Monthly Archives: November 2015

Thanksgiving, Non-Canadian Version


We’ve received a few requests to explain the differences between Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving for our American readers.  A few years ago Mason Baveux, our guest writer, did a piece on the comparisons between the two, so I asked him to do a rewrite.  After staring at me like I had a spare head growing out of my chest, he finally clued in; “You mean like do’er over but explain her better?”  This is what he sent back:

Thanks lad fer givin me another shot at the blog writing. I’m getting the hang of ‘er and I don’t have to get my drink on like last time from watching the US politics. Plus, I’m startin to get a handle on this HyperTex Tampax Protocol stuff, ‘cept it sounds a little too feminine for me. Just the same. Thanksgiving.

OK, now us Canadians had out turkey back in October.  You Yanks are getting stuffed today.  You’d think we’d line these two holidays up a bit better, but there’s a reason why we don’t. Lemme explain it out for you.

The whole shebangs been going on since before there was a North America. Thanksgiving’s a harvest festival, meaning the locals got the crops in and then sat down to put the feedbag on before the snow flied.

In Europe, or the UK more like, she started raining for two friggin months, with a day or two of snow. She was too wet to plow or do much more than sit around the fire and say “Fook, she’s rainin; again. Yep, she’s rainin’ and we got fog too. Fook this, crack open ye olde flagon of ale and let’s get lit up!” Which is how they passed the winters in Bill Shakespeare’s time. The same’s true at Lahr in Germany, when the base was open there, which it isn’t anymore.

My Indian buddy, Peter Three-Skidoos told me about how the First Nationals used to celebrate the same thing over here, before the Europeans came over. Same idea of party it up before the snow flies. And Peter isn’t an Indian Indian, like from Calcutta with the curry. He’s 100 percent Ojibway First National: Like he says, his family met my family when we came over about 400 years ago, so he should know, right?

I did some looking up about it on that Wiki-tiki-tavi-pedia thing. Seems the first thanksgiving by white folks was done in 1548, in Newfie, fer Christ sake. The explorer Martin Frobisher, who was looking for the Northwest Passage, finally got back to his base camp on the Rock. Marty Frobisher and the rest of the lads cracked the rum open and had a go to celebrate Not Dying. Good a reason as any.

The Americans got into it late, as usual. We’re not counting some Spaniels, or Spanyards who did it up September 8th, 1565 near St. Augustine Florida. There were 600 of them, so’s I suspect there was a hell of a party. I think they had it near the Arby’s in St. Augustine. I’ve been there you know.

The American folks who claim the first one up, were what were called the Berkeley Hundred, in Dec 4 1619 near Jamestown Virginia. They weren’t into the turkey then, they were just glad to not be dead from sailing across the ocean. It was more a prayer service than anything.

The first Americans who did something like the kids story Thanksgiving were the Pilgrims at Plymouth Mass. Before the car, there was the town Plymouth and they did it in 1621. Seems that a First National called Squanto and his tribe, the Wampanomags taught the Pilgrims how to catch turkeys and eels and how to use the foods that grew there in Plymouth. That would be pumpkins and cranberries and squash and sweet potatoes. And turkey.

If Squanto and the Wampo tribe lads hadn’t been there to help the Pilgrims get their heads out of their arses, the Pilgrims would have all starved to death that winter and we wouldn’t have Plymouth cars. They’d be called Worcesters or Massachusettses. Worchester Belvedere? That’s no damn good.

For the longest time where Thanksgiving showed up on the Canadian and the American calendar moved around a bit. Up here we kept it in October, as that’s more or less when the last of the corn comes in. Down south, the seasons longer, so the US Thanksgiving sometimes would run later the more south you went.

For a while, both of us kept to the British tradition in October, but when the Yanks had their Revolution in 1776 they wanted to get rid of all the British leftovers, so they looked for a later date. It wasn’t until Honest Abe and Civil War that you Yanks settled on November and that’s where she sits now.

As for what we do up here, we do the same thing. We cook a big goddam turkey and more vegetables than the third floor ward at the Penatanguishine Home for the Insane. There’s bread stuffing, cranberries, both jellied and whole, mashed spuds, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, boiled carrots, green beans and enough gravy to float a skiff. You eat until your pants don’t fit, then loosen the belt and have seconds or thirds.

When you can’t see no more, you push back and take a break. In our house we used to have gravy bread for the last course. If you’ve never had gravy bread, I’ll give you the recipe. You take a slice of white bread, put it on the plate. Then you pour turkey gravy on it until is just starts to think about floating. Then you eat it. An old family recipe that.

Then there’s the pie. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, mincemeat pie and sometimes lemon pie. You get whipped cream on the pumpkin, but not on the lemon pie as that’s just wrong. And Apple Pie without Cheese is like a Kiss without a Squeeze.

For drinks, well, you’ve got the traditional basics: Rum and Coke. Rum and Ginger. Rum and Diet Coke for those who are watching their weight. After you’re done, sometimes there’s Rum and Coffee, but lately it’s been Bailey’s and Coffee, or Rum and tea for them what drinks tea. The usual measure is three fingers of Rum or Bailey’s and top the mug up with coffee.

By this time you’re half in the bag and can’t feel your legs anymore. Some of the family go out hunting, if its close to deer season. Well, more proper, they go jacklighting off the ATV’s or the snow machines, if we’ve had a early snow.

Sometimes they get a deer, but more often than not they just shoot the hell out of the highway signs. I’ve never seen them bring back the highway signs, but the deer always come back across the ATV if they’ve had some luck.

By now most of us have had a snooze and its about time for cards. Cribbage is the game of choice. Now there’s a choice of rum or beer. I’ll stick to the beer about then, as I can’t count cribbage if I’m full of rum. On the rum, it’s 15-2, 15-4 and then I get confused and it goes to hell from there. On the Red Cap, it’s fine. I can peg and count at the same time. There’s always an argument or two.

Around midnight, we give it up and go home.

I kinda like the old ways some days. Just a day for saying “Hey, we’re not dead today! Thanks!” The rest is good, but not always necessary, so’s your could say I’m from the Marty Frobisher school of Thanksgiving.  We’re not dead today!

Thank you Mason, as always, curiously insightful.  A Happy  Thanksgiving to our American Readers

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Guest Commentator – History Hurts


We woke up our esteemed guest commentator, Mason Baveux from his pre-game training for the CFL Eastern Conference final.  For those who don’t follow or know about the CFL fan base, this is the pre-game process for the spectators; it involves three fingers of Captain Morgan Run (or Palm Breeze) in a glass with enough Coca-Cola to colour it dark.  Repeat until you can’t feel your legs.  Wake up and do it again. 

We wanted to know what his thoughts were on how people are reacting to the Paris terrorist attacks.  Not a lighthearted subject to drop on someone four days into a three-day bender, but he took to the keyboard with a vengeance.

Thanks for the keys to the bloggery again Davey.  Here we go on Paris.  First off, ISIL, ISIS, Daesh, or whatever then goat humpers call themselves can go eff themselves.  The various cops will take care of the ones on the loose and it won’t be all nicey nicey.  Fook’em all.

What’s got my back up is what some of my fellow citizens have been doin to them what are Muslims.  That’s just pissed me off something fierce, because it showin’ just how stupid we can be, without there bein an upside to it.  This I’m blamin on the schools some, but I’m really blamin on how ignorant a lot of folks really are.  So’s we’re goin to educate some of you arseholes.

You know how us folks have all kinds of different types of religions that are all Christians?  Protestants, Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterians and the like?  Well, Islam’s got the same thing.  There’s probably as many different brands of being Muslim as there is being a Christian.  Some of them get along fine and others are like a box of wet cats goin to the vet.  You need welding gloves to handle them, or they’ll turn your arms into hamburger meat.

Where things got all messed up is in the area of that map called the Middle East.  Go look at a map and you’ll see all kinds of straight lines around there that got nothing to do with the folks what live there.  If you and your goats are on one side of the line, you’re Syrian, on the other side yer Jordainian, or Iraqi, or Turkish, or Kurdish, or Kuwaiti.  This goes back to just after the First World War and some monkeyshines called the Sykes-Picot Agreement what divvyed the place up with a bunch of secret deals that had nothing to do with the folks what were livin there.

It’s like Yugoslavia.  There weren’t no such thing as Yugoslavia until someone said there was and held a gun to the heads of anyone who disagreed, who was Joe Tito holdin the gun.  Then when Tito died and the Commies took their big dump, the whole joint reverted back to Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Croatia, and Herzegovina, with some leftovers from Istria, Zadar, Rijeka, Hungary and probably Austria.  It was a put-up job done after the First World War too.  That worked out really well for everybody, didn’t it?

Back to the Middle East here.  So’s imagine you’re walkin around, herdin your goats and some asshat in a uniform says you’re now Syrian and you just joined the effin army.  You and your family been walkin those paths for as far back as anyone can remember and now you’re stuffed onto one side of the line, or the other.  You didn’t get to vote, or even ask questions, just pow, you’re Syrian, or somesuch.

The other part of this massive Mongolian fookpile is the various branches of Islam that don’t want to play nice with each other.  Sunni Muslims don’t like Shia Muslims.  Alawite Muslims think the other two are arseholes.  Wahabi Muslims think the other three are dumber than a box of hammers and are so messed up they might as well be Episcopalians.

What that does is change who yer runnin away from.  Refugees in Jordan are trying to get the hell away from the Syrian Army, not ISIS.  Refugees in Turky are tryin to get the hell away from ISIS.  What’s left of the Iraqi army has its ass kicked out of Mosul, but not after kickin any asses what had Sunni sounding names, as they were mostly Shia as was as lot of the army bosses who wanted to settle some scores.  The Saudis are mostly Wahabi and want the other two or three branches to kill each other off, by doin nothing to interfere in any of it.

Come to think of it, somebody is buyin the bootleg oil what the ISIS is usin to fund their fun and sellin it on the market.  I’m just saying, if you follow the money…

So what we got here is a bunch of little branches of Muslims, who don’t like each other, let alone themselves, livin on a map that was a scam job secret deal with no homeland and fightin each other to try to get a piece of peace, for more than a few generations of livin in a refugee camp tent.

Tell me, how fooked up would you be, if you weren’t sure if you’d make it to lunch alive, in case the Syrian army, or the rebels from Mosul, or a bunch of messed up neighbours decided to gas, shoot and bugger everyone on the camp who didn’t have the same sounding name?  That’s what you call a recipe for radicalization that only takes 20 minutes at 350, until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.

Now, I’s not makin excuses for ISIS.  I say we do something Davey suggested a while ago, after the Charlie Cartoonist shootings in Paris.  Capture as many as you can and toss’em one by one out of a helicopter over their territory, with a note was says “Fook You, arseholes!”  Even a lot of Muslims are using this Hashish Tag called #NotInMyName to distance themselves from these fuckwads in ISIS. So learn this:  Muslims ain’t ISIS.  Want me to repeat that?  Muslims Ain’t ISIS.

Not that us Christians were a whole lot better.  The Inquisition, back in 1250 saw a bunch of Christians tryin to decide who was more Christian.  There was talk what the Cathars and the Franciscans was sayin they were closer to God.  So’s the Dominicans decided to kick some ass through the church courts.  Jeeze, even Galileo got his ass hauled into court, sayin the Earth went around the Sun, not the other way around.

Or the Crusades back in 1095 when we got all offended about Jews and Arabs bein on “holy” ground.  Mind you, we got this shit out of the way in the day before we had cruise missiles and truck bombs, but it’s the same bullshit on a different day.  We’re no better, so shut the fook up.

See, what it all comes down to is what brand of God you like.  We’re all prayin to the same one, just some like their brand, while we like our brand.  Fightin over it is stupid.  God don’t care.  If he did, he’s tan our asses for bein idiots.  This is us getting our panties in a snit, not anything to do with God.

To sum her up.  If you’re goin to mouth off at somebody you think is a Muslim, you’re just showin how fookin stupid you are and how much you don’t know.  They got just as much right to wear a scarf on their head, as what a Jew does wearing their yarmulke, a Sikh does with a turban or you do with your crucifix.  It’s nothing more than havin a reminder on your calendar about what you believe in.  It don’t make you a terrorist, or a friend of a terrorist, or a friend of a friend of a terrorist.  It’s like blamin you for the Inquisition.

These folks got just as much right to be here as you do.  And a reminder that one-eighth of my family, met your family when they got off the boat the first time in Plymouth Rock, fleeing religious persecution and not knowing shit about what to eat, or how to survive winter without dyin.

Mouthin off near me at some Muslim, or Jew, or Sikh, or any other religion means you might just get your ignorant attitude adjusted right quick.  I don’t mind getting on the bus with only one shoe, as the other’ll be up your arse.

More Paris Follow-up


A week and change after the Paris terrorist attacks and, to quote an old radio jingle “The Hits Just Keep On Coming!”

France and Russia have decided that Raqqa in Syria is a great place to start controlling ISIS.  Air freight deliveries of attitude adjustment devices continues more or less around the clock.  Various ISIS buildings, storage areas, oil refineries, office and training areas have been turned to rubble.  Of course ISIS is not posting videos of the carnage that has ensued, for fear their associates, hangers-on and fanboys discover that having any affiliation with ISIS will ruin your day in a very permanent way.

The local cops, meaning the state police in Belgium and France have taken to showing up at various apartment doors with their form of concierge service wake-up calls:  Door breach, two flash-bangs then a lot of gunfire.  Hands up and surrendering means you get three rounds center of mass, while the assistant concierges on nearby rooftops paint noses with a red laser dot in eager anticipation of exercising the index finger of the right hand.  Victims of terrorist attacks don’t get the benefit of a judicial process, so neither should terrorists.

We came up with an appropriate response in February of this year, just after the Charlie Hebdo outrage.  The link is here but this is the short form: One helicopter flight a day.  Slow to a hover at 1,000 feet over a marketplace, or some largish public square, when it’s busy.  Tie a nicely worded note along the lines of: “We’re returning one of your soldiers.  Fuck Off.  Sincerely, The Rest of The World” to a captured ISIS member and toss him or her out the side door without a parachute.

Gravity will do what it does.  Video the whole thing, including the very successful and squishy landing of the ISIS soldier.  Post it on every ISIS media outlet you can find.  Repeat the process several times a week, usually around lunch hour, when most people are out and about in Mosul or Raqqa.  It’s inexpensive (Conventional iron bombs from bombers, cruise missiles and even drones are pricey per hour to operate), somewhat inelegant and not necessarily legal in a Geneva-convention-kinda-way.

But would be a very effective method of communications.

Paris – The Follow Up


Now that some of the dust has settled out from the Paris terror attacks, we’re developing a new focus.  Those who responded to the previous post, are just as divided as we are.  The problem, aside from the moral issues, is not if we should stop ISIS, but how do we stop them.

We’re reasonably certain that the long march of re-education and demonstrating our willingness to beat swords into plowshares won’t sway the enemy in this or the next four generations.  We’re also certain that geopolitically we can’t give them their own homeland, even if we ask Syria, nicely, to hive off a piece of their holdings, to serve as an Islamic Caliphate for those who wish to return to 632 AD in their Captain Wayback Time Machine.

We’re saddled with ISIS, like it or not, so we have to deal with them.

We know that rationally we can’t bomb them back to the Stone Age:  We tried that in Viet Nam and it didn’t work, because a subsistence guerilla insurgency doesn’t need a vast infrastructure to operate.  There is no ISIS-operated central warehouse of suicide vests that is the only source for ISIS.  The insurgency is dispersed in living rooms and back yard sheds, all over the planet.  Hitting one, or a dozen, all at the same time (ooh, Shock and Awe again) does nothing useful.  Bombing only makes the group dig in harder, doing more with even less, despite what Giulio Douhet or  Curtis LeMay might have thought.  Where massed strategic and tactical air power does work is against an organized, managed military, like Version II of the Iraq war.

Boots On The Ground is the working theory that we know will work.  Unfortunately, the political fallout is too grisly to contemplate.  Look at how well we’ve treated our returning veterans from Afghanistan, Iraq or Bosnia as proof that pudding only tastes of blood, burned flesh and tears.  The West (by that we mean, more or less the First World) does not have the stomach or the will to go there and ISIS knows it.  That’s why they can pull off their particular brand of barbarism.  Even vaporizing Jihadi John with a Hellfire missile from a drone won’t put much of a dent in the insurgency.  By definition, these kinds of groups are loosely organized with somewhat misty lines of command and control, unlike a conventional military force.

Which leaves us with no viable course of action we in the First World can take to solve the ISIS problem.

Now that is not exactly true, but going full-barbarian/savage is not something we do in the First World.  We have the capability, no issue there, but declaring everyone at a particular map reference a target means there will be many lives lost who through pure happenstance are there when the rain of Bad comes down.  Conceptually we could surround the area with a big fence, nobody in or out and start killing anything that walks or crawls, but that is beyond pale for the First World.  It would work, in that the ISIS leadership, members, supporters, hangers-on and fans are made to go away, but cannot happen.  We are not barbarians.

Or should we, as the First World, draw the line and say enough.  Hold our nose, do the unthinkable, grit our teeth to mercy and become that which we wish to destroy before it destroys us.

Not a nice contemplation for a Sunday.

Paris


Things are still unclear, but here’s the bones.  A group of terrorists, probably eight in total, have attacked several locations in Paris, killing more than 120 people, with a combination of suicide bombs and automatic weapons.  The locations including a hostage taking at a concert hall, are swamped with security, as authorities sift through the crime scenes.

All the attackers are said to be killed.  Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the national soccer stadium during a game between Germany and France.  Another attack by a group at the Bataclan Concert Hall were stopped, likely by France’s equivalent of SWAT or the JTF, but not after killing around 100 hostages with grenades and gunfire.  A couple of restaurants were also scenes of shootings and bombings, with more carnage.  France has closed their borders; nobody in and nobody out.  Three days of national mourning.

And, of course, the Islamic State has taken responsibility for the attacks in retaliation for air strikes against IS, or ISIS, or ISIL, or whatever name they’re using this week.  Combine this outrage with the possible ISIS involvement in the Russian MetroJet takedown over the Sinai last week and there has been much blood spilled in the name of God.

We’re going to posit an analogy for you to consider.

You’re sound asleep at 3 am and hear an ungodly ruckus in the kitchen.  You pull on the housecoat and run down stairs.  You see a rabid fox, foaming at the mouth, screaming and clawing at you and your family members, tearing up the furniture, pissing everywhere and trying to corner the kids or the dog to attack them.  The animal is an uncontrolled and uncontrollable threat, causing a real and substantive danger to your family, your person and your health.

The threat does not respond to the usual norms of being frightened and desperately wanting to get the hell out of your kitchen.  It’s rabid and all the usual behavioral expectations do not apply.

There is no time to call Animal Control, the Humane Society or even the cops to help you out.  You now have a decision you must take and you have about 8 seconds to make up your mind.

The more non-violent of us would open a door or a window and attempt to shoo the creature out of the house, with a broom, yelling and making general noise.  It is, after all, another life, albeit one that is a very real danger to us right now.

The more pragmatic of us would try that, but would also have a cast iron skillet (or the 12 gauge, or a hammer) to hand and would attempt to kill that animal as quickly as possible:  Bare handed with a vegetable peeler if need be.

Your answer is important as this analogy is indicative of how we, as a society, have to react to this kind of threat from ISIS.  Take some time on this one.  If you want to, leave your decision in the comments.

Remembrance Day


At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we take a minute to remember those who served in the various wars, police actions, peacekeeping duties and other conflicts.  Remembrance Day is important and we wanted to focus on one veteran.

This particular soldier was born in Vancouver and signed up with the Royal Canadian Artillery. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 13th Field Artillery as part of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.  Rotated to England in 1940 for training, his first combat was on Juno Beach on D-Day.  He was wounded, unfortunately by friendly fire late that night.  After recovering, he was posted and graduated from Air Observation Pilot Course 40 and flew with 666 AOP Squadron RCAF, flying Auster observation aircraft.  After the war, he demobbed and went back to civilian life.

A reasonable service record, some wounds and some stories including the label of the “craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force” after slaloming an Auster around telegraph poles on Salisbury Plain. You might not know him as Jimmy Doohan, but you certainly knew him as Montgomery Scott from the original Star Trek.  Yes, Scotty was a veteran.

If you want to remember a veteran on November 11th, James Montgomery Doohan is as good as any.

Thank you to all our veterans. We get to do things like these posts because of what you did and keep doing for all of us.

Christmas in November


There are plenty of things to get bent about these days, so rather than dive into federal and international politics, gender, the environment and ISIS shooting down planes, we are opting for something closer to home: Christmas.

There are two schools of though. The first being the retailer point of view.  For many, especially the small, local retail shops, Christmas is the singular time of the year they can make their nut and stay in business.  Having a longer Christmas season is one way to ensure they make enough to stay afloat.

The other school of thought is that we should hold off and officially open the Christmas season November 12th.  This would give consumers a break from hearing the Andy Williams Christmas Album on endless repeat over the store audio system until after Remembrance Day.

We are of two minds here. Yes, Christmas is a big time for businesses large and small, but for the love of mercy, we don’t need to start the Christmas décor just after Labour Day do we?  The other side is that Remembrance Day, at least in Canada and a goodly piece of the Commonwealth, is a fairly somber observance, so the whole joyous season of celebration thing is a little out of place.

Marylou used to work at Eaton’s many years ago as a copywriter, creating deathless prose for haberdashery, white goods and all the other stuff that Eaton’s sold.  They had a corporate copy standard of “Thall Shall Not Advertise Christmas Until After Remembrance Day” Come November 12th it was wall to wall Christmas, but not a mention until the 12th.  This strikes us as a touch paternalistic coming from the Scottish Protestant ethic of the founding family of Timothy Eaton.

What we know we don’t want as consumers is to be beaten with the retail equivalent of a cat o’ nine tails while we’re still in our summer attire.  Especially in Canada, we don’t want to see artificial snow and laden pine boughs when we know that shortly we will be unearthing the car from two feet of the real thing after spending four hours trying to find the windshield scraper that was under the deck mister, fourteen planter boxes and a turtle pool.

The other branch of the No Christmas Until November 12th line is the dearth of Christmas Music.  In a previous career, we worked in radio, on-air.  The Program Director decreed that we would start playing Christmas music around the beginning of November, one song an hour, eventually ramping up to wall-to wall Christmas Music from the top of December until after New Year’s Day.  We have heard every Christmas song ever recorded and this includes Christmas with The Chipmunks, Vol 1 and Vol 2. , all the tracks.  Finding enough Canadian Content with at least 3 of the four MAPL designations was almost impossible as even Anne Murray didn’t release a Christmas album until 1981.

The clever reader will note we haven’t used the term “holiday” or “seasonal” in our descriptions. It’s Christmas around here and you can either deal with it or do something unpleasant and unsanitary.  We are fully inclusive when it comes to Eidain festivals, Diwali, Samhain, Yom Kippur, and any other religious or pseudo-religious holiday observances you might have.  This is our turn:  You get your turn too.  Move on.

We’re siding towards holding Christmas in abeyance until after November 11th, if only for reasons of mental hygiene.  There is only so much enforced good-will-towards-men we can tolerate in two months, while the retailers and advertisers guilt you into parting with money you don’t have to buy things for people you don’t care about.  Not Bah-Humbug, but let us have a tiny scrap or two of decorum please?

At least until November 12th.