Skip to main content

Tom Swift Remembered

September 9th, tomorrow, is the 6th anniversary of my father's death, from a blood-clot in hospital, while recovering from surgery on his brain for cancer.  He was a kind, gentle, witty man, very shy, insecure, nervous.  But he was proud of his rise from a working-class Irish-Canadian background to become the youngest director of admissions at a North American university, in the late 60s, after leaving behind a promising music career as a recording artist with Decca and London records.  He did an excellent job at Sir George Williams, later Concordia, university.  He put students first.  He had a great voice, loved to sing, play baseball, swim, and was good with animals.  He was very loyal to his friends, compassionate with students, and protective of his family.  Sadly, he suffered from anxiety and depression, which he tried to deal with by drinking too much.  However, after a difficult period in his Forties, and after a mild stroke, he sorted out his demons, and was happily retired, for a few years, when the cancer struck at age 64.  By 66 he was dead.  His funeral  was a large event, with hundreds of former students, employees, colleagues, and friends, converging on the tiny quaint Protestant Church in St-Lambert where he had been married, almost exactly 40 years before.  His illness was painful, slow, humiliating, and he faced it bravely, and head on, enduring several trying and innovative surgical interventions, having to relearn to speak after the first operation.  Life is cruel.  My father was kind.  He is survived by his brother Graham, his wife, Margaret, and his two sons, Jordan and Todd, and their families.
Tom Swift, with my mother, Margaret, at my wedding, June 6, 2003, Co. Louth, Ireland


Popular posts from this blog


According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…


Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…


The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…