It may be a small conceit to say I was brought up watching the Marx Brothers movies on TV, but there’s some truth in that claim. I remember seeing them on our small, B&W TV set on weekends when my brother and I were allowed to watch the programs of our choice. I also recall seeing the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and others between the cartoons and kids’ shows in the 1950s and ’60s. The Marx … click below for more!
I read on several websites that for a distance of about 3.6 m (12 ft) from the screen to the viewer, the optimum size of a television should be 85 inches (220 cm, measured on the diagonal). That’s also the distance between someone sitting on our couch and our current (much smaller) TV screen. The mind boggles. A TV set that large (74 by 43 inches, or 190 by 109 cm, or 3,225 sq. in./ 20,710 sq. cm) would occlude … click below for more!
That rather handsome, 17-year-old young man to the left was Watts William Chadwick. My father, although he wouldn’t become that for many more years. So serious, so formal looking. A lot more so than I was at his age (I can’t say for sure that I even owned a tie or sports jacket at 17!). I was remembering my father of late as I go through my belongings for downsizing. I’ve been putting aside to keep anything that might continue … click below for more!
An article on the Global News site titled “Fewer Canadians plan to wear poppies this Remembrance Day, poll finds” made me think again about what Remembrance Day is for. The article opens: Fewer people plan to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies or wear poppies this year, according to a poll from Historica Canada that also suggests knowledge of Canadian military history is dwindling. To be fair, I’d suggest knowledge of pretty much everything factual is dwindling. One only need look … click below for more!
My father died of esophageal cancer several years ago. It was a horrible, lingering death, and I watched him shrivel and die, in constant pain towards the end. On one of my last visits to his bedside, he asked me whether I thought it was better to die with the full knowledge of what was happening to you, or to be unaware. It was a startling, unexpected question. My father and I had had few, if any, philosophical discussions in … click below for more!
I’m sitting here, on my back deck, in the late Friday afternoon, beside Susan, trying to take stock of my life over a glass of wine, and read a bit while the light’s still good. I’m 30 days past my surgery and recovering reasonably well, but still three weeks away from my next set of tests, and almost four until I sit down with the urologist and learn if I still have cancer. And what happens next. All the rest … click below for more!
I should have started this a while ago. Perhaps when I received the first news something as wrong. But it took a while to really sink in. And then it was upon me. Although this is personal, I wanted to share it, in the hope others might find it useful. There’s a psychological process called the Kübler-Ross model, or the Five Stages of Grief, which is often applied to cancer and other diseases, but at least for me, it didn’t … click below for more!
One of my fondest childhood memories is sitting between my parents on a warm summer night, on the front seat of the family car, watching a movie through the windshield, above the dashboard. A single, metal-wrapped speaker hung from the glass of the half-opened window on the driver’s side. A box of salty popcorn passed between us, soft drinks too. Around us were dozens of other cars, all facing the giant outdoor screen, their occupants nothing more than dark shadows. … click below for more!
But my brother Esau is an hairy man, but I am a smooth man. I recall those lines from a Beyond the Fringe sketch first released in 1964 (see below).* And so it was in my family: my brother was the hirsute Esau to my near-hairless Jacob. I didn’t need to shave until my late teens and even then it was iffy. That was in the late 1960s when sideburns and moustaches were the rage. By the time I could … click below for more!
“But for a few touches of commonplace sentimentality [it] would be a classic of the first water.” So said H. P. Lovecraft of the 1908 novel, The House on the Borderland, by William Hope Hodgson. But, Lovecraft admitted, the book was also a major influence on his own, later work. And for good reason: it created the ‘unknown horror’ effect that Lovecraft (and later writers) exploited so well. House on the Borderland is a seminal work in its genre and, … click below for more!
It’s at this time of the year, as we approach Remembrance Day, that I think most about my family, especially those who have died. I wish I had known when I was younger what I know today, so I could have asked them more about their lives, and about their service in the military, about their wars. I have read a lot about those wars, about the military and political history of the last century; it’s a topic I never … click below for more!
There’s a famous seaside place called Blackpool, That’s noted for fresh-air and fun, And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom Went there with young Albert, their son. A grand little lad was their Albert All dressed in his best; quite a swell ‘E’d a stick with an ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle The finest that Woolworth’s could sell. So begins the poem, The Lion and Albert, written by Marriott Edgar. I first read it in the book pictured on the right: a book that … click below for more!
As I read further into Max Hastings’ book, Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914, I wondered, as I have done in the past when reading similar books about that time, what my grandfathers must have felt when that war broke out. What it meant to them and their worldview, and to their imagined futures, both at the start of the war, and then at the end, after four years of struggle, of deprivation, of fighting. What was it like to … click below for more!
Although I had listened to them in the past, I really discovered the joys of audio books several years ago, when my 92-year-old father entered hospital for his final months. As I travelled to and from the city frequently that summer, audio books kept me entertained and my mind from dwelling on the more serious questions of his health and mortality. Travelling to Toronto to visit my mother in her nursing home, for several years after he passed away, often became a … click below for more!