Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for April 2013

The Old Gang that Grew Old

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The R & R (relatives and reminisces) jaunt back to Canada included an all-too-brief gathering at the Kitchener home of Joe and Edith Brown that drew former newspaper colleagues Gene McCarthy and Ray Alviano and his wife, Lucille.


                   From left, are ex-Kitchener-Waterloo Record staffers McCarthy, Brown, Scaglione, and Alviano.

Before getting to the “before” pic, lemme offer some background. Gene was a two-way reporter/photog who covered everything from prostitutes to politicians (some might ask “What’s the difference?”) to princes and police and also wrote a book of a sensational case he covered. (I now have a treasured autographed copy perched in my bookshelves.) Joe was a photographer who got smart before the rest of us and left newspapering early to open his own extremely successful business. Me, you know from reading “About Us” in this blog. Ray joined the K-W Record sports department more than five decades ago and became sports editor for several years until he retired.


Now pick us out of the above foto taken in my basement recreation room during the 1960 Christmas season. Gene is at the extreme right. Joe is in front center with his feet (and white socks) extended over a chair. Ray is being hugged by Lucille in center rear. I’m the dark-haired guy with glasses and cigarette under the ceiling light.

We had a lot of fun recalling escapades of that time in our lives. Amazingly, we had few revisions of each other’s remembrances revived in Brown’s living room a few weeks ago.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 25, 2013 at 8:26 am

Want Beer? Go to the Source.

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What better way to get our Canadian-beer fix than to head to where it’s brewed. So we blew into the Steam Whistle facility in the Roundhouse at the foot of the CN Tower. Got a bottle and glass of fine pilsener (and a souvenir tasting glass) before heading out into the reconstructed station and pump house and locomotive roundhouse that was a loud and major working railway yard about a century ago. With appetites whetted, we headed west on the Queensway to Prego where Lou reviewed memories with owner (and chef) Angelo before we feasted on one of the house specialities — roasted rabbit. Sun’s out but wind off the lake still has teeth in it…

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 18, 2013 at 7:43 am

Posted in Canada, Travel

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Time Out in Toronto

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It’s been a week gone by already and we’ve finally found the sun.

The flight here a week ago Tuesday was extremely pleasant because we had to shift seats twice: as the Airbus doors slammed shut preparing for takeoff, Bev had the seat across the aisle from me  and I had an empty row. A flight attendant asked me to make room for an elderly woman from up front to sit in my row (number 26)  because she wanted to be closer to the bathroom. She noticed Bev and I talking and figured out we were together so she (flight attendant) agreed to have Bev move over with me and the woman take her seat. Then another flight attendant tapped me on the shoulder and asked if we’d change seats with the people right behind us — a young mother with two kids — because the audio system in one of the seats wasn’t working and her kids need them to stay amused with video. So we tumbled one row back but still had three seats for us two. Because we were so cooperative, the flight attendants gave us free food — Air Canada charges for their in-flight lunch.

Brother Lou picked us up in the 10 p.m. rain and we slept through the first day of chilly rain and clouds and got out the second day here to stretch our legs and stumble thru the cold. Lou lent us his Jeep to drive to Kitchener on Sunday during the first clean break in the weather for an auld-lang-syne gathering with three long-time friends — an ex reporter, photographer and sports editor — from the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.  We’ve had dinner with old friends here in TO, have done a bit of shopping, and Lou and I spun thru Steamwhistle Brewery in the shadow of the CN Tower.

‘We’ll catch up on the rest later…



Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 17, 2013 at 6:26 am

Kyoto Echos Samurai Swordplay

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   Samurai and ninja


Story and photo by

Sandy Katz

Mature Life Features

KYOTO, Japan — However difficult it is to envision today, legendary samurai warriors once waged bloody battles on the streets of this former Japanese capital. In the museum of Kyoto, you can see painted scrolls depicting courageous sword fights and bands of costumed  crusaders proudly parading through the city’s Sanjo-dori district displaying, for all to
heed, the freshly severed heads of traitors.

The history of this nation’s seventh-largest city stretches back more than a thousand years as a renaissance city, spiritual center and battlefield. Most of the temples and landmarks have survived unscathed to present visitors a rare insight into Japanese  culture.

The Hollywood film, The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise, was  filmed here. It focuses attention on this near-mythical hero whose prime duty was to give faithful service to his feudal lord. The origin of the term samurai is closely linked to a word meaning “to serve” and the samurai a code of conduct drawn from Confucianism, Shintoism and Buddhism came to be known as the way of the warrior.

Confucianism requires the samurai “to show absolute loyalty to the lord, (and) toward oppressed to show benevolence and exercise justice.” From Buddhism, the samurai learned the lesson that life is impermanent, enabling him to face death with serenity. Shintoism provided him with patriotic belief in the divine status of both the emperor and Japan, the abode of the gods.

A true samurai had endless endurance, exhibited total self-control, spoke only the truth, and displayed no emotion. Since his honor was his life, disgrace and shame were to be avoided above all else, and all insults were to be avenged. Ritual suicide was an accepted means of avoiding dishonor. One reason for this was the requirement that a samurai should never surrender but always go down fighting. Thus, as depicted in The Last Samurai, if wounded and having lost the battle, the only way to retain his honor is by sacrificing himself.

Whether at war or during peacetime, a samurai would try to find peace within himself through meditation, seeking out tranquility in his private garden or his tea house or in other serenity-producing pastimes.

The tea ceremony, with its strict rules for preparing and serving the beverage to a guest, was one such pastime. The task required great calm and concentration.The ritual’s elements of respect, purity, and tranquility were clearly apparent as our tea master prepared the hot water and then ceremonially made the beverage from green, finely powdered tea
served in small ceramic bowls. One sweet treat accompanied the tea.

Sipping is done in a prescribed manner. One turns the bowl just so while making little bows of thanks.

At Kyoto Studio Park Toe Movie Land, we met our samurai. Lee Murayama, an actor in the Last Samurai, dressed in the costume he wears in Japanese films and television shows. This studio is the only theme park in Japan where visitors can observe the filming of period dramas.

Chief among the activities visitors to Kyoto pursue is exploring the grounds of some of the city’s 1,600 temples and 400 shrines. One of the most interesting of the former was Chion-In Temple. Our priest guide, whose children live in the United States, pointed out that the shrine’s attractions tend toward the oversize. Its Sanmon Gate is the biggest in Japan, the huge Hoki hall can seat 3,000, and the bronze bell requires the muscle power of 17 monks to ring it.

Spring in Kyoto is celebrated with a dramatic ceremony called Setsubun. At Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine, men in demon masks run about the stage as cast members throw soybeans at them and shout, “Demons out, good luck in!,” symbolizing Japanese people chasing demons from their homes. Following the show, the cast hurls peanuts into the audience for people to toss them out from their own homes and giggling children scamper about gathering up the peanuts.

Our last night was spent in the Tawaraya of Kyoto, a 19-room ryokan (traditional Japanese country inn) that’s a Japanese wonderland of winding passageways, magical sliding doors, and private gardens.  It’s steps away from the bustling city streets and close to the Nishiki open-air market district. For nearly 300 years its guests have slept on futon bedding on floor mats and been served by smiling maidservants in neat kimonos. A samurai would have liked it — a place of serenity within urban chaos.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 8, 2013 at 12:05 am

Pasadena Not Just for Smelling Roses

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Story and Photo


By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

Pensive statue in Pasadena’s Pacific Asia Museum

PASADENA —- Much of the world becomes aware of this town 15 minute north of downtown Los Angeles when it unveils months of work on blossom-burgeoned floats in the yearly Rose Parade along Colorado
This is a prelude to the granddaddy of all college bowl games: the annual New Years’ Day
football festival in the Rose Bowl, where the University of California – Los Angeles Bruins play
their home games.
But when visitors consider Los Angeles, they envision a melange of movieland, Malibu,
Disneyland, and Beverly Hills. Few folks even consider visiting this quiet community that’s as homey as a ’57 Chevy.
But you can please both your palate and your psyche in this town that appears, in spots, like it
might have been plucked out of the Poconos rather than sequestered alongside the San Gabriel
While teasing your taste buds at one of the 500 local eateries – this number should be no surprise
when you learn cooking icon Julia Child was born here – you may stumble upon luminaries
of big and small screen as well as stage who have long found this “city that feels like a village” a liveable
But you can get closer to much bigger stars here.
Creative minds at Jet Propulsion Laboratories monitor progress of their history-making
space probes. Reservations are required, but tours of this facility are free. Details for a visit are available at
To pleasure your psyche, the Norton Simon Museum offers an intimate walk among works by,
among others, Monet, Rembrandt, Rubens, Renoir, Raphael, and Degas, including his famous
depiction of a young ballerina “Waiting.” All are within touching distance in this visitor-friendly
facility along the Rose Parade route.
While you‘re in this part of town, skip over to the Pasadena Museum of History for a quick tour
of the 18-room Fenyes House. The mansion echoes how Pasadena grew out of the Spanish
outpost established at Mission San Gabriel by Franciscan Father Junipero Serra back in 1771.
The community sprouted after the transcontinental railway reached the sleepy little town of Los
Angeles in the 1870s and the region was discovered by a handful of wealthy Midwesterners from
Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan seeking escape from frigid winters.
The Fenyes House is one of 52 grand mansions built in the late 1800s along a millionaires’ row known as “the Boulevard.”
It was millionaire railroad-and real-estate magnate Henry Huntington who established the 207-acre Library, Art
Collections and Botanical Gardens complex known simply as The Huntington.
The Library, a research center that has been dubbed the Bastille of Books, houses original
Shakespeare works as well as Benjamin Franklin’s handwritten autobiography and an original
Gutenberg Bible.
On display in the art gallery are several works by Gainsborough, including his renowned Blue
Boy. A mausoleum built on the grounds was designed by John Russell Pope and used as a
prototype for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Fifteen gardens exhibit botanical eye-candy stretching from Chinese and Japanese landscaping to a
patch of desert.
It was near a knoll now supporting a rose-festooned Temple of Love that a neighbor’s young lad
used to play his war games. The boy grew up to be Gen. George Patton of World War II fame.
Between tours of these and other attractions, such as the Pacific Asia Museum, where some 50
centuries of Asian ceramics is part of its exhibits, there’s a wide choice of palate-pleasing
For example, just an interlude away from the Pasadena Playhouse – such household names as Dustin Hoffman
and Gene Hackman launched careers here – is Maison Akira, where chef Akira
Hirose fuses French and Japanese cuisine. He gets it all done, he said because “in the kitchen, its like a big orchestra and I just direct the musicians.”
After all this activity, you just might want to take a few moments to smell the roses in Pasadena.

                                                              Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 3, 2013 at 12:05 am