Category Archives: Entertainment

Duffy, Wallin and Harper II


The saga continues of Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau, fighting for their jobs in the Canadian Senate.  We covered this earlier on the blog and now new revelations have come to pass in the Senate.

Duffy stood in his place in the Chamber and said not only did the PMO’s Chief of Staff bucks up to the tune of $90K for Duffy’s expense issues, but the Conservative Party itself, the chief legal beagle, coughed up more than $13K for Duffy’s legal fees fighting the expense issues. 

Yesterday and today, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, Tom Mulcair, has been very surgically cutting our Prime Minister, Stephen “Call Me the Right Honourable Stephen Harper” Harper a new one about every time Mulcair rises in the House to ask a question or two of the PM.  It’s coming down to who knew what and when and then decided to bullshit us about it.  We are condensing the argument a bit.

Herewith however is a prediction on the endgame: 

Harper can’t afford to lose this one as he will come off as not only less than accurate with the truth but willing to throw anyone under the bus that comes near besmirching his reputation.  That means the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has the wagons in a circle and the pitchforks are out. Nigel Wright has already found out exactly what price you pay and it is steep:  Your career goes up in flames in the course of an afternoon along with the money, the pension and the kind of mind-altering demi-god power that comes from being in the PMO at a very high level.  Nobody from the party will answer your calls, sent immediately to voicemail as soon as your name shows up on call display.  Might as well move to Hamilton and open a nail salon for double amputees.

The PMO knows that the general public consensus is that the Senate is a bloated anachronistic money pit.  The Conservatives have run a few federal campaigns now saying they want to reform the Senate and make it over as a Triple E Senate, meaning Equal, Elected and Effective, but have never grown the set required to do it as the PMO has no other way to reward party hacks, flacks, bagmen and teat massagers at a certain level of contribution, except Senate seats.  A appointment for two terms to the Oil Seeds and Grains Commission isn’t going to cut it as a thanks for raising untold millions of dollars for the Party.  Ergo, the Senate has to stay for at least another two years in its current format of Triple E, inEqual, unElected, undEr the PMO’s control.

A formal RCMP or Senate (or both)- led investigation of the whole sordid mess would open doors the PMO would rather not have opened.  Both imply legal standing and the ability to subpoena witnesses to testify under oath, as well as the potential for actual legal charges.  The PMO knows that a legal investigation can’t and won’t be side tracked.  Nixon learned that the hard way with Watergate and even firing Archibald Cox in the Saturday Night Massacre only delayed the inevitable.

Opting to punt to a Royal Commission or a Standing Committee is an option.  By the time the results are tabled from either a Royal or Standing, Harper will have moved back to Calgary, finished up his career as an economist, then retired to Florida with his lime green Sansabelt slacks up to here, complaining about the government full-time.  Except the Opposition knows this game and not going to let it get traction by hammering Harper daily in Question Period.  QP is a blood sport up here, played for keeps under the provisions of Standing Order 30(5).

The last two endgames are the most grisly.  One, Duffy’s big clanking pair of brass attachments pushes Harper over the edge, with Wallin and Brazeau offering their own versions of the push off the ledge.  Harper could say “Eff this” and pull the yellow handle, taking his Rt. Hon to retirement.  Unfortunately the Conservative Party has no one on the bench to take over from Harper.  Anyone with even the slightest potential to be liked more than Harper is not sitting in the House.  Anyone who has a profile anywhere near Harper’s has already been ball-gaged and nobody from the private sector wants that kind of treatment from the party punks. 

The other endgame is also unpleasant.  We call it the “Bring It Bitches” scenario whereby Harper lets the RCMP loose and we find out exactly how venal the whole process of Parliament has become.  It might take two or three years, but we find out that the Conservative party very carefully vets any candidates before even the nomination meetings at the riding level to assess their malleability.  How funding at the party level makes sure that only those anointed are nominated and woe betide those that do not toe the line.  We’ll find out about the continuous cluster act that is our military procurement process and how far the Party is in bed with the military contractors who lavish money the right way.  We’ll also find out that the real agenda for the Party is to gut and privatize as much of the government as possible to their buddies as a reward.  We might also see that there is a real, tangible religious overtone to the behaviour of the PMO that harkens back to the truly odious days of the Reform Party.  (The Reform Party would have changed Canadian same-sex marriage laws to allow the use of copper-jacket or explosive-tipped rounds in dealing with same-sex couples, trade unions and aboriginal affairs.  We only partially jest.)

Now, which one will come to fruition?  We don’t know, but we’re in for a ride.  This isn’t going away.  Duffy and Wallin are owed too many favours by their old media buddies who still work the Hill.

And the headlines are too much fun to write.

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Snow


As a Canadian living in the snowy part of the country, we have snow:  Lots of snow.  Unlike the urban folklore, we do not have 200 words to describe snow.  Nor do the Inuit, (whom some of you refer to as “Eskimos”) in their extensive oral tradition.  We limit ourselves to only a few terms and a bit over a thousand words to explain it all. 

Fluffy Snow: This is the kind that gives downhill ski folk a case of the hot n’ bothereds. Cross-country skiers like it too. Shovelling it is like trying to push a pallet-load of loose cotton balls with a tractor: It goes everywhere and always falls back into the place you’re trying to push it out of, like the driveway.

Wet Snow: Heavy, wet and sticky, a simple shovel-full weighs 80 pounds and if you don’t move it now, it will solidify into a mass that will not be moved until April. We also know it as Heart-Attack Snow, which our hospitals and ER’s dread. Every day a few dozen are rolled in, clutching their chests, hooked up to an AED by the paramedics.  This is because sedentary men try to shovel it out and their primary occupation is listed as “Analyst” or “Bureaucratic Drone”, not “Stoker”,  “Navvy” or “Farm Hand”. 

Snowman Snow:  Kids love it as it is moist and sticky and rolls up perfect, dense globes of snow perfect for the application of a carrot nose, small rocks for eyes and no hat.  Usually happens early in the season when the air is warmer.  It is also the ideal snow for snowballs, which have been banned by Health and Safety for fear someone could have their feelings hurt or their self-esteem bruised.  Snowman Snow always results in a pile of wringing-wet woollen mittens, scarves and toques over the hot air vent in the kitchen.  

Squeaky Snow:  After a few days that fluffy powder coalesces into a solid that squeaks like Styrofoam underfoot.  It also means the outside temperature is –10 C or lower.  The only way to move it is with heavy equipment, air compressor powered chisels, or shaped charges.

Slop/Slush:  In my corner of Ontario, we salt our roads and streets, which turns the snow and ice into slop about the consistency of loose oatmeal or cornbread batter that can’t freeze because the salinity is twice that of the Dead Sea.  Eventually slush will freeze, but not until –40 C or so.  At that temperature it freezes into sharp ridges and boot prints.  If you slip and fall down on the sidewalk, the likelihood of puncturing a lung is high.  Jumping onto a pile of bricks headfirst hurts less.

Snow bank Snow:  In order to exist, we have to put the snow somewhere out of the parking spaces, driveways, roads and sidewalks, so we can move about in our daily activities.  Snow banks are a compressed amalgamation of snow, slush, salt, road grime and the occasional mitten or hat, comingled with the usual crud that lives on the sidewalk.  Think basalt, or exotic kitchen counter stone that has a little bit of everything in it including fossils, unaddressed third-class mail, lightly chopped advertising flyer mulch and that door to door guy who tried to sell you a hot water heater in December. 

Drift Snow:  You can slice this stuff into blocks and build a house with it.  If you drive into this stuff on the highway, expect the air bags to go off.  It is also the best snow anywhere for making snow forts with and for children.  Grownups use it to fill the ice bucket to chill down the champagne, stepping out the back door for a few seconds to grab a pail full from the deck.  In a glass with a little grenadine or crème de menthe poured over it, you have a grownup sno-cone, assuming the snow is clean.  You could use that ancient bottle of Galliano (left over from your notorious Harvey Wallbanger party in June 1983) hiding in the back of the kitchen cupboard to make your own ‘Yellow Snow”    

Yellow Snow:  Just like the little bag of silica crystals in the packaging for the blender says, “Do Not Eat”  Especially if it is found in the middle of the park.

Freezing Rain:  Glaze the neighbourhood in a centimeter-thick layer of ice, everywhere, then drop the temperature to –40 C.  In Ottawa this is called “February” and is usually followed by a blizzard of fluffy snow that sits on the ice as a disguise.  Imagine walking on ball-bearings on a Teflon pan that has been oiled with 5W-50.  You will fall down and with any luck, not face plant into a tree or a brick building.  Invariably two days later, the temperature goes above freezing and all the sheets of ice fall off the buildings downtown, usually decapitating some poor unfortunate who gets whisked up by a sidewalk plow.  We find them around the last week of March.

Corn Snow:  Often produced by snow guns on ski hills, it is the skin equivalent of 20-grit sandpaper when you slide on it.  Who needs dermabrasion treatments to look younger?  Go tobogganing on corn snow for an afternoon.

Effing Snow:  What we get in the first two weeks of March.  Every day for two weeks, just enough to call out the plows and salt trucks to tangle the streets into a morass of front-end loaders, slush and swearing because we’ve had enough of winter.  It is also the time of year when you see able-bodied people standing on eight-foot high snow banks trying to find somewhere within shovel-range to throw snow from the driveway.

Gottdamn Plow Snow:  After you have spent two hours shovelling out the drift from the driveway, unearthed the car and found the approximate location of the front walkway, the City plow or grader comes by.  It is piloted by a grinning sadist wearing an aloha shirt over flannels, ski-doo boots and quilted snow pants, with a battered Leafs toque and a pair of silvered sunglasses that cost more than your car payment.  He proceeds to fill the end of your driveway waist-deep with everything that has landed in the 613 area code for you to dig out by hand, including an ice floe that is cousin to the one that did in the Titanic.

There, a thousand words on snow. 

Twinkies Out


With the impending demise of Life As We Know It, at least according to the Mayan calendar, the Hostess Company is determined to push everyone completely over the edge before the New Apocalypse.  Hostess Brands, Inc. is shutting down operations across the US, which also means the minions that make Twinkies will be out of a job. 

Twinkies, that high-sugar sponge-cake related product with a “creamy” filling is going to go away, at least under Hostess’ watch.  Ostensibly shuttering their doors because of a labour dispute, but more because of corporate debt, managerial turmoil and unions unwilling to give up half their salaries and all their benefits (funny that), Hostess Brands has decided to say to hell with another Chapter 11 bankruptcy/re-org and simply pull the handle, flushing itself into the corporate oblivion of selling itself off to the highest bidder.

One of the marquee brands is of course, Twinkies.  For those readers from off North America, or possibly from Mars, who don’t know the Twinkie, herewith a description:

A finger length white sponge snack cake unit injected with a white creamy filling.  Originally invented in Schiller Park, Illinois in 1930 by J.A. Dewar, a baker for the Continental Baking Company, it was originally injected with banana cream.  WW2 saw bananas rationed beyond reality, so the company switched it up to vanilla cream and there it sat, at least until today. 

Eyeballing the 37 ingredients in a Twinkie, you can pronounce many of them and see for yourself that consumption of one results in 13% of your daily intake of saturated fats, as well as 42% of the volume being sugars, 21% complex carbs and 11% fat by weight.  There are urban rumours that Twinkies don’t have a Sell-By date, it’s more of a Half-Life and that after a nuclear war, the only things left would be cockroaches and Twinkies.  The few times we have personally consumed these little golden torpedoes of sugar, we were left with a feeling that someone had forcibly shellacked our mouth with tallow, no doubt from the creamy filling, of which one of the ingredients is beef fat. 

We will not disparage the Twinkie, as we do recognize that the occasional sweet treat is perfectly fine.  We have been to a Hostess Factory store in Irving, Texas and seen sentient humans carrying out multiple 64-count flats of Twinkies to their cars, crammed with squalling young in the grips of the sugar-withdrawal-shakes.  We don’t judge and one could suppose that Mom and Dad were simply unable to afford the Ativan and Haloperidol prescriptions, choosing to self-medicate their flock with something less expensive but with the same disturbing side effects. No, we’re not going to judge.

Twinkies are very much a cultural touchstone and there are many suitors waiting in the Bankruptcy Court wings, waiting to buy the brand.  Twinkies will not die.  They’ll just change, soon to be manufactured in Guatemala in a government-run program to give jobs to indentured orphan children under five years of age and long-sentence federal prisoners a chance to work for enough food to keep from starving.  Or some company in China will buy the trademark and off-shore the manufacturing to that cutting-edge hotbed of high-quality food manufacturing, North Korea.

Think of your current stash as Old Twinkies.  The next batch will be New Twinkies.

Phyllis Diller Gone


Not necessarily the best comic, or the funniest, or even the most iconic comic, Phyllis Diller passed away at 95 years of age this morning.  Diller, she of electrified hair and shall we be kind, less than graceful curves, survived decades as the preeminent Rat Pack-era comic.  Self-depreciating, always skewering her fictional husband “Fang” and finding unique ways to let off her explosive laugh that could startle Mount Rushmore, Diller graced more roasts, stags, Vegas rooms, arenas, and local dives than there are whole numbers. 

When she started, there were no “Comedy Clubs” and very few stand-up comics were female.  Vegas was one of the few venues where a comic could hone their chops and she headlined for decades at all the classic places.  Of course she worked blue but didn’t work blue because she didn’t have talent, she worked blue from time to time because it was funny.  Her delivery was Old School, joke, punch line, joke, punch line.  There was never the pretension of art or trying to change the world with her ‘comedy stylings’  or unique observations.

Perhaps the quote from the AP story sums it up: 

“Don’t get me wrong, though,” she said in a 1982 interview that threatened to turn serious. “I’m a comic. I don’t deal with problems when I’m working.”

“I want people to laugh.”

She succeeded.

 

  

Little People–Big Mines


With the Chilean Miners thankfully being rescued, we know that production companies are lining up for a suck on the top-of-mind teat.  Anticipating the rush, here’s our take, specifically for TLC:

Little People – Big Mines:  A new reality show following the adventures of a polygamous family of Mormon Little People who own a run-down silver mine in Utah.  In the second episode, the mine collapses, trapping Dad, two of his wives and four of his grown children underground along with a four-person video crew from the production company.  The series covers the intricate stories of the cave-in, faith, death, claustrophobia and Little People as the community rallies to rescue the family and crew.

Hey, it could happen.  And you read it here first.

Ed and Johnny Together Again


Ed McMahon passed away overnight, at the age of 86, surrendering his role as the prototype first of and at the same time, the last of, the television sidekick.

For most of his career he was paired, inseparably, with Johnny Carson, the IronMan of late night talk shows.  As an aside, Pat Weaver (that would be Sigourney Weaver’s dad) was the guy who back in the mists of time figured that America needed some kind of late-night gabfest with a host and a sidekick and a band on TV to while away the after-11 pm hours.

McMahon’s job was to have a hearty laugh and do the live commercials from time to time.  Of course, McMahon did more than that, but the job description is only a paragraph or two, if you stretch it out.  Ed McMahon was very much the master of playing straight, or feeding a line, or simply being Ed to the Tonight Show machine.

There was of course, much more.  He was a fighter pilot with the Marines in WWII, then flew as a Tactical Air Controller and artillery spotter in Korea, retiring with the rank of Colonel.  You would have never know it to look at his public persona.  He was Brigadier General in the California Air National Guard.

Which brings us to his passing, assuming they have television in the Afterlife, there will be one heck of a Tonight show, tonight.  Johnny and Ed.  The original Tonight Show band leader, Skitch Henderson is sitting in and Freddie de Cordova, the long-time director is up in the booth. 

As for the guests?  A lot of it would depend on who the bookers could get:  Judy Garland?  Groucho?  Ernie Kovacs? Jack Paar?  Frank, Dino and Sammy?  Senor Wences?  George Carlin?

Perhaps there will be a piece with Carnac the Magnificent telling Ed McMahon’s favourite joke:

Sis boom, bah. 

Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes.

Good night Ed.

New Rules for 2008


I’m quoting at length here from George Carlin’s New Rules for 2008, which is, naturally, copyright by George Carlin and not my work.  It’s a good epitaph.

New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it’s for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff ‘you’ want and having other people buy it for you isn’t gift giving, it’s the white people version of looting.

New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for classmates.com ! There’s a reason you don’t talk to people for 25 years. Because you don’t particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days — mowing my lawn.

New Rule: Don’t eat anything that’s served to you out a window unless you’re a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy’s chili Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Lobster?

New Rule: Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged. I have a better description for these kids: ‘Lucky bastards.’

New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here’s how much men care about your eyebrows: Do you have two of them? Good, we’re done.

New Rule: There’s no such thing as flavored water. There’s a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but, without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That’s your flavored water.

New Rule: Stop screwing with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that’s square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, he’ll most likely be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.

New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the ass ordering it. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a ‘decaf grandee, half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n’-Low, and One NutraSweet,’…. ooooh, you’re a huge ass.

New Rule: I’m not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering My PIN! number , pressing ‘Enter,’ verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don’t want Cash back, and pressing ‘Enter’ again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.

New Rule: Competitive eating isn’t a sport. It’s one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN recently televised the U.S. Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What’s next, competitive farting? Oh wait, they’re already doing that. It’s called ‘The Howard Stern Show.’

New Rule: I don’t need a bigger mega M&Ms. If I’m extra hungry for M&Ms, I’ll go nuts and eat two.

New Rule: If you’re going to insist on making movies based on crappy old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what’s playing on the other screens. Let’s remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn’t good enough to be a movie.

New Rule: When I ask how old your toddler is, I don’t need to hear ’27 months.’ ‘He’s two’ will do just fine. He’s not a cheese. And I didn’t really care in the first place.

New Rule: If you ever hope to be a credible adult and want a job that pays better than minimum wage, then for God’s sake don’t pierce or tattoo every available piece of flesh. If you do, plan your future around saying, ‘Do you want fries with that?’

Please feel free to add your own!!!

Damn.  I wish I could write like that. If there are payments required to his estate, we’ll pass the hat later.  Thanks George.