Friday, December 28, 2007

Of wintry dreams and the crowd goes wild

THE OL' COLUMNIST was having a midwinter's night dream. And echoing in those wide-open spaces between my ears I could hear a voice: "Hello, hockey fans, this is Foster Hewitt from the gondola in Maple Leaf Gardens ..."
It could have been senility setting in; then again it could have been Father Time giving me a checkup to see if I was still breathing.
What brought up all this hubris (see, I told you I could spell, even if I barely know what the word means), about when times were simplier and kids from B.C. to Floral, Sask. to Bass River, Nova Scotia had one dream; that of joining the likes of Syl Apps, and Teeder, and, for some of us, usually the fat kid down the street of putting on the pads and becoming the second coming of Turk Broda.
Do I sound older than dirt? You bet, but the dreams such as these don't cost one inflated nickel,
So there I was, sports fans, facing a slapshot from the dreaded Ronnie Fulton, the older brother of my little girlfriend, Joycie, and, of course, he was firing a heavily-taped and frozen rubber ball at my shins, which were (lightly) padded with department store catalogues.
It's Christmas 1949 and, in my mind, I could barely hear Foster Hewitt's radio voice delivering his famous line: "He shoots, he scores ..." Then I turned up the volume and it became "And ... Corbett makes another magnificent save."
Of course, the massive crowd went absolutely wild at this superb display of goaltending.
Then there were hundreds of reporters milling around Willard and Annona Corbett's kid, who was about to be ranked among the greats.
Ah, what a dream.
It was a different era; for in summer, I was the greatest baseball catcher of all time until one hot day in July when Ronnie Fulton's "fastball" hit my big toe. It curled under me and after spending a night in pain, I decided my only sports career would be as a celebrated NHL goalie or as a world-famous explorer, who travelled down the Amazon River in South America.
And then the Corbetts moved away to St. Catharines, Ont. and those goaltender dreams quickly vanished as I watched the likes of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita send howitzers towards the invited goalies at training camp.
However, I did get to take my so-called "career" to another level as I stood in front of Bobby Corupe's garage in the St. Catharines suburb of Port Dalhousie and he DID fire real pucks at me. Corupe went on to star with the junior team and I was left with welts on my shins, which I still have to this day.
Now it's Christmas 2007 and I'm left with these welts and a boxful of hockey pocketbooks, which for some reason I have never opened before. Two are by the late Scott Young, whom I worked with at the now-defunct Toronto Telegram, and then there's another one called Champions -- The Making of the Edmonton Oilers. It's by Kevin Lowe with Stan and Shirley Fischler.
On the book jacket of Young's A Boy At Leafs' Camp, it read: "For 18-and-a-half-year-old Bill Spunska, the jump from high school hockey to the NHL was no bigger than the move from his native Poland. In two years he had learned to skate, shoot and pass. But now, as the youngest boy at the Toronto Maple Leafs' training camp, he has only two weeks to learn what it takes to be a pro."
Then the second one by Young was more serious, for The Boys of Saturday Night, obviously, delves into the stormy history of Hockey Night in Canada, from the invention of the instant replay to the ascent of powerful corporate interests.
Since I worked in Edmonton and became a friend of Lowe's during the Oilers' glory years, Champions, really fascinates me since it, indeed, was a magical time.
So now if you'll excuse me I'll settle in for a short winter's nap and once again listen to the voice of Foster Hewitt, in my mind: "And ... Corbett makes another magnificent save."
Even the Ol' Columnist can have dreams of what might have been.
ONE MORE TIME: Often when this scribbler comes up a bit short, he turns to The Best of Uncle John's Bathroom Room. Without further adieu, here are some more origins of common phrases:
Son of a gun. Meaning: An epithet. Origin: In the 1800s, British sailors took women along on extended voyages. When babies were born at sea, the mothers delivered them in a partitioned section of the gundeck. Because no one could be sure who the true fathers were, each of these "gunnery" babies were jokingly called a "son of a gun."
FINALLY, A PRIMETIME PROVERB: Herman Munster of The Munsters concerning pets: "He who lies down with dogs gets up with fleas."

Friday, December 21, 2007

D. Murray Dryden: He was a grandfather and a visionary

D. MURRAY DRYDEN was a man of vision. A grandfather to the world. And even though he died in 2004 at age 92, his dream of providing one million bedkits for needy children could soon become a reality.
In fact, 905,350 bedkits have been distributed throughout the world after his daughter, Judy's recent visit to Bangladesh.
So as I've written before, the dream never dies, just the dreamer.
And Dryden, indeed, was a visionary.
The father of two famous hockey goalies, Ken and Dave, was the head of the all-volunteer Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW) organization. However, SCAW didn't die with his demise, but thrives today.
In Feb. 3, 1999, I related the story of Mr. Dryden in World Net Daily. The following is an excerpt:
In the Dirty 30s, to survive, Dryden barnstormed the barren wastes of Saskatchewan, selling silk stockings door to door on commission. That's when he learned, first hand, what it was like to go without a bed.
Even in those days, he was an optimist.
From his 1930 diary, Dryden wrote: "June 23-28. Put in a terrible week. Made less than $10. Slept on the office floor the last couple of nights and only when in dire need. Looks like a tough Dominion Day for me, but there is always a better day coming."
There were other lonely days in the '30s when he dreamed of striking it rich, but all he could record was: "Christmas Day. All alone. How I miss the family. Tired of sitting in, so I went to the Grand and saw Jackie Oakie in Sea Legs. Peculiar I didn't get my parcel from home. Spent evening washing clothes, etc."
By 1932, Dryden had started in business -- Dryden Specialty Company of Hamilton, Ontario -- concentrating on Ever Bloom, a tonic for plants.
His faith and his drive would take a beating, but he didn't bend when Dryden had to write in his June 8, 1932 diary: "Two apples for noon dinner and tried to sell old magazines for my supper."
In 1937, he met his beloved Margaret in Hamilton. On their first date on Feb. 18, he and his future wife attended a hockey game at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. Murray's cousin, Syl Apps, starred that night. Later, Dryden would become deeply involved with a number of minor-league baseball and hockey teams in the '50s.
Of course, after the Drydens married in 1938, he spent four years in the YMCA's auxiliary services, including 1 1/2 years overseas. After spending 24 years with five companies as a manufacturer's agent, he retired in 1972.
However, it was only the beginning of his mission in life.
The image of a child lying asleep that he had stumbled over in 1970 on the filthy streets of Pakistan seemed to be ingrained in his heart.
His hobby of photographing sleeping children spurred the retirement project. That's when he and Margaret decided to provide bedkits to 50 homeless kids in India.
The retirement years were particularly special for Murray and Margaret, for in 1970 they began SCAW and started raising monies for bedkits in such underdevloped countries as Ecuador, Honduras, Colombia, Panama, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.
After his 15th trip around the world in 1987, a rigorous December trip into the Himalayas, followed by distribution trips to Colombia, Honduras and Ecuador, he wrote: "I know the difference between being poor in Canada and being poor in Bangladesh. Remember that they have no welfare system, no Medicare, and very few charitable organizations in these countries. It is when there is so little hope for people, such as these people in the developing countries, that we must work to improve conditions. The better reason, of course, is that they, too, are God's children."
Working out of Dryden's modest home in the Toronto area, volunteers paid their own fare and took the donations around the world.
Besides being the anchor for SCAW, Dryden, a great humanitarian, wrote such notable books as "With God Nothing Is Impossible," and "For The Love of His Children" and even co-authored a bestseller with the late Jim Hunt of the Toronto Sun, called: "Playing the Shots at Both Ends."
Today, Dave Dryden has become an inspirational leader within the charity while Judy Dryden has just returned from Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Debbie, has become passionate about her grandfather's dream.
When The Missus and I first met the late Mr. Dryden with monies for bedkits, he handed me photos of Central American kids smiling broadly and clutching their beds. Those photos are still my greatest treasures.
(FYI: Sleeping Children, 28 Pinehurst Crescent, Toronto, Ont. Canada M9A3A5 ... ... Phone: 416-231-1841 ... Fax: 416-231-0120 ... Toll-free: 1-866-321-1841).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Strawberry jam stains and the Tree of Knowledge

WHEN I WENT LOOKING, desperately I might add, for the Tree of Knowledge, I found it among some mouldy bread, smeared with strawberry jam, in a local dumpster.
Before you call in the guys in the white coats, let me assure you, I don't think I'm in need of an instant brain scan. Right, Nurse Goody Two Shoes?
There really is a connection between that 'Tree, ' being buried in a dumpster bin and jam-covered manna.
Before you fall asleep with the details, the 'Tree' came in seven volumes of knowledge as in the Encyclopedia Britannica -- Vol. I: A-Bib to VIII: Piranha-Scurfy. So I'm missing a few, but what do you expect when you're heavily into my latest passion -- dumpster diving.
However, before you go blathering about it, particularly, to The Missus, just remember she's already warned me about bringing strays home, even the 'Tree.'
Actually, the reason I'm bringing up this so-called "sickness," is others have it and some have even made a mint such as Esquire magazine writer, A.J. Jacobs, who had his own 'Tree.' In fact, he read all 32 volumes of the Encyclopedia and put down his hilarious findings in something he calls: The Know-It-All: One Man's Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World (Simon & Schuster).
Now on a book site, the blurb claimed Jacobs' wife, Julie, stated, emphatically, that it was a "waste of time," and his so-called pals claimed he was "losing his mind." It had been tried before, for his father, a noted lawyer, failed in completing such a task.
However, the younger Jacobs had a distinct purpose and that was "to join Mensa, win a spot on Jeopardy! and absorb 33,000 pages of learning."
Jacobs, in sidestepping the publisher's p.r. dept., went straight for the laugh track or groan machine, in most cases.
"All the great figures of the 18th and 19th century had at least two simultaneous jobs, maybe more," he wrote, adding "My favorite was a woman named Virginia Woodhull, who was both a psychic and a stockbroker (a brilliant mix. Who wouldn't want to invest with her?)"
Mr. Know-It-All also coupled other occupations from his Encyclopedia-learning escapades such as lyrist/mollusk scientist. I'll have to look that one up.
Then he put forth a tall tale about the inventor(s) of the telephone. That would be Alexander Graham Bell, right?
Well, Jacobs had another take. Apparently, on the same day -- Feb. 14, 1876 -- Bell filed for the patent, a brilliant man, Elisha Gray, had the same idea, but for whatever reason Bell got the patent. That's a real bell-ringer.
Without further ado (don't you just hate that phrase), let's turn the pages of the A-Bib volume and find out about the aardvark cucumber (Cucumis humifructus) ... "The fruit is eaten by the aardvark, which, while burying its dung, unwittingly plants the seeds of the gourd." Aren't you glad, you asked?
And so what's a bib, or pout (Trisopterus, or Gadus, luscus)? A rather deep-bodied fish with a chin barbel, three close-set dorsal fins, and two close-set anal fins ... Though abundant, it is not sought as food.
Now, the Ol' Columnist has been known to devour fish by the boatload, but the bib won't be on my plate any time soon.
However, it's time to hide these seven volumes, for The Missus just walked through the door. Maybe, I should ask her how to get strawberry jam stains off these book covers. Then, maybe, I'll just forget about it, for now.
WELL, AT LEAST I HAVE A BEARD: Another one of Jacobs' so-called epistles happens to be The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Human Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (also from Simon & Schuster). In pursuing the subject matter, he grows an (unruly) beard, vows to follow the Ten Commandments while avoiding the wearing of clothes made of mixed fibers. He also spent time tending sheep in the Israeli desert; playing a 10-string harp and sort of attempting to "stone adulterers."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Canada's Black Friday and the Arrow Aftermath!

IT REALLY wasn't a subject to be brought up at the breakfast table. But I did and later didn't regret it.
"Do you remember Black Friday?" I asked The Missus.
Suddenly, her beautiful face became a mask of contempt. It was if the lights had been shut off. It was a topic she had never expounded on; at least in my presence, and we will have been married 40 years next month.
And what would have caused the look of consternation and taken the pleasure out of her morning?
"Yes, I remember Black Friday," she said and then proceeded to explain the utter despair which surrounded Feb. 20, 1959, the day former Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker changed the lives of thousands -- forever.
Dief The Chief, Mr. Bluster to some, had driven a stake into the very heart of cutting-edge aviation technology and grounded the highly-advanced Avro Arrow. And it had definitely affected The Missus and her then young family.
The reason for the subject ever coming up was a CBC report about some unidentified Canadian paying $32,000 for a collection of Avro Arrow memorabilia. It included company papers, employee notices, models and photos. There was also a copy of Dief's infamous speech about the plane's demise.
"Ron (her late husband Ron Webster) came home around noon," she recalled with sadness. He had been an expediter within the massive company while his father, Alex Webster, had been a tool-and-die man, who hated to fly. Other kin also worked at various "dream jobs" within the company and Dief ripped them all away.
It was a case of high hopes vanishing in a cloud of dreams gone gray.
Where would people live? Where would one get another job?
Damn that Dief was the hue and cry throughout various communities within Ontario.
For The Missus, her main concern was how would she and her husband pay the mortgage, which happened to be $89-a-month. A very low figure today, but in 1959 a steep amount, considering she and her husband were trying to raise a family in a company conclave in Georgetown, Ontario.
"I remember the engineers just packing up and moving to California and Cape Canaveral (in Florida) and telling the bank manager to just take their houses," she said, in a matter-of-fact tone.
For her husband, he would take on other jobs before becoming a Toronto-area policeman. He was tragically killed in a traffic accident in 1966.
For The Missus, who I'd marry on Jan. 18, 1968, she found life extremely difficult, not financially, but emotionally, and during the interim between 1966 and 1968, she worked as a file clerk for McDonnell Douglas, the successor to A.V. Roe, the maker of the great Avro Arrow.
So after all these years -- 48 and counting -- the bitter memory of Dief's terrible decision remains constant in the minds of those who were there when he slammed the doors on their "dreams."
While I've related a personal story, it didn't tell the political one.
It encompassed not only millions upon millions of dollars, but high-profile people such as Dief along with his minister of national defence, George Pearkes. And then there were suspected Russian spies and Sputnik and the "spectre of attack from space."
When Dief and his Conservatives took over in June 1957, the major pre-election promise had been to slice into "rampant Liberal spending." Of course, the Arrow project had been one of the most costly with figures such as $216 million being bandied around.
By August 1957, Dief had signed the NORAD agreement with the U.S., which meant Canada would be subordinate to their SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment) project.
Then the question arose, time and time again, whether the Arrow MK 1, with its Mach 2 (1,307 mph) speeds, were needed since the Americans had the less costly and, supposedly, more dangerous Bomarc missiles.
It was a time of apprehension throughout the world and, suddenly, the Russians revealed Sputnik and its potential of attacks from space. So ballistic missiles seemed to be the wave of the future, and not the slick Arrow, in combatting the Russian threat.
Would Canada be able to afford the Arrow and also the Bomarc/SAGE?
Pearkes believed the Arrow had to go and he proposed its cancellation. Finally, Dief made the devastating announcement concerning the Arrow and Iroquois programs.
It affected some 14,000 workers at Avro and the Orenda plants and spread to some 60,000 through layoffs among the project's subcontractors.
So with the demise of the Arrow, what happened to the so-called "brain drain"?
While some just drifted, CF-105 Chief Aerodynamicist Jim Chamberlin and a team of 25 engineers joined the U.S. space projects such as Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Others would be part of the designing team of the Concorde.
However, for others such as The Missus that Black Friday -- Feb. 20, 1959 -- would a bitter memory, which hasn't faded with time.

Canada's Black Friday and the Arrow Aftermath

IT REALLY wasn't a subject to be brought up at the breakfast table. But I did and later didn't regret it.
"Do you remember Black Friday?" I asked The Missus.
Suddenly, her beautiful face became a mask of contempt. It was if the lights had been shut off. It was a topic she had never expounded on; at least in my presence, and we will have been married 40 years next month.
And what would have caused the look of consternation and taken the pleasure out of her morning?
"Yes, I remember Black Friday," she said and then proceeded to explain the utter despair which surrounded Feb. 20, 1959, the day former Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker changed the lives of thousands -- forever.
Dief The Chief, Mr. Bluster to some, had driven a stake into the very heart of cutting-edge aviation technology and grounded the highly-advanced Avro Arrow. And it had definitely affected The Missus and her then young family.
The reason for the subject ever coming up was a CBC report about some unidentified Canadian paying $32,000 for a collection of Avro Arrow memorabilia. It included company papers, employee notices, models and photos. There was also a copy of Dief's infamous speech about the plane's demise.
"Ron (her late husband Ron Webster) came home around noon," she recalled with sadness. He had been an expediter within the massive company while his father, Alex Webster, had been a tool-and-die man, who hated to fly. Other kin also worked at various "dream jobs" within the company and Dief ripped them all away.
It was a case of high hopes vanishing in a cloud of dreams gone gray.
Where would people live? Where would one get another job?
Damn that Dief was the hue and cry throughout various communities within Ontario.
For The Missus, her main concern was how would she and her husband pay the mortgage, which happened to be $89-a-month. A very low figure today, but in 1959 a steep amount, considering she and her husband were trying to raise a family in a company conclave in Georgetown, Ontario.
"I remember the engineers just packing up and moving to California and Cape Canaveral (in Florida) and telling the bank manager to just take their houses," she said, in a matter-of-fact tone.
For her husband, he would take on other jobs such as one across the street with Orenda Engines Ltd. before becoming a Toronto-area policeman. He was tragically killed in a traffic accident in 1966.
For The Missus, who I'd marry on Jan. 18, 1968, she found life extremely difficult, not financially, but emotionally, and during the interim between 1966 and 1968, she worked as a file clerk for McDonnell Douglas, the successor to A.V. Roe, the maker of the great Avro Arrow.
So after all these years -- 48 and counting -- the bitter memory of Dief's terrible decision remains constant in the minds of those who were there when he slammed the doors on their "dreams."
While I've related a personal story, it didn't tell the political one.
It encompassed not only millions upon millions of dollars, but high-profile people such as Dief along with his minister of national defence, George Pearkes. And then there were suspected Russian spies and Sputnik and the "spectre of attack from space."
When Dief and his Conservatives took over in June 1957, the major pre-election promise had been to slice into "rampant Liberal spending." Of course, the Arrow project had been one of the most costly with figures such as $216 million being bandied around.
By August 1957, Dief had signed the NORAD agreement with the U.S., which meant Canada would be subordinate to their SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment) project.
Then the question arose, time and time again, whether the Arrow MK 1, with its Mach 2 (1,307 mph) speeds, were needed since the Americans had the less costly and, supposedly, more dangerous Bomarc missiles.
It was a time of apprehension throughout the world and, suddenly, the Russians revealed Sputnik and its potential of attacks from space. So ballistic missiles seemed to be wave of the future, and not the slick Arrow, in combatting the Russian threat.
Would Canada be able to afford the Arrow and also the Bomarc/SAGE?
Pearkes believed the Arrow had to go and he proposed its cancellation. Finally, Dief made the devastating announcement concerning the Arrow and Iroquois programs.
It affected some 14,000 workers at Avro and the Orenda plants and spread to some 60,000 through layoffs among the project's subcontractors.
So with the demise of the Arrow, what happened to the so-called "brain drain"?
While some just drifted, CF-105 Chief Aerodynamicist Jim Chamberlin and a team of 25 engineers joined the U.S. space projects such as Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Others would be part of the designing team of the Concorde.
However, for others such as The Missus that Black Friday -- Feb. 20, 1959 -- would a bitter memory, which hasn't faded away with time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Another Side To A 'Very Dangerous' Summit

THE WORDS had barely been uttered by Mahmoud Abbas, when a chill went up and down my spine. "We need East Jerusalem to be our capital," said the Palestinian leader, who has sometimes been referred to as "Yasser Arafat in a better-fitting suit."
As a former Middle East bureau chief for a major news-gathering organization, based in Jerusalem, when Abbas mouthed those words, it brought the message home, loud and clear to me of his fractured government's intentions. Then he followed it up with a caveat of "and to establish open relations with West Jerusalem."
While the rhetoric, which involved not only the Palestinians, but Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, and the "orchestra conductor" U.S. President George Bush, seemed innocent enough during the opening of the Annapolis "peace" summit, the Palestinians have already marked out the Jewish homeland for their use.
In the past, as historians will tell you, Arafat and his henchmen, which included Abbas, had the objective of driving Israel into the sea, but apparently now have taken a different tact and are trying the diplomatic route to achieve their objective.
However, the dangers of such rhetoric could take on Biblical proportions.
On Nov. 4, 1995, former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated at the end of a rally in support of the Oslo agreements at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv. And then there's another PM, Ariel Sharon, who has been comatose since Jan. 4, 2006, following a massive stroke. Sharon had endorsed the Road Map for Peace, and had opened a dialogue with Abbas.
Whether there is a connection between Rabin's death and Sharon's present condition is still a matter of conjecture, but countless Biblical scholars and even politicians agree that Bush, Olmert and Abbas are confronting the All-Mighty.
Since a multitude believe Jerusalem (both East and West) to be God's Holy City and belongs to the Jewish people, and not the Muslims, there will always be war over it.
Bill Wilson, a senior analyst based in Washington, D.C., was quoted prior to the summit, as saying, "Spiritually, President Bush and his administration are at cross-purposes to prophetic passages in the Bible that pertain to Israel. Bush is insistent on Israel giving up its traditional Biblical lands for a peace agreement with so-called Palestinians."
The use of the words, "so-called Palestinians," seems to be quite contentious for some say there's no such place as Palestine, which has become a catch word within the Bush contingent. Some claim those in Gaza, including the terrorists such as Hamas, and from the West Bank are just displaced peoples from Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Wilson also pointed out Gaza had deteriorated into a "lawless base of terror" and would never be able to co-exist in harmony with Israel. In addition, the analyst believed Bush had only moved a "spiritual stronghold" from the Middle East to Annapolis.
The Bush-Olmert-Abbas summit, which also involved more than 40 nations, has all the elements for disaster.
Bill Koenig, a respected Washington newsman and a possible U.S. presidential candidate in 2008, in his newsletter outlined major "Acts of God" that coincided with the timing of U.S. pressure on Israel to give up The Land.
Briefly here are three of them:
* Oct. 30, 1991: U.S. President Bush (the father) opens the Madrid Conference concerning a "peace plan involving Israel's land." On the same day, "the Perfect Storm," including 100-foot waves hit the New England coast, causing heavy damage to Bush's Kennebunkport home;
* August 23, 1992: The Madrid Conference moves to Washington, D.C. and talks resume. On that day, one of the worst natural disasters, Hurricane Andrew, lashed Florida, leaving 180,000 homeless and causing $30 billion in damage;
* May 3, 1999: This is the same day in Israel that Arafat is scheduled to declare a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital. That same day, winds clocked at 316 mph sweeps across Oklahoma and Kansas.
Coincidence? Perhaps.
As the Annapolis summit opened, two Israeli quake experts, Shmuel Marko and Oded Katz, said: "We know that the area between the Kinneret and the Dead Sea was subject to several large quakes, in 31 BC, 362 BC, 549 BC and 1033 AD. Another major one is coming soon."
Another 'Act of God'?

Friday, November 23, 2007

November 22, 1963: A Time Of Sorrow and Tears

THERE ARE TIMES of total recall. November 22, 1963 was definitely one for me. That day, or perhaps, week stands as vividly in my mind as if it were yesterday. Maybe, even more so as one ages.
It was a day, some 44 years ago, when the dreams of what seemed to be the entire world, were shattered in a million little pieces and tears flowed like rain. They still do today and were flowing as I began to write this column.
Some 44 years ago, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Where were you? Did you, too, have tears in your eyes?
For me, I was half asleep in my hotel room at the Sheraton-Connaught, across the street from the Hamilton Spectator, where I had worked the overnight sports desk. In my foggy brain, I still hear a funeral dirge from the black-and-white TV set at the end of my bed.
Why would there be funeral music?
There had been a bulletin from CBS News that "three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas ... The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting. More details just arrived ... these details about the same as previously, President Kennedy shot today just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and grabbed Mr. Kennedy, she called 'Oh no!", the motorcade sped on. United Press (International) says that the wounds for President Kennedy perhaps could be fatal. Repeating a bulletin from CBS News, President Kennedy has been shot by a would-be assassin in Dallas, Texas. Stay tuned to CBS News for further details."
Suddenly, my head cleared and CBS' "voice of reason," Walter Cronkite took off his glasses and his words pierced my very soul as it did millions upon millions of others:
"From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official: President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. (CST) some 38 minutes ago."
The loss of our innocence and the Camelot expectations of my generation seemed to be dashed in a matter of seconds. Although in future years others would be glued to TV sets concerning Nixon's fall from grace and later the dramatic O.J. episodes, none could be compared to the heartbreak, which surrounded Cronkite's emotional words and the quiver in his voice.
In recounting a Wikipedia report, Cronkite actually told a TV interviewer in 2006: "I choked up, I really had a little trouble ... my eyes got a little wet ... Fortunately, I grabbed hold before I was actually (crying)."
Dressing quickly I wandered across the street to the newspaper and stayed there during that crushing Friday and into Saturday, assisting in putting the front sections of The Spec together. It was like a morgue as veteran newsmen held back the tears until the editions rolled off the presses.
That Saturday night, the bars were packed; even hardened editors were crying in their beer (or their drink of choice) and some staggered along the streets to their respective homes while even sympathetic policemen, for at least a few nights, ignored any indiscretions.
On Sunday afternoon, the football stadium was packed with Tiger-Cat fans, but it was noticeable that the transistor radios were tuned, not only to the local broadcaster, but to bulletins concerning the Kennedy assassination. After all, the world was in love with the Kennedys, and, in particular, with JFK's wife, Jacqueline.
And then came a double shocker and my mind drifted away from watching someone fling a football when a bulletin announced that JFK's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had been shot in the basement of the Dallas jail.
Later, I learned of what veteran and respected reporter, Peter Worthington, remembered about that terrible day and the aftermath. In his 1984 book, Looking For Trouble, Worthington recalled that "most people who were around at the time can remember with almost total recall what they were doing the precise moment they heard the news that (President John Kennedy had been shot in Dallas) that Friday noon of November 22, 1963."
Worthington's recollections included him being sent to Dallas and being an eye-witness as Jack Ruby shot Oswald. In an excerpt, Worthington wrote: " ... a squat man in a fedora plunged from the crowd toward the group and suddenly there was the muffled crack of a shot. I felt the shock waves of the discharge hit my abdomen, and afterward Detective Lowry and I compared notes and remarked that we were lucky the guy was a good shot ..."
So not only Worthington, the outstanding journalist whom I had the privilege of working with at the Toronto Telegram and the Toronto Sun, and myself, as well as millions of others, have total recall concerning that weekend of a time when the entire planet mourned. Conspiracy theories still abound some 44 years later, but one thing is for certain: The dreams of Camelot died with dramatic suddenness on that November day in Dallas.

Wandering Griff Comes Home, Alive and Sore!

BULLETIN (Friday, Nov. 23, 2007): After six days of wandering in a fire-scarred and mountainous area of British Columbia, Griff came home late Thursday afternoon, exhausted and sore, but very much alive.
His soreness will heal and he'll be back to his normal rambunctious self in a few days, and, perhaps, his wandering days are finally over after such a trying ordeal.
On Thursday afternoon, he collapsed when he finally arrived at a nearby motel's front yard, hungry and dehyrated.
His family appreciates the great concern for his safe return of the local neighbourhood and beyond.
Below is the newspaper column which appeared on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007:
He drools while chomping at any semblance of food. In other words, Griff's a hulking, lovable lug of a St. Bernard -- and he's missing.
While the world ponders the latest from the resident Ahmadman, The Missus has been crying and Susan has been holding her head in her hands. Bill B. and the Ol' Columnist, meanwhile, have been sulking while spinning our wheels in the backroads of B.C.
Yes, Griff (or Griffey to some) has been among the missing since Saturday morning and his family is already in mourning. Of course, there have been reports from insensitive residents that if he had been chasing deer up in the mountains, they would have turned on him and killed him. When I heard that word, it shook me to my boottops.
Then another claimed that if a nearby "bitch" was in heat, Griff would have been solicited for his "services." Of course, I didn't bother to tell them he'd been "fixed."
This tale of woe began Saturday morning around the Ol' Homestead. There was the usual visitations to the back stoop; the little Lab named Sadie, stalwart Benny, known as The Philosopher, and the "wanderer" Griff all expected a (dog) biscuit or two or a dozen. Griff slobbered as he woofed down his share and then he and Sadie left.
At noon, I asked the question: "Where's Griff and Sadie?"
Everyone had a blank look on their faces.
Then the suggestions came. "Maybe, they wandered down by the river," said one. It had been something that his family had often feared since Little Sadie always tagged along with her friend, Griff.
The hours passed by, and as darkness settled in around Whispering Pines, there was no sign of either one of them.
Then the search party continued patrolling the area, shining flashlights into fields and as the winds picked up, a chill went through my bones as I drove along Highway 97 towards Falkland. No sign of either one of them.
On my return to the Ol' Homestead, Bill B. told me: "Sadie's home." Then he quickly added, "But there's no sign of Griff."
Sadie was exhausted as she showed up, whining at the door. She hadn't been down by the river since her shiny black coat wasn't wet, but her feet were tender and she was hungry from her day-long ordeal.
"Let's get some sleep," someone suggested, knowing full well that was the last thing on our minds.
As a feeble light welcomed Sunday morning, the search began anew.
The cries of "Griff, Griff," could be heard throughout the entire Pines' area. Our green "chariot" again searched the ditches, under area bridges and even among the cattle in numerous fields ... no sign of Griff.
"At least Sadie came home," one said. There was no relief in that statement.
Throughout Sunday, the Ol' Columnist pasted up posters with a picture of a short-haired St. Bernard in the neighbourhood, which read: "Where's Griff ??? Beautiful St. Bernard Missing Since Saturday In Whispering Pines Area. Call 379-2757 or 379-2980."
Monday the search slowed to a crawl; no one had seen the lovable lug with a tattoo inside one of his sensitive ears. He had vanished.
Then I began to find out more about one of the world's most favorite breeds. On a number of websites, the St. Bernard is identified as being very ancient and especially famous for rescuing lost travelers near the hospice of Great St. Bernard in the Swiss Alps. Those lovable dogs are also known for their acute hearing, which far exceeds human beings.
If that is true, can you hear me calling: "C'mon home, Griff, your family misses you."

Friday, November 16, 2007

When Both Mess and I Had Hair

IT BEGAN IN CHURCH. Yes, there I was sitting in the pew and I felt someone looking down on the crown of my head. It was then I envisioned millions of eyes staring from on high at the bald circle where there once had been masses of hair.
The last of one's manhood seemed to be weighed in the balance and I was found wanting.
That's when I could hear jeers concerning my noggin,' spitting out derision: "Hey, Baldy, where'd your hair go?" and also "Can we use your head for a bowling ball, Buster?"
The shame of it all.
I once had locks upon locks. There was a treasured photo, which incidentally, was taken only some 25 years ago, give or take a couple of years, showing this then-fashionable executive editor (Edmonton Sun) with curly hair and a black beard, soliciting television viewers to call in offers to a Superband Seat Sale. However, if you could look over my shoulder, there was a young, blond-haired man on the telephone.
Now who is that? Ah, now I know. It's none other than the great (and now bald) superstar Mark Messier and sitting next to him, the now general manager of the NHL Edmonton Oilers, Kevin Lowe, who still has a full head of hair to this day.
So what happened to Messier's hair, and mine. It seemed to have gone with the wind.
In pursuing my plan to mow the remaining hair on my head, I started to thumb through a recent copy of a Vancouver (or was it the Kelowna newspaper?) and there was a bald Messier, one of hockey's senior statesmen at age 46. He's a recent inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame -- looking distinguished with a bald pate.
Would The Missus really understand if I took the electric razor to my noggin'?
After all, I remember, she almost went ballistic some years back when I was preparing for a movie role as a dastardly villain. After shaving my locks the bumps became evident and she claimed that I looked like Godzilla's brother. "You better grow your hair back or you can find another place to live. I did and swore on a stack of dictionaries never to do such a deed again, even for money.
When I went researching about hair loss words such as "androgenetic alopecia" came to the fore and then I happened to start reading through The Times of India website and came upon a list of things I could do to stimulate hair growth such as:
* Soak fenugreek (what in the Sam Hill is that?) in deep pot of water throughout the night. Massage the liquid into the scalp and wrap with a cloth for three hours. Repeat every day for one month.
* Massage the scalp with uncooked egg yolk, leave for one hour and wash.
* Smear castor oil on the scalp and the hair roots but not on the hair, wrap the hair with a newspaper, tie with a cloth and leave overnight, wash in the morning. Repeat every 7-10 days (results will come after 6-7 treatments).
All those treatments I couldn't handle, so I think I'll just shave my head. After all Dr. Phil and that game-show host from Toronto did and they're successful. And then there's Superstar Mark Messier.
Whether The Missus accepts my new look, only time will tell. If she doesn't my next 100 columns will arrive from some remote outpost.
Hey, does anyone have a spare room for rent?

Friday, November 9, 2007

The dream never dies, just the dreamers

BOTH LYLE HARRON and Hayseed Stephens were dreamers. One was my best friend; the other was the man I most admired. And both had a passion for Israel and that in the Last Days, oil would be discovered in that Biblical land.
Harron and Stephens believed such a "miracle" find would occur when the world was facing its final days with enemies confronting it on every side.
The reason I thought of these two men was the fears, which has sent shivers across the world, that Israel's bitterest enemy, Iran, was closing in on nuclear weaponry and the posture of its vile dictator, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, could be an imminent warning to not only Israel, but the rest of the planet. And another bulletin had Israel planning a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuke facilities.
In quoting from Thursday's London Times, both the U.S. and Western allies believe Iran is not using its nuke program for electrical production purposes, but as a "cover for weapon development."
And what could be a saving point for Israel, which has always been the No. 1 target, and followed by the U.S., would be the world's "lifeline" -- oil.
When I met Harron for the first time near Edmonton in 1984, I thought he was kind of peculiar, only because of what he wore -- everything in red, even his socks. I would later learn such a dress code signified the "Blood of Christ." However, he had a belief that oil in Israel would be significant in the troubled days ahead..
This one-time bank manager and his kind and compassionate wife, Doreen, were heavily involved in oil exploration near Netanya, Israel, and in traveling throughout the world; spreading the Gospel and showing kindness and love for their fellow human beings.
In November, 1990, Harron was my guide throughout Ethiopia and then in opening my eyes to The Land, traveling to the "Good Fence," which separates the war zone of Lebanon and Israel and also to the south and the Dead Sea and the great fortress, known as Masada.
We would later travel throughout Israel in 1999 when I was the Middle East bureau chief for a major news-gathering organization, and based in Jerusalem.
And then there was respected Texas oil man, Harold (Hayseed) Stephens. In 1998, he told me that he expected a $30-million, six-to-eight-month project to uncover the world's largest oil field atop a salt dome at the southwest end of the Dead Sea.
"Until now, Israel's Islamic enemies have possessed nearly 75 per cent of the world's oil reserves with Israel's supply only a fraction of that," I wrote at the time, adding, "It's reported that Islamic nations such as Saudi Arabia, all sworn enemies of the tiny Jewish state, have trillions of barrels while Israel has only enough oil to supply itself for about one and a half days and depends on other countries for the remainder."
After a tragic car accident involving his family cut short his playing days with the now-defunct New York Titans, Stephens returned to Texas to make his fortune in the oil business and to the fast life of gambling and booze. However, in January 1978, Stephens, who had been "partying" for days, had an experience like the Apostle Paul on the Damascus Road.
A meeting in 1982 played a key role in establishing Stephens' relationship with Israel and the Jewish people. Stephens said he felt to give then-Israeli PM Menachen Begin a large, Texas cowboy hat and it was then that Begin, unknowingly, spoke prophetic words: "Maybe, you will be the one to come and find oil in Israel."
Two hours later, Stephens recalled the Lord spoke to him, telling him the "greatest oil field in the world," lay beneath the southwest end of the Dead Sea.
While Hayseed Stephens passed away in May, 2003 and Lyle Harron in August, 2006, the "dream" of finding oil in Israel has never died. And with such searing present-day threats from the likes of Ahmadinejad, this would be the ideal time for such prophecy to be realized.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Of Benny and Little Sadie With The Dirty Nose

THE RITUAL begins at 7 in the morning. Benny, the floppy-eared Philosopher, and his companion, Sadie, the sprightly 'little girl' with the dirty nose, arrive at the Ol' Homestead's back door. Several hours later, Griff the Wanderer, might choose to pay a visit. In the doorway, Molly, the Sophisticated (Cat) Lady, peers out with a certain disdain. Of course, I'm writing about dogs and a cat that truly are a part of my family.
Just when this scribbler was about to "pontificate" on the latest happenings in Pakistan and also about a Saudi cleric, who explains "wife beating" with a toothpick (I'm not kidding you), Mark R. Levin, a well-known radio talk show host and lawyer, appeared on TV. And what was he talking about? His latest book: Rescuing Sprite, which has been described as a "stunningly intimate look at the love between a family and a dog."
So Levin, who had earlier written a bestseller called Men In Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America, and is a "talker" on WABC in New York, has a way with words, but his heart was showing when he wrote about Sprite and an inseparable companion named Pepsi. Yes, both were named after the beverages.
For me, this love affair with animals began during the WWII years in Pictou, Nova Scotia. With my father working under the boats and my mother trying to keep this once-little tyke, Kerwood, from getting into too much mischief, a constant companion was a dog named Sport.
Wandering through fields and along country backroads, Sport was my closest friend, and then he stopped by a nearby army base, and my parents told me later he had been fed some tainted meat. It was the first heartbreak of my young life.
And then there was a separation from the animal kingdom. At the end of my road in Bass River was a "monster" of a dog, which eyed me like a bone, particularly when I was trying to pedal past him on my one-speed bicycle.
Also in my neighbourhood was a collie named Pal, but for whatever reason he "attacked" my baby brother, Garry (now a Winnipeg psychologist). His life was, undoubtedly, saved by heavy winter clothing.
So two bad experiences sidelined my "love affair" until moving to the Ol' Homestead in the mid-1990s. In the intervening years, there have been the likes of Abby, Kay-a, Brutus, Amos, and a black Lab named Jake, whom The Missus and I had helped nurse back to health.
"Skakey, shakey, Jake-y" was a common phrase as this "family member" tried to dislodge wax (or other substances) from his ears. However, now Jake has passed on, and I still miss his pleasant personality.
That brings me to the threesome of Benny, who often listens to my troubles without ever judging me, and Sadie, the one with the dirty nose, and hulking Griff. As I said they are this man's best friends.
Which leads me back to Levin and his heart-warming dog story, in which he was traumatized by Sprite's death and of friends such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, which were able to support him through his time of grief.
As a dog lover, I can hardly wait until Rescuing Sprite hits the bookstands.
"Now, Benny and Sadie, let's go for a walk ... Hey, does anyone know where Griff has gone?" Molly the Sophisticated (Cat) Lady just turned up her nose and walked away and I thought I heard her meow: "Peasants."

Friday, November 2, 2007

Grumps' Grumblings: When O stands for Owe

IF GRANDPA REACHES was running the 2010 Winter Olympics, he would be growling: "Knock it off!"
But the old shaman from the aging flick, Thunderheart, isn't involved, but someone has definitely conned British Columbians (probably both you and me) to fork out C$883 million ($914 million) for just a place for some button-downed and over-priced media types to plunk their (fat) rearends.
A definite shell game of Olympic proportions. And, if Canadian taxpayers had any gumption, they would be yelling in groves that they're being robbed blind by some slicksters in pinstripes.
Probably, you've read the story, but I had been oblivious to this travesty until running across a Reuters report out of Vancouver; and there in black and white it read right in the lead paragraph: "The rush to build Vancouver's new convention centre, which will be home to the media during the 2010 Winter Olympics, has caused the project's costs to skyrocket ..." Yadda, yadda, ya!
Now, I know the media, the report referred to, has to include those prime-time and pampered TV types, but closing in on a billion bucks for squatter's rights seems downright ludicrous. What are the lounges outfitted in refined gold with matching personal liquor cabinets and side dishes of filet mignon? For that cost overrun they should be.
Perhaps, there's a payoff after the short-lived Games are finally over, but let one of those Olympic tub-thumpers tell you the countless benefits of such a convention centre and then check your pockets (or purse).
Now, this Ol' Columnist enjoys the finer things of life (at least I can dream about them), but there was a time when I covered major events such as a string of Super Bowls, Indianapolis 500s, NHL playoff games and major-league soccer extravaganzas, and they all did cost mega-dollars, but close to a billion for international broadcasters and other media is enough to give the provincial auditor an Olympic-sized ulcer. And throw in a thumping heart murmur as well.
The luxury penthouse to house thousands of yahoos from parts unknown might be swell in telling their grandchildren what luxurious working conditions they were given in downtown Vancouver, but at who's expense?
Of course, my false teeth started to grind even more when I realized the plans for this centre began in 2002 and the Ottawa and Victoria politicians apparently offered a projected budget of C$495 million.
Now five years later, it's up to C$883 million and you can bet, with inflation and design changes, it'll be even higher when the Games begin.
And for what? Prestige? No, for the right to say to our children and grandchildren that we couldn't afford to pay for it in our lifetime, so kiddies, you'll have the privilege of dealing with it down the road.
Once upon a time -- back on Nov. 13, 2006 -- the price tag was a measly $615 million, according to a Vancouver Sun reporter, and Tourism, Sports and the Arts Minister Stan Hagen was seeking a further provincial handout.
Don't you just love it when they start throwing around a million or a hundred million of your money?
So why did the price tag suddenly go through the stratosphere? Well, one bigwig claimed it was all so complicated and then there was something called "the perfect storm" whistling through the construction industry.
Since I have a headache from bantering about figures from C$495 million to $883 million and counting, I think I'll move on to what's waiting when the actual 2010 Winter Olympics begin.
Hidden away in all this backslapping and glad-handing was B.C. acting auditor general Arn van Iersel's terse report from Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006 in which he said the cost of Vancouver's version of the Big Owe would be a minimum of $2.5 billion and $1.5 billion would come from the province -- that's You and Me again. The Big Deal was, originally, supposed to cost, I think, in the neighbourhood of C$1.6 billion with the B.C. brass tossing in something like $600 million.
Van Iersel, at the time, claimed the pencil-pushers apparently sidestepped such things as Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrades ($775 mil); the B.C. Olympic Secretariat ($41 mil) and $8 mil for rapid transit to the athletes' village.
Just think, only three years away from watching the luge or the biathlon or my favorite, the bobsleigh showdowns.
C'mon, Uzbekistan.
MYTH CONCEPTIONS (From Uncle John's Bathroom Reader) -- Myth: The Great Wall of China is visible from the moon. Truth: No manmade objects are visible from that far out in space. According to astronomers, it's about as visible from the moon as a popsicle stick would be from 240 miles away ... Myth: S.O.S. stands for "Save Our Ship." Truth: It doesn't stand for anything -- it was selected as a distress signal because it's easy to transmit in Morse code: 3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Billy Mills, Legendary Dream Chaser

IT WAS A NAME from my past -- Billy Mills.
Now the legendary Olympic champion might have faded from most people's memory banks, but not to mine. In fact, his name was in the news just a week or so ago when he spoke about chasing a dream to some 175 people, mostly cross-country runners and their parents, in a Chicago area school cafeteria.
"Identify and follow your dream. Every dream has a passion; every passion has a destiny. Find the eagles' wings in you," he told the group. As usual, Mills was inspiring in this age when most so-called heroes have been soiled, from the likes of Michael Vick to an assembly of Hollywood types.
But not Billy Mills.
If you don't recognize the name; he's been an inspiration to an entire nation, but this Oglala Lakota was once just a poor Indian boy, growing up in poverty on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.
However, as he is oft to explain, a legendary figure, Crazy Horse, changed his life. So much so that Mills soared like an eagle during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and then embarked on instilling pride in his "nation." Later he would become an author of 'Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding,' which he collaborated with prolific writer Nicholas Sparks of 'Message in a Bottle' fame.
Besides those credentials, he was the subject of a 1983 movie, 'Running Brave,' in which this columnist had a role, and I'll explain about that later on.
But back to Mills and his connection with his hero, the oft-maligned Crazy Horse.
"When I was a nine-year-old youngster on the reservation on Pine Ridge my dad told me of a rumor that Crazy Horse would be carved in our sacred lands. That's the first time I had heard of this great war chief, the spiritual leader among the Lakota, " Mills wrote, adding, "Crazy Horse challenged me to follow my dreams. We've all heard Martin Luther King say, "I have a dream." Crazy Horse is challenging many, many Lakota people to simply follow their dream. He set a pattern for us to follow the dream."
While Crazy Horse has been described as a great warrior, Mills explained, in detail, what his concept of a "warrior" is in four areas from assuming responsibility; never forgetting humility; the power of giving and also centres it around "his or her core of spirituality."
Mills was also clear in describing a warrior's four desires including his or her wanting to be unique; wanting to belong; making a creatuive difference to society; and also wanting to understand and to promote understanding.
As New West Network's Bill Schneider, in a recent article, wrote that Mills' most inspiring moment came in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when facing unbelievable odds, he passed favorites Ron Clarke and Mohamed Gammoudi like a bolt of lightning to collect the gold medal in the 10,000 meters. ( still carries that incredible footage and its reenactment certainly can be seen in the movie, 'Running Brave').
This was a man, who overcame incredible adversity, as Schneider's article recalled, (Mills) was "living in the back seat of a car during high school ... and dragging home a bed-bug-ridden mattress from a dump to sleep on ... and of being beaten up by his best friends because he refused to get drunk with them ... and more challenges than any of us have ever faced."
Mills, in this age of self-centred glorification, has been an inspiration to generations of youth and in Schneider's article it was never more obvious, for at age of eight after his mother died, his father told him, "son, now you have broken wings, but if you follow your dream, you can have the wings of an eagle."
He is a man of inspiration even in his 60s and is a noble warrior in every sense with a solid background in business plus raising money for charity and also having in the neighbourhood of 75 speaking engagements a year.
In the early 1980s, Mills was the hero of a film called 'Running Brave,' which was shot in Edmonton and near Drumheller, Alta., and starred Robbie Benson in the title role with August Schellenberg as Billy's father and this columnist as a carnival fighter, The Viking.
Although, I didn't get to meet Mills at the time, the film unfolds with a fight scene, in which the father wins, but dies the following day of a heart attack.
One of the most striking parts of Schneider's all-encompassing article, was the fact that since those "glory days" of the 1964 Olympics, Mills certainly hasn't been standing still; inspiring youth throughout the world to "empower yourself," and "don't be a quitter."
SPEAKING OF FLICKS (From Uncle John's Bathroom Reader): Movie -- Ben Hur (1959). Scene -- The chariot scene. Blooper -- A red sports car is driving by the Colosseum in the distance ... Movie -- Gandi (1982). Scene -- Crowd scene. Blooper -- One of the peasants is wearing Adidas tennis shoes.

Friday, October 12, 2007

'The Gipper' back in the headlines

GEORGE GIPP was a legend in his day -- and he's even one today, some 86 years after his death.
He is part of the sporting lexicon and the line: "Win one for the Gipper," always brings a smile to my face. However, last Thursday, there was a desecration of sorts in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. That's when historian Michael Bynum, with the acquiescence of Gipp's great-nephew, Rick Frueh of Chicago, had the body exhumed.
The reason was apparently done for DNA testing so the results could be included in Bynum's upcoming book on Gipp.
However, there was fury that such a thing was done and as one relative told the Houghton, Mich. Mining Gazette, "it's a sacrilege against our community up here, the Gipp name, and the people."
In addition, the ESPN crew claimed they only were documenting it and didn't play a role in the exhumation.
While the Gipp's Notre Dame accomplishments have faded with time, his supposedly death-bed lines still resonate through most people's minds:
"I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys -- tell them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."
Although Gipp died from pneumonia on Dec. 14, 1920, it wasn't until a November 1928 game against Army that those inspiring words of "Win one for the Gipper" were apparently used. And they did win.
That famous line has been used throughout North America when teams faced tough odds. It became a political slogan for Ronald Reagan (he played Gipp in the 1940 movie classic, Knute Rockne, All American) as he ascended to the U.S. presidency and it was later even used by the Bushes.
Besides Gipp's prowess as a sensational runner, passer, defensive back, punter, kicker and kick returner on the football field, he had gone to Notre Dame on a baseball scholarship and had wanted to join the Chicago Cubs following graduation. However, death overtook him much too soon, at age 25.
While Gipp's name has been thrust into the news in the past few days, his legacy lives on, on the Internet because of CMC Worldwide chairman and CEO Mark Roesler. His 26-year-old marketing and management company has become the dominant force in "the evolving intellectual property arena" and one of his clients happens to be the estate of the late George Gipp.
Roesler launched his organization with this mission: "I believed it was possible to protect the rights of famous deceased people and to provide their families with control and money they deserved." And he's been a tiger in protecting those rights and has spread his "gospel" throughout the world with its headquarters in Indianapolis with additional offices in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro.
If you look up in the dictionary, you probably could find Roesler's name listed under Entrepreneur, for he first put himself through college -- DePauw and Indiana U -- by owning a roofing company and delving into real estate.
With this background, he joined Curtis Publishing, which supplied Saturday Evening Post and became licensing manager of the great Norman Rockwell's artwork.
Later he became an advocate for heirs of deceased celebrities, who had been denied any rights concerning names or likeness being used, according to his bio.
Today, Roesler and his team look after more than 200 clients and, indeed, the list is impressive to say the least:
In the entertainment field, there's Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Ingrid Bergman, Errol Flynn, Rock Hudson, Ginger Rogers, Alan Ladd, Telly Savalas, Dudley Moore, Natalie Wood, Marlon Brando. Some of his clientele are among the living and he makes he/she available for personal appearances such as Sophia Loren and Mickey Rooney.
The music list includes Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday, Cass Elliott, Buddy Rich, Benny Goodman, Tammy Wynette, and the late Tiny Tim.
The sports list includes Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Babe Ruth, Rocky Marciano, Thurman Munson, Vince Lombardi, Arthur Ashe, and, of course, George (The Gipper) Gipp.
There's a historical section and ecompasses such names as General George S. Patton, Jr., Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Frank Lloyd Wright and Amelia Earhart.
In summation, Roesler and the CMP team of lawyers "police" the Net against cyber squatters and assuring his lengthy roster of legends are fully protected. For further information, check out and and also his claim that "we've built our business on being very litigious." That means he's a fighter for the rights of mainly deceased stars and their surviving families in the celebrity-marketing business.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Grumps' Grumblings: 'Tis the season for us, jocks

ACTUALLY, I'd sworn on a stack of Baseball Digests I wouldn't bring up the subject. However, it's just too vital to every male, and even a segment of females, on this planet to bypass.
No, I'm not talking about the political ramifications surrounding The Hill (Ottawa) or The Capitol (Washington, D.C.) or even Britney Spears' questionable mothering skills, but the latest happenings in the Valley of the Jocks.
While The Missus was determined to fill her daily menu with Dr. Phil, Judge Judy, O'Reilly and even the late, late reruns of Audacious Bill. I was equally passionate in ruling the roost with the baseball playoff openers, the opening faceoffs to the NHL season along with the latest clips from the NFL and CFL. After all, it is October and the annual convergence of all things sporting.
So there I was on Wednesday sinking low in an easy chair with a pop by my side and tuning in to the Colorado Rockies and Phillies' contest from Philadelphia. And guess who was on the mound for the Rockies? None other than Boomer Francis, the 6-5, 205-pound sensation from North Delta, B.C.
Now, as everyone should know, Jeff Francis has other credentials than owning a winning 17-9 record during the National League season, for he's a one-time physics and astronomy major at UBC.
When looking up his scientific data in something called Symmetry, I found that Francis could actually discuss the Magnus Force, but in that same article Francis downplayed his being an intellectual and was quoted as saying, "I can't get any more crossword clues that anyone else."
Just as I was watching Francis' masterful performance, The Missus tapped me on the shoulder and said: "Listen, this game had better be over before Dr. Phil comes on."
That's when I whispered under my breath, "C'mon, Jeff, hold those Phillies in check and do it pronto." He did for a 4-2 opening playoff win.
Without thinking (is that your problem, too?) I thought I could alleviate any tension by mentioning the Red Sox and LA Angels would be playing next. It was met with a frown.
During the "intermission" between games, I retired to my office and uncovered a boxful of aging Baseball Digests that Mr. Bill had hoarded away in his stash of great literature.
So here's one from August 1971 with a picture of Vida Blue, followed by the words: Baseball's Most Exciting Young Pitcher and also turn lines to Mickey Mantle: "The Game I'll Never Forget" and on Page 86, writer Bob Du Vall asked the dramatic question of Whatever Became Of ... Del Crandall, Joe DeMaestri, Forrest (Smoky) Burgess, Vic Lombardi and Erv Dusak?
The minutes ticked away as I found an article on the 1969 World Series when the Amazin' New York Mets toppled the Baltimore Orioles and it brought back memories which I still savour to this day.
There I was, a young sportswriter for the late, great Toronto Telegram, rubbing shoulders with the Ol' Professor, Casey Stengel, and watching the likes of Tom Seaver, Tug McGraw, Ron Swoboda, Ron Taylor, Jerry Grote, Bud Harrelson, Ed Kranepool, Al Weis, Tommie Agee, Cleon Jones and managed, so magnificently, by Gil Hodges.
Those thoughts were jarred when I heard Bill O'Reilly's voice in the distance.
"Hey, turn on the Red Sox game, please!"
At least, I did catch the last few pitches of Josh Beckett's magnificent performance in shutting out the Angels 4-0 and anxiously awaited the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Chicago Cubs opener from Phoenix. After all, Carlos Zambrano was on the mound for my Cubbies.
Well, in the sixth, Chicago manager Lou Piniella, for whatever strange reason, yanked the Z Man and replaced him with reliever Carlos Marmol. It was then that Arizona soared ahead 3-1.
No wonder I still have a case of indigestion from that opening loss, but there will be better days.
BASEBALL NAMES (From Uncle John's Bathroom Reader): Chicago Cubs -- There was no official nickname in the early 1900s (although they were informally called both the Colts and the Orphans). However, as I've mentioned before, in 1902, a "thrifty" sportswriter dubbed them "the Cubs" because it fit into a headline. The name stuck and the team officially adopted it a few years later.
REMEMBERING GIL HODGES (From Roger Kahn's Book, The Boys of Summer, devoted to the old Brooklyn Dodgers): "Hodges had the largest hands in baseball. He wore a glove at first base only because it was fashionable."
"Hodges has to be the strongest human in baseball."
"What about Ted Kluszewski?"
"If he's stronger than Hodges, then he ain't human."
Hodges, the one-time Dodger and Mets' manager, died at age 47 in April, 1972.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bible scholars claim future tense

WITH DEVASTATING storms and quakes lurking to savage this planet and such a madman as Iran's Ahmadinejad threatening the very existence of Israel, the world's future looks grim.
In fact, when I started to thumb through dust-covered files from early 1999, this investigative reporter uncovered some startling evidence of calamities about to become reality, which I detailed in a series of articles for World Net Daily. That was some eight years ago.
It reminded me of what the late TV preacher-personality Jerry Falwell's claim that the Second Coming could occur by the Year 2009. And on his website some eight years ago, he wrote: "In addition to asserting that I personally believe that Christ could return soon, I stated that the Antichrist may possibly be alive on the earth today."
Even the skeptics and so-called psychics have agreed these are, perhaps, the Last Days of what has been dubbed as the Last Generation.
While I have been skeptical of such doomsday scenarios, the French seer Nostradamus, once gazed into a candle and stated: "In the year 1999 and seven months (July 1999), The Great King of Terror will come from the sky, He will bring back to life the great king of Angolmois. Before and after Mars reigns happily."
An English translation claims "Angolmois" is as an anagram of "Mongols" (The Great King of Mongols was Genghis Khan); Mars is the God of war (and of transformation). Colin Wilson says in his "Occult" (1970) that "un grand Roy d'effrayer" sounds uncannily like a hydrogen bomb.
However, while Nostradamus may have been off a number of years, the Congregation Yeshuat Yisrael of Nashville, Tenn. used Biblical verses to make their claim that the Last Days began in 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War and then followed it up with these assertions:
* The Beginning of Sorrows:
1. Nation against Nation, Kingdom against Kingdom -- Major worldwide conflict that begins the End Times or Last Days: World War I & II (1914, 1939) Matthew 24:7.
2. Both World Wars had major Jewish implications -- the Holocaust and Zionist Movement.
3. State of Israel is established in 1948. Israel is established as a secular nation in unbelief for a future judgment known as a Time of Jacob's Trouble. The Bible speaks of a great gathering of Gentile Armies against Jerusalem. If this is true then the return of Israel in 1948 is a significant fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Ezekiel 20:33-35, Ezekiel 22:17, Zephaniah 2:1.
4. Jerusalem the capital of Israel is under Jewish control (1967) Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Revelation 11:2.
Israel negotiates peace with Arab neighbours -- this sets the stage for the Non-Arab invasion of Ezekiel 38, where Arab nations will not be involved in this conflict because of the peace treaty. Non-Arab nations will come against Israel.
1. A Peace treaty with the Arab states will lead into non-Arab conflict involving an invasion of Israel. Ezekiel 38: Rosh (Russia), Cush (Ethiopia), Meshech (Moscow), Put (Libya), Tubal (Tubalsk, Siberia), Gomer (Germany), Persia (Iran), and Togarmah (Armenia).
2. The One World Government will be established -- (One Horn) Daniel 7:23.
3. One world government divides into 10 kingdoms (Ten Horns) Daniel 7:24a.
4. The Rise of Anti-Christ, (Anti-Messiah who opposes the real Messiah) is different from the other nations that ruled the earth. Some believe the Anti-Messiah will serve as a false Messiah for the Jewish People. This is not the case. He is the one world leader who takes over the Jewish Temple and claims himself as God. The Anti-Christ is of Roman origin, the prince of the people who destroyed the city. Daniel 7:24b.
5. Period of peace and false security (3 1/2 year period of false peace for Israel). Turmoil for the rest of the world. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-36.
6 *Blackout. Joel 2:31.
7. *Return of Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the Prophet) the forerunner of the Messiah. Malachi 5:4-6 , Malachi 3:1 , Isaiah 40:3 8.
8. *The Third Temple will be restored and sacrifices will be re-instituted at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Daniel 9:27, Isaiah 66:1.
*The order of these events is not confirmed until the events work their way out in the future.
When I wrote this WND column in 1999 it caused readers to begin thinking about the future and the possibilities of such a scenario and also resulted in an avalanche of mail, both pro and con.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Corbett Recalls Mining Nightmare

WITH THE HOPES of any survivors in the Huntington, Utah coal mine collapse ebbing into darkness and Thursday night's heartbreaking situation, it brought back a series of nightmares for me. For you see, my uncle, Carl Linkletter, a seasoned coal miner was killed in one of those dark dungeons, and another uncle, Lamont, was seriously injured in another one, this time in the infamous Springhill disaster of 1958.
Some time ago, I wrote, in part, about those devastating events:
Carl Linkletter at age 43 had everything to live for. He and his wife, Aggie, were expecting their third child.
As a coal miner, it was his job that day in January, 1943, to lay dynamite to bring down a "wall" in the Strathcona Coal Mine at River Hebert, a small community near Springhill, Nova Scotia.
However, it was to be a fatal morning, for Linkletter's "helper" apparently erred in wiring the dynamite sticks and the blast struck Linkletter with such a force that it caused enormous facial damage and "blew out his ears, his eyes, and the only thing left was his throat."
One of his last words were "take care of my two babies." And then he died.
Fifteen years later on Oct. 23, 1958, Carl's younger brother, Lamont, had just finished his shift at the Springhill coal mines when an "enormous bump" shook the small town at 8:06 p.m.
In the aftermath, 75 were killed and some 99 rescued from that deep pit.
Among the severely injured was Lamont Linkletter, one of the rescuers called "Draegermen."
Lamont and his crew went back down the shaft and one of the coal wall planks fell and hit him on the head. The force was so intense that it knocked Linkletter's right eye out.
In the following years, my uncle, Lamont, suffered intense "phantom pain" from losing his eye and would constantly see flashes of penetrating "bright lights."
Besides the world-wide publicity surrounding the Springhill disaster of 1958, there were others in the small community such as the one in 1956 and an even earlier one in 1891. Following the third disaster in 1958, DOSCO shut down their mining operations in Springhill and they were never reopened.
Today the mines, among the deepest works in the world and filled with water, provide Springhill's industrial park with a source of geothermal heat, according to al disaster website. It also provided information that Irish rock star U2 brought attention to the 1958 disaster when they performed Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger's The Ballad of Springhill as part of their world-famous The Joshua Tree tour in 1987.
In the Nov. 1, 1956 disaster, which killed 39 with 88 being rescued, several cars of a mine train, hauling a load of fine coal dust to the surface, broke loose and ran back down the slope of the No. 4 colliery, derailing and hitting a power line. It caused a massive explosion.
Two years later came another major disaster.
It occurred in the No. 2 colliery with the enormous "bump" severely impacting "the middle of the three walls that were being mined and the ends of the four levels nearest the walls."
In explaining a "bump" it is caused "when coal is totally removed from a strata and the resulting geological stresses upon surrounding bedrock (shale, sandstone, etc. -- in most coal-bearing strata) can cause the surrounding pillars of the galleries to suddenly catastrophically disintegrate and the shaft collapses."
The small earthquake sent shock waves throughout the world as the disaster was the first major international event to be televised live on the CBC and even Prince Philip, who was visiting Ottawa at the time, as well as then-Nova Scotia premier Robert Stanfield came to the "wake" over a seven-day period.
In her book, Last Man Out: The Story of the Springhill Mine Disaster, Melissa Fay Greene, wrote: "From an oceanic depth, a ball of fiery gas threw off its stone layers, like a feverish child in the night angrily kicking off his covers. The deepest stone floor rose faster than an elevator. It smashed into the floor above it, and the two, stacked together, hurtling up into a third, like granite dominos falling forward. The stone-and-lumber pillars ... built by the miners to support the roofs over their head, were clapped to smithereens in an instant by the force from below."
Then she added: "At 8:06, a deep, powerful BOOM! sounded, shaking every building and street in town. Everyone in Springhill lurched at the same instant. The wetly combed children sitting cross-legged on the floor in their pajamas jumped like the hiccups and looked to their parents ... One hundred seventy-four miners were working underground when "the bump" happened. Seventy-five never came out. Of the 99 who escaped, 18 of them did only after surviving for an incomprehensible nine days in absolute, pitch-black night."
One of those "survivors" was my uncle, Lamont Linkletter. He died of natural causes in December 1988.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another visit to the 'pigsty' of life

JUST WHEN the seamy details of the BALCO (steroids) case had, seemingly, started to corner the biggest names in baseball, scandals involving two other major sports -- football and basketball -- hit the proverbial fan in succession.
So what's next? Hockey? Tiddly-winks? Stay tune for the next edition of your scandal sheet.
Of course, there was a time of innocence or at least a lull when according to a now departed scribbler called sports "the playpen of life." However, nowdays, it's just "the pigsty."
In January, I listed the top seven scandals, in my opinion, starting with the one involving "better living through chemistry" known as BALCO, which has surrounded such illustrious names as Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi.
Ranked at No. 2 was Canada's Ben Johnson with Tonya Harding's whacking on Nancy Kerrigan's knees in 1994 at No. 3. In quick succession came the disgrace shadowing baseball basher-gambler Pete Rose; former NHLer Mike Stanton; bruising Mike Tyson and, of course, O.J.
For good measure, we added the notoriety surrounding Rick Tocchet and Gretzky's gambling spouse, Janet, and then there was Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant.
It seemed the scandals and its "dry rot" might have run its course.
But no, Bunky, such was not the case.
In fact, the leading seven listed in a late January column was just the tip of the iceberg.
Since Friday's banner headlines in the New York Post, the NBA has been reeling that senior hothead referee Tim Donaghy gambled on games. That's considered a definite no-no.
Was this senior official, who is being investigated by the FBI, involved in such a criminal act as point shaving?
And if you think the gambling aspect of the NBA isn't BIG BUSINESS, just scroll through the website and get these facts from its president, RJ Bell.
According to National Gambling Impact Study Commission, the amount gambled on sports illegally is almost 170 times bigger than the amount bet legally ($380 billion vs. $2.25 billion per year). In addition, Nevada Gaming Control Board apparently stated $61 million was bet on the NBA in May 2007.
Bell emphasized that $10 billion a month is bet, legally and illegally, on the NBA.
In other words, BIG BUSINESS is almost an inadequate term for the present situation, which even alarmed the evasive NBA commissioner David Stern, who worked as a lawyer for the league before assuming the commissioner's role.
The Donaghy gambling situation was apparently an isolated one, although Stern was certainly aware of the ongoing investigation.
"We think we have a rogue isolated criminal here," said Stern during a Tuesday morning press conference although the FBI probe is expected to root out more gambling associates Donaghy might have had.
In the meantime, the senior NBA ref, who is estimated to have earned $260,000 annually and resigned from the league on July 9, was reported to have concerns for he and his family's safety from "enemies," which could include the mob.
While the NBA reeled from the Donaghy accusations, who slipped under the so-called all-pervasive radar set by the league, it had to share the glaring spotlight, which has been aimed at the NFL and Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, who, undoubtedly, thumbed his nose at commissioner Roger Goodell.
While the NFL boss has told Vick not to show up for the Falcons' training camp, dogfighting allegations certainly hang over this multi-millionaire player, who some have placed in the "thug" category.
The indictment against Vick and others have raised his questionable behaviour to a high level and a section in it probably outlined the savagery in the bloodsport more than any legalese. "In March 2003, Vick and others sponsored a 35-pound female pit bull in a fight that had a $26,000 purse. After the fight, Purnell Peace, one of the others indicted, consulted with Vick about the losing dog and Peace then "executed the losing dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal."
Whether Vick is found guilty of conducting such savagery on his property in Virginia or not, he doesn't deserve any respect and his troubling actions, not only in this instance but in others, should never be condoned by the NFL or society, in general.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Kimberly Bell, who once had a relationship with 43-year-old Bonds, told the AP: "If I had more self-esteem when I was younger, I wouldn't have been caught up with such a rotten man."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Being crucified for their beliefs

SO DID someone take your spot in the church parking lot? The audacity of such an act boggles the mind. It's enough to take it to the church board and complain about such an utterly, unholy act.
Or, perhaps, you didn't get to sit beside the pastor and his wife at the annual church picnic or the fact that Sister So-and-So didn't greet you in the manner you were accustomed to ... such blasphemy will definitely be reported to the district superintendent.
Those slights are common whether you are regular attendee or only manage to darken the church door at Christmas time or at Easter and they stretch from the most devout Catholic to even the most fired-up evangelical.
Am I hitting a raw nerve, oh pious one?
Of course, I'm preaching to myself after reading the BosNewsLife exclusive concerning Christians being crucified in Iraq.
The news service's Eric Leijenaar, who reports from Iraq and Syria, has detailed the findings of senior Dutch parliamentarian Joel Voordewind of the Christian Union (CU), who learned about these atrocities from a reliable source within the United Nations.
Voordewind was quoted as saying, "several Iraqi Christians were nailed to a cross and their arms tied with ropes. The ropes were put on fire."
The BosNewsLife article went on quote Voordewind as saying the victims of the cruxificions are "in most cases Christian converts who abandoned Islam or people who, religiously speaking, are involved in mixed marriages."
These reports come on the heels of thousands of Christians fleeing Iraq because of hideous persecution.
Earlier, Ken Timmerman, the executive director of the Foundation for Democracy of Iran, and author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran, wrote a thought-provoking expose, entitled Blood of Iraqi Martyrs for Front Page Magazine.
Timmerman, who was nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work on Iran, has been one of the few voices to point out the continuing terror against ancient Christian communities from Iraqi Muslim extremists.
In May, Timmerman wrote about the fire bombing of St. George's Assyrian Church in the Dora neighbourhood of Baghdad and pointed out it was the 27th church to have been destroyed by Muslim gangs since the so-called "liberation" of Iraq from Saddam's tyranny.
Perhaps, the most startling quote came from Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick of Christian Solidarity International, who told Timmerman, "the bombing of St. George's Church should leave no doubt in any one's mind that a process of ethnic cleansing has begun."
While fire bombing churches has become a familiar pattern in Iraq and elsewhere throughout the Middle East, Al-Qaeda terrorists are known to force their way into the neighborhoods and demand they pay something called "jizya." Apparently, this "jizya" or "protection" tax was instituted by the Prophet Mohammad and it's known that anyone who refuses pay it are told to convert to Islam "or leave the house within 24 hours or else be killed," according to Timmerman's article.
Peter BetBasoo of the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) was quoted in Timmerman's story as saying Al Qaeda is demanding that "Christians pay 250,000 dinars (around $200) for the right to stay in their own homes."
While the anti-Christianity wave has swept through Iraq, it is not the only nation which has been under the cloud of persecution.
Others which have been listed are: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, China, Yemen, Morocco, Iran, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Chechnya, Pakistan, Laos, Maldives, Qatar, Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Somalia.
And in one of the most startling statistic available, some 465 Christians are reportedly being murdered daily for their faith, while North American churches, with few exceptions, wallow in a sea of apathy.
In 2006, an Afghan named Abdul Rahman brought the plight of persecuted Christians to world attention.
He was an unknown until his wife filed a complaint against him in a child custody dispute, and accused him of rejecting Islam -- an offence which carries the death penalty under his country's Islamic Sharia law.
Although he was condemned by the Taliban with the obvious threat of death hanging over his head, Rahman stood his ground and after a number of diplomatic manoeuvres, he was able to escape to Italy, which gave him political asylum.
After arriving in Rome from Kabul, he said: "I have been suffering for 11 years, but I was never scared of dying because I have the faith."
Rahman, according to an article in the Afghan Times, said he had converted to Christianity after spending nine years in Germany, and working for a Christian relief agency in Pakistan.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An investigative reporter's notebook

IT'S ONE OF the most thankless jobs in any profession. Long sleepless hours, sometimes hunched over a computer with a cold cup of coffee, a phone stuck in the ear and scribbled notes in some kind of "foreign" language, which only a seasoned investigative reporter might decipher.
Two scribblers -- Michael Paulson and Jason Berry -- have earned even the briefest mention for their dogged pursuit of a story, which involved the scandal surrounding the Boston diocese and tainted priests, John Geohagen and James Porter.
And just when that scandal seemed to fade, this week, a judge in Los Angeles agreed to a $660 million payoff concerning clergy sex abuse in that diocese.
Geoghan, who during a 30-year career allegedly sexually abused some 130 people, and, finally, in 2002, was sentenced to nine to 10 years in prison for fondling a young boy at a swimming pool, according to Thomas Pierce's report in NPR. While Geohagen was awaiting a further trial, he was strangled and stomped to death while in so-called protective custody.
Porter allegedly molested some 125 children. He would die of cancer while serving a 20-year prison sentence.
Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston, apparently shuffled accused priests and he quit in 2002 and now lives in Rome, overseeing one of the basilicas.
Although monetary punishment has been meted out in Los Angeles, with Cardinal Roger Mahony, offering some kind of an apology, the pain and suffering of these "survivors" will remain forever.
It's rare than investigative journalists such as those forementioned in Boston or Los Angeles are recognized for their "digging, " but they should be. The same holds true for Brian Ross and his group as well as Kevin Sites along with Max Haines, whom I consider the greatest of them all.
Haines has now, basically, retired to "smell the roses," but during his tenure with the Toronto Sun, I was privileged to be his editor, which meant I changed a few commas in his Crime Flashback columns, for his copy was always superb.
This fellow Nova Scotian showed he could mix wit and wisdom in his columns and also assisted me in my pursuit as an ID* Investigative Day columnist.
I also had my run-in with a wayward minister with a Pentecostal background, and his "sins" of the flesh led to his dismissal and a paperback in the 1990s called "Betrayal."
Then Haines was generous with his words in the introduction to another investigative paperback called "The Rassler Papers," now an e-book called "Counterfeit Hero."
This was Haines' introduction:
"The Villainous Viking has crafted a winner. Who but respected journalist Kaye Corbett, once known as the Villainous One himself, could bring the reader into the inner circle of wrestling, After reading 'Counterfeit Hero' you will never view the grunt-and-groan boys in the same light again.
Corbett reveals the inner workings of the World Wrestling Federation with special emphasis on its kingpin, Vince McMahon. He reviews the checkered history of McMahon and his wrestling heroes, who have been portrayed with publicity expertise as either clean-living lily whites or lovable monsters. Corbett exposes the chinks in the armour of the game itself, exposing the influence that anabolic steroids have had on athletes. In addition, he documents child sex abuse within the sport, which precipitated the resignation of several executives.
Not even the game's superhero, Hulk Hogan, is left unscathed. Despite his public persona as a clean living wholesome giant, Hulk Hogan (real name: Terry Bollea) has been linked to steroids and drugs. Corbett reveals that the Hulkster's image is well protected, and with good reason. He is the star of a merchandising empire than grosses $1.7 billion annually. He also stars in movies and commercials. To maintain his image, particularly with the Little Hulksters, he visits as many as 30 children's hospitals in a week. It pays well for Hogan to perpetuate his clean living, child-oriented image.
After walking through the dry rot that is the modern version of the World Wrestling Federation, Corbett relates the details of Vince McMahon's trial in which he was charged with conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids. The testimony and evidence is presented in a most readable manner."
While the investigative paperback-e-book on pro wrestling follies was written in 1994, anabolic steroids and death are once again in the news some 13 years later. On Tuesday, a toxicology report showed Chris Benoit's body contained 10 times the normal level of testosterone, as well as the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and the painkiller hydrocodone. And, once again, solid investigative reporters will be hunched over their computers, trying to make sense of all that information.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Final words about those (ill) wills

THE OL' CURMUDGEON was lying in the weeds, waiting for me the other day.
"Say, Corbett, whatcha goin' to leave me when you depart?"
"What?" I intoned. "You know, when you croak," he muttered.
Those words I understood.
"Well, you can have visiting rights to Molly the Cat and Benny the Hound and a couple of ol' fishin' poles that I used to catch the Big One off Campbell River," I answered without the slightest hesistation.
The conversation actually spurred me into chasing down a litany of final wills, mostly strange, some humourous, and even bizarre, which struck my fancy. Maybe, you'll get either a groan or, maybe, a laugh or two out of the following:
* Ms. Eleanor Ritchey, the unmarried granddaughter of the founder of Quaker State Oil, died in 1968 with an estate worth about $12 million. It seems she left more than 1,700 pairs of shoes and 1,200 boxes of stationery to the Salvation Army. The rest of the estate went to the dogs. Yes, real mutts, for it seems, Ms. Eleanor was a collector of some 150 strays.
* Francis R. Lord, a thrifty Aussie, left one shilling to his wife and these words: "It's for tram fare so she can go somewhere and drown herself." Mrs. Lord never claimed the inheritance.
* Sandra West, who happened to be a filthy rich socialite from Beverly Hills, left most of her $3 million estate to her brother if he buried her in a lace nightgown in her Ferrari. Well, her Ferrari was packed in concrete so no one would later dig it up and drive it away. Apparently, Sandra and the Ferrari are still "parked."
* Did you hear about the woman from North Carolina, who left her estate to God? When the court told the county sheriff to find her beneficiary, he eventually submitted his report, which read: "After due and diligent search, God cannot be found in this county."
* Edgar Bergen left 10 grand to the Actor's Fund of America with one stipulation that Bergen's "friend" -- Charlie McCarthy -- come out of retirement once a year. The Fund went along with it, but it makes one wonder who does Charlie's voiceovers?
Then there's the bequeathing of both immovable and movable properties as Roshni Johar reported in India's Tribune:
* One eccentric wrote his will not on paper, but on his door in red chalk, making two witnesses sign it. The court, however, called that an absurdity, but it was finally settled when the executers unhinged the door and produced the will in court.
* Did you know that Leo Tolstoy left his possessions to the stump of a tree? Would I make up such a tale?
* German Countess Carlotta Liebenstein, who died in 1991, left 139 million German marks to Gunther III. Incidentally, III was a pet dog and now Gunther IV has a personal maid, a limo and a custom-made swimming pool. Some lucky dog, eh?
* Jimmy, Trunte, Fifi, Trine, Grinni and Gigi are six lucky chimps in the Copenhagen zoo. It seems an 83-year-old Danish woman left her entire fortune of $67,000 to them. A lawyer went to the zoo and read them their inheritance. It makes one wonder if they understood one word of it.
And speaking of eccentrics, there's the one about the wealthy New Yorker, who left the following will: "To my wife I leave one dollar and the knowledge that I wasn't the fool she thought I was. To my son, I leave the pleasure of earning a living which he had not done in 35 years."
Finally, the friendly librarian in Falkland, near the Ol' Homestead, scoured the website and found these gems:
* From England in a more gentle and generous time: The retired Sir Joseph Jekyll, Master of the Rolls and, therefore, a very senior judge, left his considerable estate to pay off the national debt. A contemporary commentator suggested he might as well have "attempted to block the middle arch of Blackfriars Bridge with his full-bottomed wig." More surprisingly, perhaps, the will was later set aside on the 'ground of imbecility.'
* Even further back in time was Billy Shakespeare's bequest: "I gyve to my wief my second-best bed with the furniture."
That's a good one, William, even if you couldn't spell gyve (give) or wief (wife).
Then there's the bizarre 911 calls such as this one:
(Dispatcher) 911. What's your emergency?
(Caller) I'm scared.
(Dispatcher) What's the problem?
(Caller) I just got a Ouija board for my birthday and now there's writing on my wall and I can't get it off ... This thing is going back to Kmart first thing in the morning!
DID YOU KNOW? (From The Book of Lists): James Cagney never uttered the line, "You dirty rat" in any of his roles as a hard-boiled gangster. Cagney impersonators often used it ... Also, Cary Grant never uttered the line, "Judy, Judy, Judy."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It's just me, the Goodyear Blimp

IT WAS a typical breakfast fare: Eggs and bacon and then washing it all down with seven tons of granulated, white sugar in my favorite brew. Yeech!
That's when I knew I was in trouble with The Missus.
"You know what, Corbett, I can't fit into anything any more?" she whispered. "I'm going to go on the Atkins' Diet."
The Ol' Columnist just nodded his head.
After all, being the second coming of the Goodyear Blimp, I knew enough to keep my mouth shut and that's when she hit me with one of those addendum: "When are you going on one? You certainly could lose that gut!"
Sometimes, a wife can crush you with a few words.
And that's when I thought, "Self, if she's on Atkins', you'll have to make a choice? Will it be the South Beach, the Zone Diet, the Hoodia, the Mayo Clinic Diet, the Amazing Chinese fat-loss secret diet or what about Sonoma?"
That's when I remembered watching Jordan Rubin on TV and something he called The Maker's Diet and wondered if it would be of assistance even for an unhealthy "fat" man.
When I looked up his website, he claimed The Maker's Diet had saved his life.
"In 1994 at 19 years of age and six foot one inch tall, my weight plummeted from 180 pounds to a shocking 104 pounds in a matter of months," he wrote. "As my immune system began to break down, I suffered from a list of debilitating conditions, including intestinal parasites, abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, liver problems, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, arthritis, prostate and bladder infections, irregular heartbeat, eye inflammation, and chronic depression.
"I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Though I was not familiar with the disease, I soon learned that my future looked bleak. I was told that medications would keep me alive, but I quickly discovered that their side effects were nearly as bad as the disease itself. And then, it turned out, the medications weren't that effective. I continued to waste away. Science knew of no cause or cure from Crohn's at the time, and my prognosis was very poor."
Rubin then continued to write that he had seen 70 health professionals in seven countries and had 500 different treatments and still ended up in a wheelchair about to die.
His world changed when his father contacted an eccentric nutritionist who said Rubin was ill because he wasn't eating the diet of the Bible.
"I integrated the nutritionist's program with my own findings about nutrition and health from the Bible, and for the first time in my long battle, I saw some improvment in my health.
"I believe my survival is a true testament to the power of my faith in God and the revolutionary health program I call The Maker's Diet. In the seven years since my recovery, I have not shown any sysmptoms of the disease that nearly took my life."
When watching Rubin on TV, one item that turned me off was brown seaweed, but I could handle some of his diet ideas ( for Breakfast: Easy Egg Scramble; Tomato-Basil Omelet; Blueberry Muffins; Leek Frittata; French Toast ... Lunch: Coconut Milk Soup; Salade Nicoise; Texas-Style Chili; Traditional Beef Stew; Roast Beef Sandwich With Cole Slaw ... Dinner: Family Roast Beef; Cilantro-Lime Chicken Cacciatore; Wild Alaskan Salmon With Pecan Pesto; Steak au Poivre With Fried Peppers and Onions; Spaghetti With Meat Sauce.
For Rubin, The Maker's Diet took him from a scrawny creature to a solid and healthy individual.
While it sounds appealing, The Missus has made up her mind to follow Atkins' Diet Plan with its list of all you can eat such as lamb, ham, bacon, pork, veal, beef and venison all the way to poached, deviled and scrambled eggs to cream cheese. However, there are a number of items to steer clear off such as rice, cereals (bread, flour, breakfast cereals), maize, wheat, things high in sugar (fruit, juice, candy), potatoes (chips & fries) along with alcohol (beer & whisky). That's okay since neither one of us imbibe.
Tomorrow, we'll go on The Maker's Diet and Atkins (, respectively.
Now, please excuse me while I munch the last of these three chocolate-covered cookies and wash it down with some Coke (that's Diet Coke, of course).
SOME ALL-STAR SAYINGS (From baseball great Yogi Berra): These are worth repeating -- "Think! How the heck are you going to think and hit at the same time?" ... "I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early." ... "If you can't imitate him, don't copy him." ... "You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six." ... "Baseball is 90 per cent mental -- the other half is physical."

Saturday, July 7, 2007

So 'Git Er Done' Larry The Cable Guy

"LORD, I APOLOGIZE FOR ... Daniel Lawrence Whitney ... and be with the starvin' pygmies in Noo Guinea, Amen."
In this ultra-serious world when the No. 2 al-Qaeda goon has declared the annihilation of the West and vile medical doctors have made a mockery of the Hippocratic Oath, Whitney, aka Larry the Cable Guy, brings a smile even to the most sophisticated TV viewer.
If you don't believe me, then why is The Missus always mouthing, "Git-er-done" even when no one's listening.
And just the other night as gloom settled over the planet, Ol' Larry was smashing political correctness and spinning yarns about an overweight sister who looks like DeeWayne from the Ozarks and has multiple moles. So many Larry has nicknamed her "Old Moley," "Holy Moley" and "Guacamole."
Of course, he spreads his caustic wit to his entire "family," for according to his Wikipedia blurbs, his sister's baby has been pegged as "Rolie Polie Moley."
Although, the sophisticates would turn up their noses at Whitney and snub his sometimes racist and homophobic references, Ol' Larry answers with "the only people who are uptight at my shows are politically correct white people."
Just the other night, this now millionaire laughmaster was on Donny Deutsch's The Big Idea and viewers quickly learned that Whitney, the one-time baseball player and hotel bellhop, showed off his comedic wares when a friend convinced him to go on stage at an "open mike" comedy show and as they say the rest of history.
In his bio, Whitney was born in Pawnee City, Nebraska and then moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., when he was 16 where he attended Berean Christian School. His father was a preacher, who worked as the school's principal, and had played guitar with the Everly Brothers at one time.
He worked at Wendy's before being thrust into the showbiz realm with a radio call-in stint and "Larry" became born when a friend suggested he call in as a cable installer.
While he's appeared with his other comedic talents such as Bill Engvall on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, Whitney has been the voice of Mater on the animated film Cars. He's followed this up with Delta Force and Witless Protection to be released in 2008.
Besides The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, Whitney also has made a (lasting) "Larry" impression on 60 Minutes in which correspondent Bob Simon said: "Larry is not angry, he's not depressed, he's not paranoid ..."
That's the Cable Guy, who claims his grandma has a severe case of the 'walkin' farts' ... Lord, I apologize for that!
Speaking of Deutsch, besides showcasing a litany of rising and money-generating individuals on his The Big Idea program, is more than just another talk show host, for he's chairman of Deutsch, Inc., a $2.7 billion marketing company.
One of the most fascinating characters to be on his Big Idea show was Matthew Kaye, aka Matt Striker, who was fired from his teaching job when he took a few days off wrestle in Japan.
Until that time, Mr. Kaye was the social studies teacher at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Queens, New York, and then his weekend ventures became known with his wrestling persona plastered in the newspapers ... and, quickly, his educational bosses dismissed him.
However, the firing has had its rewards, particularly, in the money department. Striker has found out that pro wrestling has a higher salary base than any teaching job.
Another one to realize millions of dollars from their Big Idea was Sara Blakely, who became Ernest & Young's 2002 Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner, with her pantyhose idea, known as Spanx.
Being shy, the Ol' Columnist will leave that one alone. Perhaps, The Missus should write a column about that slimming product.
Or as Larry might belch, "I don't care who you are, that's funny right there!"
DID YOU EVER HEAR THIS ONE? (From The Book Of Lists): The billionaire oil magnate J. Paul Getty (1892-1976) met Jack Dempsey in 1916, when Dempsey was an up-and-coming young fighter, and the two became good friends. Getty, who kept fit in the fully equipped basement gym in his parents' mansion, used to spar with Dempsey. Dempsey once claimed that, in an altercation over a girl, Getty knocked him out with a left upercut -- the only time Dempsey was ever KO'd by anyone.
FINALLY (From Uncle John's Bathroom Reader): High On The Hog meaning luxurious, prosperous ... Background: The tastiest part of a hog are its upper parts. If you're living high on the hog, you've got the best it has to offer.