Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday Wa Pic - A few words you can never un-see

 "Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout."

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Everything you always wanted to know about Canadian politics

While relief from our current political unpleasantries is still 14 months away, Canada is having its big election in about three weeks. (Fun fact: "Canada" is a French word meaning "dirty fries.")

Canada's 2015 campaign cycle was the lengthiest in its history: 11 weeks! This is in stark contrast to the U.S. election model, whose length is determined by capitalist television criteria, and can be summed up by the phrase, "As long as it sells frozen pizza rolls."

The Conservative Party is currently in power in Canada, followed by the New Democratic Party (actual slogan: "Ready for change." They have evidently been ready for change for a long time. The NDP was established in 1961.)

The third major party, and the one which was in power for fully two-thirds of the 20th Century, is called the Liberal Party (actual slogan: "Real change." I am fairly sure that, by law, a political party's slogan must contain at least one of the words "ready," "real" or "change.")

And sure, you've got your Independent Party ("Real independent") and your Green Party ("Real green"), but every country's got those. Canada, however, has the only Rhinoceros Party ("Real horny," I'm guessing.) It was established in 2006, and in only nine years has managed to not win any seats anywhere. It has promised not to keep any of its promises if elected, which nobody has to worry about them not keeping. If only we could get those kinds of assurances from American politicians.

If elected, the Rhino Party promises to:
  • Give lottery winners a Senate seat
  • Promote "higher education" by building taller schools
  • Nationalize Tim Hortons (a kind of Canadian Dunkin' Donuts)
  • Repeal the law of gravity
Canada has an Animal Alliance Party (hopefully they are allied with some meat eaters, which would certainly spice up the door-to-door campaigning), a Marijuana Party, and a Pirate Party. Yarr, dude, these do not appear to have slogans. Or voters.

Canadians have the reputation for getting along, and yet Canada not only has a Communist Party but a Marxist-Leninist Party as well. They could not agree on enough to merge the two! This is the political equivalent of building a combo Denny's/Coco's. Oh, Canada.

Best of all, in Canada, political parties get reimbursed by the government for 50% of their election expenses! I had always suspected Canadians had a sense of humor because of their flag, but that cements it.

. . .

Then again, some parties are really out there... 


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday Wa Pic - Vanity plate mystery

Is it possible Aunt Jemima is still driving at her age? Or is this referencing an obscure superhero I just never heard about?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

To sleep or capture rain for later—that is the question

When the rain began to fall before dawn last Tuesday, I apparently incorporated it into my dream, because I was suddenly surfing with Kim Basinger. It did not strike me as weird at all, even though nobody has seen her since 1992. 

The waves roared and carried us to shore, where Billy Crystal stood holding out a Mai Tai for each of us. He was in a lime green tux, and as the dream fizzled, he morphed into a frog which croaked, "I'll have what she's having." 

When I woke up, I realized the weirdest part of the whole thing was that it was raining in September. Hard. Oh, we got some drizzle in July, which was also strange, but not satisfyingly so; a lot like the last five or six Johnny Depp movies. 

Tuesday morning it was pouring, just gloriously pummeling my roof, as if, like they say in Greece, it was raining chair legs.

It being 3 a.m., I knew if I got up to set out buckets it would take another hour to get back to sleep, so I let it go. I felt guilty, but there is nothing more soothing than a shear of thunderless rain, so I melted back into slumber like a pat of sleepy butter. Unfortunately, I didn't dream up a better metaphor.

Different cultures around the world use different colorful phrases to describe when it's really coming down. In the Czech Republic, they evidently say "Tractors are falling." In Denmark the phrase is, it's "raining cobbler boys." In South Africa they say "It's raining old women with clubs." In the Netherlands, they are so cultured it rains "pipe stems."

In Portugal it rains "pocket knives," in Germany, "puppies," and in Norway, "troll women." My favorite, though, is Argentina, where they say "it's raining dung head-first." I think we should borrow that one and use it when Congress is in session.

Once up, I put on my raincoat and went about capturing as much water as I could. I felt like one of the brooms carrying buckets in "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." I got completely soaked, but next month my thirsty lawn and flowers will get some relief. 

I may have to stick to the back yard, though. If things look too green in the front, the neighbors will assume I'm a water waster, and these days that's even worse than being a climatologist.

. . .

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wednesday Wa Pic - Cultural misunderstanding, part MMXXXXXXVVVVVIIII

 I do not know what "it" is, but I saw "Silence of the Lambs," so I'll pass.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

An interview with Queen Elizabeth, in my dreams

This week, Queen Elizabeth II became England’s longest-reigning monarch, surpassing her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria, who remained unimpressed at the time of this writing. Queen Victoria reigned for 23,226 days, a record thought unbreakable in the era before dietary fiber. In honor of this milestone, I sat down with Queen Elizabeth for a casual and largely fictitious chat.

GW: Your Majesty, thank you for taking time out from being feted by admirers for breaking this monarchy-record thingy.

Queen: It's a relief, to be honest. You'd think people had never seen a lady reign her butt off before.

GW: Did you just say 'butt'?

Queen: Blame it on the champagne. I've spent the last week being feted till my feter is all feted out. Butt butt butt.

GW: (to the waiter) Bring some coffee, please.

Queen: I have reigned over Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada...

GW: Sierra Leone.

Queen: Not any more, dear.

GW: Uganda?

Queen: We lost Uganda in '63. A shame. The hats were marvelous.

GW: You've still got Tuvalu.

Queen: I AM still the queen of Tuvalu, and Papua New Guinea.

GW: You are the queen of Barbados.

Queen: Yes, and the Bahamas. I like to say they love me anywhere it's breezy. (Laughs.)

GW: (Laughs.) There is something I promised myself I would ask you if I ever met you. Does it feel funny to use money with your own picture on it?

Queen: Use money?

GW: Yes, use money. Oh. Right.

Queen: I have seen it used, of course.

GW: Of course. You have people for that.

Queen: So many people, yes. And cars. And buildings. I count them sometimes when I can't sleep.

GW: So. Sixty-three years on the throne. What are you proudest of?

Queen: I came up with the whole "keep calm and carry on" bit.

GW: No!

Queen: It was just something offhand I said to one of my corgi dogs when he was startled by a colorful ottoman. The next thing I knew, it was on buses.

GW: They are good words to live by.

Queen: Indeed. It's gotten out of hand, though. "Keep calm and smoke weed"? I mean, really. With my crown logo and everything.

GW: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Queen: Perhaps I should receive royalties. Get it? Royalties.

GW: Ha! Nice, but don't quit your day job...Oh. Right.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wednesday Wa Pic - Public art, private fantasy

 In my dreams, he takes off the hard hat and strikes the same pose. 

Please make the dreams stop.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A wacky riff on this day in history, September 6

Exactly a century ago on this day, September 6, the first-ever tank, nicknamed "Little Willie," was tested for war. Little Willie did not live up to expectations. (They can put that on my tombstone too.)

So they built Big Willie, who did a very efficient job of removing souls from bodies long before Fox News was invented.

Tanks are supposedly called "tanks" because, for secrecy, the military told tank factory workers that tanks were to transport water on the battlefield. I do not think that fooled anybody. Even factory rubes would have known you don't deliver water through a 50 mm gun.

On this day in 1522, the one surviving ship of explorer Ferdinand Magellan's arrived in Spain after completing the first ever circumnavigation of the earth.

"How was it?" the king asked in Spanish.

"We lost the other four ships and Magellan got killed in the Philippines, but on the bright side, we found what you sent us around the world for."

"The Starbucks?"

"Yes, your highness. I'll draw you a map."

It is ironic that Magellan is the brand name of a major GPS manufacturer, considering he never made it home. The symbolism is not great. "Your car will make it back, at least" is not a slogan I see selling a lot of units.

On this day in 1628, the Puritans settled Salem, Massachusetts, so that one day there would be no shortage of clothing stating "My parents drowned a witch and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."

On this day in 1847, Henry David Thoreau left Walden and moved in with Ralph Waldo Emerson. They soon made a pact that nobody could join their club unless he had a middle name that everybody had to say whenever they said his name. Sadly, Francis Scott Key had died four years earlier.

On this day in 1901, Leon Czolgosz, whom history inevitably reports to us was unemployed, shot President McKinley, who had a job. Czolgosz, who was found to be suffering from too many consonants, was electrocuted by the state.

This is still not the worst thing that has ever happened in Buffalo.

In 1930, game designer Charles Foley was born. He would go on to invent the game "Twister." Before Foley, the phrase "right foot green" had a decidedly more dire connotation.

History has a lot to teach us, you see, none of which you just read.

. . .

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wednesday Wa Pic - A bad case of roof pandas

 On paper, the eucalyptus shingles did seem suspiciously cheaper than the alternatives.