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Sunday Newsletter 2001-06Su.

February 11, 2001.

Well, I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard last week that Health Canada officials said that the woman who arrived in Hamilton, Ontario, a while back had tested negative in preliminary testing for the Ebola virus (a.k.a. deadly hemorrhagic fever). I know an outbreak is going to happen sometime in an industrialized nation -- I am just glad Canada was spared this honour. Speaking of honours, kudos goes out to Joe Edelman, the Useless Infomaster and Professor of Uselessology at UselessKnowledge.com (link in today's resources) who took up my challenge of publishing a list of Canadian place names with unique, odd or just interesting names. I have supplied him with the list and he has worked it into his site. He also plugged our site in the newsletter he sent out today. Thanks Joe, and a warm welcome to all of the UselessKnowledge.com subscribers who have just joined us. Now it's time for this week's newsletter.



= Question of the week
= Biography -- Leslie Nielsen
= Editorial plug
= On a patriotic note
= Place names -- Phoenix, British Columbia
= Did you know?
= Music trivia
= World geography
= Canadian geography
= Quotable Canadians
= Humour for the week
= Words of the week
= Answer to this week's question
= Preview
= Links and resources
= Legal and subscription information



The biography below on Leslie Nielsen tells about this famous actor, but how many can name his brother, whose career brought him fame of a different sort? What career path did he follow and what was his name? For bonus points you can name Leslie's late uncle who was also an actor. This is a tough one, but the answer can be found at one of the links in today's resources.



Leslie Nielsen.

Leslie is another in a line of versatile Canadian actors to make the "big time" in Hollywood. He was born on February 11, 1926, in Regina, Saskatchewan, but the family soon moved north -- I mean really north -- to Fort Norman in the Northwest Territories. (Fort Norman was renamed the Hamlet of Tulita, January 1, 1996.) It was here that the family followed Leslie's father, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). From these humble beginnings, Leslie Nielsen has become one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood, with almost 50 years, over 120 films and some 1500 diverse television appearances to his credit.

When he was old enough, Leslie moved to Edmonton, Alberta, to attend school. After graduation he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as an aerial gunner during World War Two, which compounded an illness contracted during childhood that had almost cost him his hearing. The result of this illness is that Leslie has been designated legally deaf and thus acts in another role, that being the international president of the Better Hearing Institute.

After the war his show business career started in Calgary, Alberta, where he worked as an engineer, disc jockey and announcer for a local radio station. He then moved to Toronto to star in Lorne Greene's "Academy of Radio Arts", where he received a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. This was television's "golden age", and Leslie's timing could not have been better as he appeared in 46 live programs his first year with the likes of Charlton Heston. Paramount Films had noticed Leslie by this time and signed him to a long-term contract to appear in motion pictures. His first big success was the science fiction classic "Forbidden Planet", where he played Commander John J. Adams opposite fellow Canadian star Walter Pidgeon (whose biography can be found in Sunday Newsletter 2000-12Su at this link).

In the early 1980s, after an already extensive film career, Nielsen reinvented himself as a comedian. The turning point came when he was cast as the poker-faced Dr. Shirley Rumack in the immensely popular spoof "Airplane!" Leslie went on to play the ridiculously inept Detective Frank Drebin on the short-lived TV series "Police Squad", for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award. After this success Leslie has spent much of the past 20 years playing at least one spoof role for each of his other film and television endeavours. He has also had a series of six humorous golf videos released and has written a couple of very funny golf "how to" books. He openly admits that his off-screen second career resembles that of a professional loafer more than that of a professional golfer.

Leslie has been married three times: to Monica Boyer from 1950-1956; to Alisande Ullman from 1958-1973 (they had two children); and finally to Brooks Oliver from 1981-1983. He has remained single since, but has recently settled down with longtime friend Barbaree Earl.

Leslie can be contacted through the two of the agents listed below:

Bressler Kelly & Associates
15760 Ventura Boulevard #1730
Encino, CA 91436


Creative Artist Agency
9830 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

There is also more information in today's resources section at the end of the newsletter.



I highly recommend the book "In the Face of Disaster: True Stories of Canadian Heroism from the Archives of Maclean's". A review at Indigo.ca says:

"'Even the worst of Canada's disasters exhibited an unexpectedly appealing aspect of human nature. Tragedy brought people together in one luminous moment of benevolence that turned uncontrollable grief into hope and forgiveness.' From the introduction by Peter C. Newman.

"The havoc and human tragedy created by natural catastrophes along with those disasters caused by human error -- or hubris -- will always make compelling news. The heroic responses to these events are inspirational, as strangers effect daring rescues, communities become compassionate havens for the families of victims, and anonymous gift-giving provides much-needed assistance.

"Throughout its nearly one hundred years of publication, Maclean's has reported on Canada's disasters. This collection draws from the magazine's archives to present those moments of drama that have become a part of our national fabric. Journalists like Barbara Moon, Max Braithwaite, Fred Bodsworth, Richard Needham, Anthony Wilson-Smith and others relate compelling tales of disasters on land, water in and in the air. Two predate the magazine: a look back at the 1845 disappearance of the Franklin expedition and the 1903 Frank rock slide that killed sixty-six people in the Alberta Rockies.

"In terms of numbers of victims, the Halifax explosion of 1917 was our greatest tragedy, claiming nearly two thousand lives and wounding nine thousand, including two hundred bystanders who were permanently blinded. Many other disasters have entered our national consciousness: the tragic events at the University of Montreal's cole Polytechnique in 1989 when Marc Lepine massacred fourteen women; the Swissair crash off Peggys Cove; the Great Ice Storm of 1998; the sinking of the Titanic.

"Fires, flu and floods claim their victims; nature erupts, and human error creates havoc; bridges and stock markets collapse -- but in these pages you will find as much heroism as horror. The stories of individual survival, of daring rescue and of deep caring are the true test of our nation's response to disaster."

Check today's resources for the link direct to the book on the Indigo.ca site.



How many of you realize that this Thursday, February 15, is Canada's National Flag Day? Well it is. Here is a little history:

Canada's official flag from Confederation in 1867 had been Britain's Union Flag (also known as the Union Jack). In 1921 the colours red and white were sanctioned as national colours by royal proclamation and a coat of arms was granted to Canada that year. The maple leaf had also enjoyed a long tradition as a symbol of Canada.

Prime Minister Mackenzie King's attempts to adopt a national flag in 1925 and again in 1946 failed. Eventually, in 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson assigned the task of evolving a suitable design to an all-party, 15-member special committee. After considerable debate the final design adopted by Parliament, and approved by royal proclamation, became Canada's very own flag February 15, 1965.



Phoenix, British Columbia.

Phoenix is an abandoned mining town in the Boundary district outside Greenwood, British Columbia, and is the highest city in the province at an elevation of 1400 metres above sea level. The community had its beginnings around 1895 as the centre of the Phoenix Copper mining camp and was incorporated on October 11, 1900. Between 1898 and 1909 ore from the mines was shipped to the Granby Smelter outside Grand Forks, British Columbia, via two competing railways; the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Great Northern Railway. The quality of ore reserves deteriorated after 1909, but demand for copper during World War One kept the operation active until 1919, after which the Granby Mining & Smelting Company focused on its Anyox operation (a huge copper mine north of Prince Rupert, British Columbia), and the city of Phoenix and its mining camp were abandoned. The site was later obliterated by open-pit mining; only the cemetery remained by the beginning of this century.

Thanks to subscriber Mike (not to be confused with editor Mike) who sent in this request. Mike also sent in a few other requests which I will get to in the coming weeks. I chose to feature this one first as his grandmother was born there.



In British Columbia, Telus (our phone company) is implementing a new area code for Vancouver and environs on May 1, 2001. The new code will be 778. Therefore most of British Columbia will have the 250 area code, the area outside the Lower Mainland and lower Fraser Valley currently served by the 604 area code will have 604 alone, and those within the boundaries designated as part of the Lower Mainland and the lower Fraser Valley will get 778 in addition to having 604. (This is referred to as an "overlay", and more can be read about it by following the links in today's resources.) Concurrent with this will be the implementation of ten-digit dialling -- i.e., in order to call a local number, you will always have to dial the three-digit area code, plus the seven-digit phone number. There will be a six month grace period to adjust, during which you will hear a recorded message reminding you of the new area code and the need to dial ten digits, and it will become official in November.

Thanks for this minor inconvenience of major proportions go to the cell phones, fax machines, pagers and technology in general.



In Sunday Newsletter 2000-22Su I promised to continue listing the number-one hits from years past. Last year I started with 1975 and continued in five-year intervals until 1995. Over the course of this year I will cover 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1996, starting with 1976 today.

1976 started off with K.C. & the Sunshine Band's number-one hit "That's the Way I Like It", which was number one for the last week of 1975 and the first two weeks of 1976. Here are the others:

"Saturday Night", by the Bay City Rollers.
"I Write the Songs", by Barry Manilow.
"Convoy", by C.W. McCall.
"You Sexy Thing", by Hot Chocolate.
"Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover", by Paul Simon.
"All by Myself", by Eric Carmen.
"Dream Weaver", by Gary Wright.
"December 1963 (Oh What a Night)", by the Four Seasons. One of my favourites.
"Right Back Where we Started From", by Maxine Nightingale.
"Boogie Fever", by The Sylvers.
"Shannon", by Henry Gross. This song about a dog was a real heart tugger.
"Silly Love Songs", by Paul McCartney and Wings.
"Get up and Boogie (That's Right)", by Silver Convention.
"Love Hangover", by Diana Ross.
"Afternoon Delight", by Starland Vocal Band.
"Don't go Breaking my Heart", by Elton John and Kiki Dee.
"You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine", by Lou Rawls.
"Play That Funky Music", by Wild Cherry.
"Disco Duck", by Rick Dees and his Cast of Idiots.
"If you Leave me Now", by Chicago.
"Beth", by Kiss.
"Tonight's the Night (Gonna be Alright)", by Rod Stewart.

Although the last entry by Rod Stewart amassed the most weeks at number one (seven), only four were during 1976 with the remaining three starting off 1977. Therefore the song that logged the most weeks at number one in 1976 was "Don't go Breaking my Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee. It logged six weeks at the number one position.



What are the ten countries with the greatest area covered by inland water? Glad you asked. Here is the list, from most to least and the area (in square kilometres) covered by water:
 1. Canada     755 170
 2. India      314 400
 3. China      270 550
 4. USA        206 010
 5. Ethiopia   120 900
 6. Columbia   100 210
 7. Indonesia   93 000
 8. Russia      79 400
 9. Australia   68 920
10. Tanzania    59 050



Nunavut is our nation's newest territory. It was formed by taking away a portion of the Northwest Territories. Believe it or not, Nunavut is the nation's largest province or territory at 2 093 190 square kilometres. The Northwest Territories are now the third largest at 1 346 106 square kilometres, so one can imagine how much area the "old" Northwest Territories comprised when compared to the rest of Canada.



"I have no goals or ambitions. I do however, wish to work enough to maintain whatever celebrity status I have so that they will continue to invite me to golf tournaments." --Leslie Nielsen.



All the lost hunters who had paid good money to be lead to their prey cornered their native guide and said, "We hired you because of your long experience in the West and you tell us you have no idea where we are!? Look at the mess we're in! You said you were the best guide in British Columbia." Bob, as the hunters called him, but "Running Fox" was his birth name, sat for a second then calmly answered the irate hunters. "It is true, I am the best tracker and guide in British Columbia, but I think we are in Alberta."



By Craig.

Well, I'm rushing to get this out before midnight. I don't want our new subscribers from UselessKnowledge.com to think we run a loose ship around here! So here we go with this week's words.

Hubris -- (noun) insolence; arrogance; wanton or contemptuous pride.

Kudos -- (noun, informal) prestige; glory; fame; praise or credit.



The biography above on Leslie Nielsen tells about this famous actor, but how many can name his brother, whose career brought him fame of a different sort? What career path did he follow and what was his name? For bonus points you can name Leslie's late uncle who was also an actor. This is a tough one, but the answer can be found at one of the links in today's resources.

Leslie's brother was a politician by the name of Erik Hersholt Nielsen. He was deputy prime minister during the Mulroney regime, as well as (at various times) holding the offices of president of the Privy Council and minister of National Defence.

Leslie's uncle was actor Jean Hersholt, after whom is named the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Humanitarian Award.



We're not 100 percent sure yet what we're doing next Friday, but it's probably going to be a pretty scathing review of Rogers Communications and their @Home, allegedly high-speed, cable Internet service. Stay tuned to find out!


OK everyone, next Sunday I hope to have stories on Needles, British Columbia, the relatively new sport of frolf (or disc golf), and the Aurora Borealis. Best wishes to everyone for Valentine's Day, this Wednesday, February 14. My wife and I are going to our favourite restaurant for dinner. Remember to make your plans!



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