First Place Finnish
Travel: Celebrating Finland's 100th anniversary
Rod Mickleburgh returns to the land of his ancestors to discover an almost genetic propensity to fight for social justice and a rather bizarre predilection for odd sports
By Rod Mickleburgh
You may have missed it, but the land of my ancestors recently celebrated it’s centennial. On Dec. 6, 1917, small but mighty Finland officially severed itself from Russia, becoming an independent country for the first time. Russia’s new Bolshevik rulers did not protest. I remember leafing through one of my great aunt’s photo albums and seeing a grainy picture of the raising of the Finnish flag in their small community for the first time. A bit more than two and a half years after independence, my mother was born in the fishing/farming village of Sideby. When I first visited “the relatives” in the winter of 1971, I was given the very room where her birth took place. Under the mountain of blankets my two great aunts supplied, I remember ...
What The Knuckler? Pitching for Dummies… and Brian Doyle
When everything about baseball is new, having a knowledgeable buddy to help you get a grip on balls, strikes and four-seam fastballs can be more fun than shagging a can of corn
(The following is part of a continuing correspondence between Charley Gordon, journalist and veteran baseball fan, and Brian Doyle, author of Young Adult fiction and newly minted follower of the boys of summer.)
May 3, 2016
Dear Dr. Gordon:
I have a friend who has been a baseball fan for 70 years.
I am, as you know, a neophyte baseball watcher.
My friend (let's call him "Mike") has a superior attitude and is sneeringly patronizing when it comes to baseball comments.
I fear, when I come out of the closet, he is going to dismiss and even scoff at any observation I might make about the game.
I want to say something about knuckle ball pitchers in general and R.A. Dickey in particular. I want my comment to sound sensible and mature and reasonable and I want it to ...
Irene Howard, History Is Her Story
People: Plaque unveiled for Helena Guttridge
Mayor's tribute to Vancouver's first female councillor strikes a personal note for Rod Mickleburgh, who in turn honours a chronicler he calls 'Auntie Irene'
By Rod Mickleburgh
(May 19, 2017) - At the age of 70, my beloved Auntie Irene, under her scholastic name of Irene Howard, published her definitive biography of Helena Gutteridge, Vancouver’s first woman “alderman”. Ten years later, when she was 80, she completed her remarkable book Gold Dust On His Shirt, a moving saga of her family’s working class life in the gold mines of British Columbia, feathered with impeccable research of the times. At 90 she published a very fine poem, which is reproduced below.
And one morning last month, at the age of 94 and a half, Auntie Irene sat in the front row of chairs arrayed in a room off the main lobby at city hall, looking as elegant and vivacious as anyone who pre-dated Vancouver’s Art Deco municipal masterpiece by 14 years ...
Fatherhood fuses Disney, duty and doodie
Daddy Diary #9: Freaky Friday Father
Seeing through the eyes of his infant daughter, a first-time father learns parenting is a precious lesson in learning from an altered perspective
By Chris Lackner
I’ve decided fatherhood is a life-long version of Freaky Friday.
My baby girl and I haven’t swapped bodies (I’m holding out hope it happens before I have to do my taxes). But as a newbie dad, I often find myself trying to think like my baby (some would claim this isn’t a real stretch). My goal is to see the world anew through her wondrously wide, exploring eyes.
In the original 1976 film, and 2002 remake starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter and mother learned a lot from their fantastical body switch. A change in perspective was a catalyst for growth, wisdom – and comedy. The same goes for this daughter-daddy combo.
Just by putting myself in her tiny shoes, our little girl (now seven months old) has already taught me many valuable lessons. For ...
Move over Pinocchio, this new Daddy’s got strings
Daddy Diary #8: The Puppetry of Parenting
What does a puppet parent looks like? Imagine a new form of entertainment if choreographed by a drunk, one-legged Danny Kaye and a zombie cheerleader.
By Chris Lackner
“I've got no strings so I have fun, I'm not tied to anyone. How I love my liberty, there are no strings on me!”
Sure, Pinocchio made those words famous. But they also describe my motto before becoming a first-time, 37-year-old father.
For the last 10 years, I have enjoyed a rare combination: disposable income and disposable time. With apologies to Walt Disney, I’d add an extra verse or two to my own song (e.g. “I’ve got no strings, so I drink beer. If I sleep in, I’m in the clear. How I love my drinks sudsy, there are no strings on me!”)
As the father of a five-month old, I now have a different kind of fun… but the puppet strings are both many and unbreakable. Mommy and Daddy often feel like puppets – our daughter a mad-cap, unpredictable puppete...
Bob Dylan don’t need Nobel, or stinking badge
Comment: On Bob Dylan, Nobel laureate
Looking back on a close encounter of the Dylan kind reveals a slightly rumpled honouree who has a hard time accepting praise, let alone the Nobel Prize
*Caution: This article contains a top-100 list of Bob Dylan songs.
By Rod Mickleburgh
In the winter of 1990, I waited with a handful of reporters and photographers in a grand salon of the Palais-Royal in Paris for Bob Dylan. More than 25 years ahead of the Nobel Prize people, the French had decided that Dylan’s lyrical prowess was worthy of the country’s highest cultural honour, Commandeur dans l’ Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. T.S. Eliot was one of the first to receive the award in 1960. Borges followed in 1962. And now, following in the footsteps of Sean Connery (1987), it was Bob’s turn.
Finally, the gilded, ceiling-high white doors opened, and there he was, ambling into the opulent room, followed by France’s flamboyant minister of culture at the time, Jack Lang. He was ...
The Lioness doesn’t sleep tonight
The Daddy Diary: Part Six
A first-time father faces the surreal and sometimes lonely experience of looking in from the outside with a tender heart full of slumber-inducing song
By Chris Lackner
"In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight."
Good for him. In my "jungle" — AKA house — there isn't much sleeping going on (especially for mom). Such is the life of newbie parents. Our little lioness has a mighty roar — mightiest after the sun goes down.
Our girl’s hunger — and gas-fueled bellow — is only satiated by two things: breast milk and songs (with musical numbers finishing a distant, distant second).
Our baby instinctively knows how to lay in wait and then pounce on her parental prey when we are at our most vulnerable. Is dad trying to watch the ninth-inning drama of a playoff race? Yup. Cue the crying. Are mom and dad trying for the 15th time that night to stream more than three minutes in a row of one TV episode? Yup. Cue our mighty ...