Hip Hip, Murray!
We're making a list, and checking it twice: Celebrating Bill’s many gifts to mark A Very Murray Christmas, airing Dec. 4 on Netflix.
By Chris Lackner
All I really need to know I learned from Bill Murray. With his Netflix holiday special bowing Dec. 4, I’m reminded of the many gifts the craggy-faced, curmudgeonly comedian has given me. As a child of the ’80s, most of my friends looked up to action heroes – from Arnie to Sly, Van Damme to Seagal. Not me. I emulated a smartass with a delightfully deadpan delivery. To wish you all A Very Murray Christmas, I’d like to celebrate the many things the actor has taught us: Sarcasm is mightier than the sword: Male pop icons, from Luke Skywalker to Rocky, were largely men of action. My ultimate boyhood hero was Murray’s Peter Venkman from 1984’s Ghostbusters. The classic Murray character wielded dry sarcasm like a weapon, firing off effortless barbs to overcome adversity, motivate his team – or ...
Mob Rule: Part 30
Stealing from the Best
Finding his comfort zone halfway between holy roller and Hollywood hack on the campaign trail, Jack suddenly realizes it's not about who you really are, but who people want you to be.
By John Armstrong
It was a good thing I made my move when I did. The next morning we left for California. We took off in more of the drizzling rain and grey skies that mean spring in Washington and arrived in the hard glare and 70 degrees-plus heat of early May in Los Angeles. The waiting limos took us down palm-lined streets to the hotel and I got right to work pacing the floor and chain-smoking, waiting for Vanessa to arrive. Bobby and Sydney were in meetings all day in a room reserved for just that purpose and again I was largely unneeded, except when I was briefly trotted out for inspection by men whose names I forgot immediately after Bobby introduced us. I had given up on trying to keep such information in my head. It had become a blur of faces and names and even ...
Whistle-stops and White Houses
Mob Rule: Part 29
Now trapped in the travelling circus of politics, Jack tries to reconnect with the mob bosses and bring them up to speed without showing his real hand.
By John Armstrong
We’d flown to Philly for the first stop on the tour but after that we used limousines, at least for the East Coast. Nobody would see anything out of the ordinary in a convoy of big cars with no-see-‘em windows passing them on the freeway; people would assume it was just Family Business. Outside the Kennedy territory we ran the risk someone from the local ruling family would see us and wonder who was on their turf, but they’d be unlikely to stop us. If it turned out to be your own boss, it could seriously hamper a man’s career. It was a calculated risk. We were too conspicuous using airports, given the size of the entourage. Bobby had a team of minions, Sydney’s inner circle had a dozen or so men (and women) to take care of the grunt work, there were bodyguards and gunmen and several ...
Kicking off the Campaign
Mob Rule: Part 28
Declaring independence while rewarding the patrons who put you in office is just part of an inherently duplicitous political process
By John Armstrong
We left the next morning for Philadelphia. Sydney and Bobby said it was important to kick the campaign off there, for symbolic reasons. It was a short flight. By time we were up in the air it was time to put the seatbelts back on and come down again. The sign outside Independence Hall said “Closed: Private Function.” Inside the air was thick with smoke and voices, knots of men standing in groups waiting for the proceedings to begin and armed men guarding the doors and windows. Waiters circled the room like bees in a garden, making sure the glasses were kept full. I was kept backstage until it was time for my speech, Sydney and Bobby running over it with me line by line and making sure I knew where to wait for applause and which parts to hit hard on. “What if they don’t applaud where you think they ...
Dan Halldorson: Unsung star of Canadian golf
In the modern era of professional showmanship, Dan Halldorson defined low-profile sportsmanship
By Rod Mickleburgh
You probably didn’t notice, but one of my favourite golfers recently shuffled off this mortal coil. In fact, most of you probably don’t even have a favourite golfer. But never mind. Apart from that, the reason you may not have noticed his demise, is that Dan Halldorson, tragically done in by a stroke at 63, defined the phrase “low profile.” Not only was he a Canadian professional golfer before Mike Weir, he had the on-course charisma of a dozing accountant. Not many noticed him during his golfing career, and after he retired, he was soon unjustly forgotten. Me, I loved the guy. There was something so unassuming about Dan Halldorson, so unlike any other golfer on the PGA tour. Shunning the flashy polyester slacks and other riotous garb of the time, Dan preferred loose, almost baggy, dark pants. When the weather fell below 80 degrees, he often ...
Victor Frankenstein: Prom Date Unbound
Movie review: Victor Frankenstein
James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe pick up the loose body parts of Mary Shelley's Gothic classic and sew together a whole new story about the dangers of unbridled creativity.
Will Ferguson’s Road Trip Rwanda – The Ex-Press
I told someone I was going to hear Will Ferguson talk about his new book Road Trip Rwanda. “How can he be funny about Rwanda?” was the question.
By Charles Gordon
Good question. Without having read the book, I knew the answer, as anyone who has ever written humour should. He would be respectful of Rwanda — especially Rwanda — and he would make jokes about himself. Indeed, it turned out that way. In Road Trip Rwanda, Ferguson, a multiple Leacock Award winner, portrays himself as a well-meaning goof, eager to learn but not always getting it, friendly but bumbling. The Rwandan people, on the other hand, get a sympathetic portrayal. It’s the only way to do it. Even Bill Bryson, who can be much more acidic, tends to give the locals the benefit of the doubt. Occasionally a writer doesn’t do that — I think of some stuff Dave Barry wrote about China, where the main joke seemed to be that China wasn’t like America, and therefore weird — and it’s a mistake. I ...
Potato Gratin (Pommes Dauphinois)
When you spend all day braising lamb for a dinner party and it’s the potatoes your guests rave about, you know you’re on to something.
By Louise Crosby
Indeed, this potato gratin, known as pommes dauphinois in France, or plain old scalloped potatoes in my family, is easy to put together but altogether dreamy and delicious to eat. The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table and is made of layers of thinly sliced potatoes bathed in garlic-infused cream and topped with cheese, then baked until the cheese melts and the potatoes turn soft on the inside, slightly crusty on top. The dish lends itself to much improvisation, as Greenspan explains in her “Bonne Idée”: for a dash of colour, try substituting sweet potato for an equal amount of russets, or add a layer of cooked chopped spinach or chard, sautéed mushrooms, or steamed small broccoli florets. Bits of cooked bacon or strips of lightly sautéed pancetta would also work well, and in place of the ...
Three movies that helped me understand terrorism
Brazil, The Green Prince and Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam
If movies are empathy machines, can they help us understand the incomprehensible reality of intentional violence against the innocent masses? Veteran film critic Katherine Monk says maybe, and offers a list of titles that helped her gain a better understanding of the big picture.
By Katherine Monk
A drunk man reels backward in a burka as the random thump of a bass drum ricochets through the basement walls, sweating from the heat of writhing humanity. “This one is called Sharia Law in the USA!,” screams the shirtless, bearded man on the mike. “I am an Islamist! I am the Anti-Christ!!” It’s a scene from the 2009 Omar Majeed documentary Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam, a film that didn’t make much of an impression the first time I watched it, but something pulled me back to the movie about young, thoroughly westernized Muslim men who found a sense of tribal belonging in a form of vocal and violent ...