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Sunday Newsletter 2001-02Su.

January 14, 2001.

Hello again everyone. It's John here, back again making you read what I want to write about. Well, that's not exactly true, but the flow of suggestions from our readership for articles and topics has dropped off a bit since the Christmas frenzy of last month. As a result, I am kind of flying solo. So, just as a reminder to everyone: If you would like a particular story featured, or want to know about the origins of a place name or even who the inventor of the snowmobile was (yes, he was Canadian), I will do my best to do an article on it. With respect to the biography of the week, I do like to honour the person selected during the week of their birth. All you have to do to suggest an article or topic is send a message to me at john@factscanada.ca . On another topic, I see a lot of you are starting to enjoy the benefits of our free e-mail service set up by Craig. Imagine -- you can have your own e-mail address that sports the FactsCanada.com domain. You have to admit, it sounds a lot better than john@hillbilly.com doesn't it? Now, if I can only get Lady Jane to become LadyJane@FactsCanada.com.



= Question of the week
= Biography -- Jim Carrey
= Quote of the week
= Joke of the week
= Place names -- Come By Chance, Newfoundland
= This week's list
= Words of the week
= Geek report
= Answer to this week's question
= Links and resources
= Legal and subscription information



Who succeeded Jean Lesage as premier of Quebec 31 years ago, on January 17, 1971?

Come on Cathy, I'm counting on you! Answer near the end.



Jim Carrey (James Eugene Carrey).

An amazing life. That's about all I can say about this gentleman after reading more than 40 pages of material from a dozen different sources. So amazing that I am not going to go into his movie successes too much. There has been so much more going on "behind the scenes", so to speak, that I thought I would share it with you. However, if you do wish to gather up some material on his movies, I suggest the "Internet Movie Database", a link to which can be found in today's resources at this link.

Carrey grew up as "James" in both Jackson's Point and Burlington, Ontario, after being born in Newmarket, Ontario, January 17, 1962. He has now become world-renowned and is arguably the most successful comic to ever come out of Canada. In the past few years, Carrey has been moving in a variety of directions to avoid limiting himself to the comedy genre alone.

As the youngest of four children born to Percy and Kathleen Carrey (their original French family name was Carre), he remained pretty much a loner until the second or third grade. It was then that he discovered that he could make the other kids laugh, which prompted him to spend hours in front of a mirror producing every contortion that his face would allow. His fun and games were even supported to a point by his teachers. As Carrey recalls: "One day I started fooling around by mocking the musicians on a record played during a school assembly. The teacher thought she would embarrass me by making me get up in front of everyone and repeat what I did. So I went up and did it! She laughed, and the whole class went nuts."

Later, in the seventh grade, Carrey made an arrangement with his teacher. He would not fool around in class that day and the teacher would allow him the final 15 minutes of the day for his comedy routine. This was an important confidence builder to the budding comedian and, through the arrangement, he got his 15 minutes of fame. Daily.

His early life was not all a barrel of laughs. Real hardship took the family close to crisis when Carrey's father, Percy, was laid off. His job as a controller, after 26 years, was gone. The then-51-year-old elder Carrey couldn't find another accounting job. This cast his family, including 13-year-old Jim, into financial chaos. Jim has stated that he learned from his father's experience and used humour to deal with many of the hardships he and his family had to endure. Carrey recalls: "My grandparents were alcoholics, and my grandfather would get my dad in a corner and tell him what a loser he was because he didn't have a job. My father would just sit there and turn purple with anger. It was horrible for me to watch. My father wouldn't say anything, because he was such a nice man. But I'm not as nice as my dad. As soon as my grandparents would leave, I'd imitate them. My father would be so relieved, it was as if I pulled the pressure plug when I went into this routine."

Carrey also related that his mother was a difficult person to deal with. His humour did little to relieve her pain. "My mother was a professional 'sick person'. She took a lot of pain pills. There are many people like that. It's just how they're used to getting attention. I always try to remember that she's the daughter of alcoholics who'd leave her alone at Christmas time."

A couple of years later his father got a job at the Titan Wheels tire rim factory in Scarborough, Ontario. At the tender age of 16, Jim dropped out of school to work with his father, mother and one sibling. It was not a fun job. Young Jim became a highly distraught, ninth-grade dropout who moved through the factory venting his frustrations by pounding holes in the walls with a baseball bat he carried in his cart. As he says: "The whole family was turning into monsters." In order to save themselves from the ignominy in which they found themselves, the entire family quit, then moved out of the factory-supplied housing. Their next home was a Volkswagon camper followed by a tent pitched on a relative's lawn. "We were gypsies. It was weird," he said.

Carrey's father, who believed in his 15-year-old son's talent and didn't want Jim to give up his dream despite the dire financial situation the family was in, arranged for him to audition at Yuk Yuk's comedy club in Toronto then drove him to the gig. Carrey recalled this as being a disaster. The audience mercilessly heckled Carrey. The shaken young comedian didn't return to the stage for two years. "I have no idea what motivated me to try again," he said. "I felt like giving it a shot. I guess it taught me that failure isn't the end unless you give it up."

Carrey started getting bookings all over Canada in comedy clubs and captured some television spots. A friend of his, stand-up comic Wayne Flemming, remembers giving Carrey a ride home from a gig one night, and being instructed to pull up to a van. "What's this?" Flemming asked. "This is where we all sleep," Carrey told him. "Eventually, of course, the money situation improved and the Carrey family was able to move back into a more conventional home.

Carrey moved to Los Angeles in 1981, with $1000 he had saved up and a list of contacts and phone numbers. Over the next three years Carrey went from performing at small comedy clubs in Los Angeles and New York, to the nightclub stage in Las Vegas, and was pulling in up to $200 000 per year. He was, at various times, the opening act for Rodney Dangerfield, the Pointer Sisters, Sheena Easton and Pat Boone.

It was during this period that Carrey married. She was Melissa Womer, a former waitress at the Comedy Store. Along with the bride soon came their daughter, Jane. Over the next four years Carrey continued to work his stand-up act with a few small movie roles also showing up. In 1989 he made "Earth Girls are Easy". This is where he met fellow cast member Damon Wayans. Wayans' older brother, Keenan, was just starting up a comedy and variety series for the new Fox TV Network called, "In Living Color" and Carrey was hired as a cast member. Carrey stayed with the show for four years and created such characters as fire marshal Bill Burns and body builder Vera de Milo. Carrey stated that the "In Living Color" show was a great place to perfect his act and gave him experience in developing original comedic characters and in writing comedy skits. It was this show that opened all the doors for Carrey, and now nothing stood in the way of his escalation to fame.

He left "In Living Color" in 1993. He said that the producers of the movie "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective" had been after him for over two years, but that he hated the script. Finally striking a deal with the production company, Morgan Creek, that gave him creative control, he and director Tom Shadyac threw out the original script. Their re-write became more of a vehicle that showcased Carrey's comedic talents. The movie went into production in 1993 and was released on February 4, 1994.

So, an amazing "storybook climb" for Jim Carrey was completed, and new adventures began. He currently commands between $20-$25 million per picture. He passed from school clown to poverty-stricken "maniac", through small roles in "Peggy Sue Got Married", "Dead Pool" and "Once Bitten", then onto the $100 million strata for movies such as his two "Ace Ventura" outings and his unforgettable role as Edward Nygma (Enigma) or "The Riddler" in "Batman Forever", right to my favourite intellectual vehicle (and a Carrey favourite as well) "The Truman Show". After last summer's success with "Me, Myself and Irene", his movie "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" surpassed the Tom Cruise sequel "Mission Impossible II" to become 2000's top grossing movie. An amazing record compiled by an amazing man, who friends say has not really changed... other than in one area. That is, of course, his bank account.



"Spank you very much!" --Jim Carrey



During the Gulf War, a Canadian army contingent was captured by forces loyal to Saddam Hussein. One of the troopers, a fine lad from Newfoundland, was taken into interrogation and threatened with being injected with the AIDS virus if he didn't divulge the whereabouts of his force commander and headquarters. The brave lad refused and was of course, injected. Later, after a battle that saw him returned to his own lines, his debriefers, amazed, asked him what could have possibly accounted for his actions in the face of this horrible threat to his life. He replied, "There weren't nothin' to it boys. I were wearing a condom."

I know, I know... "Boo! Hiss!" I need your Canadian jokes sent into me so that I don't have to scrape the bottom of the barrel like this. Send your Canadian jokes to john@factscanada.ca. Please, no politicians. (Huh? I [Craig] don't get this last comment. Since John is in bed at this time of the night, I'll leave it in unedited, in case at least one reader understands it. I already sent John all three of the Canadian jokes I had in my stockpile.)



Come By Chance, Newfoundland.

Well, it's certain the name did not happen by chance and, at the least, not only just this once. The town of Come By Chance is located in the Bellevue electoral district of Newfoundland and is one of six place names in the province with this moniker. Besides the town, there are also Come By Chance Bay, Come By Chance Beach, Come By Chance Channel, Come By Chance Cape and Come By Chance River.

The name "Chance" is not exactly rare in the province, gracing a total of 23 place names. These include Chance Cove and one other town besides Come By Chance to have the "Chance" appellation. Other designations include four bays, four islands, three rivers, three shoals, two lakes, two capes, an unincorporated town, a conservation area and a beach. There is no getting lost here as, "chances are" you will find your way home.

Incorporated as a town in 1969, Come By Chance had a 1996 population of 300. It was originally called Passage Harbour, as named by John Guy, an early supporter of the colonization of Newfoundland. He was appointed governor of the first English colony in the province, choosing Cuper's Cove (now Cupid's) as the site of his township. Guy named Passage Harbour in 1612. This remote area, seldom visited, started to become known as "Comby Chance" somewhere around 1706. Over the years the name Come By Chance naturally developed into its permanent and present-day designation.

By the late 1930s the settlement was almost a ghost town. It was rescued from oblivion when it was chosen by the government of the day to house a "cottage hospital" because of its strategic location between both Trinity and Placentia Bays. Come By Chance is located on the shore of Placentia Bay, on the western side of an isthmus less than five kilometres across.

The town gained national prominence in the 1970s when it was selected as the base for an oil refinery. Besides the refinery, the area also became home to a complex that housed crude oil storage tanks with a capacity of almost 300 000 cubic metres. Plans for a Canadian National Railway spur track and a deep water oil terminal were also laid out. These plans were completed by 1973 and in December of that year the first oil was produced.

Due to malfunctions, supply problems and mismanagement, the refinery went into receivership only three years later and remained idle until July 1980 when Petro-Canada purchased it. Still not realizing its full potential, it was sold to Newfoundland Energy Limited in 1987.

The town itself is located two kilometres west of the Trans Canada Highway, 99 kilometres northwest of St. John's, and 132 kilometres southeast (by road) of Gander, Newfoundland.



From the information I can extract from Statistics Canada, it looks like we are a pretty consistent nation with respect to the increase in registrations of motor vehicles during the last five years. Overall, motor vehicle registrations have increased 9.43 percent during the past five years. This is broken down into the seven following categories:
- Passenger automobiles        9.45% increase
- Buses                        9.44% increase
- Trucks and Tractors          9.36% increase
- Motorcycles                  9.75% increase
- Mopeds                      17.13% decrease
- Other motorized vehicles     7.26% increase
The decline in mopeds might lead one to believe that we are not that interested yet in conserving fossil fuels, although many mopeds use this as a back up form of propulsion.



This week we introduce a new feature (although it appeared briefly in our second edition at this link), titled as above. Craig, who is the final point of quality control for our newsletters (for which he apologizes in the next section) will pick two or more words every week (usually from the newsletter) and define them for us. Until he started editing my newsletters, he was something of a purist (maybe even an elitist) and preferred his little red "Collins Gem English Dictionary" (published in 1963 and reprinted in 1974) which documents British English. In fact, a friend of his referred to it as his "little red bible". He broke down last year and bought the 1992 "Collins English Mini Dictionary" (reprinted in 1999) while passing through Heathrow Airport in London, England, although he still prefers his "little red bible" as his primary reference. He promises to break down even further and buy the "Gage Canadian Dictionary" soon, and will base future definitions on that.

Without further ado, here are this week's words:

Ignominy: noun -- dishonour, disgrace; infamy. -- ignominious: adjective -- ignominiously: adverb.
-- J.B. Foreman, "Collins Gem English Dictionary" (London, England: Collins, 1963), p. 259.

Isthmus: (ith- or ism-) noun -- neck of land between two seas.
-- Ibid., p. 277.

Moniker: noun (also monicker, monniker), slang -- a name. [19th century: origin unknown].
-- R.E. Allen, "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English" (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 766.

Links to these books and those mentioned in the next section can be found in today's resources at this link.



With reference to the previous section (our new "Words of the Week") I have a few words about the spelling and grammar side of our newsletter. As John mentioned above, I try to be a bit of a purist (maybe even a perfectionist) when it comes to my use of English. My little brother has another description for it, which refers to a portion of the anatomy with the word "retentive" behind it. Apparently it is the perfect trait for an editor!

As we have mentioned on several occasions, we use a Canadian dialect of the English language, which falls somewhere between British and American usage. If you use a program (which the British spell "programme") like Microsoft Word, you will notice that it actually gives you the option to use one or more of 13 versions of English, including Canadian, British, American, Irish, South African and Zimbabwean, among others. Our reference for this has been John's "Gage Canadian Dictionary", which I will also be buying a copy of soon to ensure consistency.

We also use another guide to ensure consistency, that being "The Canadian Style -- A Guide to Writing and Editing". If you thought you had learned all the rules by the time you graduated from high school, think again! This is a 312-page book with more rules and regulations than you can shake a stick at. This guide helps me ensure that we use the same form for things like abbreviations, hyphenation, capitalization, numbers, punctuation, titles, etc.

My point in boring you with these details is that the three of us are not perfect and I find mistakes in almost every newsletter after it has been sent to our mailing list -- one that I can remember in last Sunday's edition, and two in the Friday Feature from two days ago. I correct these on the versions published on the Web site, but we can't get back the e-mail that you have already read. We're getting better, and we'd appreciate your help in discovering the errors that we have missed.

If you find errors in your newsletter, and you have a minute, please point it out by sending a short message to me at craig@factscanada.ca . One of these days we might offer a prize for this selfless act, which I'm sure will come out of my pocket!



Who succeeded Jean Lesage as premier of Quebec 31 years ago, on January 17, 1971?

Robert Bourassa.


Next week I will try and be more varied, giving you more articles and less information in each. I am interested in what you prefer and welcome your comments. As stated above, you can e-mail me at john@factscanada.ca. I'll get the message. Thanks for reading.



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