Time for a quick rant about politeness and consideration.
Imagine you have a burning question you want to ask. Or you have what you believe to be an awfully good suggestion to make. You do the research to find the email address of the person you wish to address this to and send it off. It’s short, to the point, and clear.
Now, you wait for the response. And you wait. And you wait. And finally, you figure there’s not going to be a response.
So, here’s my question. Why not? Why isn’t there a response?
I’ll tell you why. It’s because people have lost their manners. They’ve forfeited their civility, their concern for the other guy. And that’s just so sad.
It’s all about YOU, right? And you’re far too busy to take the EIGHT SECONDS out of your busy day to say, “no thanks”, or “can’t help you” or “not for us” “piss off” or whatever (just kidding on that last one, but hey, at least it’s a response!).
Why is it good manners to at least acknowledge someone’s email? Because the poor SOB who’s sent it to you is wondering, did she receive it or did it go to a SPAM trap? No response provides no outcome.
Yup, we all know how busy you are, and how important you think you are. But taking EIGHT SECONDS to acknowledge receipt of an email is just proper.
Think about that, you who are so full of yourself that you don’t need to acknowledge others.
I know I’ll take some heat for saying it, but he can’t Rush out the door quick enough for my liking. I have no regrets that we are finally done with that blowhard Rush Limbaugh.
Back in 2009, I argued that the law of treason ought to be brought back so they could throw the book at him. By urging Republicans not to work with the U.S. incoming president (Obama) and by using his bully pulpit to declare on air, “I hope he fails,” he showed what a pathetic little man he was. You don’t have to love your country’s leader, but you sure as hell ought to respect the fact that your fellow countrymen voted to put him there. (That is, assuming you don’t buy into Trump’s notion that all elections are rigged... unless, of course, you win, at which point it’s a different story.) A year later, when Limbaugh threatened to leave the country and move to Costa Rica if Obama’s healthcare reform efforts passed, I hoped he’d do just that. Would have been good riddance.
Did you not find the man guilty of bigotry and blatant racism for playing the song “Barack the Magic Negro” (featuring lyrics set to Puff, the Magic Dragon)? I did. He actually described Obama as someone who "makes guilty whites feel good" and is "black, but not authentically."
Once billed as “the most dangerous man in America”, Limbaugh was full of bombast and drug abuse (which likely contributed to his hearing loss). "In my heart and soul, I know I have become the intellectual engine of the conservative movement," he opined as he initiated what has become the destruction of a once fine political party, the GOP. His hubris had no limits when he declared he had "talent on loan from God."
Why should he get any respect from me when he showed so little for others, calling Democrats and others on the left communists, wackos, liberal extremists, radicals and femi-nazis?
Right-wing media outlets have described the man as a trailblazer who paved the way for Fox News. And that’s a good thing? His critics have derided him for peddling conspiracy theories and demonizing marginalized people.
Rush to judgement? Maybe, but I say good riddance to a pathetic and destructive force. The world’s better off without him.
One of the lures Amazon uses in getting people like me to pay for Prime membership is “guaranteed” 2 day delivery, for free. I joined up a few years ago when this first came out because it was worth it: I was ordering a fair amount of stuff from Amazon and deduced the Prime payment would save me money over the year. Plus, the 2-day turnaround was attractive and very handy. And yet, this 2-day scenario seems to be slipping. Badly.
2-days is no longer consistently offered with Amazon Prime. In fact, one order I was intending to make recently (but didn’t) suggested I’d have the delivery within 2-3 weeks!
Now, see, where I come from, if Amazon says they’re going to deliver a product in two days, then that’s what they ought to do. That’s what I expect them to do. That’s what I pay them to do, dammit. But if they can’t, then surely they should not be advertising it as a Prime product. Seems to me that’s pretty simple. Apparently, not to them. When I discussed this via chat with one of their customer “service” folks, all I got was bafflegab. (Hey, maybe I was just dealing with a robot!).
So Amazon, until you choose to fix this, you'll be known as Scamazon in my household. See, where I hang out, bait-and-switch purveyors are poorly thought of. I’ve already found a number of alternative sources for my needs so Scamazon will be seeing less and less of my business. That is, unless they want to fix this. And, at the risk of re-stating what should be obvious, the fix is easy: if you can’t meet the terms you promise with a Prime product – the terms you expect me to pay for – then don't list it as a Prime product. Could there be anything simpler? Apparently not with Scamazon.
Now, it takes a lot for me to excoriate a fellow author. I mean, no one appreciates how much work goes into getting the right thoughts down on a page than I do. But you know what: when a scribe gets lazy and doesn’t do the research that his/her writing merits, then I come out swinging. Let me explain…
My friend, singer Alex Pangman, recently turned me on to a book about Frank Sinatra: “All Or Nothing At All” by a Donald Clarke. Alex knows I’ve written the definitive story about Ruth Lowe (“Until I Smile At You” - untilismileatyou.com), the Canadian girl who wrote the song that launched Sinatra’s career into the stratosphere, “I’ll Never Smile Again”. I was selected by Ruth's family to write the book. In fact, Alex had me as a guest on her podcast/radio show “Swing Set” to talk about this story. She’s also aware that I spent three years compiling the story, doing countless interviews, researching, checking and cross-checking details. So she knew I’d blow a gasket when I learned about Mr. Clarke’s ”story”. Why? The guy has the impertinence to say this: “'I’ll Never Smile Again' had been written by pianist Ruth Lowe, a native of Toronto, who played on the radio in Canada and later in the American all-girl band of Ina Ray Hutton; she wrote it supposedly after the death of her husband, though that story seems to have been a piece of press-agentry”. This guy then goes on to say that Tommy Dorsey “allowed” Glenn Miller to record “I’ll Never Smile Again” and that Sinatra and the Pied Pipers had been a part of Dorsey’s first attempt to record the song.
Wonder what else is wrong in this book?
Because that stuff is just piffle. Imagine having the effrontery to suggest Ruth Lowe did not write her famous song after the death of her husband. “Press-agentry”? Just where the hell did the guy dig up the research to support this wild-ass claim? And while we’re at it, where did he discover that supposedly Sinatra and the Pied Pipers participated in the earlier attempt to record Ruth’s song when there is zero evidence to suggest this at all. (Yes, Dorsey had tried to nail the tune in the waning moments of a previous recording session, no question, but Sinatra and the singers were not a part of this failed venture.)
Those of us who believe in research when writing books know that’s it’s often painstaking work. But rewarding too. I spent a delightful session talking with 96 year old Muriel Cohen (“Mickey” to her friends), Ruth’s sister, who told me in great detail how her older sibling was so devastated after losing her husband. “One day she looked at me and said, ‘Mickey, I’ll just never smile again’,” she explained to me. “It was heartbreaking. But that evening, she sat down at the piano and suddenly the song just poured from her soul. “I’ll Never Smile Again” – words and music.”
It poured from her soul. There were no press agents involved. And where Mr. Clarke got that malarkey from is anyone’s guess. But I know where my information came from and I’ll bank on it anytime.
Shame on you Donald Clarke!
A quick addendum: I didn’t realize how popular the idea of doing away with the olde, outdated vice-regal positions in Canada was. Just learned that more than half the population in our country favours getting rid of the very expensive trappings of the Governor -General, Lieutenant-Governors, etc. al, and doing away with our allegiance to the “Royal Family” after the demise of Queen Elizabeth to boot. Hoooooray!!! There’s hope for us yet.
Oh, and the other fact I learned is that, where I’d listed our liability to Julie The Knife as a lifetime pension of $149,484 per year, that’s only half of it! She’ll get $350,000 per year when you tack on her annuity and benefits. Pul-leeeese!!!
I’m completing interviews for my newest book, “Icons. Growing Up In The Shadow Of Greatness”, and I’m meeting some fascinating people. One of them is Ken Ross who I’ve discovered I have much in common with. Not in background, but in attitude.
Ken is a world-traveling photographer and the son of the late psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross whose book “On Death and Dying” famously revealed her theory of the five stages of grief.
We’re meeting via Zoom, me in my home office in Midland Ontario where it’s minus 20 degrees Celsius, Ken in his studio in Scottsdale Arizona. It’s much warmer where Ken hangs out.
As part of our discussion, I’m intrigued to know what Ken’s late mom might have had to say about the Covid-19 pandemic which is causing so many deaths. That leads us to his confession.
“You know Peter,” Ken tells me, “I certainly have no death wish. But I suppose one of the qualities I inherited from my mother is the acceptance of death as a part of life. So if I were to learn I’m going to be a victim of this awful virus, I have to accept that. Not much I can do about it. And you know what: I’ve had a great life. I’d sure like to have more time on this earth, but if the cards are lined up differently, so be it.”
Well, isn’t that almost word-for-word what I told a friend recently! In fact, what I said was, “What’s the worst that can happen? You get the virus and you die. If that’s the way the cards are dealt, so be it” This elicited a gasp. But it's true: this is very much my attitude, a characteristic Ken Ross and I have discovered we share.
My mom passed a few months ago at age 100, insisting to the end that I have her genes. (So, my goal is to hang in to age 110, assuming the synapses are still firing and I’m physically OK). But if you were to tell me right here and now that my time to kick the bucket is at hand, well, I’ll accept that. There’s not much I can do about it, so let's get on with things. But let me also appreciate what I’ve experienced to date: it’s been a hell of a ride. I’ve done things, met people and had experiences that blow me away when I stop to think about them. Asking for more can be greedy.
There have been lots of negative reactions to my point of view about death, so it was comforting to meet Ken and hear his agreement. We’ve going to meet in the post-Covid world (there will be a post-Covid world, right?!?) because we have much in common to discuss.
If you agree, swell. And if you don’t, that’s OK, I respect your view.
And isn’t that just what keeps the world going round.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And most of all, stay happy.
Omigosh, just what kind of a witch is Julie Payette?
In her previous gig, at the Montreal Science Centre, former employees said she was a “harsh boss”. This, at a museum! And at the Canadian Olympic Committee, she faced other workplace complaints. And now, she’s called out for verbal harassment and public humiliation in the office of the Governor-General. Clearly, this is a crone who does not work well with others.
Oh, and you have to love this: in tendering her resignation as GG, Julie writes that she resigned “for the good of the country” (gosh, thanks sunshine). But she adds that none of her alleged behaviour was tested in official workplace complaints.
Oh yeah? Say Julie, what is it you don’t get about the CBC’s report that several staffers left Rideau Hall over what they called “verbal harassment and public humiliation” by you? And are you really not getting the fact that you clashed with the Mounties over your security detail? And that you said you weren’t entirely ready for the job’s public scrutiny? And that Rideau Hall spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on renovations which you demanded personally for privacy and accessibility reasons?
Guess it never occurred to you that there are some qualifications beyond entitlement required for the post of Governor-General, huh. You know, like a willingness to live at Rideau Hall (poor you!). And that a modicum of grace in dealing with underlings is needed. And understanding that you can’t just pick up and go AWOL from the RCMP on a morning jog. (The National Police Federation took the unusual step Thursday of saying it hopes that now, RCMP members will be able to experience a more positive work environment.)
So now, Justin Trudeau is left seeking a replacement GG. (Federally, there hasn’t been a viceregal resignation as abrupt as Julie’s; Romeo LeBlanc stepped down early due to health problems, but he stayed long enough for prime minister Jean Chrétien to find a replacement.)
But here’s my question, one that I’ve posed before: why are we looking to replace this harpy anyway? Why do we, as an independent country in the twenty-first century, feel we need a Governor General? Or Lieutenant-Generals in the provinces? You know, puffery roles that are costing us millions of dollars every year that could be much better devoted to education and healthcare. (Don’t get me going on the fact that despite leaving early due to her workplace scandal, Julie-babe still qualifies for a lifetime pension of at least $149,484 per year! Ouch! How do you feel about that fellow tax payer?)
As Campbell Clark writes in the Globe and Mail: “Most Canadians don’t have too clear a picture of what the governor-general does, or should be, but you can be pretty sure they don’t like to think of the Queen’s representative in Canada as someone who uses the viceregal position to harass and berate employees.”
Well, in the hope of being helpful, let me clarify just what the governor-general does for you to ensure you have a better, more rewarding life. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. It’s a pomp and circumstances gig that has no place in today’s world, short and simple. Sure, back in the day when the British Empire was a cause to be reckoned with, and before the Royal Family outsourced it’s responsibility of governance to a Prime Minister, the king or queen needed a rep in each of their fiefdoms to ensure their bidding was being looked after. But, see, those days are gone. And with them, so should this silly Governor-General role. Canada does not need a head of state representing some distant doyenne living in a palace.
Now, please don’t tell me we need these vice-regal folks to open schools and stuff like that. Do you really want to spend millions of dollars in a crumbling economy for that kind of nonsense? I sure don’t. Get a sitting politician to do it.
Julie’s malfeasance and sense of entitlement is right up there with Ontario’s former Minister of Finance who felt he could jet off to St. Barts (not Florida, you understand, but St. Barts, playground of the rich and famous!) when the rest of us had to stay home in lockdown. Good riddance to both of them.
And let’s take this very timely opportunity to cut out the outdated role of a pastime. Grow up Canada: no more Governor-General.
What say, are you with me?
Here’s a poser for you. A friend asked the other day, “If you had to lose either your sight or your hearing, and you got to choose, which would you opt for?”
Hmmmm… There were a few people present in this online conversation and the majority went with losing their hearing in order to protect their eyesight. Me? I wasn’t sure… Yes, I would hate to lose my ability to see. And yet, when I think about all the music I love, and all the interviews I do for my books, I can’t imagine a world without sound.
Fact is, at my age and stage, if I lost my ability to see, I’d still have amazing, incredible memories of all of the wonderful things I’ve witnessed in my life. So the question is, could I rely on that to keep me going, while continuing with all the audio enjoyment I derive from having “good ears”? Would I be penalizing myself because there might be astonishing new sights to see soon? Who knows.
I sincerely hope this hypothetical question never comes anywhere close to being reality. But if it were to, I’ve decided: I’d opt for keeping my hearing and losing the sight element. Man! I’d miss seeing everything so much, no question. But being a visual guy anyway, I’m pretty sure the memories would keep me going.
How ‘bout you?
Being at the outset of a new year, I’m hearing media commentators chat about how to deal with dark moods and sorrowful emotional states as we continue being influenced by Covid-19. Enduring lockdowns… putting up with irregular schooling… having to avoid going to places we used to enjoy… it can all combine to force unpleasant impacts on our lives, no question.
But I’m remined about just how important happiness is at a time like this. You see, I believe happiness is a choice: if you want to be positive, optimistic and hopeful, you can choose happiness to help get you there.
Now, I’m not just uttering this with no back-up. You see, having written “Being Happy Matters” in which I interviewed 37 people from around the world about happiness, none other than the renowned authority on the subject, Dr. Christine Carter, labelled me a “Happiness Expert”. I’m proud of that designation. But more than that, I’m pleased to be able to share what I learned (beinghappymatters.life)
Did you know that there are some real benefits that accompany being happy? I mean, beyond the contented satisfaction you derive from an uplift to your spirits. Well, it’s true. The 7 international PhD’s I interviewed for the book confirmed to me that people who are happy…
Wow! Who wouldn’t want those characteristics accompanying their day? Happiness really is more than just a feeling. It’s a choice.
So as you confront the challenging realities of 2021, don’t forget to select happiness as your antidote to unacceptable times.
Trust me: you’ll be happy you did.
As we head into a new year, I want to focus for a moment on someone who took adversity and spun it around on its head. Because that’s something we can all learn from as we continue to face Covid-19.
The someone is Ruth Lowe who I profile in my new book “Until I Smile At You”. Her story is a stirring account of tremendous courage as one of the 20th century’s most enduring musical talents. Ruth overcame significant grief by writing a song that launched Frank Sinatra’s career into the stratosphere in 1940, “I’ll Never Smile Again”. (As Nancy Sinatra writes in the Foreword, “There’s a reason why ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’ has endured: it was a perfect song, interpreted by the perfect singer, at the perfect time.”)
And what was the grief that had beset Ruth as she managed to defeat roadblocks that threatened the joy in her life? Consider that her beloved father had died when she was just a teenager. As a result, and to bring money in to the surviving family (her ailing mom and her younger sister), Ruth had to quit school and go to work as a pianist in a music store. This then led to three years of being on the road across North America with the Ina Ray Hutton all-female band “The Melodears” resulting from a chance fill-in for an ailing band member, sending back money to her mother and sister as she went. But the fates were not done with Ruth Lowe; after meeting a handsome song plugger named Harold Cohen, she married and settled down in Chicago, ready to live a blissful life. But Harold died very suddenly in their first year of marriage, leaving Ruth devastated and grief stricken.
For a while, she was unable to re-group and bounce back, life seeming to be so negative. But one night, having moved back to Toronto and living once again with her mother and sister, she sat at a piano and out poured the words and music that became “I’ll Never Smile Again”. Not long after, bandleader Tommy Dorsey heard the tune and picked it up, recording it after hiring his new singer Frank Sinatra.
Suddenly, Ruth Lowe – breaking down barriers as she struggled for self-realization, adopting a fearless attitude by overcoming challenges that might otherwise have broken her soul – was on her way to greatness. Her song charted on Billboard for an unheard of 12 weeks. Dorsey knew a good thing when he saw it and moved her to New York where Ruth went on to write Sinatra’s theme song, “Put Your Dreams Away” (the last song played at his funeral) plus 50 other tunes for Broadway and Hollywood.
And there's this: in today’s era of women claiming their full rights, “Until I Smile At You” reveals Ms. Lowe as one of the earliest liberated females who worked in a man’s world (Tin Pan Alley) and never let her gender, nor her attractive good looks, get in the way of her outstanding talent. That’s why she’s been called, “One of the Architects of the American Ballad”, she is the recipient of a Grammy Award, her songs have been inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and she’s about to be added to the Great American Songbook Foundation Hall of Fame.
“Until I Smile At You” features interviews with luminaries who cast a warm glow on Ruth’s talents, such as Bernie Taupin (Elton John’s lyricist for over 50 years), Sir Tim Rice (lyric writer for Andrew Lloyd Webber), Alan Bergman (who’s written award-winning songs for Barbra Streisand, Sinatra, etc.), the late Frank Sinatra Jr., music historian Chuck Granata, Sinatra biographer James Kaplan, singer David Clayton-Thomas (in fact, the book opens in studio as the famed Blood, Sweat & Tears star records his own unique version of ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’), and many others. (BTW, if you are interested in learning more about Ruth, I should add that there are more than 50 never-seen-before photos plus other memorabilia contained in the book. Some of these you can also see at untilismileatyou.com)
Anyway, bottom line: with the world facing increased levels of stress and anxiety these days, I’m pretty convinced a positive, feel-good story of resilience like Ruth Lowe’s is good for the soul and helps us remember that we can push back negativity when we need to.
Hi there. I've written 8 books so far and am working on others. Feel free to comment