November 18, 2015

A Head For Business

Somebody tells me “ ‘Til December 20th we’re in the fall business.” Really? No-one bothered to inform me and now it’s almost too late! What investment opportunities have I failed to realize and actuate to their full extent or, any extent at all if it comes to that? What fortunes have escaped my grasp?

Never mind! forewarned is forearmed which is twice the usual number for humans, though an octopus would feel deprived to the tune of fifty percent. Never mind! it’s my understanding they can grow them back. Useful if people could, even more useful if I knew the trick of it and could help people grow them back for a fee. It wouldn’t be an excessive fee.

What was I saying? oh yes! mustn’t grumble, what if the fall business is almost done? Winter figures to have the same and this time I can get in on the ground floor. People say I have no head for business but I’ll show them you bet I will!

April 21, 2015

I & Q

Have you noticed how many inexplicable quips turn up in journalism these days? Lines without any air of being uttered in jest or with humorous intent, which are nevertheless designated quips?

Probably they don't come up as often as icons. I once abandoned an article in the Entertainment section of the Star because, not even half a sentence in, some stolid and durable pillar of the entertainment community was referred to as an icon. I decided to apply the same test to the rest of the Entertainment section, which in consequence took me less than two minutes to read; I think the deepest any of these stories got before dropping an 'icon' or 'iconic' was paragraph 2--unusual restraint I'm sure you'll agree.

To be fair, this was a little above the common degree of usage--most days I'd have had to read through at least one story, maybe two, if my only test for skipping was whether they dropped the 'i' bomb.

Coming back to quipping, a piece on Kevin Pillar's outstanding April work on defence and even offence (Friday April 17 the story came out, so there's a full half month's play for sample) includes this: " 'The way he's played the first week and a half, you should give him the Gold Glove right now,' pitcher Mark Beuhrle quipped."

This isn't a perfect example, as there plainly is some humorous intent behind the remark. More typically someone 'quips' "He's been hitting over .300 for the last half year--surprising given that his lifetime average over several years in the majors is .217." If they'd said Beuhrle 'joked' or 'kidded'--nothing implied about how good a joke it was or how noticeable a kid--I suppose I'd let it go--but quips, surely, are a little more rare and should be held to a higher standard. When Dizzy Dean said, "If Satchel Paige were pitching with me for St Louis, we could win the pennant by June and take July and August off to go fishing," that was a quip, not to mention a good sized chunk from the hide of a shaggy dog. On the other hand, a line that good can just be quoted--you don't need to dress it up with inflatable speech tags.

February 14, 2015

Views on an Election Win That Wasn't

Rob   Ford’s back on the airways, saying on a talk radio show that if he’d run for Mayor in the most recent election, he’d have won. 

If I were the citizens of Toronto (and as it happens I’m one of them), I’d be offended. A putatively reformed crack head and alcoholic with a monotonous ongoing spiel about fiscal responsibility to accompany as fiscally irresponsible a term as any of us have seen in our lifetimes, a man in whom you never knew where the mendacity left off and the hyperbolic braggadocio began, a man who claimed a billion dollars saved by his administration by the interesting expedient of counting losses and gains indiscriminately on the credit side, would have won a second term as mayor after serving a first term which was, first to last, a campaign against Rob Ford as Mayor? I don’t think so. The numbers of Ford nation had shrunk appreciably, and Ford was elected originally (by a little over a third of the electorate because of the number of candidates and the first-past-the-post rule in our elections) largely as a gesture of protest. He’d given the protest vote plenty of reason to come out in favour of any candidate, very nearly, so long as that candidate wasn’t a Ford. He might have done marginally better than his brother (who’d been parachuted into the race by means many considered irregular), because he’s more likeable and personable, but he wouldn’t have pulled a single vote away from any of the other candidates, and his deflating hard core of supporters wouldn’t have been enough. Since he would only have continued to contest the election if he were cancer-free, it’s very likely he would have had a relapse of his other condition, binging on booze or free-base cocaine very loudly and publicly in the few weeks remaining before the election. (The first stages of recovery are the most delicate, and require calm and some degree of isolation from stress—not easy to come by in the heat of a mayoral race.) There would still be a hard core of support this wouldn’t have lost him, but it would shrink a touch more. It might have won him some sympathy (as the cancer diagnosis certainly did) among voters like me who favoured other candidates in the last election, but it wouldn’t have won him any of our votes. I felt sympathy, in spite of his belligerence (who knew how long and hungry a day he’d put in?), for the man begging at the Grenview exit to the Royal York Subway last night, and if I’d been a little more flush myself would have helped him more than I did. I wouldn’t have given him my vote for any elective office.