A Nice Word:

scintilla. Meaning trace or flash.

O, to have scintillating wit!

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Rare Signed Lawren Harris

A very rare signature by Harris from a 1950 political-history book, that was in his Vancouver home library, which had been given by an author-friend. After 1924, Harris stopped signing anything.

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$10 million a year for security

for Harry and Meghan in Canada. Why should Canadian taxpayers have to pay for their personal whim forever?

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“Yes, but can I be trusted?”

Old Wayne and Shuster line in their classic sketch”Rinse the Blood off My Toga”, based on Julius Caesar.
Trump up to 16, 241 false or misleading claims going into his impeachment trial. Why would anyone trust anything he says?

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Revisiting Grade 7

What with the passing of Edd “Kookie” Byrnes from tv’s 77 Sunset Strip, I went in search of a precious artifact that changed my view of language at an impressionable age. Kookie’s lingo in the brochure was an offshoot of Beat language and later led to more explorations of ‘cool’ vocabulary. Incidentally, only one copy of this exists/existed on the Internet and I found it in my hometown of Winnipeg.

Tom Dalzell’s reference book is a classic language study which morphed out of the Kookie search. His labor of love is a cornucopia of hip vocab going back to the 1850s! A must-have from Amazon for anyone seriously interested in the “Cool” or in (changing) language.

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2 Female Literary Geniuses

The amazing Emily Dickinson who wrote the most compact metaphorical poetry in English. She showed that a woman writer needed no one else but her imagination to bless her own work. She is the supreme spirited poet of the dark night of the individual soul. The Johnson Harvard edition is the the only book you need for getting to know her.

Virginia Woolf, whose stream-of-consciousness prose writing remains a Shakespearean pinnacle in women’s literature, has,likewise, long impressed me. The best novels, of course, are ‘incandescent’, a word she uses to describe Shakespeare’s work. She is also the top woman essayist of all time and we are fortunate that her husband Leonard collected many of these pieces in the posthumous essay collections issued.

If you want to read the best analysis of European and North American women’s lives from Shakespeare’s time on to the late 19th century, A Room of One’s Own is a must-read. She pointedly described the limits and limitations of early women’s lives and reviews the slow progress women writers made, notably by Austen, the Brontes, and George Eliot. Freedom, wider experience, and “incandescence” are what make for great writers like Tolstoy and Shakespeare BTW.

(A beautiful reading of a veritable feminist classic)

If I had to recommend essays, Room would be a foundational classic. If one wanted to learn about Life and consciousness, To the Lighthouse is a great stretch. But if you want to read a poetic masterpiece, then The Waves will do, though you must totally abandon any conventional notions of what a novel is.

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The Musical Way to Start Another Cold Sunday

The first 5 CDs of the Telemann Edition boxset played by Canada’s Tafelmusik. Elegant, tasteful, and confident.

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Sorely Lacking in These Times:

Common Sense.
Serious thinking.
Significant consciousness, especially involving an appreciation of context and empathy.

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Every Day, Every Morning: Sirens

Human error. Human distress. Human emergency.
As long as there are people and you live in a city, there will be sirens. 24/7.

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But the coldest Canadian winter

poem of all is Robert Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee”.

(illustration by Frank Newfeld of Alligator Pie fame)

(I had the good fortune to have Frank as my illustrator in my first school textbook, 1980) 

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