Anyone seen Portnoy?
In his March article, How We Used To Learn About Sex, Michael Bliss insinuates that the perils of self-abuse as described by past moralizers are not to be taken seriously. Obviously, Bliss is unaware of the experience of the late I. B. Solo of Edmonton who in 1968 masturbated an unprecedented 33 times over a period of only 12 hours and 45 minutes. On his thirty-fourth effort, he achieved a strange phenomenon which has since become known as the anticlimax and which forced an abrupt stop to his activities.
The consequences of Solo’s lonely marathon were devastating. He not only fell victim to all the conditions which Bliss so recklessly censures in his article, but was stricken by a host of other malfunctions including a case of terminal blisters which thankfully ended his suffering.
The Solo experience proves again the real danger involved in self-abuse and should prompt practitioners of this disgusting habit to seek out safer areas of abuse.
FRED HELGETON, QUESNEL, BC
Regarding the article by Michael Bliss, I was carried back in Memory instantly to the “third and fourth book” classroom of the public school in a Kent County village.
There was Arthur Beall, writing on the blackboard in his round large script “La crème de la crème” which he urged us to be (incidentally, my introduction, at 10, to French). The only other phrase I retain from that long-ago day is “a little fire at one end and a little fool at the other,” a sardonic put-down of the cigarette smoker, certainly.
He must have been billeted in our home, and even observed that I generally had my nose in a book. At any rate, after he left, a postal parcel addressed to me, arrived containing two historical novels by Joseph Hocking (does anyone remember him?). They were The Flame Of Fire and Follow The Gleam. I was pleased to find the latter book on my bookshelves yesterday, its pages yellowed and binding a bit tacky, but there was the flyleaf inscription in the remembered handwriting:
Read two or three times, then return to Margaret Wren 1912
A little souvenir from A. W. Beall.
MARGARET JOHNSON, LONDON, ONT.
Loaves and fishes
Concerning Walter Stewart’s Don’t count on Beryl to feed the poor (March) : Marg Härtling should be the one on the prices review board, not Beryl Plumptre. What is it for her to pay high prices for food? People like her don't care about people who can’t afford to buy food. I wouldn’t count on Beryl for anything.
E. A. ROCQUE, EDMONTON
Walter Stewart (Don’t count on Beryl to feed the poor, March) was not quite fair to Beryl Plumptre. Granted, she is the most ineffectual bureaucrat in Ottawa — and that alone says a lot — and has done nothing to slow down the rise in food prices, but this lack of action is exactly what the government expected of her.
The task of $1.3-million-a-year Food Prices Review Board and its $40,000-a-year head is not to take any action — the board has no power to do this — but merely to observe the way food prices rise, something 20 million other Canadians have been doing all along without getting such a
princely salary. The government created the board not to keep prices down but to quieten complaints about rising prices, or at least to divert them to its new fall guy.
If Beryl Plumptre did anything wrong, it was to accept such a window-dressing position, not what she has or has not done since being appointed to it. It takes a Maxwell Henderson to turn a window-dressing job into something significant, and Beryl Plumptre is very obviously no Maxwell Henderson.
H. E. WOLFF, VANCOUVER
No country but Canada would suffer an albatross around its neck such as our Canadian Senate, but to compound the problem we suffer a second in the person of Beryl Plumptre. Mrs. Plumptre is very adept at replying to questions put to her regarding food price increases but is careful not to answer any of them. She apparently does not want to ruffle any of the big corporate food chains.
With Mrs. Plumptre as a friend of the food consumer, who needs enemies?
I can best sum up my impression of Walter Stewart’s article in the March issue of Maclean’s regarding Mrs. Plumptre and Mrs. Härtling with one word — Amen!
O. W. SANDMEYER, BONNYVILLE, ALTA.
The great pea robbery
I must protest the misleading information concerning frozen peas in The Anatomy of a Dinner published in your April issue.
Frozen peas are in extremely short supply and you would have given your readers a better comparison if you had used a vegetable that was not so scarce. For example, you could have used green beans, carrots, mixed vegetables, squash etc.
However, having selected peas, I would have expected greater care and accuracy in presenting the figures. I believe the basic mistake is the use of 43 cents per pound as the consumer price. I checked two retail stores today and found that top quality frozen peas are 31 cents per pound in one store and 32 cents per pound in the other. The “typical family” buys peas in poly bags (two pounds or larger) and I am quoting prices for these.
You stated that the processor’s profit was seven cents per pound but the actual verified figure from one of Canada’s largest pea processors is one cent per pound and this is the best profit ever achieved on frozen peas.
G. L. NIX, PRESIDENT CANADIAN FOOD -J PROCESSORS ASSOCIATION, OTTAWA
MOVING? PLEASE NOTIFY US SIX WEEKS IN ADVANCE MR./MRS./MISS NAME (please print) ADDRESS (new if for change of address) APT. CITY ZONE PROVINCE DATE OF MOVE TO SUBSCRIBE TO MACLEAN'S CHECK BOX (BELOW) AND FILL IN YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS (ABOVE). I I Send me 1 year of MACLEAN'S. Canada $3. Others $5. MAIL TO MACLEAN'S, SUBSCRIPTION DEPARTMENT, BOX 9100, POSTAL STN. A, TORONTO, ONT. M5W 1V5
Gone but not forgotten
I am writing this letter to tell you how much I enjoyed reading the story by Harry Bruce, Constable Heddington’s Last Decision. Talk about a human interest story — and it was written so well. I’d like to see more stories by this author in Maclean’s.
Good luck to everyone on the staff.
MRS. MARY MORTON, HALIFAX
I wish to comment on the article entitled Constable Heddington’s Last Decision (March).
While well written, and obviously well “researched,” I feel that it has caused considerable unnecesary heartache to many, and should not have been written. It was cruel, and not only pried into the affairs of others but also cast aspersions at our beautiful Annapolis Valley.
MRS. HILDA MERRIAM, BRIDGETOWN, NS
Constable Heddington’s last decision, though terribly tragic, need not be entirely futile if it serves to make a sufficient number of those in power seriously consider the view of those Mounties who maintain that the RCMP recruit is too young and his training too brief.
MRS. NORMA ASP, SASKATOON
I disagree with Heather Robertson’s assessment of the CBC series, The National Dream. Admittedly, it is not perfect but it is the best thing to come out of the CBC in years. Instead of avoiding CBC programs like the plague, we now turn to that network each Sunday so that we can follow the progress of the impossible railway. Neither of us is a fan of Pierre Berton yet we are enjoying his narrative of this fascinating period of Canadian history. For the first time in my life, I feel obliged to compliment the CBC for their efforts. I do hope they can bring more of this type of programming into my home.
JANE BRANCHFLOWER, VANCOUVER
I am unable to see the logic in Heather Robertson’s view of the CBC production of The National Dream.
It is true that our history books of Canada in the past were dry and boring and lifeless. However, I am delighted that Pierre Berton wrote his books, and I cannot see that he holds a “queasy prejudice” and that it is “hammered at us” in the CBC’s National Dream. In my view, it is at least awakening many Canadians who
do not read history, as obviously Heather Robertson does to be so informed, to a new interest in the railway and days gone by.
I am very happy that I can watch this program with pleasure and not feel injured if Pierre Berton appears in a “pukka khaki safari suit.”
Perhaps Ms. Robertson would be so obliging as to write a better book, a better TV script, appear on the show in suitable dress and just wow us with the truth. Come on, gal, can’t we ordinary Canadians have just a little fun?
MS. DONALEEN SMITH, SWIFT CURRENT, SASK.
Beat the devil
I fully appreciate your magazine — even when I don’t get it on schedule — but your March issue contained a review of the film, The Exorcist which I consider to be absolutely disgusting. Revolting.
John Hofsess, writer of the review, is not at fault, as he only stated what he saw. I did not see it, nor indeed will I see it, for such filthy tripe has no place whatsoever on Canada’s theatre screens.
WILSON E. TOUCHIE, MIDDLEWOOD, NS
Congratulations to John Hofsess for his The Exorcist: guaranteed gross. Until now, I have heard and read only delighted comments about this startling film, which I felt were completely unfounded.
Having heard so much about the film and hoping to gain some meaningful insight to exorcism, I made a special point of going to a movie I would normally never waste time and money on. I was “grossly” disappointed, and I think Hofsess hit it home when he said the movie casts no lasting spell. Furthermore, I was very pleased that my own sentiments as to the superiority of Hitchcock’s films with their unquestionable lasting quality were shared by a much more knowledgeable person than myself. Thank you, John Hofsess, for reassuring me I’m not just a narrow minded Protestant!
MAJA DETTBARN, TORONTO
A true cover-to-cover issue (March). Particular lauds to the acute observation in Don’t count on Beryl to feed the Poor, a column which scratches beneath the surface of things. And to Josef Skvorecky’s A Country After My Own Heart for his straight talk and his humor.
JOHN IRVING, MONTREAL
The long way home
I have just finished reading Exile: Living out the Canadian paradox in the March issue of Maclean’s. I was much impressed with the ideas expressed by Miriam Waddington.
Those of us who were born in Canada of Slavic parents (born in Europe ) have certainly experienced some of the situations referred to by the author. Since my native and home culture was Ukrainian, I have felt an “exile” in trying to adapt and adopt Canadian values, as exemplified in the Canadian mosaic cultural pattern. At times, especially in my earlier life, I was embarrassed to admit that I was of Ukrainian descent. The Ukrainians were “different” or so it appeared to me, from what I was told and in what I read. My main intention was to assimilate with the least possible friction. Needless to say, there was an inner conflict.
In Canada as a whole, I believe that there has been more acceptance of foreign names and foreign accents recently, especially after World War II. It used to be that if you had an accent, you were “labeled” accordingly. I recall a well-meaning lady once asking me: “And what part of Russia were you born in, young man?” In the Sixties and Seventies, it is encouraging to note that more acceptance is given to the fact that Canada is not bicultural but multicultural. Having experienced some aspects of “cultural exile,” I should be thankful that I came through it without too many battle scars.
HENRY PYLYPOW, EDMONTON
The way we were
Donald Warner’s letter in the April issue regarding John Gault’s article on bilingualism in Cornwall is an illustration of the art of over-kill.
Our high school was no different than most in the province at the time. Students were expected to take part in militia training since it was part of the curriculum at the time. I know of no one who failed because they didn’t take part.
Discipline at the time was different than in today’s schools (I’m a secondary-school teacher now), but to say it was carried to the extremes mentioned by Donald Warner is preposterous. One teacher I know of used his yardstick to tap people on the butt if they were lingering in the halls etc. but all the students knew and liked this individual and also understood that it was just his particular mannerism. Our vice-principal’s nick-
name, “the Whip,” was one given by the students more in jest than anything else.
As for teachers hitting students with their fists — in five years at St. Lawrence I never witnessed anything close to this nor did I hear of same. St. Lawrence High School was a good school. The students who went there, or the vast majority (Donald Warner being the exception), look back with fond memories on the times there.
D. M. BILLING, BROCKVILLE, ONT.
0 plucky man!
Kudos to John H o f s e s s for his perceptive article Will Success Spoil David Freeman? (February). Having seen Creeps last fall at the Folger with a handicapped friend, I was struck by how well Hofsess expressed many of the things we gained from the play but were unable to put our finger on. We both heartily recommended Creeps to our friends, and I eagerly look forward to seeing David Freeman’s latest work at the first opportunity.
BARBARA BACHRACH, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY, WASHINGTON, DC
In the March issue of Maclean’s, you featured an article that discussed the recent firing of British Columbia’s Commissioner of Education, John Bremer. Many of us that were directly involved with Bremer’s work agree that the analysis your writer gave is far from accurate: John Bremer a radical? That’s like calling Robert Stanfield a Communist!
DOUG COUPAR, BURNABY, BC
I wish to commend Walter Stewart for his novel presentation of an extraordinary man: Gene Whelan: Foursquare for Farmers (April). Although Mr. Whelan can by no means be categorized as a “classic” politician
— he’s too concerned, dedicated and sincere to warrant that dubious honor
— his forceful advocation on behalf of the farmer has resulted in giving that profession a future from which all of Canada will benefit.
ROBERT MELEG, DOWNSVIEW, ONT.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR SHOULD
BE SENT TO Maclean’s MAGAZINE, Your View, 481 UNIVERSITY AVE., TORONTO, ONT., CANADA M5w 1A7.
Cape Breton soul
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the article on John Allan Cameron.
I first heard John Allan on CJFX radio. On those cold winter mornings in Cape Breton when we were getting ready to catch the school bus at 7.30 a.m., one of John Allan’s tunes always got us off to a good start. Since then, 1 have had the pleasure of seeing him perform in person several times and have followed his career with interest. His style is distinctive and unique, as is the “Cape Breton soul” music which he interprets so well and with such a sense of enjoyment. But then, again, who could help but enjoy Cape Breton music!
LYDIA E. MacKINNON, HALIFAX
Matter of fact
As the first director — along with John Hirsch — of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, I should point out that MTC began, not in 1968 as Peter Hay states in Standing Room Only on the Prairie Circuit (April), but in 1958. That was the year the Winnipeg Little Theatre tried running a season in tandem with John Hirsch and Tom Hendry’s rival Theatre 77.
The following year there was an amalgamation of both companies and MTC began quickly to evolve from semi-amateur to completely professional, the first fully professional production (meaning that all the actors were paid!) was Look Back In Anger, which I directed.
DESMOND SCOTT, TORONTO
It’s good for you too
I read and enjoyed the articles by Sondra Gotlieb — A feast of the roots (December) and Food for thought (March) and I wish to defend poor Sondra from the stern remarks of Pan J. Evanishen.
First: in the Ukrainian dictionary by Jacob Krett (Winnipeg) on page 133 we have “perig” — pie, dumpling, and in the Ukrainian dialect in Canada the plural of the word perig would be perogies.
Second: Pyrohy (Polish?) or perregies — both are wrong for the dish Sondra was speaking about. The dumplings filled with meat, cheese, or cherries are called, in proper Ukrainian, “vareneeki.” I heard its Canadian name “perigies” for the first time in Vancouver 20 years ago. Cabbage rolls as “golubtzi” are okay.
V. BALCHENKO, NANAIMO, BC