Monthly Archives: April 2011

Royal Wedding Commemorative

We decided to opt-out of the Kate and Bill Wales story as we can only tolerate a certain percentage of madness in any given fiscal year.  Royal weddings can easily exceed our mandated maximum, especially if they occur in the UK.  The madness doesn’t necessarily happen because of the media, as it is expected the ink-stained wretches go all sloppy, but more because of the rampant venal merchandising that gloms its’ mitts onto any occasion.

For instance, the ‘replica’ Royal engagement ring only available in this limited time offer, strict limit of one per household, normally priced at $119.00, now just $39.90, with a hinged velveteen box and Certificate of Authenticity.  If one combined folded cigarette foil for the ‘silver’, broken windshield glass for the ‘diamonds’ and a shard of an old Noxzema jar for the ‘sapphire’, then assembled the pieces could be construed as a ‘replica’ of the Kate and Bill engagement ring.  It’s so ugly that the ring itself will scuttle under the fridge if you turn on the kitchen lights. 

By the same rules of ‘replica’ commemoratives, I’m Ray Charles, because I have at least two feet and so did Ray.  We’ll overlook the logic of the comparison as I am younger, Caucasian, untalented, won’t sing, can’t play the piano, am partially sighted and not currently dead.  I can however provide a Certificate of Authenticity.  I’ll even throw in a hinged velveteen box, so you can call me Ray Charles too.

The madness comes from the reaction of supposedly sane consumers who upon seeing the commercials for any kind of commemorative, immediately whip out the credit card and start pounding the phone to order this material.  The Cook Islands, the Franklin Mint and hundreds of other commemorative manufacturers seem to tap into some poorly formed area of the consumer brain that insists on parting with money for commemoratives and collectibles.  Why?  Are we actually that malformed and lacking in self-esteem that we think the possession of recycled-glass-not-even-close replica of some dead Royal’s ring, somehow will convey the status of near-Royalty to our mantle, if we had a mantle? 

Yes.  We are that dumb.  If we weren’t, these commemorative folks would have gone out of business generations ago, but, like mercury in the bloodstream, they’re still with us.

As for Kate and Bill?  We wish them well. 

An American Primer on the Royal Family

Some of our American readers don’t quite comprehend the curious relationship of the British Royal Family on many Canadians, so here’s an explainer.  Please forgive us for oversimplifying.

Canada is a different country than the US, therefore we have a different history.  We share the same pissed off Mongols who walked a land bridge across the Bering Straight, looked around and said “Eff that, we’re going home.  Where’s the bridge back?  Awww Shit!”  These would be our First Nations/Aboriginal peoples.  Those would be the folks who met the boat carrying our ancestors and kept them from starving to death.

For the longest time we were a French colony or a British colony, depending on where you lived.  After a couple of wars, the Brits won and around 1710, many of the French who lost were kicked out.  Parenthetically, Cajuns down Louisiana way?  They’re Canadians, more correctly Acadians, who left for the nearest French colony, which happened to be in Louisiana.

We had a British King, but since the King couldn’t really (or didn’t want to) come over to sign various laws, he would appoint a representative called a Governor-General every few years.  The G-G would ensure taxes got paid, laws were upheld and things more or less moved along. 

After your Revolutionary War, where you put the boots to the whole British King concept, a lot of the folks who didn’t buy into the Republic went North.  Up here, they were called Loyalists, while down your way, they were called ‘assholes’, followed by “Goode Friggin’ Riddances!”

We kept up the colony thing until 1867, when there were enough of us around to ask for our own country, technically a Dominion, called Canada.  Since Britain didn’t actually care about us, they went along with the joke.

We kept a lot of the mechanisms of the British Parliament, in that we have a Prime Minister who is a sitting, elected, Member of Parliament and our own version of the House of Lords from the UK, that we call a Senate.  Senators are not elected up here, in keeping with the House of Lords idea of the Chamber of Sober Second Thought being appointed by the Prime Minister in the name of the Crown.  Our Senators are as useless as tits on a brick, just like the House of Lords in Britain.

The Statute of Westminster in 1931 cut a lot of the colony ties, in that we could do more or less what we wanted, including fighting in wars.  It finished up with the Canada Act of 1982 when we got our own home-grown constitution.  Your Kennedy Family is absolutely nothing like the Royal Family:  Not even in the same time zone.

Our British traditions and history only partly explain the Royal Family ties with Canada.  Since 1952, when Queen Betty the Deuce took over the family business, either her, her sisters or her kids have been to Canada about nine hundred and fifty thousand times.  Canada, at least from the perspective of the Royal Family, is a safe gig; easy peasie time.  We don’t make them eat sheep’s eyeballs or sit through bum-numbing hours of “native” dancers in fur and feathers doing “traditional” dances celebrating harvesting the pilchards.  From a Royal perspective, a Canada trip is simple, the food is safe, the hotels are clean and the peasants are content to wave back with all five fingers.  Ask Dubya about our penchant to wave at certain foreign heads of state with only one finger.

Despite the affinity, Canadians don’t look to the Queen or to Britain for our politics or foreign policy.  We do share the concept of a parliamentary democracy, but Canada is nowhere  near the nanny state the UK currently is:  We’re a nice hybrid of the tradition of Peace, Order and Good Government and some of the worst excesses of our Republican neighbours to the south.

Which still doesn’t fully explain why Canada is smitten with the Royals and the upcoming nuptials of William and Kate.

Think of the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena.  There’s miles of chicken wire strung over trailers and tractors, marching bands, clowns and enough roses to make California smell like an Old Age Home.  Millions of people watch it with a fervor bordering on mania to see what?  Parade floats honouring the Philippine Pineapple Importer’s Association? Does the acronym WTF come to mind?

That’s what the Royal Family is to Canada.  It is a parade float, full of beauty, tradition and millenary arts signifying nothing but pleasant enough to watch for a day or two.  Will Canadians be setting their alarm clocks for 0200 on Friday, so they can dress up and watch Bill and Katy get hitched? 

And they’ll enjoy every minute. 

Been Working Update

Sorry about not posting for a while but sometimes work intrudes and we all know that work-life balance isn’t just a way of life, but a concept.

Suffice to say the election up here is provoking outbreaks of spontaneous narcolepsy amongst the citizens.  The various leaders and their fartcatchers seem to think we, the polloi, actually give a flying fornicative act about who will putatively govern us after May the 5th or so. 

The short form is that Harper still comes across like the micromanaging punk bully he is, while Jack Layton looks longingly to being back behind the meat counter at Sobeys’s cutting up roasts and chops.

Iggy?  Ignatief looks like Keith Richards’ evil twin doing a perp walk after a bad night.  The new Liberal slogan is “Vote for the Undead.  At Least You Know What You’re Getting”  Meanwhile the rest of Canada says “Gilles Who?” upon hearing Gilles Duceppe’s name.  Duceppe comes across as a ten-year old boy caught jerking off by his Mom while he was watching Thierry La Fronde.  Elizabeth May, of the Green Party is that microscopic blip on a microscopic blip on the very edge of the Galactic Event Horizon.   

We’ll probably get another Conservative minority government and with any luck will break the 40% barrier, meaning only 40% of the population are motivated enough to make some kind of mark on a ballot.  In our riding, the polling places are a little too public, so we won’t be able to wipe our arses on the ballot, which is what we really, really want to do. 

Apple fanboys are hiding their faces in shame as it has come to light that Steve Jobs’ Church of Apple religion has been secretly tracking your whereabouts on your iPhone.  You can turn the geolocation feature off, if you jailbreak the phone, uninstall the ‘helper’, invalidate your warranty and incur the wrath of the AppStore forever more.  Oh and you get Eternal Damnation as a bonus.  Steve Said So, Selah, It Is So.

In other news, Japan is closing off most of the North East corner of their country as the various reactors that got whacked in the earthquake and tsunami continue to puke their radioactive innards into the sea, onto the land and into the air.  Fukisima will reopen in a few years as “Round Eye Land” a tourist destination for those not from Japan who want to see what radiation burns look like. up close and personal.

Let’s see what else comes up.  Libya.  Anniversary of the BP/Gulf Oil spill.  US economy in the toilet, unless you’re wealthy and a banker.  Most countries, except China, looking to default on their national debts, while the US sells military drones to Pakistan.  Same old, same old.

Of course, one would be remiss without mentioning the upcoming Royal Wedding, as all our media are sending fleets of crews and reporters to breathlessly inform us that Kate is wearing designer so and so and the Queen looks pleased. 

We need bread, but we need circuses too.