Saturday, December 31, 2005

Year-end review: My favorite comments

The holidays are a time for self-indulgence. That's why I've gained five pounds in the last week and plan on getting wasted tonight. And that's why I'm dragging out a few things I tucked away in comment threads during the past year and throwing them on the main page.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Endless Summary: Vol. 8 – Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)
As I read the lyrics, Mike's into the girls from all around the world for different reasons. East Coast girls are hip and stylish, Southerners speak nicely, Midwesterners are hospitable, and Northerners transfer body heat efficiently. He'd like all this variety close at hand. And it's just like dumbass Mike to try to haphazardly cram every girl in the US into one state.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005
How busy are you?

Here's a conversation I had with [a co-worker] recently:

J (at 10:30 a.m.): Can I get this back by noon?

Me: [cold stare]

J (meekly): By end of day?

Later, I found out that she was asking other people to bring me things because she thought I hated her. But I like her! I just hate unreasonable requests.

Thursday, September 01, 2005
Quitting English
In fact, English and French used to have two cognate forms of the second-person pronoun. In the singular, English had thou, which French had (and has) tu. In the plural, English had you, which French had (and has) vous. As you've mentioned, the French reserve tu for intimate or subordinate relationships, and use vous for strangers and superiors. It was the same for the English and thou. For instance, when Sir Walter Raleigh was on trial, Sir Edward Coke insulted him by saying, "I thou thee, thou traitor!" thus showing that he did not consider Raleigh worthy of respect. Much as vous is the more common form in French because it is more respectful, you became vastly more common in English, and thou dropped out of general usage, except among the Quakers, who used it as a sign of humility and equality.

As for marking nouns for gender, I don't care for it. It makes sense to divide people and animals into males and females, but once you get into inanimate objects, it gets bizarre. [As for why house is feminine in French] perhaps the guy who came up with French decided a woman's place was in the home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
I require the following
The big boss saw me this morning, and the conversation went kind of like this:

"Did you do that thing?"

"No, I never got e-mailed the info I needed."

"But it has to be done by ten!"

"Well, I never got e-mailed the info I needed."

"But I saw her e-mail it to you!"

"I never got e-mailed the info I needed!" (Starting to lose patience here.)

I checked my inbox to make sure. Yes, I had never been e-mailed the info I needed. The big boss went to investigate. It turned out the foister had indeed written an e-mail with all the info I needed, but sent it to two other people who didn't need it without copying me in on it. So she forwarded it, I did her job, and she didn't give me so much as a thank-you afterward.

However, I did have another irritating conversation with the big boss later after overhearing something about a big change in our procedures and expressing surprise.

"Why don't you ever read your e-mail?" he asked in irritation.

"I never got it."

"I sent out two bulletins."

"I never got them."

"Aren't you part of the 'All Marketing' group?"

"You mean 'Marketing, All'?"

"It's the same thing!"

"To us. Maybe not when you type it into Lotus Notes."

"Well, I sent it to all of Marketing."

So I checked Lotus Notes. No such e-mail had been sent to "Marketing, All". And there wasn't any "All Marketing" group, as I suspected. It turned out that he'd just sent the news out to the marketing managers (although not to mine, to whom the news was also a surprise). It turned out a lot of other people didn't know about it.

So, I twice got chastised for failing to read or respond to e-mail I was never actually sent. I don't know if it's creeping senility or just overwork, but the big boss just doesn't know how to use e-mail. I think if there's a technological solution to his problems, it's to forget about Lotus Notes and maybe get something like Cerebro, that mental telepathy chair from X-Men 2 so he can just sit in it and beam his thoughts directly into our heads. That seems to be more or less what he expects should happen anyway.

Friday, September 23, 2005
“Haw Haw, I'm the Mexican Vale Tudo Champion!”
I once saw one of El Santo's movies late at night on TV, and they had translated the title to "Santo vs. The Doctor Death". I always loved that. Not just any Doctor Death -- say, cardiologist Wayne Death, MD -- but the Doctor Death.

But I guess we know who won that battle in the end, don't we?

Monday, October 03, 2005
Something to try
I was discussing this with a co-worker, and an alternative thing to try is to adjust yourself while talking to your boss in the bathroom, but fully reach right down your pants and root around. Then, after you withdraw your hand, absentmindedly smell your fingers, frown slightly, but just keep talking all the way through it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Don't Panic.

I was looking for empty bottles or cups. I remembered I had a plastic bag in my briefcase and wondered if I could use it to fashion some kind of urine collection bag. Situations like that turn you into Excreting MacGyver.

Thursday, October 27, 2005
More on dental care

Off-topic: The word verification I have to type in to post this comment is "kyrghax". If I ever become a giant mantis warrior like the thri-kreen from Dark Sun, I'm definitely changing my name to "Kyrghax".

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Van Hammer, Internet Stud
It's well known that "Santa" is an anagram for "Satan". What is not widely known is that "Tooth Fairy" is an anagram for "A fit Tory ho", i.e., Ann Coulter, who is, of course, Satan. Did I just blow your mind?!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Announcement to co-workers

I eventually resorted to clearly labelling my inbox and chair with Post-it notes marked INBOX and CHAIR.

Also, one of the dudes who left an ad on my chair attached a Post-it asking if it was okay if I looked at it in form of a printout, rather than having him e-mail the file. I've told him before that this is fine, and I attached another Post-it saying that it would be fine and returned the ad to his desk. Naturally, he had to bring it back over again in order to get me to actually look at it.

And as I was just typing this, one of the girls came over with an ad with a Post-it attached that read as follows:



I ripped off the top half of the note and handed it back to her.

A little while ago, someone put something on my chair again. I physically got on top of my desk and sat in my inbox, illustrating that since what I was doing clearly wasn't appropriate office behavior, why would the reverse be?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
In which I officially become critically acclaimed

I mentioned to my friend Katherine that I was nominated for an award. Her response? "For what? Most irritating co-worker?"

Poor Peter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Basically, I would like you all to take a moment to make sure you understand exactly what you're talking about before you say anything at all.

I might have mentioned before that my least favorite example of gratuitous apostrophe use among the urban celebrity set is that of queen-sized comedienne Mo'nique. Eventually I decided it could legitimately stand for "More Monique". So I'm actually kind of okay with it now.

Thursday, December 22, 2005
It's all Greek to me
That reminds me of a conversation I had with one of the call centre girls at work today. I was making fun of her fur-lined boots for being too furry.

"Well, it's fake,' she said. "I wouldn't wear real fur. I only wear leather because I eat cow."

"I wear fur," I said, "Because I eat beaver."


"Every chance I get."

"You don't seem the type."


"You don't seem like the sort of person who would eat unusual meats," she said.

You don't seem like the sort of person who would understand innuendo, I thought.

Friday, December 30, 2005

How to cure a stutter

Here, in her words, is my mom's account of how she cured me of stuttering. It probably isn't recommended in conventional speech therapy or child psychology, but it seems to have worked.

"I don't know how it got started. One day you were talking normally, and the next you were stuttering. I think you saw it on TV or something. It went on for days—weeks. I was totally distraught. I was in tears. I was running around asking everyone for advice. Little did I know you were enjoying every minute of it.

"Finally, I was talking to Mac Peterson. Either I asked him about it or he heard you. He said, 'My brother used to do that, and you know why? Because when he was a kid, he saw a puppy in a window he wanted, and our parents wouldn't let him have it, so he started stuttering, and they panicked and got it for him. And he went on for years. And he knew he did it on purpose. So later on when his little girl started doing it, he told her, "If you can't talk right, don't talk at all." And it worked. Do you think something like that might have happened to Pete?'

"Later on I was down in the laundry room, and you came up behind me and started stuttering. And I turned around and I said, 'If you can't talk right, don't talk at all.' You stood there, and you thought about it, and then you started stuttering again. And I said, 'I'm serious. If you can't talk right, don't talk at all.' And then I turned around again so you couldn't see the tears streaming down my face because that's a really mean thing to have to say.

"But it worked. When I went upstairs, you went upstairs, and you never stuttered again."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

TV night with my mom

Mom: Why do the cops let the phone ring three times when they're just sitting there waiting by it? That's so stupid. Pick it up!

Me: I know! What you want to do is get it on the first ring, so the kidnapper goes, "Whoa! It didn't even ring! How'd you do that?" And you go, "Really? It rang here." And he goes, "Huh. Well, it was really weird."


Mom: Why is that considered a weird speech pattern because he doesn't use contractions? I don't like to use contractions either. It seems lazy. I like to say the whole word.

Me: I admire your work ethic. But you just used one.

Mom: No, I didn't.


Mom: What does that word mean? "Specious"?

Me: It's like "faulty". Like, specious logic seems logical at first, but isn't.

Mom: Oh. How does paper-rock-scissors work?

Me: Seriously?

Mom [shrugs]: There are a lot of things I don't know.


Mom: What?

Me: Nothing.

Mom: Why did you just smile at me?

Me: I can't smile at my mother?

Mom: It's creepy.

Blue Christmas

"I was talking to Bill the grocer the other day," my dad said to his friend Ruthie at the Railside Cafe. "He says, 'It's my anniversity today.'

"I says, 'Oh yeah? How many years?'

"He says, 'Thirty.'

"I says, 'Oh yeah, I've been married thirty years too.'

"He says, 'Oh yeah?'

"I says, 'Yeah. Fourteen to the first wife, and sixteen to the second. Fourteen and sixteen is thirty. I've been married thirty years.'"

Ruthie shook her head disapprovingly. "He's an idiot," she said.

Why is Bill the grocer an idiot? I've met him. He's not. He's not the one sitting in the Railside Cafe telling pointless stories. Apart from his questionable decision to move to the seedy little village of Cardinal, he seems pretty sharp. I suspect Ruthie just doesn't like city slickers like Bill the grocer, who used to be an ad man in Ottawa. Ruthie is just old. She's 76.

And Ruthie is sick, too, which happens when you're 76. She's very frail, and my dad takes it upon himself to look after her, to his credit. But he wasn't there on Christmas Day when she fell in her bathroom and laid there for four hours until someone came to check up on her. I think there's probably something wrong with her circulation, because her nose is blue. I sat there staring at it, thinking, "You should be on the front of the Canadian dime, Bluenose." It's never a good sign when a woman's skin is blue.

Take Mystique from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Her problem? Evil mutant. Or take Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, who turned blue from a mishap with experimental chewing gum. I was just watching this film with my sister Amanda a couple of days ago, in fact.

"I went to school with a girl who was blue," I mentioned as we watched Violet Beauregarde swell into a giant blueberry.

"Really," Amanda said with a dubious look on her face.

"Yeah. I think something was wrong with her heart. She died not too long after graduation. I saw the obituary in the Alumni Review."

Amanda winced. "That's terrible. Don't tell me stuff like that."

But it's true. It's how I know being blue is not a good sign. And it's why I don't expect to see poor Ruthie again next Christmas.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bill Clarey revisited

How in the world did I get ten times the number of visitors today that I normally get?

As near as I can figure, it's because I've somehow become the number one result on a Google search for "Bill Clarey", owing to a quick post I made about the former Daily Show employee who killed himself earlier this year. I'm guessing that episode must have been rerun last night and a lot more people had time to watch TV because of the holidays. That's my best guess, anyway. Whatever the case, I guess it's nice that so many people are curious about him. His passing certainly didn't go unmarked. That's all I can really say on the subject.

Except this: Bill Clarey, Bill Clarey, Bill Clarey, Bill Clarey, Bill Clarey.

There. That oughta keep the old "Unique Visitors" stat up.

I hear that train a'comin'

Something's just not right when everyone in your family knows a different person who has been hit by a train.

This came up around the dinner table at my dad's house on Boxing Day. The tradition of morbid holiday discussion goes back to when I was very young, when my older sister told me about a woman who had been driving drunk after Christmas shopping and fatally crashed her car on the bend of highway in front of our house, which, though I hadn't known it until then, was named Dead Man's Curve. I question this story now—why wasn't it called Dead Woman's Curve?—but for years, I was haunted by the image of wrapped gift boxes scattered across the road among blood and shattered glass.

Anyway, the train thing: You might expect my dad might know someone who took a decidedly one-way trip by rail. One of the various bars he hangs out in is called the Railside Cafe, which, true to its name, stands mere feet from the freight tracks that run across the main street of the village of Cardinal. I've sat on a stool there, fingering a toothbrush that I had in my pocket and wondering how amazed the locals would be to see such a curious implement. They seem to take a casual approach to holding onto things like their teeth, their eyes, their fingers, and I expect, their lives. So my dad may very well have known one or two drunks who staggered out the front door, turned left, and got pulped by a train. I hope so for their sake. It's pretty sad to see all those middle-aged men sitting at the bar, watching junior hockey on TV, and listening to Springsteen's "Glory Days" on the radio.

But most of my family doesn't live in Cardinal—thank god—yet they all seem to know somebody who got hit by a train. Even my 10-year-old niece knew a couple of schoolmates who went out like Ray Brower in Stand By Me. And I know a guy who got hit by a train too. It didn't kill him, though. I knew him after it happened.

In high school back in Brockville, I worked at a local grocery store. A lot of characters come in when you work at a grocery store, especially when your hometown has a mental hospital, because everyone needs to eat. For example, there was the old harridan called Delta Dawn (for the flower she always had on), whose hunchbacked posture, croaking shout, and terrifyingly cranky demeanor made Anne Ramsay from Throw Momma from the Train look like Julie Andrews. She made a lot of trouble for the staff.

And there were the two developmentally handicapped guys who always came in together, an old guy named Homer and a younger guy named Mikey, who was very dependent on Homer. Last Thanksgiving, I saw an older, silver-haired Mikey by himself in Wal-Mart, and my heart broke a little, because it probably meant that his best friend was dead and he had to make his way in the world alone. But I didn't talk to Mikey, because back in the day, they made a lot of trouble for the staff too.

And there was the quiet, smiling little old guy with the thick glasses and the big dent in his head. He'd just come in, buy his newspaper, and leave. He wasn't any trouble at all, except that he gave us something impossible not to stare at and wonder about. Eventually we learned that he'd been hit by a train, as I said. I'm sketchy on the details, except that I think it was on the job somehow. He must have been one tough little bastard to survive that, and there were apparently only two ill effects of his injury. First, there was that big dent in his head, which couldn't have had any kind of plate under it, because the fleshy hollow of the cavity pulsed mesmerizingly with every heartbeat. And second, his choice of newspaper after the accident was the Ottawa Sun, which can only really be chalked up to some sort of brain damage.

I never had any customers later on like the ones I had when I was sixteen. Jesus, does anyone?

Monday, December 26, 2005


The funny thing is, every year for the last ten or so years, there have been Santa riots all around the world (they don't always riot, sometimes they just get drunk and march, etc.). But no one keeps track of this stuff; I can't even find a good enough explanation on the internet. But yeah, I'd be surprised if this was the only one this year.
Well, mystery solved. Santarchy is the work of the Cacophony Society, an organization that Wikipedia credits as the basis for Project Mayhem in Fight Club.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Because I only hinted at it yesterday, here's a gift for you: Too much information!

First of all, if you're reading this on Christmas morning, you've got serious problems. Take the serious problem of anti-Semitism, for example. Hate crimes still terrorize the innocent, and I for one deplore all kinds of prejudice, my dear Jewish readers with nothing better to do on a regular Sunday morning. Be strong.

If you're a Christian, however, you probably spent the morning opening presents—or even if you're half-Jewish, like a girl I dated in university, for that matter. Presents are presents. Everybody loves getting them, whatever the occasion or excuse. Well, usually, anyway. I didn't really love the Christmas present I got from that girl's parents. It was just kind of awkward.

We'd been dating about three months then. We were sitting around the tree, opening gifts. "Here's yours," her dad said, handing me a package. I opened it. It was a package of flannel sheets.

"Kristen says your place isn't very warm at night," her mom said with a little smile.

They could have got me some warm pyjamas or a space heater. But they had to smirk and give me a set of flannel sheets. They might as well have said, "Here's something comfortable to fuck our daughter on."

So awkward.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Silver bells, silver linings

After all that to-do about buying my Greek brother-in-law-to-be's Christmas gift, I went back home only to realize as I was putting the gifts under the tree that I'd left his in Toronto. Shit.

"Well, it could be worse," I said to my mom as she chopped celery for the stuffing. "At least I'll be able to drop it in the mail when I get back and it'll be there in time for January 6, when the Greeks actually celebrate Christmas."

"Do you remember when you were a kid and you got me that mug that said '#1 Mom' for Christmas and you lost it?" my mom asked, opening a cupboard. I did, vaguely. "You hid it somewhere in the house, and then you couldn't find it. You cried and you carried on, and you were so upset that you didn't have anything for me on Christmas morning.

"And do you remember when I found it? Mother's Day. I'll never forget that," she said, setting it down in front of me. "That's how you became the only one to ever buy me a Mother's Day gift. By accident."

Christmas in the Stars

It's Christmas Eve, the panickiest day of the year. While some of us have time to blog (or at least, post the draft blog entry cunningly written the night previously), many of you have no time to read this because you're dashing around at the last minute trying to finish your shopping.

It's a stressful ordeal, especially if you're a bad son or daughter who moved away from your family a long time ago and don't talk to them very often, and thus don't know them very well anymore and have no clue whatsoever about what to get them. You grasp at straws, trying to match whatever half-remembered biographical data comes to mind with whatever unwanted merchandise is left on store shelves. Your dad likes beer? Then he'll love a copy of the Bob and Doug McKenzie comedy album Great White North.* The only consolation is that your family is having the same problems trying to figure out what to get you. Of course, that comfort fades once you open your gifts and see how badly they've missed the mark in summing you up as a person.

The moment when my family officially didn't know me anymore came on Christmas Day of my second year in university, when just about every gift I got had a Star Trek theme. We're talking about a set of blueprints for the NCC-1701D, a communicator badge, a letter rack with a plastic model of the Enterprise stuck to it, and a lifesized cutout of Lt. Commander Worf.

I immediately realized two things: First, my family no longer knew who I was, and second, they'd evidently decided I was a huge nerd. This logic was a wreath of pretty flowers which smelled bad. I mean, sure, I liked Star Trek, but it's not like I was going around wearing plastic ears and spouting dialogue. But it wasn't their fault. They had been able to make—as Spock says in TOS episode 49, "The Immunity Syndrome"—"No analysis due to insufficient information."

I didn't have much use for most of this stuff. What can you really use a Star Trek communicator badge for, other than putting it on and timing how many seconds it takes to get your ass kicked after leaving the house? But I did at least put the big cutout of Worf to good use when I got back to school.

I had a diabetic housemate who always went to the bathroom in the middle of the night. She'd stumble in groggily, without turning on the light or flushing when she was done. That last bit bugged me. She claimed she didn't flush because she didn't want to wake me up, but what kept me awake was the sound of all that urine just mouldering in the bowl. I couldn't get to sleep until I heard a flush, and I always had to get up and do it myself just to put my mind at rest. So she had a little something coming, I figured. One January night after she went to bed, I set up Worf in the bathroom and closed the door. Presently, I heard the sound of padding toward the bathroom, the opening of the door, and a shriek as she saw a six-foot-tall menacing black figure silhouetted against the bathroom window. I didn't hear the flush of a toilet after that, but I think I might have heard a mop being applied to a floor and a washing machine cleansing pyjamas.

Worf still resides in my bathroom. He's now stuck in a crevice between my shower stall and the wall, peering in through the glass to creep out anyone who happens to take a shower at my house. He nearly gave one ex-girlfriend a heart attack the first time she saw him. And come to think of it, when he briefly resided at the foot of my bed back in university, he nearly gave another ex-girlfriend a heart attack when we managed to move the bed a few inches across the floor and he fell on top of us. So, in the end, I guess Worf was a pretty good gift overall. He's got a knack for scaring women in amusing ways, and I admire that.

But my point still holds. Trust me: Making a Christmas wish list is much more important now than when you labored over it and mailed it off to Santa annually as a kid. Your parents already knew what to get you then: toys. Now they don't know you, so it's the only chance in hell you have of getting anything you want. And getting Christmas lists from them is the only chance you have of not disappointing them. Unless, of course, you want to spend more time talking to your family and getting to know each other, but who wants that?

*This seemed like a logical connection when I was twelve and thought this album was the height of hilarity. I doubt my dad listened to it even once. Too highbrow for you, old man?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Buying Greek music is mostly easy

Despite my fears, it turns out that buying Greek music is much easier than listening to it. Getting a CD for my brother-in-law-to-be was a surprisingly simple process. Mostly.

I went to The Greek Music Superstore, a small shop mere steps from Chester station. No other customers were around, and the store's sole salesman immediately asked if I needed help. I explained the situation.

"I recommend this CD," he said, indicating one I had already been looking at. "It is our number one selling CD. It is a compilation, so if he does not like one artist, there are others. It contains a mix of the traditional instruments such as the bouzouki, with the modern beats. It has nine top-ten singles, and it is nominated for album of the year. It is only $14.99."

"Perfct. I'll take it," I said. "You know, I had no idea about this stuff. I was saying that for me to trying to find something would be like going to the library and saying, 'Give me a book.'"

The salesman paused to consider this. "Is it a Greek book you are looking for?" he asked.

"No, I meant ..." I began. "No thank you," I finally finished.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

It's all Greek to me

Imagine going to the library and saying, "Give me a book. Which book? I don't know. Your best one."

I'm in a situation like that. But rather than get directly to the point, let me first tell you about my old housemate George. I do mean old—he was at least fifty or so. Yet, it was as though he had never lived with other people before, because he was incredibly annoying.

As just one example, he'd take over the entire kitchen when he ate, blasting his Greek language lesson tapes, covering the entire counter and table with his food, and sticking his gangly legs out into the middle of the room as he sat. He'd take off his shirt to eat too. One time I poured out a bunch of hot bacon grease into a can and was carrying it to the door to throw it out into the street (this was the best disposal solution I had at the time for some reason) and accidentally dropped it all over his discarded shirt, which he'd left on the floor.

"Gee, I'm sorry, George," I said. "I spilled grease on your shirt."

"AAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUGGHHHH!" George roared, grabbing the shirt and tearing up the stairs. "FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK! SON OF A FUCKING BITCH!"

"ONE MORE THING," I heard over the sound of running water. "ONE MORE FUCKING THING AND I'M GONNA FUCKING LOSE IT!"

George came back down the stairs. "I know you're sorry," he said in a perfectly even, calm voice. "But that's my favorite shirt. I got it in Paris. If you have anything that might help me clean it up, I sure would appreciate it."

As you can see, George was not only annoying, but also potentially insane. Aside from the fits of rage, why leave your favorite shirt on the floor? He eventually moved to Dubai, where with luck he'll get kidnapped and beheaded. My only regret is that he appeared to have a prosthetic finger that I was hoping to accidentally pull off when shaking hands goodbye, but he slipped out without ever giving me the chance.

At least, that was my only regret. He would come in handy now. As I mentioned, he constantly listened to Greek language lesson tapes, because he was a major Hellenophile. He seemingly really, really wanted to be Greek, to the extent of moving to Greektown and learning the language, the recipes, the everything. He was all about the playing of the souvlaki and the eating of the bouzouki.

I personally have little interest in this. But I've been assigned to get my sister's Greek fiancé a CD of Greek pop music for Christmas, and while I can find the Greek music store easily enough, I'll have no idea what to get when I'm in there, which brings us back to the library analogy. I stand a very real danger of walking out with the Greek version of Hall and Oates. Brain-Damaged Toula is no help, since she listens to the American version of Hall and Oates. But George might be some help here.

Then again, maybe not. He'd occasionally come home and say, "I got a Greek movie. Want to watch it with me?" To him, "Greek" and "good" were pretty much the same word. Anything drenched in olive oil was automatically delicious (even though he didn't have the sense to get extra-virgin instead of just plain virgin), and that went for pretty much every aspect of the culture. Greek is good, to misquote that lizard guy from Wall Street.* But then again again, I hear that a lot of actual Greek people think this way too. So maybe he really would be of some help.

I have no clue. Do any of you know anything about Greek music?

*I swear he's a lizard. First, Michael Douglas is seriously reptilian. And second, the guy's name was Gordon Gecko or some such thing.

The Math Librarian cuts his most famous promo

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Holy shit -- Mike "The Math Librarian" Martelle is on the new Bret "The Hitman" Hart DVD!

A friend of mine at work lent me a pirated copy to watch (although I coincidentally bought one as a Christmas gift for my nephew, who now has one extra reason he'd better not be reading this blog), and I just got up to the infamous Montréal Screwjob at the 1997 Survivor Series. Mike, Scott (who pops his head up here on occasion), and I were there for that, having made the road trip from Kingston. Immediately after the show, before we went outside and saw a pissed-off-looking Bret leave in his limo, we noticed a camera crew interviewing fans, and Mike stopped to cut a short but well-spoken interview. We always wondered whatever happened to the footage, as it was pretty eloquent and yet we never saw it used in any of the "fan reaction" parts of any of the documentary coverage of the incident.

Well, it stayed in the can for eight years until it was used at 1:41:56 of the DVD. Mike's voice cuts in right as Vince McMahon wipes his eye after Bret spits on him, and then the camera cuts to Mike, with Scott standing behind him, grimly holding up a makeshift sign of a Canadian flag.

"Survivor Series was awful. I can't believe that the Harts lost. It's a conspiracy," Mike says. It briefly cuts to another interview with a French guy who looks like Matthew Lillard and seems to be making the same point, then back to Mike. "It's horrible. Bret Hart is the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be. We will always love you, Bret."

I had to risk making his wife hate me more than she already does by calling him after midnight. I played him the footage, and he sort of recognized it and wondered where I'd gotten it. When he found out it was from the new DVD, he was over the moon with excitement, and so am I. I am so very proud of Mike, and to a lesser degree, Scott. A shining moment in the history of Beta Flight.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Meeting cute

You might have noticed the stores are crowded right about now. I moved back to let a girl pass me in a narrow aisle at HMV, and I accidentally knocked over about a dozen DVDs of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. We both bent to pick them up, only to be baffled when we completely filled up the rack and yet had about three copies left over.

"Much like the pants themselves, they've mysteriously expanded," she observed.

I should marry this girl, I thought.

Jokes for artists!

I just got a new record by some rapper named MC Escher. The weird thing is that when it got to the end of the first side, it flipped itself over all by itself.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


The little counter at the bottom of the page says I've reached my 50,000th pageload (or at least, the 50,000th since I installed the counter). It's a true testament to how many times one blogger can hit F5 while staring at his own page.

My arch nemesis

Everyone should have an arch-nemesis. It fleshes you out as a character and makes you more interesting. Both of you, in fact, since you’re his arch-nemesis too, and it goes both ways. I’ve believed this for at least a decade, since university, when I met my own favorite arch-nemesis.

My university humour newspaper, Golden Words, had a continual staffing crisis—two crises, in fact: how to get rid of the contributors we didn’t like, and how to attract more. The first had a deceptively simple solution: just being ourselves. The second was more difficult. We eventually settled on a two-step solution: First, stop ripping up new contributors’ articles in front of their faces. Second, set up a booth at the annual Clubs Night held in Grant Hall.

As co-editor, I manned the booth along with the senior staff writer and chief keyboard smasher, Justin Skinner. How this was supposed to attract new staff, I don’t know. Our area of expertise was more in the field of antagonizing strangers. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before we ran afoul of Medieval Club Guy.

Medieval Club Guy was, true to his name, there representing the Medieval Club. (I don’t actually recall his real name—just that he looked like Gareth from the UK version of The Office.) The Medieval Club was a bunch of guys who got together to practice the nerdly pursuits of heraldry, the bardic arts, whacking each other with foam swords, and memorizing lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, while the few girls just got to weave or be scullery maids. Needless to say, this was not an organization that one would join to meet women. So it was perfect for Medieval Club Guy, who didn’t seem to be at risk of meeting women anyway. I’m not sure how our disagreement started, but I’d guess it had something to do with the fact that he was wearing a cape and hosiery. You can't let that sort of thing pass without comment.

We argued freely over a wide variety of topics, ranging from how gay his cape was to how gay his pantyhose were. Finally, his manhood impugned and his stock of medieval insults exhausted, he’d had enough and challenged me to a duel. Fortunately, I knew my rights and reminded him I was entitled to choose the time, place, and weapons.

“We fight in Cornwall,” I said.

He wrinkled his brow. “Cornwall, Ontario?”

“Cornwall, England. And we fight with tin.”

“Tin swords?”

“No, just hunks of raw tin.”

Either he decided I wasn’t taking the duel very seriously or would have strongly preferred an alloy, because he grabbed a quarterstaff and started thrusting it menacingly in our direction. Pretty soon, an older man in a robe came over and yelled at him and took away the staff. Medieval Club Guy slunk away at the wizard's heel, and that was the last we saw of him that night.

However, I saw him again one afternoon a few weeks later. I was crossing a busy street with my friend Jon Krashinsky (not to be confused with Jon Krasinski from the US version of The Office). Standing catercorner to us, decked out in his full regalia of cape and hosiery, was Medieval Club Guy. He spied me at the same time I saw him. He raised a fist and shook it.

Knave!” he shouted. Then he scampered away.

Jon turned and looked at me, dumbfounded. I kept an impassive face and just shrugged slightly, as though this sort of thing happened all the time, as though it were just a fact of life that occasionally a foppish courtier would travel through time from the 14th century to tell me off in the middle of the street. I'm not sure I ever actually did explain the whole thing.

Medieval Club Guy was in one of my classes the next semester, and although he cracked unfunny nerd jokes now and then, he wasn’t really a bad guy. He still played the role of antagonist, but really, he wasn't an arch-nemesis so much as an arch nemesis. As I said, everyone should have one. But it's definitely a bonus to find one you actually like.

The Ringer

The recent ads for The Ringer, in which Johnny Knoxville pretends to be retarded so he can clean up in the Special Olympics, reminds me that my friend Mike had the idea first. When the Gay Games were supposed to be coming to Montréal, he found out you don't actually have to be gay to compete, so he considered entering to take advantage of the diminished level of competition.

The problem? His sport is Greco-Roman wrestling.

Monday, December 19, 2005


A girl stood in line in front of me at HMV, holding The Complete Superman Collection box set.

"The funny thing about that," I said, "is that it's actually worth more if you take the last disc out."

I guarantee that's the same opening line Jerry Seinfeld would have used. Superman superfan that he is, even he'd have had to rip on Superman IV: The Quest for Peace in those circumstances. I know this because I happened to be holding a copy of season 4 of Seinfeld just then, and I felt the words literally travel up my arm and out my mouth.

Ripped from the headlines

Men vs. Santa: Bad Santas run wild in Auckland*

For me, the notion of 40 Santas fucking shit up in New Zealand isn't really odd. After all, they were wearing heavy coats and fur-lined hats and boots, and it's summer there. I get a little stir-crazy if I'm wearing a bulky winter jacket and the bus driver just has the heat a few degrees too high. These dudes were literally hot under the collar, and I don't blame them. If Santa is in New Zealand, he should be allowed to go ahead and wear a grass skirt like everyone else there does.

Time vs. Clown: Sol, Québec's famed hobo clown, dies of cancer

Sol was, bar none, my all-time favorite Francophone clown ever shown on classroom television. In French class back in public school, we used to watch Parlez Moi, a TV Ontario show made up of little vignettes featuring the sad-faced clown, such as "Sol Buys a House", "Sol Goes to Court", and the oddly prescient "Sol Dies of Cancer". Any television watched in class is automatically good, but Sol raised the bar by actually being sort of amusing. Au revoir, Sol.

* Scott, you could have gone ahead and posted this yourself, lazy ass.

Friday, December 16, 2005

How to beat the crowd

Here's a trick I just thought of that you and your friends can use to get through a large crowd of people: Let all your friends get ahead of you. Then, in your most sepulchral tone, command, "Stand aside now, or I will take the soul of every mortal in my path." Then calmly proceed forward, laying hands on each of your friends in turn, with each of them dropping instantly to the ground as though his or her life force is being snuffed out. With luck, enough people in the crowd will think that you must be the Angel of Death that they'll start a stampede to get away from you. When the way is clear, your friends can just get up and follow you to your destination.

Hang on to my ego

In case you expected the usual lunchtime update and were sorely disappointed, feast your eyes on the new addition to the sidebar at left: a compilation of various blog-related feedback I've gotten. It's fair to say that occasional MvC contributor Scott is a universally loved cult hero in some quarters. And it's fair to say that I am something less.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Don't drop out of typing class, kids

This has been bugging me a lot lately: I'm right-handed, yet although I basically touch-type with my left hand, I'm limited to using my index finger, my middle finger, and my thumb on my right hand.

Some kind of nerve damage? No. When I was in grade eight, my mom took advantage of an opportunity to send me over to the local high school on Saturday mornings for typing classes. Now computers have become vitally important in society. The days when male executives dictated everything to their female secretaries instead of learning to type have been left long behind, although I occasionally see (and scoff at) an older male co-worker typing by slowly hunting and pecking with one finger. So this was really foresighted of my mom, and it should have put me ahead of the curve.

But it was Saturday morning. There was no way I was going to see this class through to the end when I could have been home watching Jose Luis Rivera jobbing to Billy Jack Haynes on Superstars of Wrestling. The class had started with teaching us the use of the left hand and then progressed to the right. It went from left to right. But when we got all the way over to the middle finger of the right hand, I just held that finger up, said "Fuck off, typing," and dropped out.

I never did get around to finding out what the ring and little fingers are for, and now they're basically useless. The little one is good for giving "the shocker", but that's it.

So kids, if you're out there, take it from me: Don't drop out of typing class. And as for what "the shocker" is, go ask your parents.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Basically, I would like you all to take a moment to make sure you understand exactly what you're talking about before you say anything at all.

I've voiced my frustration about people's ignorance surrounding this before, but why do so few people know why "John Hancock" is slang for a signature?* And why so many insist on saying "John Henry"?

Let me quote Paul Brian:
John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence so flamboyantly that his name became a synonym for “signature.” Don’t mix him up with John Henry, who was a steel-drivin’ man.
And while I'm at it, this is an excerpt from an article in the latest issue of Blender about the October shooting of rapper Cam'ron as he sat in his Lamborgini (a crime initially thought to have been a failed carjacking but more likely to have been the act of an enraged copy editor driven into a murderous frenzy over the flagrant apostrophe misuse in the Harlem MC's name):
"Nobody's going to take a quarter-million-dollar car from me, let alone a five-cent piece of gum," said Cam'ron (born (Cameron Giles) a week after the shooting.
Uh, other way around, right, Cam'ron? Unless you really like gum.

* Note to Kitty: I'm just talking about those of us in the colonies. Brits like you are exempted from trying to figure out what we're on about.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bill Clarey's Moment of Zen

In case you saw Tuesday's Daily Show (following Monday's rerun) and wondered who Bill Clarey was, why the Moment of Zen was dedicated to him, and why Jon was choked up, here's the story.

Because we've all heard "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" too often

SamuraiFrog has posted his compilation of holiday songs, a tasteful list of unassailable Christmas classics (to steal a phrase from his Burl Ives entry). He ends by asking for reader suggestions, and as a matter of fact, I've been putting together a CD compilation of holiday tunes each year for the past three years. I gave out copies of the trilogy at an early Festivus bash this weekend, and response was positive (read: I got felt up). The funny thing is that, owing to SamuraiFrog's emphasis on traditional tunes on the basis that 98% of modern Christmas songs suck and my own focus on trying to pick out that good 2% without including anything you might have already heard too much, we share not a single song in common. Nonetheless, for his pleasure and yours, I reproduce the tracklistings here.

X-mas I (2003)

1. U2 - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
2. R.E.M. - Ghost Reindeer in the Sky
3. The Ramones - Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)
4. Weezer - The Christmas Song (Remix)
5. The Beach Boys - Bells Of Christmas
6. Brian Wilson - On Christmas Day
7. Big Star - Jesus Christ
8. Chris Stamey - Christmas Time
9. The Flaming Lips - Christmas at the Zoo
10. Grandaddy - Alan Parsons In A Winter Wonderland
11. The Dandy Warhols - The Little Drummer Boy
12. Eels - Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
13. Teenage Fanclub - Christmas Eve
14. Belle and Sebastian - O Come, O Come Emmanuel
15. Low - Blue Christmas
16. Galaxie 500 - Listen, the Snow Is Falling
17. The Alarm - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
18. Smashing Pumpkins - Christmas Time
19. Webb Brothers - Every Day Is Christmas
20. Pearl Jam - Let Me Sleep (It's Christmas Time)
21. XTC - Thanks for Christmas
22. Pogues feat. Kirsty McColl - Fairytale of New York
23. Badly Drawn Boy - Donna And Blitzen

X-mas II (2004)

1. Death Cab for Cutie - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
2. Jimmy Eat World - Last Christmas
3. The Dismemberment Plan - This Christmas
4. Fountains of Wayne - The Man in the Santa Suit
5. The Raveonettes - The Christmas Song
6. Belsana - Bittersweet Eve
7. Low - Just Like Christmas
8. Yo La Tengo - It's Christmas Time
9. Snow Patrol - When I Get Home for Christmas
10. The Flaming Lips - A Change at Christmas
11. Monster Magnet - Dead Christmas
12. Eels - Christmas Is Going to the Dogs
13. Walkmen - No Christmas While I'm Talking
14. Mogwai - Christmas Song
15. Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Hwiangerdd Mair
16. Saint Etienne - My Christmas Prayer
17. Calexico - Gift X-Change
18. Travis - River
19. Coldplay - 2000 Miles
20. Ron Sexsmith - Maybe This Christmas
21. Aimee Mann & Michael Penn - Christmas Time
22. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer - I Believe in Father Christmas

X-mas III (2005)

1. Ben Folds - Lonely Christmas Eve
2. Marah - Christmas with the Snow
3. The Loud Family - It Just Wouldn't Be Christmas
4. Ash - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
5. Weezer - Christmas Celebration
6. The White Stripes - Candy Cane Children
7. Jay Bennett & Edward Burch - Child's Christmas in Wales
8. Neko Case & Her Boyfriends - Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
9. Bright Eyes - The First Noel
10. Low - One Special Gift
11. Mojave 3 - Candle Song 3
12. Tori Amos - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
13. Jars of Clay - Christmas for Cowboys
14. Sufjan Stevens - Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance
15. Belle and Sebastian - Santa, Bring My Baby Back to Me
16. Cracker - Merry Christmas Emily
17. Gorillaz - Don Quixote's Christmas Bonanza
18. The Long Winters - Christmas with You Is the Best
19. The Sugarcubes - Birthday (Jim & William Reid Christmas Eve Mix)
20. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Birthday
21. Harvey Danger - Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas (Sometimes)
22. Prince and the Revolution - Another Lonely Christmas

Man Legacy

"My dad may have passed along a genetic legacy of early male pattern baldness, but he sure made up for that downstairs, if you know what I mean!"

"Yeah! Woo!"

"With a heightened risk of colorectal cancer!"

Monday, December 12, 2005

Johnny Cash's middle finger

Image hosted by Photobucket.comAs a blogger, I occasionally am obligated to say something about the various search terms that lead people to my blog. This one is weird: Someone searched Yahoo for "Johnny Cash middle finger poster" and got here.

What's weird about this is that I don't remember recently posting about the famous picture of Johnny Cash flipping the bird that was run as a full-page ad as a sarcastic thank-you to the Nashville music industry for their lack of support. But I was talking about it yesterday.

I used to think Google was the best search engine out there. But Yahoo just took things to a whole new level.

Friday, December 09, 2005

It needed to be said

The most universally unpopular stance I've taken recently is that if I had Verne Troyer prisoner for a month, I'd have sex with him. If necessary, I'd take him unwillingly. I just think it would be totally hilarious to tell your friends you fucked Mini-Me.

I got beat up by a retarded kid

What happens when a reasonable guy meets a guy who lacks all capacity for reason? I get beaten up for the first time in my life.

Ryan Gill stank like shit. Rumour had it he had constant diarrhea. There was a story about him walking down the hall at school with his stew running down his pantlegs and leaving a slimy trail behind him like a snail. It wasn't the most spurious anally fixated rumour in the neighbourhood, that's for sure. That honour belonged to Jeff Servage, of whom it was whispered that he had two assholes, and if dust got in one of them, he would die. Ryan's story rang with truth, because he stank so terribly that the odor clung not just to him, but to his whole family as well. The air in that house must have been utterly thick with Ryan's fecal particles floating around. Ryan's dad was a mailman, and I'm convinced he chose that line of work purely to spend as much time as possible in the fresh air.

I was new to the neighborhood, but it was obvious that Ryan was an untouchable, and my new friend Jerry Ross and I didn't want him playing with us. Ryan was offended. "Sic 'em, Scotty!" Ryan shouted, pointing at me.

Suddenly, this thing came running at me. He was huge — a little taller than me, a lot wider, and going by the stubble, at least five years older. He was atavistically ugly and dumb-looking as hell. Being only eight, I'd never heard of Down syndrome. But I had heard of ogres, and I was pretty sure this was one. When Return of the Jedi came out a couple of years later, I got freaked out of my theatre seat by the family resemblance between the Rancor and this squat teratoid that Ryan had sicced on me like a dog. Whatever he was, though, he was after me. I ran like hell for home, and this thing called Scotty McDonald came tearing after me.

I reached my front step, and I figured I was literally home free. Only an idiot would keep coming after someone going into his house (a theory confirmed a couple of years later when I tackled Martin Jonkman, tumbling through his front door into his foyer and whaling on him, only to have his vicious Rottweiler and viciouser dad sicced upon me and nearly get my damnfool windpipe broken when the latter pinned me against a wall with his forearm and choked me). I reached for the doorknob. A meaty arm reached for me. I was hauled back down onto the lawn, and Scotty beat the shit out of me. I managed to scramble free, and sprang for the door again, only to get hauled back down again and mauled again. I kept bobbing up and getting pulled down like a swimmer being taken by a shark. Finally, I got free and made it inside, half-dead.

Over the next few years, I gave Scotty a wide berth. If you were smaller than him, he'd be surly to you. Occasionally he'd kidnap you and make you sit in the basket of his three-wheeled bike as he pedalled around the neighborhood.

But the thing was, when I met Scotty, he was already fully grown, and in fact, he only topped out at about five feet tall. If you were bigger than him, as I eventually grew, he'd be really friendly. "Hey, big guy!" he'd smile when he saw you. And on the rare occasion Scotty gave you any guff, he was easy to handle, as he had a well-known Achilles heel: a bum knee on which he'd had surgery many times. Simply threaten to kick him in the knee, and he'd beg off. "No!" he'd bleat in a thick-tongued whine, grabbing it protectively. "Don' bust up my knee!" To this day, for some reason, people giggle when I imitate Scotty saying this, even if they've never heard of him.

The last I remember seeing Scotty was when he graduated high school. He got a standing ovation from the entire school, even though it's not like he got there on academic merit. His only real accomplishment was living to the age of about 25 and no longer being allowed by regulations to attend high school anymore.

Scratch that. His other real accomplishment is being the first person ever to beat the living shit out of me. Hats off to you, Scotty. You fucking retard.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I fight cripples

This one goes out to Nanbread, who recently recommended my site "because the blogger is so nice, and the site’s design and content is so unique". Let it be known that I'm using a generic Blogger template. What follows is the rest of my response to these vicious charges.

Sure, I beat up Kyle, but it was his own damn fault. He swung his crutches at me.

I know what you're saying: You beat up a kid with crutches? You are a heartless devil! But you're wrong. I'm a reasonable guy. And I beat up two kids with crutches.

But both times, they started it. Take Kyle, for instance. He was a real dick and a hothead. He'd just go nuts and start swinging his crutches at you for no reason. And he was on crutches for years, because he had hip problems to go with his mental problems. Eventually, his act wore a little thin, and he'd exhausted all possible goodwill. He swung his crutch at me, and I stepped in and sank a fist into his solar plexus. He immediately collapsed, gasping for air like a dying fish. I took one look at that and figured out two things: The fight was over, and there would be a howling mob led by his older brothers at my front door in the very near future. So I went inside and let my sister go out and win herself a Nobel Peace Prize by straightening things out, which was ironic because she was usually pretty violent and unreasonable herself.

I gave the other kid, Mike, every chance to get out of it. "Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked. He kept pushing me. "You're wearing a cast," I pointed out. He kept pushing me. So I figured, screw it, this kid gets no favors. I didn't just beat him up — I methodically worked over his leg like I was "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. I hit him with kicks to the knee, leg sweeps, and knee bars, and I'd have gladly cinched him into the figure four leglock if he hadn't been weeping in a heap. When someone gives you an obvious advantage like that, good sense says that you take it. It was his own damn fault. And I'm a reasonable guy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Kids, dentists, and fate can be so cruel.

I tripped over a full garbage can today, spilling it and myself all over the place. In that spirit, I submit for your schadenfreude two tales of public humiliation from two of my favorite lady correspondents, Katherine and Janet.

I'm feeling rather crushed this morning.

Walking to the bus-stop, late as usual, hair still wet, listening to the today programme.

There are two infant-school-aged girls jostling behind me, they're being pretty noisy but it's only when I hear one of them say "that girl can't have any ears" that I realise they might be talking to me.

I turn around and take my earphones out and say hello.

"Girl, girl," one of them says. "I really like your hairstyle. It's gay." And they run off.

When I was in grade six I went to the orthodontist to have 'magnets' put in my mouth. Lucky for me the magnets had just been developed to go in place of the lovely 'headgear device'. I would have been very unpopular with the headgear device; however, after having these magnets in my mouth for two years, the headgear would have been preferable. The problem with the magnets was that they were fastened together with a bridge type device that spread across the roof of my mouth. The whole insane thing was then cemented into my mouth. It took me two months to learn how to talk properly.

Anyway, I had numerous enemies in my grade six class, one of which was this total bitch, Claire. One morning I had my usual peanut butter sandwich on my way to school. As I walked along I could feel a big glob of peanut butter stuck in the space between the bridge of the magnet device and the roof of my mouth. I ignored it, as dislodging it could create some embarrassing sounds and as I was walking down the street, I was shy about it.

I was late for class so I just ran into my classroom instead of going to the washroom. Our teacher had us get into groups of four, those who sat right around you. Of course, Claire who sat in front of me ended up in my group, and so was a boy that I really liked. We were discussing something and the cute boy made me laugh. That's when the unthinkable happened ... in slow motion, I watched as the huge glob of peanut butter flew out of my mouth, barely scraping the nose of the cute boy and landed splat on Claire's open notebook.

I remember a moment of silence, then screams -- bloodcurdling screams -- not only from Claire (of course) but also from the cute boy. The screams spread from the initial circle of witnesses to the entire class. The teacher started to panic and flick the lights on and off, only causing the brown blob to look more horrific every time the lights went on.

I don't remember anything after that. I may have passed out, or actually died for a few minutes. Horrible.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A trick for you to try

Students and underachievers who still live in shared housing: Here's a trick you can pull with your housemates. I'd try it myself, but now that my only remaining housemates are Brain-Damaged Toula and that phantom guy who lives upstairs but is hardly ever home, it probably wouldn't work.

The next time you bring someone to your house who hasn't ever been there before, turn around at the front door and say, "One last thing: My housemates think I'm an English exchange student. Play along, okay?"

When you get inside, do the absolute worst Cockney accent possible.* Make up your own rhyming slang. Lapse into an Australian accent and slang from time to time. Of course, your housemates have been briefed on this beforehand and are playing along. Have one of them ask if you're going home for the upcoming holidays, and make sure your answer includes a holiday itinerary that reveals a woeful ignorance of British geography and custom.

Almost certainly, your guest will be utterly aghast at your housemates' apparent inability to see through your poor ruse, but, having been taken into your confidence, will be honour-bound to play along with the fiction.

*If you're actually English, use a Brooklyn accent instead.

Friday, December 02, 2005

She is Spartacus!

My friend Janet was so goth when we met in university that it's incomprehensible that she was ever a Girl Guide. Yet she was, albeit a highly disgruntled one. I had a similar situation to the one that she describes here when I was in the Sea Scouts, although, unlike Janet, I never took it so far as to stage a revolt (or "mutiny", as we called it).

When we went to camp, we were always forced to go to chaplain services on Sunday morning. "But what if we're atheists?" my friend Barry and I asked. "There's not gonna be any atheists in my Scout troop!" Scouter Jim told us adamantly. And he was right, in fact. It's the policy. You can be a Jew or a Muslim, and you'll get a separate badge for it, but you can't be an atheist. (Or gay, for that matter, which doesn't really make sense given the practice of wearing sashes and earning merit badges for textiles and figure skating.)

But even though simply being in the Guides would have been intolerable enough for her, you can imagine how she would chafe at having religious instruction crammed down her throat, given that Janet was one of the key players in my Aristocrats post. And indeed she did:

You see, I hadn't paid my weekly dues to the girl guides. in fact I think I was three months overdue. I kept forgetting to put the money in my stupid pursey thing that clips on to your belt. One of the leaders was fed up with my forgetful ways and pulled me aside to have a talk. As she complained about my forgetfulness, she also took the opportunity to tell me what a bad girl guide I was. Just look at the sad amount of badges on my sash. I looked at the 3 badges I had earned--baking, art, and fire prevention (still don't know how I managed that).* She then pointed over to another girl, the shining example of a girl guide. White, blonde, kinda pudgy (from eating her baking) and her sash was chock full of badges. Even her shoes were tied with special guide knots. The leader then told me to go away and start acting like a good guide. Later in the evening, we were told to gather around to learn about God and Jesus Christ. This made me mad, because even at the tender age of 11 or 12, I was proud of being an atheist. I mean my father (the physics teacher) told me that God was energy, and energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Plus, there were some Jewish and Muslim girls in our class, and I felt bad that they had to be subjected to lessons of Christianity.

At that point I knew what I had to do.

At break time we were allowed to leave the school gymnasium and play in the school yard. As soon as we were outside, I launched my campaign. I believe 'religious zealots' was a phrase I kept using, and before long I had rounded up about 15 girl guides, including the blonde pudgy perfect guide. She was spitting mad that she had been brainwashed for so long. I remember screaming 'Everyone head for the hills'. There were no hills, but nonetheless, we started running. At the very end of the school property there was a deep ditch that was mostly gravel. We dove into it and hid. It took about 20 minutes before anyone noticed that a substantial pack of guides was missing. From where we were hiding we could see perfectly the hysterics of the leaders as they shouted and ran around looking for us. We laughed, we ate fruit roll-ups and chewed gum (a no-no in guides), and some girl guides even practised spitting. It was a good time. But then it started to get dark, and the 'perverts that come out after dark' stories that leaders had all told us started to worry some of the girls. They took a vote and decided to head back in. I figured, 'what the hey, I'll go in too.' After all,the evening was almost at an end, and I wanted to go home and watch TV. You can just imagine the state of us as we walked through the gymnasium doors all covered in grey powder from the ditch. Some girls were even covered in their own spit. The leaders were furious as one of them had managed to get into the office to call the police. I was proud though of my girls because when asked who organized this campaign, no one said anything. Girl guides don't snitch.

The next revolt story is centered around my discovery that 'Crotch Rotch' didn't exist (something the leaders would tell us to make sure that we changed our underwear at camp). This made me mad and that's when the second rebellion occurred.

*My theory is that if is a child successfully bakes something without starting a fire, that automatically qualifies her for both badges.

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