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Sunday Newsletter 2001-43Su.

October 28, 2001.

[Craig] As many of you have read in these newsletters at some point or another in the 16 months we have been publishing, it's no mean feat to assemble this information for you every week. Being perfectionists, as John and I are, makes it even more difficult. As John explains below, the pressure of doing this on top of an 80-hour, six-day work week, has taken a toll on his health and he has decided to take a break. Coincidentally, I had independently come to the same conclusion at almost the exact same time, and our e-mail messages to each other literally crossed in cyberspace.

However, you are not going to get rid of us that easily. We are committed to FactsCanada.ca and we will be sticking around. The pressure on John has been higher than it has been on me but, without the need to edit a new newsletter every week, I will have some time to work on projects that have been sitting on the back burner. Among these will be a number of technological improvements and additions to our Web site, including the return of the site search engine. We also have plans to add an interactive element to the site, with polls and discussions in forums on topics we will introduce.

We will continue publishing every week during our break — in the best of entertainment tradition you will experience re-runs for a few weeks (starting today with last year's Hallowe'en special). Because much of our content centres on events that happened this week in history, we will publish (for the most part) the newsletter we ran during the same week last year. As our schedules permit we will also sprinkle fresh content in with the old. The Web site will continue to be updated every week and, if you are using our "webfeeds" on your own Web site, you'll be happy to know that they will continue to display fresh information according to their published schedules.

When will we be back? It's tough to give an exact date. I had originally suggested to John that we break for the month of November — as anyone who knows me knows, I horribly underestimate periods of time, so an estimate of a month is probably optimistic. Combine this with Christmas and the pressures on John at this time of the year in his job in the courier industry, and I think we're probably looking at mid-January... which is just around the corner, I might add. This is a more realistic estimate than just a month, and I hope you can understand our need to do this.


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[John] I don't know exactly how to go about crafting the following comments. How should I share some of my more private feelings? Do I just go for the gold and reveal everything and take the chance that this monologue be interpreted incorrectly, or do I beat around the bush and let everyone figure out their own conclusions?

What I have decided is to sit back and say to the hundreds of you with subscriptions and the thousands that drop by daily to have a peek at our site that, effective right now, I am on a sabbatical. The aperture thus created by this event will allow me, hopefully, to restore my life to a somewhat reasonable facsimile of what it was prior to my great idea of 16 months ago — which was to create the newsletter and Web site called FactsCanada.ca.

Initially there were three wise men: Craig, the computer whiz, Mike, the only real writer in the bunch (although Craig has proven quite proficient in these matters), and finally myself, John, always a lover of statistics and knowledge in general. Mike had to drop out quite a while ago due to medical reasons, and now I choose a similar road but do it to save my sanity and perhaps avoid being forced to make the same decision for the same reasons down the road.

I feel I owe each of you, not a minute-by-minute account of the difficulties this newsletter's production has brought into my life but rather, a synopsis of its affect on me and my life. All of you have heard my somewhat guarded complaints in the past — these were merely my attempts to let you know how challenging it is to produce this newsletter. That said, I can tell you without a doubt that if this was the only project on which I had to work, you could count on receipt of a quality newsletter, on time, every week for the foreseeable future. As it is there is another life to which I must attend, and I have not been managing its affairs very well of late.

I will summarize by saying that the pressures brought about by the production of this newsletter, along with what I am currently dealing with in my real-life job, my inability to keep up with my financial matters (due mostly to time restraints), and the downhill slide of my physical and mental health in recent months, have all combined to prompt this decision. Today (Sunday, when I wrote this), once again, I was a mental vegetable. I went to bed last night at 7:30, absolutely exhausted and could not drag myself out of bed until after 11:00 this morning. I think it is partially due to the mental barrier I must have been subconsciously fortifying during recent weeks and months. I want a quality newsletter and, although most of the feedback I receive is positive, I am never satisfied with the final product that reaches you.

So, I need a bit of a mental break. Until I get a reasonable grip on the world around me I need to take a break from the one activity that quaffs so much of my leisure time, for that is the only time I use to produce this newsletter.

Thank-you all for your loyalty. We will be back filling your minds with fresh, good, Canadian trivia, stories, statistics and biographies of all sorts. Until then, be happy and enjoy your life — no one else can do it for you.


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\\ TABLE OF CONTENTS //

\ Question of the week
\ Biography — k.d. lang
\ Music trivia
\ Hallowe'en in Montreal
\ Quotes of the week
\ Hallowe'en recipe — Ghoulish Gooey Bars
\ Birthdays
\ Hallowe'en links
\ Humbug to Hallowe'en, or my pet peeve
\ Hallowe'en humour
\ Hallowe'en history
\ Editorial comment
\ Answer to this week's question
\ Preview
\ Links and resources
\ Legal and subscription information


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\\ QUESTION OF THE WEEK //

There are five movies so far in the "Hallowe'en" series that star a particularly evil character. The first movie, and its sequels, were followed in 1998 by "Hallowe'en H2O" (or, as it could also be called, "The 20th anniversary of Jamie Lee's Troubles"). Next year, in 2002, you can expect "Hallowe'en: The Homecoming" to provide the setting for this evil character to continue his exploits. His persona is probably known to the world as readily as that of Freddy Krueger, the villain from the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series. The character I allude to shares his name with a famous Canadian comedian. Can you name this screen villain?

The answer appears later in the newsletter, near the bottom.


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\\ BIOGRAPHY //

k.d. lang (born Kathy Dawn Lang)

Born on November 2, 1961, in Edmonton, Alberta, k.d. lang, as she prefers to be known, grew up in the small community of Consort, Alberta (current population around 650). Besides sharing a birth date with your's truly (the birth year is different, but I'll let you guess that), lang was the youngest of four children born to Adam and Audrey Lang.

In the nearby town of Castor, Alberta, k.d. studied piano at the Theresetta Convent, then switched to guitar. She began writing songs of her own while still in her teens. She also studied music and voice in Red Deer, Alberta, at Red Deer College, where she became passionate about the performing arts. Her devotion to country music, manifested in particular with her avowed love of country legend Patsy Cline's style, began when she acted in the play "Country Parade".

lang paid tribute to her country roots on "Shadowland" (recorded in Nashville with Patsy Cline's producer, Owen Bradley), on which album she was backed up by her band the Reclines. In 1989 she won Grammy Awards for her work on "Absolute Touch" and "Twang".

In the early '90s she disbanded the Reclines and switched to a more cultivated adult pop sound for the album "Ingenue" (1992). It sold over one million copies and earned her another Grammy. Subsequent albums have not acquired the following that "Ingenue" possessed, but she has continued to evolve in the pop/rock genre with the 1997 release of "Drag", which typified her elegant interpretations of songs by Steve Miller and the Hollies.

I have attended two different concerts featuring k.d.: One when she was a headliner, four years ago, and then another, a few months ago, where she backed up Sting. Both times I thoroughly enjoyed the show and was equally impressed by lang's energy, enthusiasm and the overall good feeling she bestowed on the crowd as she performed.


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\\ MUSIC TRIVIA //

So what was Canada's top selling music from 20 years ago?

"Pop Muzik", by the group "M" (a one hit wonder).
"Rapper's Delight", by the Sugarhill Gang (another one hit wonder).
"Another Brick in the Wall", by Pink Floyd.
"Call Me", by Blondie.
"Funky Town", by Lipps Inc.
"It's Still Rock and Roll to Me", by Billy Joel.
"Emotional Rescue", by the Rolling Stones.
"All out of Love", by Air Supply.
"Another one Bites the Dust", by Queen.
"Woman in Love", by Barbara Streisand.
and at the bottom,
"(Just Like) Starting Over", by John Lennon.

"Funky Town" narrowly beat out "Rapper's Delight" and "Starting Over" for song of the year.

(The eighties... ahh, it's all coming back to me now. —Craig.)


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\\ HALLOWE'EN IN MONTREAL //

For the 13 days prior to Hallowe'en, Montreal celebrates with its annual October Macabre Festival. During this festival, Montreal showcases live concerts, films, and multi-media, all of which lead up to October 31.

Not only does the festival have some of today's brightest stars perform live shows, it also hosts an exclusive film series, and has Hallowe'en surprises galore! The Macabre is not just an autumn entertainment extravaganza — it also serves as a fundraising event.


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\\ QUOTES OF THE WEEK //

"Was that the Bogey Man?" asks Jamie Lee Curtis.

"As a matter of fact, it was," responds Donald Pleasence.

--From the first "Hallowe'en" movie in 1978.


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\\ HALLOWE'EN RECIPE //

Ghoulish Gooey Bars

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter or margarine.
2, 16 oz. Snickers candy bars (no substitutions please) cut in pieces.
40 marshmallows
2 cups Corn Chex Cereal
2 cups Rice Chex Cereal
2 cups Wheat Chex Cereal

Method:

Butter a 9-inch-square pan. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. stir in one candy bar and marshmallows. Cook, stirring until melted and smooth. Gradually add cereals, stirring until all pieces are coated. Stir in remaining candy bar. Press into pan. Cool. Cut into squares.

Sent to me from a reader who got it from a Ms. Bass last year.


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\\ BIRTHDAYS //

I would like to pass along birthday greetings to Sandra of Victoria. Sandra is one of our original subscribers and turns 29 (for the third or fourth time, I can't quite remember) this Tuesday, October 30th.

(And let's not forget your birthday, John, this coming Friday. You 29 again too? —Craig)


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\\ HALLOWE'EN LINKS //

Here are a number of links you may want to fool around with during the next few days. Most of them are Canadian in nature, but a few are based in the USA.

The Hallowe'en Corner
CANOE's "Fright Night in Canada"
Hallowe'en background images for your computer
Hallowe'en links from Detroit Download Central (this one is my favourite non-Canadian Hallowe'en site)
Unitarian Church All Hallows Eve sermon

It is probably too late for this year, but please bookmark this Lower Mainland site that deals in costumes. It is based in Delta, BC: Pretendware Clothing.


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\\ HUMBUG TO HALLOWE'EN, OR MY PET PEEVE //

Two of my least favourite traditional holidays each year are Hallowe'en and Christmas. Call me Scrooge if you like, but I simply do not like the commercialism associated with these dates. A couple of perfect examples of Hallowe'en becoming (I think it has already happened) an adult-related event rather than a pleasurable one for children, are these two passages found on two different Web sites, each promoting Hallowe'en:

"This Tuesday is Hallowe'en night in Canada. Too bad we didn't change the night to Saturday, but we didn't, so expect the kids on Tuesday evening to terrorize your neighbourhood. This leaves Saturday night for parents to party. We can do it either before or after the actual date, but before is preferable (it's a better excuse to give the cops if they pull you over). Check out what's happening for a great line up of events this weekend."

Also found: "I think Hallowe'en turns on the two month party switch. First, there is a big Hallowe'en bash then before you know it we are all sitting zonked watching the [American] Thanksgiving football games. By the time we recover from this the parties roll into high gear with Christmas and New Years." (I think this person just needs an excuse to drink.)

I will not list these links!


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\\ HALLOWE'EN HUMOUR //

One Hallowe'en a trick-or-treater came to my door dressed as Rocky, all decked out in boxing gloves and satin shorts. Soon after I gave him some goodies, he returned for more. "Aren't you the same Rocky who left my doorstep several minutes ago?" I asked. "Yes," he replied, "but now I'm the sequel. I'll be back three more times tonight too!"


The top ten reasons why trick-or-treating is better than sex:

10. You're guaranteed to get at least a little something in the sack.
9. If you get tired, wait 10 minutes, then go at it again.
8. The uglier you look, the easier it is to get some.
7. You don't have to compliment the person who gave you candy.
6. The person giving you candy doesn't fantasize you're someone else.
5. If you get a stomach ache, it won't last nine months.
4. If you wear your Batman mask, no one thinks you're kinky.
3. It doesn't matter if the kids hear you moaning and groaning.
2. There's less guilt the next morning.

And the number one reason why trick-or-treating is better than sex:

1. If you don't get what you want, you can always go next door!


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\\ HALLOWE'EN HISTORY //

First of all, here are a few things you'll need to know to understand the history better:

* Druids were members of a religious order that included priests, prophets, poets and soothsayers. They were found alongside the ancient Celts of Britain, Ireland and Gaul, where they were powerful leaders and judges until the advent of the Christian religion pushed them aside.

* Gaul was a country of ancient Western Europe and occupied roughly the same territory as modern-day France.

* Hallow means "to make sacred or holy, or to honour as holy or sacred."

* All Saint's Day, from the Christian church, is a day that commemorates all the saints of the church. It is celebrated on November 1. In Medieval England, it was known as All Hallow's Day.


NOW FOR THE HISTORY

The ancient Druids placed great importance on the passing of one season to the next, holding "fire festivals" to mark their transitions. The fire festival for this time of year (recognized now almost a month earlier with the change from fall to winter) was called "Samhain" (pronounced sha-von). During this time the Druids believed that the boundaries between our world and that of the dead were weakened, thus allowing the spirits of the recently dead to cross over and possess the living.

Samhain was not only considered to be a gateway for spirits to travel through — it also occupied the spot on the Celtic calendar marked for the beginning of their New Year. Therefore they wanted one last party prior to hunkering down for the winter months. They would dress up in bizarre, outlandish and eccentric costumes and party through their villages and hamlets, causing destruction in order to scare off any prowling, recently departed souls. This annual festival was adopted by the Roman invaders who then re-seeded the ritual in all the lands they then conquered (which just happened to be almost the entire known world of the time).

With November 1 being denoted as All Hallows Day (All Saints Day) in ancient England, the night before was referred to as Hallows Eve. It became tradition to start the Samhain on this evening so as to not interfere with the religious happenings of the next day. Hallows Eve, over time, became simply, Halloween (Hallows evening) or, Hallowe'en.

When the tradition spread westward across the Atlantic and into the New World (the Americas) with the migrants to this land, they discovered a new plant growing in abundance that matured prior to the Samhain. This, of course, was the pumpkin. As pumpkins were not available in the Old World, the Druids would have their children carve out large potatoes or turnips and place candles within them. These were then placed in strategic positions, such as doorways and windows, in their dwellings. These lanterns were thought to scare off the spirits, as well as serve notice to the revellers that the abode was occupied by children and thus not to be harmed.

Over the years things have changed a bit and with these changes came a less harmful celebration of the night, as practiced upon our shores. The traditional use of pumpkins, being a fruit of such great size, also changed, as only one was needed to ward of the spirits.

The Jack O' Lantern, as we now know it, was once that hollowed out potato or turnip. As told in Irish folklore, the origins of the Jack O' Lantern are found in a tale told of a prankster by the name of Jack.

One night Jack tricked the devil into climbing a tree. He then quickly carved an image of Old Scratch across the trunk of the tree, thereby trapping the devil there (the belief of the time had it that he could not cross his own image). Jack then made him promise, as part of a deal that would allow the devil his freedom, that in exchange for letting him out of the tree, the Devil would never again tempt him to sin. The devil reluctantly agreed, but exacted his revenge upon Jack's death. For the devil had already known, at the time of the deal, that Jack had been barred from heaven for his previous pranks and his bad ways. Now, after his death, the devil was also barring Jack from hell. Jack was now doomed to wander the earth until the end of time, with only a single ember, carried in a hollowed out turnip, to warm himself and light his way. The news caused Jack to display such horror, that it forever froze upon his face. It is Jack's face on that pumpkin.


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\\ EDITORIAL COMMENT //

With my statement earlier about being a humbug at Hallowe'en, I must say that I still believe (in theory) that this should be a safe and fun night out... for children. Let's keep the drunks and party-goers at home. There are plenty of other nights of the year when they can get loaded, so let's keep them off the road this night while our children are out on the streets in abundance.

For those of you with children, take them out and watch them carefully. Remember, children are like puppies on this night and it is unpredictable what they will do from one second to the next.

For those without children, or with ones grown up, my favourite way to spend the evening is to get a few scary videos and snuggle up at home after the kids are all done.

There are hundreds of appropriate movies for this time of the year, and they always seem to be somewhat better when watching them on Hallowe'en. Besides the "Hallowe'en" slasher series, you can also get everything from the 1981 "Kung Fu Hallowe'en", to the 1979 "Casper Saves Hallowe'en". So if you want to take my advice, stay inside and let this be the children's night out, like it was when I was a pirate!


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\\ ANSWER TO THIS WEEK'S QUESTION //

Michael Myers is the evil character in "Hallowe'en", and Mike Myers, of Scarborough, Ontario, is the comedian, most recently known for his Austin Powers movies.


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\\ PREVIEW //

Next week, for our second re-run, we'll take a look at some more music trivia, profile Dr. James A. Naismith, give you something to laugh at Vancouverites about, and tell you about Hepworth, Ontario.


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We wish you and your children (if you have them) a happy and safe Hallowe'en. We also hope that you remembered to "fall back" this morning, setting your clocks and watches back one hour. Of course, this might not apply to you where you are, but it does to us here in BC. See you next week.


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