The Sick Days: Part 3
Who's afraid of the wolf?
An aspiring reporter gets her first shot at daily journalism, along with a diagnosis that demands a daily dose of prednisone
By Shelley Page
If home is where the heart is, what about the hurt? Would it follow me there, too? Upon my return from university, I sat in my straight jacket of pain watching my parents take action. My dad pulled out the plaid sofa bed in the basement so I could sleep upright by leaning on the back of the couch. He moved the TV close, pushed the shuffleboard out of the way. My mom brought me warm towels to pack around my chest. When that didn’t ease the hurt, she wrapped her arms around me, trying to minimize the ripping pain that came with each breath. They’d booked me an appointment for the following day with our family doctor, but I was without hope. After five doctors and 18 months, I already viewed the medical profession with doubt and disappointment. But as I unspooled my story to our GP, he didn’t ...
Mob Rule: Part 5
Our anti-hero Jack Kennedy meets mob ruler Meyer Lansky, 'a rodent in golf clothes' who comes on like a Mensch, but is more like a snake on a hot rock -- lightning fast and ready to bite.
By John Armstrong
Chapter Five Remembering what he’d said at the airport, when we got to the office I took Meyer’s arm as we entered the building. “Let me show you to the executive washroom, Mr. Lansky. You probably want to clean up a bit after the trip.” “Thank God,’ he said. “I’m ready to plotz right here.” Charley and I waited outside the door until he came back out, then escorted him to Frank’s office. The two men said nothing when they saw each other but Frank hurried out from behind his desk and met Meyer for a hug that went on for some time. I once saw a documentary about the Civil War in a history class. It had some silent footage of the reenactment of a battle some 50 years later, with the original participants brought together again, the survivors ...
We’re Doomed! A Star Wars Guide to Canada’s Election
The force of apathy awakens, but if you see it as Darth Harper versus Justin Trudeauwalker, things almost look dramatic
From the Sith Lord Mike Duffy's allegiance with Darth Harper to rebel insurgents sporting plaid shirts and carrying a cup of Timmy's in their holsters, the election has turned into a stellar war of ideologies featuring a leader who lives behind a mask
By Chris Lackner
Now, in a galaxy far, far too close. There. Got your attention? My Star Wars ploy worked? Now stay focused, Canada. When it comes to our election, I know most of you are either bored, indifferent, disgusted – or blissfully unaware it even started. Much like the Death Star, I’m going to blow your mind in one shot. With only months to go before the franchise reboot, we can all agree the space opera is waaaaay more interesting than politics. But what if our election was a Star Wars movie?! (Given the cookie-cutter dialogue of recent debates, it already feels like the election was written ...
Yogi Berra: More than Mr. Malaprop
The late legend was a perennial MVP and one of few good reasons to root for the New York Yankees
Sure, Mantle might hit a homer, but he might just as easily strike out. Berra, notorious for swinging at balls so far out of the strike zone they might have been in Poughkeepsie, almost never fanned – just 414 times in 19 seasons, writes Rod Mickleburgh
By Rod Mickleburgh
A few words on the late, great Lawrence Peter Berra, known to one and all, except Yankee manager Casey Stengel, as Yogi. The Old Perfessor always referred to him as “my man” or “Mr. Berra.” It was his show of respect for the team’s catcher and long-time clean-up hitter. While others might mock and deride Berra’s squat stature, homely mug and lack of verbal sophistication, wise Casey knew just how key Berra was to the success of the Yankees in those long-ago years when they seemed to win the World Series every year. From behind the plate, he guided the team’s often far from brilliant pitching staff ...
Mob Rule: Part 4
By John Armstrong
I was still giving off steam from the shower when Joey hit the buzzer and when I pushed the intercom button on my end, that unmistakable Red Hook honk came over the speaker loud enough to push me into the far wall: “Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight - And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught the Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light. Get outta bed, you sleepyhead.” Try that at 7 a.m. with a full-on dese, dem and dose Brooklyn accent, in a voice that sounded like he’d been gargling with broken lightbulbs and molasses. If Vanessa wanted to hear the real thing, here he was. Crazy Joe Gallo, the one and only. God didn’t dare make two of him. They called him Crazy Joe because to almost everyone in the business, he had to be. This is a guy who not only does business with the moulinyans, he’s friends with them. And when he’s not up in Harlem listening to jazz and smoking reefer with the moolies, ...
The Sick Days: Part 2
Emergency pit stop: the search for a cause continues
The first consult with a physician starts with a psychiatric assessment and ends with an overnight admission, anti-inflammatories and a prescription for sleeping pills
By Shelley Page
The guerrilla attacks of pseudo paralysis continued, random and stealth. Like when my left arm — I’m left handed — went completely limp while playing pick-up, and I couldn’t dribble a basketball or take a shot. That lasted for a few days. Or when I was door-knocking for a candidate in the federal election and I had to use crutches because my legs felt like they’d run a marathon. I worried my friends thought I was crazy. I worried, too. In the late fall, six months after my Easter episode, I was hunkered down in the Charlatan, the student newspaper at Carleton University, working on the next issue. I’d quit basketball to become co-assistant news editor, obviously drawn by the title. We were a polarized group of junior ...
Movie review: The Green Inferno
Eli Roth's new movie screams "Eat me"
There's more to horror than dismemberment, cannibalism and gory plane crashes, but the director of the Hostel series remains oblivious to the emotional needs of horror, and the whole concept of acting
Movie review: The Intern doesn’t pay off
In Nancy Meyer's new film, Robert De Niro is a 70-year-old intern in the on-line company run by Anne Hathaway, where selling clothing is secondary to handing out familiar advice
Mob Rule: Part 3
Going to the mattresses
John Armstrong's novel continues with a quick lesson in mob warfare and an ancient saying that prophecies a turbulent tomorrow
By John Armstrong
Vito Genovese is, like my uncle, one of the last of the originals, the men who founded the organization and saved the country when it was ready to go up in flames. Maranzano, Lansky, Siegel, Costello, Anastasia – they were giants, let’s face it. And a good thing they were there, too, or we might all be speaking Russian or Chinese. Personally, I find English hard enough. I found Frank in his office, on the phone, with a dozen soldiers scattered throughout the foyer and gunmen posted around the mezzanine. There were more outside the front doors, young, tight-jawed men with black eyes, hard as stones from the river bottom. For them, this was an opportunity to shine, to be noticed by the higher-ups. It’s hard for a gunsel to make an impression when there’s no shooting going on. Frank ...