He just grinned, giving no answer each time asked.

My local Ontario PC candidate, Gillian Smith, of "University-Rosedale", has lost my vote. Her flyer card has been placed in the recycling bin. (There's no risk of it finding a new life as a costed platform document from the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Expect Nothing and Never Be Disappointed

The third and final Ontario leaders' debate is to commence in less than ten minutes. The NDP's Andrea Horwath will no doubt take extra heat from opponents Doug Ford of the PCs and sitting premier Kathleen Wynne of the Ontario Liberals: The Ontario New Democratic Party is polling high.

Mr Ford has yet to release a campaign party platform; the election happens on June the 7th and there is no official document from the Progressive Party of Ontario. This vacuum produces a mix of both the comical and tragic. Voters who demand a costing breakdown over and above Ford's simple sound bites are out of luck.

Doug Ford will need a lot of luck if he is to be an effective debater tonight. "I care about the little guy" and "the taxpayer of Ontario" are good for about five seconds.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Ontario NDP's Even Greater Surge

Yesterday I posted notes on the current election campaign here in Ontario, Canada. Already the previous polls are outdated. The latest Ontario election poll done by Forum Research, just released this morning, thrusts the NDP (New Democratic Party) even higher; and the PCs, even lower.

"If the election were held today...."

47% of Ontarians say they would support the NDP; 33%, the PCs (Progressive Conservatives); 14%, the Liberals; and 4%, the Green Party.

The voting distribution would produce: 79 seats for Andrea Horwath and the NDP; 40 for Doug Ford and his PCs; and just 5 for current Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberals.

These new numbers back up my suggestion from yesterday: Ontario politics are not boring -- just dynamic, fluid, and exciting!

To repeat yesterday's concluding phrase: June 7th....

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Ontario NDP Surges to Top

It's no surprise, really. Andrea Horwath, the Ontario New Democratic Party leader, is becoming a more known quantity to the public. Both the Liberals and the New Democrats are criticized by some as having unrealistic platforms, but the reality is Doug Ford and his Flying Circus has released none. Some pundits claim this is part of the explanation for the PC's drop in the ratings. Perhaps. It certainly doesn't build confidence with the voting public; with the exception of his faithful, of course.

For those readers outside of Ontario, Canada, don't subscribe for a moment to the notion, or rumour, that Canadian politics is boring.

June 7th....

Monday, May 21, 2018

Missing Life Preservation

Sad news on the weekend about those two young women who fell into the waters of Lake Couchiching (in Orillia, Ontario) after their canoe capsized. One managed to swim to shore but the other did not make it. Neither was wearing a life jacket.

When I was twenty years of age I went canoeing with friends in an overloaded canoe -- four of us. And we were not wearing life jackets as we took the canoe up the Nottawasaga River here in Ontario. The trip was eventful enough in that there were a few portages to hop. The bad news came about when we paddled around a hairpin turn. We rolled like the SMS Bl├╝cher. The canoe's crew fell into the river. Instinct takes over during moments like that, as anyone could tell you who's been thrown into such distress.

My own instinct combined with my ability to swim -- my mother was a swim coach -- to guide me to that waiting marker on the river bank. Feet paddled as the rest of me front-crawled, propelling me to safety. All four of us thankfully made it to shore.

I'm not trying to impress anyone with my swimming skills. Really. More impressive: We got lucky. Any bad luck, like getting bonked on the head by a capsizing canoe, got swept down the river.

As an epidemiologist friend said to me a few years ago: "There's no such thing as an accident."

Bottled Inspiration?

Does alcohol help the creative juices flow? Like many people who write I probably work better with caffeine. I have no memory of writing while consuming alcohol. Oh... I do. Over pints of beer I did a major rewrite of a troublesome script of mine: no more than a couple frosties per pub-based writing session. To be perfectly honest, the rewrite produced a much better script. Inspiration, not inebriation.

When Charles Bukowski was around he probably could answer that question faster than he could put back a full bottle of wine at one of his poetry readings. (Very fast.) He never stopped at one full bottle. The guy must have been prickled!

Some regular readers here might say to my claim that I don't write over beer or wine: "Coulda fooled me." Quantity, not quality.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Up (Chuck) Hercules

A "flip" on a Canadian Armed Forces CC-130 Hercules built some of my fondest memories. As a military "dependent", or "brat", one gets occasional lifts on transport aircraft. In my case, a trip to England from West Germany, and back again, involved hopping onto a Herc.

Kids, brat kids, don't care about the luxury of a commercial airliner as much as the raw and open power of four Allison turboprops propelling noisily a military transport aircraft. During takeoff, especially, the racket is invigorating. But, my mother hated it. I can still picture her sitting opposite me. She slumped in her seat, obviously hoping the flight would be brief.

I remember a flight back to West Germany out of Gatwick Airport. The aircraft was packed: service people and their families, and individuals, occupying all available seating -- there is no designated seating on a Herc, by the way; no seat 12A. As a matter of fact, the seats would be better described as "webbing". As I sat against the forward starboard bulkhead, the flight suddenly, and without any warning, became a joy ride. We shot straight up from our seats and seconds later we were dropped with great force back down. Mere inches from my right foot a blur and a great sound: "Clack-cla-ClackClack!" The tethered cargo retaining shackles that were normally affixed to the bulkhead immediately beside me had also risen during the aircraft drop, but instead of falling back into position, they fell to the floor, missing me....barely. I asked my dad years later about that incident. He remembered it, too:

"If those hadda hit you there would've been hell to pay."

"What happened?"

"The loadmaster wasn't doing his job."

My sister served in our Forces for a few years in the 1980's. She was stationed for some time at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta. "Maple Flag", a training exercise, is hosted at the base every summer. A participant in these games is the Hercules. One day a compatriot asked Karen if she wanted to jump on board. She said yes.

During Maple Flag, Hercs will execute a series of evasive maneuvers. This process involves the pilot (a "Herc Driver") putting his or her machine into various attitudes: skids; power back; power full; turns; and so on. The idea is you are being attacked and such changes in the aircraft's flight attitude increases your chances of survival. During the twists and turns, flares are dropped in order to help 'confuse' any intercepting missiles.

It was hot. The Herc flew its special maneuvers over prairie fields. Karen started to feel unwell. It was too much for her system; too much to take. It was bound to happen.

As she held the special receiving bag in front of her mouth, she unloaded. A steady stream of stomach contents. A crewmember rubbed her back.

The aircraft landed back at the base. Karen: "The most humiliating part was I had to carry my bag of vomit off the plane."

I asked her recently who the crewmember was. "It might have been the flight engineer." I doubt it. He would have been in the cockpit, with the pilots. It was probably the loadmaster.

More than a Name

Yes I am. I'm many things. Too many things. Too much, sometimes.

As catchy as my name is, I felt it time I elaborate a little.

Now at the top of the page: Simon St. Laurent, Squibber

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Royal Wedding Partial Memory

The summer of 1981: I had just finished high school.

My alarm clock emitted not a beep-beep-beep but a gruesome buzz. Set for 6am, my wake up time, I rose to hit the kill button.

That summer I had a job at Canadian General Electric (CGE). A high school friend's dad was a higher-up and pulled some strings -- this I guessed since he was the employee who interviewed me.

I popped-on the television in my bedroom. The Royal Wedding of Diana and Charles was in progress. My memory is that I joined in when the vows were being read.

That's it. I hardly paid any attention from that point on. I was a young man in motion, preparing for another day at the factory.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Yanny, Laurel, or Laurel Leaves?

There's that debate going around about "Yanny" or "Laurel". Which one do you hear when you listen to the computer-generated audio clip?

Apparently science has an explanation as to what you decipher. I hear "Laurel".

That explains a few things; especially this one: I asked Jennifer if she would like to spend an evening with me....

Monday, May 14, 2018

Margot Kidder

Like many teenagers of the late 1970s I was introduced to Margot Kidder through Superman (The Movie). I was disappointed overall in the film -- remember, I was an all-knowing teenager -- but there were memorable moments within. And Kidder was perfect as Lois Lane. She had done films before, and many after, but it is Superman for which she will always be remembered. (Johnny Williams' beautiful "Love Theme from Superman" plays on the radio in obituary news sound bites.)

It's time I watch Don Shebib's Heartaches.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Toronto's Beautiful Blue Skies Today

Must See What Television?

Yesterday I saw a headline along the raster lines of "21 Must-See Television Shows this Season". I was confused at first; it was the "this Season" add-on that threw me.

Twenty-one?! Cripes. I would not be able to come up with "21 Must-See Television Shows" if I had access to the entire history of television programming. (Of course, we've talking about U.S. dramas and sitcoms.)

Give me a television remote control capable of scanning backward in time and I will search. This may take a while....

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Funniest Thing I Heard Yesterday

"Mr Ford, where's your plan."

-- Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath (during the leaders debate in Parry Sound, Ontario).

Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader Doug Ford is campaigning with no platform.

"Put money back into the pockets of Ontarians", for example, is not a platform. It's what Ford is hoping will follow the "=" sign, if he gets elected. He seemingly does not understand there's a lot of mathematics before the =.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Doug Ford and the One Dollar Bill

Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader Doug Ford could very well be Premier of this great Canadian province come June 7th if polling is any indicator. We found out today that Mr Ford could not answer a reporter's simple and honest question: How does a bill become a law?

This is a stunning, but not surprising, at least not to me, piece of news. ("I have a bad feeling about this.")

From the Huffington Post:

Doug Ford Accuses Reporter Of 'Gotcha Question' For Asking Him To Explain How Bill Becomes Law

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We Got Promised Transparency

Here's the latest on the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, Doug Ford. He talks of "transparency", and he sure mentioned it last evening during the televised debate.

The news came out today that the crowd of Ford supporters outside the television studio yesterday were filled-out by....actors.

Yep, the actors' union cards were transparent, all right.

To borrow a line: "I have a bad feeling about this."

Canada Geese Remind Me

When I see numbers of Canada Geese up to no good in the grass, especially on an incline, I'm reminded of the "Silicates" featured in the 1966 British horror film Island of Terror. Not for a moment do I think these CGs will suck the bones out of humans....

Monday, May 7, 2018

Ontario Leaders Debate Tonight

We, of Ontario, Canada, are about to go to the polls: June 7th. The Liberals are in charge at the moment, with the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP (New Democratic Party) vying to take away the keys.

Tonight CityNews hosted the first television debate between Kathleen Wynne (Liberal), Doug Ford (PC), and Andrea Horwath (NDP).

Kathleen Wynne was necessarily on the defensive as Ford and Horwath took shots. Doug Ford is not a seasoned debater and it showed: he looked nervous and some of the time was barely a participant. This might be due to the fact that his platform is built from slogans....hardly adaptable to a back and forth "discussion".

Some discussion has been made of the fact that Ford was not a disaster. True, although he did come across a little Trump-like when, to his opponents, he said something along the lines of "I've seen more people (of Ontario) than you two put together". Here we go!

For me, the clear winner was the NDP's Andrea Horwath. If she can build on this performance and carry it into her campaign, she might get the prize.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Can't Believe Everything We Read

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft that was introduced back in the 1950s. Many subsequent models of this magnificent machine have rolled from the factory in the decades since.

Washington Post writer Avi Selk is sloppy in his article about the "Herc" that went down in Savannah, Georgia, last week. He opens his piece by describing all Hercs as being around for many decades -- at least he gives that impression to the average reader. It is very important to note that many 130s have been manufactured since its first roll-out. What is important is the "airframe" age; the "hull number".

As it turns out: According to reliable sources, this particular Herc was built in the 1950s.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Star Wars Spoiler - To Me

Star Wars is just a movie, and the Star Wars movies are just movies, which is probably why I like Mark Hamill's sense of humour regarding his role in the franchise.

Spoiler for some: I learned just a few months ago that Luke Skywalker was killed-off. This vital bit of intelligence came about when a friend asked me: "Do you know....? Do you know about....?" My response was honest: "Go ahead. Tell me. I'll probably never see (the films), anyway."

A Washington Post interview with Mr Hamill:

‘I’m not convinced I’m dead’: Mark Hamill on Luke’s fate, Trump vs. Vader and kissing Harrison Ford

Friday, May 4, 2018

Resilience Has Stayed With Me

On Sunday I wrote about Resilience, a presentation by Toronto's Lookup Theatre. As I noted in my piece, I was very impressed by the show.

I realized today that I still think about what I saw, heard, and felt. The crowd was a good one; I understand it was a sell-out. The performers, a mix of people who have dealt with mental health issues of their own, and those who have experienced the loss of someone close to them, were top notch, which only added to my enjoyment of "Resilience".

My favourite of the vignettes was probably this one: two performers from the asylum break free from their institutional overalls by rising like flowers from the ground; they walk gracefully to a suspended welded tube frame box, within which they 'dance' in mirror to one another. The theme here was about finding a friend and sharing experiences. I was moved by the sequence, even more so when I thought about it later.

Resilience has stayed with me and I wanted to share a little of it with my readers.

It's May the Fourth

But, I'll stick with the first two films in the chain. That's enough for me.

Star Wars (1977 - 1980).

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

You Fight, I'm Gone

Too bad. I watched a good sized chunk of the NHL playoff game tonight between the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets. I tuned in as the first period was winding down and I made it to about a minute and a half into the third: there was a fight. Off went the television, seconds later -- just minutes ago.

This is why the National Hockey League cannot be sold to the masses. As my late dear mother used to say at times like this: "Bloody fighting." It's a refrain heard over North America, certainly in sports circles.

Goodbye NHL.

A Saying for All Seasons

Here in Toronto we had an ice storm two weeks ago. It hit us in a flash and disappeared in a flash: the "cherry on top" to our winter. The snow had more or less disappeared in the second half of the wintery season. I bought a new light winter coat in late February and wore it for a few days over a couple of weeks before cooler temperatures returned.

Some folk complain and complain, no season is immune. Next: Summer.

Some folk don't just complain habitually about the weather. Pick a topic and apply.

My late father had a great saying, one which I appreciate more and more as I get older....with each passing season:

"Quit your g*****n bellyaching!"