Archive for August, 2006

In Which You Should Check Her Out

August 31st, 2006 No comments

Please, please, please check out Dot Dwyer’s new website.

And while you’re there please tell her I told her “fuck you”.

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In Which Jumping To Conclusions Is What They Do Best

August 30th, 2006 1 comment

I don’t know who’s law it is but late yesterday afternoon I finally bit the bullet to re-image my laptop and, of course, that’s when I got an emergency call from a client.  Normally, I could have taken care of it remotely but I had finally bitten the bullet to re-image my laptop and installing the needed software stood about an hour off so I jumped in the car.

Hugh Hewitt seemed agitated.  I don’t listen to a lot of Hugh.  The few times I have I’ve either felt impressed by his seemingly even-handedness or screamed at the radio.  Tonight, he seemed in the middle of interupting the ham-handed criticism of some Democrat to cover a breaking story.

Were not really sure what’s going on out there in San Fransisco so any callers in that area – we’re clearing the phone lines for you.  Call us.  Tell us what’s happening out there.  Major story, it seems, and the main-stream media doesn’t feel like they have to cover it.

And the huge story was?  A guy snapped and started running people over with his SUV.  So what?  Well, Hugh found out that the guiy was from Lebanon.  LEBANON, people!

Look, we don’t really know all that much about this story yet.  We don’t know if the guy’s a nut-job or if he’s a terrorist.  He could well be.  We don’t want to jump to conclusions but, I mean, this guy from Lebanon running people over in the streets.  What does it sound like to you?

YES!  This is exactly how the terrorist will destroy America – they’ll rent SUVs and kill us one at a time.  Bang – Bang – Bang.  In all honesty, I believe that if terrorists really want to terrorize the US they should blow up one gas station a day.  Just one.  Every single day.  Throw a dart at a map of the US and that’s where it happens.  So, maybe I shouldn’t get so snotty about terrorists running over American pedstrians.

But it got better – apparently two of the victims got run over in front of the Jewish Community Center.  And more than one temple stands on that street.  And…waaaaait a minute – it’s all adding up now…

HE TARGETTED JEWS!!  Yes!  That’s got to be it!  It’s yet another Muslim attack on Jews and nobody gives a flying fuck about it because nobody cares about Jews and if this was a black neighborhood with a white driver or a gay neighborhood, boy oh boy, would CNN jump all over this story, but , no it’s just Jews.  Here’s a terror attack in a major city and the looney, liberal, left-wing media just yawns and does another report on the Video Music Awards.

Throughout this all (and the above is heavily paraphrased) Hugh paid fleeting lip service to the point that all the “facts” were not in but “you can pretty much connect the dots after awhile”.  Everybody who called in had the exact same read on it as Hugh.  Some anti-semitic Muslim terrorist out to continue Hitler’s works while the Jews in Israel sat with their thumbs up their asses trying to get along with those who only want them dead.

Oh, and then Yoni the Blogger called up to berate every Jew that didn’t own a handgun that when the second Holocaust happened it would, effectively, be their fault.  I’m pretty sure it was Yoni who said

I put together a security proposal for the JCC that was very cost effective and would have stopped this immmediately.  No more deaths.  And as soon as they heard me talk about Jews with guns they immediately shut down.

All of this went on real-time and if you wanted to listen to the anatomy of a lynch mob then look for the archive of this show.  Yoni the Blogger blogged (duh) about this in the morning.

Popal at the time of his arrest declared himself to be a terrorist.

Wow!  Must be true, right, since PipelineNews (“The RIGHT news…RIGHT now”) reported it.

On the scene, KTVU reporter Rob Roth stated that one of the eye-witnesses [who declined to appear on camera] claimed that Opal [mispelled in article] “referred to himself as a terrorist.”

Which recalls A Series of Unfornate Events where The Daily Punctillio refers to Count Olaf as Count Omar.  Popal is actually an Afghan (not Lebanese) who grew up in America.  He also has a history of mental illness.  And he ran over a black guy who, in the spirit of liberal charity, might well have been Jewish.

But let’s not let that get in the way of a good story about Anti-Semitic-Muslim-Terrorists, shall we?  He’s probably the one that tried to sell nuclear weapons to Saddam.

(PS – Should anyone read this – spare me the conspiracy theories about media indifference to Jews and how I probably hate Jews.  I don’t.  And to say that I do, to paraphrase Dan Newbower, is really gay.)

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In Which I Feel The Need To Make A Confession

August 29th, 2006 No comments

There are times when, in the middle of Billy Bob Neck Hour of Bein’ Good, I feel a pang of guilt.  As a touchy-feely liberal who mostly tries to understand the where the other fella is coming from (except, of course, in traffic) I wonder if perhaps I’m a little harsh on Right Wing Christian Fundamentalists.  After all, do not Right Wing Christian Fundamentalists have eyes?  Sure, they want to subsume the United States into a Theocracy but a Christian Theocracy.  At heart, though, they’re good people who believe without doubt, thought or regret.  They’re not malicious, per se, so my contempt and ridicule for them paints me as uncharitable and mean-spirited.  And that’s not really who I am.

And then comes a week like last week when James Dobson and the Extrapolators attempt to frighten fear itself.  At issue are a quartet of bills due for a vote in California that say “California won’t tolerate homphobia”.  Holy shit!   What will they do if he can’t hate gay people?!

One bill (SB1437) would require schools not to disparage LGBT in classes and text books.  So, that would mean all those lesson plans with “Harvey Milk sucked cocks and deserved to die” would have to get tossed out.  Dobson and company work through to the logical conclusion that it would mean that you couldn’t say anything bad about Jeffery Dahmer…because he was gay.  You’d have to say nice things to your classroom of third graders when the Serial Killer module began.  This, as Dobson points out, would deliver the next generation of children into the arms of the homosexual activists.

SB 1441 says if you take money from the state you may not be a homophobe.  If you own a catering company with a state contract you can’t descriminate against LGBT.  Seems pretty straight forward.  Ohhhhh, nooooo, it’s not!  WHAT IF…you’re a student on a state scholarship, huh?  And you don’t like gay people so you write a paper about that, huh?  And…and…and then the state kicks in your door and takes away your scholarship ‘cuz you said something bad about gays?  Or….wait…or…umm…CHURCHES!  Yeah, churches, ‘cuz they get services from the state so that would mean that they couldn’t preach against how gays are going to hell ‘cuz they wouldn’t get those services anymore.  Right?  RIGHT??

And on they go.  Plan B would cause a spike in abuse of teenage girls because men would buy the drug making it easier to coerce good Christian girls into having sex.

And for an eye opener – listen to Teaching Girls the Truth About Modesty and Purity.  EVERYBODY’S HOOKING UP!!  EVERYBODY!  One of the speakers talks about the rampant sex that swept like Satan’s forked tail though the school.  Kids had sex EVERYWHERE – in buses, on the playground, in the bathroom and, yes…IN THE CLASSROOMS.  One boy in her math class kept his genitals out during the whole class! 

And even Katherine Harris’ face lift can’t stand her anymore and she declared, “”If you’re not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin”.

So, dear Right Wing Christian Fundamentalists, please continue to go fuck yourselves.

I no longer feel guilty.

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In Which Florida May Become The Bitch Slap State

August 25th, 2006 No comments

A Florida State Senate race promises a wealth of amusement with two Republicans already scratching each other’s eyes out and the punch line – one of them is Randall Terry.  Yes, Randall Terry of Terri Schiavo fame.  The same Randall Terry that spent time in jail for trying to mail a fetus in a jar to Bill Clinton during his run for president in 1992.  Yes, that Randall Terry.

Randall and his prayer-buddies plan to sue the living bejesu – sorry – heck out incumbent Jim King for libel for sending out this campagin flyer

Damn!  Strong stuff, Mr. King!  Is it true?  Well, according to Gary McCullough who rebutted every charge levelled again his friend of twenty years…um…well…yeah, a lot of it is – BUT

Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested over 100 times for peacefully protesting against the injustice of segregation; Mr. Terry has been arrested for the exact same type of peaceful protest.

So, fuck you, Jim King.  And so what if his son is gay?  Dick Cheney’s daughter is gay and that doesn’t stop him from eating puppies for breakfast.

Why, you ask, would Jim King want to release such an excrementally sordid attack on Randall Terry who only loves God and the now decomposing body of Terri Schiavo?

Oh.  That’s right.  Terry started it.  Terry’s campaign hired a Bill Clinton impersonator to record a couple of ads for a phone bank.

Hello, friends!  This is Bill Clinton…not really.  I want you to vote for my friend, State Senator Bill King.  Yeah, he’s Republican but –

He’ll give illegal immigrants college tuition; let homosexuals adopt kids; he’s pro-choice; takes money from gamblin’ and strip clubs – my kinda’ Republican.

“If Hillary could do that – she could be President.  And I could raise money in strip clubs! (Laugh)

Don’t vote for Randall Terry; He’s for traditional marriage, right to life, fair tax, wants to protect our borders; and no amnesty for all those potential Democrat voters!

Hillary and I beg you: don’t vote for Randall Terry

(Paid for and approved by Randall Terry, Republican, State Senate)”


A couple of notes – the text might not be exactly right.  Oddly, the transcription on Terry’s press release does not match the audio.  The press release has this jocularity starting off with the words “This a celebritry impersonation”.  The audio is missing this important bit of information opting for a quiet “not really”.  Not that big of a deal, but interesting.

The other wonderful bit to impart – if you clicked on the link you might have noticed the name of the sub-directory –  COMEDY!

Set your Google Alerts or subscribe to Christian Newswire for more fun in the sun!

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In Which The Next Phase Has Started

August 25th, 2006 No comments

While listening to WTTT I heard a commericial for wingnut haven and their newish blogging site where anybody and their half-brother can talk about how godless, gay, drug-addicted Mexicans want nothing more than jump across the border to steal our jobs and eat children.  That’s nothing new.  Anybody of any political or social persuasion can find a website that fits their personal preferences.  That includes DailyKos.

What’s different, though, is the tagline they use

Break down the wall between news and opinion

And now, I have to hide under my bed.

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In Which You Should Keep It In Mind

August 22nd, 2006 No comments
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In Which Christians Are Like Burger King

August 18th, 2006 No comments

Two companies that “sanitize” DVD movies of objectionable content have chosen to close their businesses instead of appealing a federal judge’s ruling against them….The editing companies allowed families to watch movies they otherwise would have avoided — for instance, “Titanic” without the nudity, sexuality and profanity.

Liberals, it’s said, often want exceptions to every rule because…well…they’re liberals and that’s what liberals do – complain that somene’s getting left behind by the Big Bad Meanies or just plain being made to feel badly about themselves.  But nobody thinks about the poor Christians whose strong moral values deny them the pleasure of seeing, say, Beverly HIills Cop III. 

As a whiny liberal type, I say – What of them, Hollywood, what of them?  There must be a way for good, honest, God-fearing people to enjoy two hour of Eddie Murphy shooting people in the head, going to strip clubs and saying “motherfucker” a lot with out all the blood, nudity and profanity.  After all, that’s not really what’s at the core of that movie.  It’s really about a policeman trying to stop bad guys.  And there’s nothing that bonds a Christian family together like that.

Enter CleanFilms and CleanFlicks, two companies simply trying to let people who don’t like violence the chance to enjoy Alien Resurrection and people who don’t like sex or sacrilege to watch Bull Durham.

In the words of CleanFilms

We take out profanity and other offensive language. We also remove nudity, sexual situations, and extreme or gory violence. Our intent is to edit movies so that they become comparable to a PG rating, which often means that we will edit out content that the networks might leave in when they show the same movie on TV.

But no longer.

The Liberal Hollywood Elite just can’t stand to let the great unwashed watch movie the way that they want to.  So they sued to stop them from releasing the “edited” versions (like all that stuff really needs to be in there, anyway).  Producers, director and writers raised a great hue and cry about “censorship” and “artistic freedom” and bunches of other meaningless phrases.  Kill Bill doesn’t really need all the blood and gore, right?  The Passion of The Christ, however, doesn’t need any editing.  Schindler’s List, however, is probably just a little too graphic.

And, since Hollywood owns all the judges, the movie studios won.  Christians, though, turn the other cheek and rather than fight a costly legal battle, CleanFilms and CleanFlicks prefer to shut their doors.

And that’s a gosh-darn shame, because I really wanted to rent The Shining this weekend.

Don’t lose heart, though!  Even though shuttered its cyberdoors, Richard and Sandra Teraci plan to fight back with everything they’ve got

It is our intention to follow Hollywood’s advice of ‘don’t like it, don’t watch it,’ and go one step further by creating the largest motion picture studio outside of Hollywood.  We will be creating blockbuster films with top-level actors. Films you’ll love, but won’t have to cover your children’s eyes or ears, or as an adult, not having to be subjected to someone else’s low standards.

And, you know what, they’re gonna succeed because if there’s one thing that really sells in these United States of America, it’s a good G-rated family film!

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In Which It’s Never Too Early To Celebrate 9/11 Day

August 9th, 2006 No comments


There’s nothing that says “Let’s remember the tragedy of thousands of victims of Islamic Terrrorists” like a commemorative coin made from silver actually taken from Ground Zero. 

The World Trade Center skyline is lavishly clad in gleaming silver miraculously recovered from a bank vault found under tons of debris at Ground Zero.

You may think that spammers who scour websites sucking up email addresses to sell fake Viagra are just above child molesters – but where do you rank a company that sifts through the bones and steel of Ground Zero to steal – oops – reclaim silver to turn it into a perversely self-referential money making opportunity? 

I’m not even getting into 3D pedestal effect of propping up the World Trade Center.

I’m stunned.  I feel like vomitting.

And this isn’t the only one.  There’s an even dozen of them.  It’s not clear when they started profiting off 9/11.  At first, it looked as if they hadn’t waited for the bodies to get cold since many of the coin descriptions read “on a 2001 Silver Eagle Dollar” which makes it sound as if that’s when the coin got released.  Instead it refers to a process used by supermarkets to create those wonderful cakes with photographs done in frosting.  They spray a 2001 silver dollar with an image from 9/11.  Front and back.

But none of their other 9/11 coins gets you so close to Ground Zero without having to actually go there.

Yup, this coin has actual silver from the World Trade Center in it.  Pretty darn powerful, huh?  And it’s going to appreciate in value probably five fold over the next year or so.  I’ll make a tidy profit off of this little baby.  Too bad I could only buy five of ’em.

You’re saying to yourself – “STFU, a-hole.  People want to remember 9/11 with something tangible.  You can’t expect them to internalize 9/11 and carry it with them day to day.  This is America, you touchy-feely humanist dickhead.  Find a need and fill it -that’s called capitalism and it’s what made this country great.  What – they’re supposed to give it away?”

You’re right, of course.  And to the National Collectors Mint’s credit they want to keep this precious relic affordable for all Americans so

Price was to be set at $49.95. However, during this limited special release, this Gold and Silver clad masterpiece can be yours for just $29.95. But you must act NOW to take advantage of this Special Striking offer. THIS offer MAY BE withdrawn at any time without notice at the sole discretion of NCM.  [Emphasis original]

This also allows you once (or if) the price increases to make a quick $10-15 selling it at a flea market to someone who missed out on the original striking.

Now that I think about it this coin represents America better than anything I can think of because if you turn 9/11 into a business opportunity then the terrorists have truly won.

Can someone front me $33.45?

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In Which I Bulk Post My Vacation Thus Far

August 7th, 2006 No comments

[Well, I’m home already.  I thought this had gotten posted a couple of days ago but, I guess it didn’t.  Time for culture shock from laid-back, uber-polite Canadians to some bitch that called the same person three times in five minutes to inform whoever-it-was of her progress on the subway.] 


The Canadians are different from you and I.  It’s a  completely different approach to life. 

Despite the fact that Canadians plan to get tough (well, as tough as Canadians can get) at the border, the pleasant young border guard informed us pleasantly, after looking at our passports, that “once we get to where yer going, you should be sure to sign them.” 

Stop and parse that statement a minute.  Yes, we had passports, but American passports aren’t valid until they are signed.  Our were not signed.  Sure, they looked like us and, sure, he had no idea if our signatures would have matched had we bothered to sign them, but this didn’t phase him in the least.  Not only did the lack of John Hancock-edness not phase him, but we could wait until we got to where we were going to sign them!

As with many theories that I come up with, I base this on nothing more than a half hour’s worth of experience.

I’m convinced that the best way to understand a new place is to listen to AM radio.  Spending your time flipping through the dial nets you more information about the people, their habits and concerns than a life time of writing surveys or conducting face to face interviews.  People who call radio stations call to get the voices heard.  Whether they the loud mouth in the bar or the quiet, shy secretary, talk radio gives them a unique outlet to voice their inner self.  It is, for the most part, anonymous.  How many Gordons are there in Kitchner?  How many Alices in Goderich?  Sure, your friends and neighbors might identify your voice and match it to your name, but still, if you’re listening to Paul in Watertown (or Boston) making that connection takes a practiced ear.

Boston talk radio spends its time on politics and religion.  I’ve yet to find a call in show where people just shoot the shit.  You get conditioned to hearing them bitch, moan, rant, rave and denigrate.  So, when I heard a show announced at “The Talk Show” I felt I knew what was coming.  Still, this is fairly backwoods Canada.  What transpired, however, bore no relation to anything in my previous experience.

Yah, I just wanted to let ya know that there’s a plant called the Touch-Me-Not and it does just a heckuva job on poison ivy.  Whatcha do is brew it into a kind of a tea and then put the leaves (once ya let it cool off, of course) on the affected area and, oh my gosh, you won’t believe how good it works.

Five minutes with this lovely elderly Canadian on poison ivy!  I challenge you to find anything like that in New England, let alone the rest of the US.  Five minutes talking about the best preparation of the tincture, the distinguishing characteristics of the plant, where you can find it, how she stumbled across it…on and on and on.

Ok, you think, it was some kind of a nature show; some kind of outdoors-y program.  No.  After that, an even more pleasant and elderly Canadian woman called to talk about one room schoolhouses and what a wonderful time she had not only as a student but as a teacher, well.

And then?  Back to the Touch-Me-Not plant and Wayne who chimed in (pleasantly, of course) that it also did a heckuva job on bee stings, too!

You’re sweating your ass off in Boston, so I hear.  100 degrees plus.  Has the power grid busted yet?  Have you all been thrust into dank, murky un-air conditioned Hell?  Yeah, me, too.  You’d think that Western Ontario would not suffer from the same equation of Heat + Humidity = Hell and nor would I.  We’d both be wrong. 

Goderich sweltered on for the third consecutive day of plus-nineties heat and a high Humdex, or Humidity Index.  Humdex – Canada is absolutely adorable.  But it doesn’t stop there.

In the US, the radio tells us, during these periods of dangerous heat, to stay hydrated.  It does so in the same voice it tells us that Israel dropped a nuclear bomb on Lebanon, that the stock market reacted favorably to the move and that Tom Cruise went to jail for beating up Katie Holmes.  The announcer reads the script handed to him, announces and moves on.  They don’t actually care if you drink water.  They don’t, in some ways, care if you live or die.  They don’t know you and chances are they don’t want to know.  The people who pay them pay them well enough not to have to consort with their listeners and, after all, you can’t care about everything you read.

Canadian radio doesn’t stand for this.  They care and they care deeply.  I’ve heard them spend up to a minute talking about the precise steps that one should take to stay hydrated.  A cup of water every twenty minutes or so.  Not just on one station, either.  They repeat this advice, not coincidentally, about three times an hour.  “Why,” my oldest daughter piped up, “are they so obsessed with the weather here?!”  It’s not the weather they’re obsessed with, it’s the welfare of the citizenry of Canada they’re concerned about.

Two years ago when we came, we stumbled across a show called Swap Shop.  The show, like most things Canadian, is aptly named.  You swap things.  It’s an audio Want Advertiser.  Folks who wanted to get rid of some goats (I didn’t make that up) can call the station and, live on the air, make their pitch including price and phone number.  Some have recipes to share.  One man needed to replace his old draft beer dispenser…and quick.  A woman wanted to let people know about a new source of sewing patterns.  You can understand the appeal.  I needed my Swap Shop fix but we couldn’t find it.

I asked at a woman at Finchers, a sort of Mom and Pop sub-mini-Walmart, about it. 

“Oh, yah, that’s still on!”

“Do you know what station?”


“Great!  Do you know what time?”

“Oh,” she frowned in an I-may-have-to-be-unhelpful-and-it-kills-me sort of way, “I think they changed the time.”  She called over to a co-worker who confirmed that it wasn’t on when it used to be on but couldn’t remember when it moved to.

“That’s all right,” I said, now feeling reverse Canadian guilt for asking a question that caused someone else stress.  “I’ll figure it out.  Do you know the number?”

A sort of cloud passed over her face.  It didn’t register until later what it had meant.  She pursed her lips.

“No.”  Her voice turned curt.  “I couldn’t tell you what the number was.”  She barely concealed a scornful laugh.  “You could look it up in the phone book, though.”

“Huh?”  Phone book?  “Oh!  No, no, not the phone number!  No, no!  The number on the radio dial!”

She brightened and giggled, blushing slightly from the misunderstanding.  “Oh!  That.  Oh, gosh, well, um…I can’t remember off the top of my head.”

We parted friends.

The cloud, I realized, formed from what she saw as a breach of etiquette.  Swap Shop?  Of course.  Information not readily available to those not from the area.  Station call letters?  Same thing.  A reasonable question.  But, well, my goodness!  You can look up the phone number for the station yourself, now, can’t you?  After all, you’re an adult!

The good, honest people Goderich even leave their wireless networks open, so I looked up the station online and found my heart’s desire.  But I found more.

Funeral announcements.  Daily funeral announcements!  Can I just say once more how adorable Canada is?  Every weekday from 12:50pm (not AM, mind you – only Americans would do that) until 1pm someone reads the relevant information about who died, where, when and the time and date of the service.  For ten minutes.  Can you imagine anything like this in the States?  Neither can I.  Even better, the listings generally include the “pre-deceased” meaning who died before the subject of the obit.

“It’s all about social capital!,” my wife crowed, formulating her theory.  Social capital translates to goodwill and concern about the community.  And there’s nothing more Canadian than that.

“Oooh, look at thaht!”

Every morning I wake up (unfortunately around 8am), throw on some clothes, get a cup of coffee at Tim Horton’s (pronounced Tim Harton’s), check my email, get the paper at Fincher’s and, glory to whatever higher power you believe in, get Cream Donuts at Culberts.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is the highlight to my day, but it’s worth the trip to Goderich just for the Cream Donuts alone.  I’ve probably gone on and on about Cream Donuts before.  There’s no internet access here at the cabin so I can’t check the blog archives.  Rather than possibly relive my Cream Donut obsession, let’s just leave it that referring to Cream Donuts as a proper noun suffices as my ode to the Pantheon of Puff Pastry.

We used to come to Goderich every year despite my increasingly strenuous suggestion that we go back to the Outer Banks.  Last year, I won out and the relaxation factor (aka – no relatives) convinced the not-me in the marriage to alternate our plans.  I bring this up as the reason that I had a couple of Canadian dollar bills in my desk drawer at home.  After several years of forgetting to bring them, I finally remembered. 

Canadian money takes a little getting used to.  Firstly, it’s gorgeous and a radical departure from the unending dull green-ness of American money.  Secondly, bills start at $5.  Before that, you’ve got one-dollar coins (“loonies”, because of the loon on them) and two-dollar coins (“twoonies” because it’s quaintly Canadian).  Like the two-dollar American coin and the Sacajawea* dollar, they stopped making one-dollar bills.  (Note – pretty much every economist and their brother espouses a $2.50 coin as the most efficient way to cut down on unwanted change.  This, of course, will happen three weeks after sales of the Dvorak keyboard eclipse the QWERTY keyboard).  Still, just as you sometimes stumble across a  Sacajawea dollar in the dark recesses of your couch, Canadian dollar bills surface in your desk drawer.

The first clerk I tried to palm it off on frowned at me. 

“I’m not sure I can take this,” she told me.  And I saw her dilemma.  Not only was she fifteen years old and probably in her first job, but she was aslo a rule-based Canadian.  Despite the fact that Canada puts out some of the funniest people on the planet (Mike Meyers, Tom Green, Eugene Levy…oh, go look it up yourself) the vast majority of Canadians have no sense of humor nor are they interested in getting one.  They tend to take everything at face value.  Since the government no longer made one-dollar bills it logically followed that you could no longer accept them.  I tested this out in a shop in Stratford, asking the middle aged clerk if she could take a one-dollar bill.

“Of course,” she chirped pleasantly.  “Why wouldn’t we?”  I explained about the first clerk and she gave a little snort.  She found the situation silly, rather than funny.

This morning, with a twoonie, a ten and not enough change for to make a dollar, I unfolded my last one-dollar bill in Culberts, prompting a completely different fifteen year old clerk to marvel at this relic of Canadian history.  Her glee radiated around the shop and it was not to be squelched by her surly fifteen year old countermate who rolled her eyes and grumbled.

It strikes me that this is the new battle for Canadian Identity – the Wide-Eyed Wonder of the old school versus the Callous Cynicism creeping up from their neighbors to the south.

*Kudos to the Open Office dictionary for figuring out the horrible mangling of Sacajawea

Here’s a list of songs and the order in which they were played.  Your job – tell me where they were played.  And, no, it wasn’t the radio.

Sweet Home Alabama
Magic Carpet Ride
Take The Money And Run
Ain’t See Nothing Yet
Keep On Rockin’ Me Baby
Gimme All Your Lovin’
Can’t Get Enough of Your Love
Slow Ride
More Than A Feeling

They were all performed by an anonymous cover band at 120 beats per minute for the aerobic benefit  of 11 women, ages 40 – 65, in the Maitland Recreational Centre (note the Canadian reversal of the “e” and the “r”) swimming pool for the daily Water Aerobic Workout.  The band bent every song to the will of the strict thumpa-thumpa 4/4 beat twisting the bouncy Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love into a kind of Canadian-Nazi polka.

The women in the water bobbed straight up and down regardless of what the very dry instructor on the deck did.  Only the plucky 40 year old dared to deviate from the elderly pogo-sticking and attempt to “groove”.  Only the plucky 40 year old dared to get her hair wet.

“No, no,” my wife said in the car on the way home, “there were a lot more forty year olds than her out there.”

“Huh?!  No way.  That was like watching a cross between Night of the Living Dead and Cocoon.”

“No.  I saw at least two of the women bring nine and ten year olds into the pool before they started.”


“Uh-huh.  They may have been overweight, and had swimsuits, faces and hair-dos that made them look 65, but most of them were 40.  Maybe 45.”

And that made sense.  The siren songs that lured these women to a possible watery grave all were about (gulp) 25-30 years old.  At an average age of 45 (if you believe my wife) the women would have been in their late teens and early twenties when the songs first played.  All the more disturbing, then, that the soundtrack of the lives that led to strangers adding 20 years to their age now serves as the brake to futilely reverse the aging process.

We finally pulled the kids out of the pool and got ready to go.  In the lobby, the staff of the Maitland Recreational Centre had just brought in McDonalds for dinner.

“Well, you really need to only spend money on two items, in my opinion,” the woman said.

We couldn’t figure out at first who Lee, whose show Talk With Lee on 800am, was chahtting with.  We listen to Lee a lot since she’s on around the time we go to visit my wife’s parents.  Lee does a heckuva interview.  From the sound of her voice, she looks like Mary Maitlan – weathered, with her voice hoarse from calling the kids into supper from the mare’s pasture. 

“Oh, yah,” chirped Lee, “and what’re those?”

“Yah need a real good pair-a shoes and a nice briefcase or purse.”

“An’ why’s that?”  Lee feeds questions like nobody’s business.  She knows the answer but it’s not about her talking.  It’s about politely giving the guest the microphone, standing back and letting them talk.

“Well,” the guest continued, “those are the things that yer gonna use the most.  Yah gotta have a real good pair-a shoes because yer gonna use ’em all the time.  If ya go for a cheap pair or a fancy pair that’re gonna wear out quick, then yer just throwin’ yer money away.  An’ if yer just starting out ya don’t have a lot to throw.  It’s the same thing with a briefcase or purse.  Yer gonna use it all the time and it’s really a reflection of yer character.  It’s what people see about you.  So don’t be afraid to spend money on quality.”

“Yah know,” Lee added in a serious tone, “I know exactly whatcha mean.  My dad – once a week I had to gather up all ‘is shoes – and I mean all of ’em, work boots, cowboy boots, Sunday shoes – and polish ’em until they shined.  He always said that you can tell the character of a man by the way he keeps his shoes.”

The guest was impressed.  “An’ I think that so true.  People have kinda fergotten aboot that.  An’ I tell ’em during the consultation – you kin spend all the money you want on yer suits or dresses or what have you but if yer wearing sneakers with it – well, it’s not gonna matter.”

“That’s right!”  It was Lee’s turn to be impressed.  “That’s exactly it.  Ya know, we get these kids that come into the station sometimes and they’re right out of college or they’re doin’ internships and they show up and they got the clothes lookin’ all nice and neat and yah look down and they’re wearing, like, scruffy Doc Martins or worse and I just look at them and I say, ‘stop.  Jus’ go home and get some new shoes because they look like heck.’”

Wise words and true.  They continued on about shoes and such (“everybody oughta have a good pair of black shoes and, for the ladies, a little black dress”) until the break when it turned out that the guest was an image consultant out of Toronto.*

Back from the break and on to more image matters.

“Now,” said Lee, “Handshakes.  Lemme ask you about this ‘cuz it always confuses me.”

“Well, the handshake is real important.  Just a good firm grip and look them in the eye.”

“Yah.  Nobody likes that kind of limp-wristed, clammy kinda thing, but here’s what I wanna ask you – for women:  does a real strong handshake make you come off like a ball-buster?”

WHOA!  Back up!  Rewind the audio!  “Ball-buster”?  Is this the same woman who, five minutes earlier, just used the word “heck”?  What switch got flicked in that short space of time?  Would she start referring to women as bitches and men as dickheads?  Unfortunately, we couldn’t stick around to find out since my in-law’s house waited just around the corner for us.

However, when we got back in the car, the image consultant had been replaced by a woman promoting a charity Dragon Boat race in Sarnia.  Apparently, Canadians are world leader’s in Dragon Boat racing.  Even Lee seemed surprised.


*Which, you should know, is pronounce “trahno”.  The parallel in the States is Oregon which you pronounce “orgun”

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