More McCourt

I tend to get obsessed like this: I’ve now finished Malachy McCourt’s latest book, published just this month, Singing My Him Song. I can’t imagine reading this book without reading Angela’s Ashes, ‘Tis and A Monk Swimming, as much of the scene is set in those earlier books by Malachy and his brother Frank. This book is, however, essential reading for a McCourtophile, as it’s the first from the family which brings us relatively up to date on their doings in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s somewhat less rollicking and sprightly, mirroring Malachy’s own winding-down. But it’s still an interesting look at the life. Warning: I like biographies a lot; if you don’t, then ignore this.

My brother Johnny-of-Vancouver — restauranteur, dog-lover, bon vivant — needed a platform from which to speak to the world. The engine was called into action yet again, and the results was his own update-it-online from Vancouver website.

Listen to the McCourt Brothers

You can hear Malachy McCourt online in several places: reading from A Monk Swimming on Salon (another version on; talking about Bombay, plane crashes, customs, and gold smuggling at National Geographic. You can hear his brother Frank read James Joyce on Salon too, watch an interview with Frank on the WGBH site, or watch parts of An Evening with Frank McCourt on the Barnes and Noble site.

Malachy McCourt — The Doorman

I’ve just finished reading Malachy McCourt’s book A Monk Swimming. It was a good read, although not as decipherable or interesting as his brother Frank’s ‘Tis, which I read just before. Malachy, among other things, is an actor. Oddly enough, he seems, in his later years, to have specialized in playing the role of “The Doorman.” Witness: Turbulence (1997), played “Ray, the Doorman”; The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), played “Tony, the Doorman”; Brewster’s Millions (1985), played “George, the Doorman.” Of course he’s also played “Bishop,” “Party Guest” (in Green Card, no less), “Bartender” and — my personal favourite (read the book), “Englishman” (in the 1990 movie Reversal of Fortune).

Ernest N. Morial Memorial

From my ever-vigilant friend Oliver:

As a corollary to your point about Rukavina Arena, I would say that if you want to honor someone named Ernest N. Morial, about the worst thing you could do would be to name something the Ernest N. Morial Memorial Convention Center, as the city of New Orleans did.
Oliver is American, so he is forgiven the sin of spelling honour without a ‘U’.

Frank Rukavina Arena

If you were going to name something after someone named Rukavina, I’d have to say that an arena is about the best choice you could make. Apparently the “heart of the Silver Bay Parks & Recreation program is undoubtedly the Frank Rukavina Arena.” Silver Bay, Minnesota — “The Best Kept Secret on Lake Superior’s North Shore” — started off life as a taconite refining centre. Frank Rukavina was Assistant School Superitendent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and was instrumental in getting arenas built in Silver Bay and Two Harbors. The Frank Rukavina Arena was named after him in 1977.

My Mother, Personal Payee

I was a very early user of TD Bank’s web banking system. It was horrible. It treated you like you were a bank teller: you had to submit “jobs” of “transactions” and so forth. It was easier to drive in to the branch. A lot has changed. I was inspired to take another looked at their web offering by our account manager, and I must say that I’m impressed; their user interface is almost as good as Metro Credit Union’s (which I really, really like). Most impressive, though, is the fact that I can register my mother’s TD Bank account as a “personal payee” and then I can transfer money into her account over the web. As you might imagine, my mother likes this feature too.

Interesting TD Bank story: when I was 11 years old, I went into my local TD Bank in Carlisle, Ontario and asked for a bank card. This was back in the mid-1970s when bank cards were very new and nobody had heard of them. The tellers had to root around in the back of the branch for an application, but they found one and, a couple of weeks later, my bank card arrived in the mail. It was only later that I found out that, at least at that time, 11 year olds weren’t allowed to have bank cards. But I got to keep mine, and so I was, for a while, the only kid in Canada with a bank card (or so I like to imagine).


The birth of our Oliver was not without its stresses and complications. We are now in a good and healthy state, and have many to thank for their help along the way: Dr. Frank MacDonald, Dr. Pamela Sproule, Dr. Peter Noonan, Dr. Pauline Champion; the nurses in labour & delivery, the NICU, and the maternity ward, who are among the most skilled and compasionate people I have ever met (I would name them individually, but my foggy mind cannot retain all of their names…); the hospital staff — janitors, food service, all — who shared in our ups and downs; our neighbour and friend Catherine Hennessey who kept me filled up with macaroni and cheese during the stressful times, and generally bouyed my spirit; colleagues at and Yankee who put up with my absence and cheered us on; and most of all our families: Grant, Marina, Norm, Frances, William, Debbie, Ioma, Hazel, Joe, Jim, Cathy, Pierna, Larry, Mike, Steve, Johnny, Jodi, and all their children for their support and love.