Please join us at

Get the posts on my new blog by e-mail. Enter your e-mail address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

New posts on

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Loosen up your buttons?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Got my MP3 player back (sort of)

[UPDATED: Link re-directed to a video that still exists on YouTube.]

I couldn't stand the lousy radio stations any longer. I need to control everything around me, and I've heard one too many Daughtry songs. Actually, I think it was the same Daughtry song, played over and over and over and over.

We went to Circuit City and bought some recordable CDs. Now I have enough music to get from Portland to Bangor. That should be enough for now.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Der Unkel Mat

Dear Uncle Matt,

I am so happy because you are not going to smoke.

Love, Michael

Dear Uncle Nate,

You liar. You lied that Uncle Matt smokes.

From Michael, not Love Michael because you lied.

My close-up

Naturally, the philosopher king wants to put me in his wedding, just to increase the hotness factor. He wants me to do a reading. Three guesses which one it is.

You got it on the first guess??? How the heck did you do that?

Maybe it's because EVERYONE picks the 1 Corinthians passage about love being tender, juicy, sweet and so on. Matt says I am not allowed to laugh maniacally during the reading.

For your consideration, I offer these alternative Bible passages about weddings (I still think that the best stories are the ones they don't teach in Sunday school):

Genesis 34: In which Jacob's daughter Dinah makes the mistake of walking outside, where a fellow named Shechem sees her and rapes her. But he talks to her really nicely, so it's all OK. Plus, he wants to marry her. So his dad goes and talks to Jacob, who's not very happy about this because number one, he's a rapist, and number two, he's a Hivite. Jacob's sons say that the wedding would only be OK if everyone in Shechem's city gets circumcised. If everyone gets the surgery, they'll share their land and women with the people in the city. The Israelite women must be pretty hot, because the men in the city agree to this arrangement. Three days later, "while all of them were still in pain" (remember, they didn't know about sterilizing their medical equipment between circumcisions), two of Dinah's brothers kill all of the men in the city. Then their other brothers loot the city and carry off their women, children, money and animals. Oh, and their sister, too. Jacob's not very happy about this either, because now his reputation is shot to hell. But his sons think it was worth it, because Dinah didn't have to marry Shechem. No word about what Dinah thought of this.

Judges 14: In which Samson sees a really hot Philistine girl and demands that his parents "get her" for him. He rips a lion open with his bare hands and then eats the honey that bees make in the carcass. (YUCK.) He then makes up a riddle about this story and feels really proud of himself when the people at his wedding can't guess the answer. They turn violent and threaten to kill his bride and her family. His bride gets him to tell her the answer -- Samson's not great at keeping secrets from women -- and she tells the others. Samson goes nuts and kills a bunch of people. His wife is given to his best man. No word about what the woman thought of this...or of being burned to death in the next chapter after Samson has his revenge for losing her.

Matthew 22: In which the king throws such a lame wedding party for his son that nobody wants to come. He sends his servants to remind the guests that they're supposed to be at the wedding, but they walk away. A few grab the servants, mistreat them and kill them. (How bad could this party have been?) The king sends his army to burn the entire city down -- take THAT!!! He then sends the rest of his servants to gather up people from the street to come to the wedding. They all come, because they've heard about what happened to the people in the other city. But one guy shows up in his regular clothes, because he wasn't wearing wedding clothes when the king's servant found him in the street and forced him to go to the party. The king tells his servants to tie the guy up and throw him outside.

Now, I think these stories are much more exciting than "the greatest of these is love". Don't you?

Another milestone

Matt, you are commenter #400. I was planning to buy you a few drinks anyway, but now I owe you another one. Just like old times, except that you won't have to drink these in the bushes.

By the way, Michael is in denial about your disgusting addiction.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What's in my MP3 Player?

Until now, only my closest friends have known that I am deadly serious when I make the ultimate threat: I have a Donnie Osmond CD and I'm not afraid to use it.

Some things are too important to joke about.


Disney World is the perfect place to watch other mommies in action. There are a few distinct types:

  • The pushy mommy: This mommy is forcing her child into the spotlight. When Captain Sparrow asks for volunteers to join his crew, this mommy holds her child's hand up high. She doesn't care whether Little Johnny wants to be a pirate. She wants pictures of him as a pirate, and nothing's going to stand in her way.
  • The tired mommy: This is me. This mommy finds a playground and lets her kid play on the slides while she rests on a bench. She opens her eyes every five minutes or so, just to check that her child is still alive.
  • The non-mommy: She's also at the playground, because she's not sure which rides she should take the kids on. She wants everyone to know that she's not the mommy, so she keeps yelling to the children in her care: "Hey Susie, be careful! Your mom will kill me if you get hurt! Don't play in the water -- I don't know if your mom packed you extra underwear!" Meanwhile, the real moms are thinking It's just water, moron.
  • The homemaker mommy: She's the one with the giant bag. She paid a hundred bucks to get into the park, and she is not gonna pay another penny. She packed sandwiches ahead of time and they've been melting in the hot sun all day. It doesn't matter that she held up the line for 20 minutes while the security guard searched through the bag -- she is going to save five dollars if it kills her. Or if I kill her.
  • The bad mommy: She's wearing the latest designer fashions and talking on her cell phone while her child toddles off in the other direction. She can also be found in the expensive restaurant where they charge $27.99 for the child's buffet, because she can't figure out how to amuse her child without Disney characters at the table.
  • The bratty mommy: She's arguing with the waitress because she doesn't like getting so many quarters back with her change. Her 15-year-old daughters order from the kids' menu and shoot dirty looks at other patrons.


dear evreone

ther is alot of peple who smok but i hope that thay no to not to

frum michael

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Road Rage

I do not understand road rage.

And apparently I'm in the minority, because it seems like just about everyone else in the world is desperate to get as far as possible, as fast as possible.

This is pretty funny to watch, because "as far as possible" is really just to the next stoplight, so about two blocks. It's nothing short of ridiculous:

Get outta my way! Yeah, you heard me! My car's WAY COOLER than yours, and I'm gonna leave you in my dust. Dammit, who put this stoplight right here in the middle of the street? *drums fingers on steering wheel* Get outta my way! I'm gonna leave you in my dust AGAIN! Yee-haw! Who da man? Who da -- DAMMIT! Another stoplight!

I'm noticing this here in Florida, but it's even funnier at home in Name of Town Withheld. (I think I like this better than the actual name of my town. I might start using it.) It takes about ten minutes to drive from one end of Name of Town Withheld to the other. I don't drive very fast, and from time to time someone will whip past me and give me a dirty look. No problem. I just smile sweetly when we are side by side at the next light.

A few weeks ago, our local Newspaper of Record printed a letter to the editor from a resident who was concerned about drivers like me. I say "letter to the editor", but it was really an open letter that was printed as a public service. The letter was headlined "Don't speed -- just go the speed limit!" and there is really no need for me to go into the minute details of the person's argument in all of its exquisite intricacy. The paper's headline writers are just that good. You can imagine how chastened I felt when I read it. I bet this person shaves at least 17 seconds off her morning commute by increasing her speed from 33 kph to the speed limit of 35 kph.

So sexy it hurts

Monday, March 26, 2007

Matt's Christmas: 1990

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Benjamin, Age 2: Big Fat Spider

Saturday, March 24, 2007

From Michael

deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeear nyree

do you have your on computr be cus i am yoseng my moms computer

from michael

Comment madness

The comment feature was disabled on a few posts for a while. I'm not totally sure how that happened, but I'm fixing it wherever I find the problem. That means that if your comment disappeared, it should be back. It also means that if you've been trying to respond and the button just wouldn't appear, you should be able to comment now.

I don't know if Blogger ate any comments -- if you can't find something you wrote, feel free to re-submit.

Nate, Age 9: Oh Boy!

Megan, Age 11: 'Twas in the moon of wintertime

In the spirit of fairness, and secure in the knowledge that there are many, many more to come:

Mos Eisley Cantina

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: The space bar.

Friends, this is a sad day. I did not think it would come to this. After all, the space bar is not really punctuation. Even my six-year-old son has figured out how to use it. How hard could it be?

When I opened yesterday's paper, this was the first thing I saw:

Former Yk’er tries
for B.C. Liberal

city councilor, has
thrown his hat in the ring for the
Liberal Party nomination in British
Columbia’s Saanich-Gulf Islands

But Spence will have his work
cut out for him. Hemust conduct
much of his campaign from Pakistan
where he is working on contract
with an American agency to
“restore democracy.”

Another hurdle is rival Briony
Penn, a beguiling activist who
made a name for her self in 2001
after riding horseback in the buff
through downtown Vancouver to
protest logging on Salt Spring

We will ignore the fact that this entire story is clearly nothing more than an attempt to increase the nudity content of the local news. The problems here go far beyond bad journalism. No, "hemust" is not a cool new way to say "he must", and "her self" is not the classy new way to spell "herself". After the federal government's insidious attempt to co-opt the word "download", we must all be on guard against the incursion of non-words into our vocabulary. Don't worry: I brought my beheading knife on holiday with me. It caused a few problems at the border, but I just explained that I need it for a religious ritual, and that my religion is so enlightened that the border guards hadn't even heard of it. Naturally, they let me right through.

Moving through the paper, I discovered that the environment minister "wa sin" Alberta and that apparently slash marks and ellipses now require spaces on one side but not the other. I am guessing that a computer spell-checker indicated that there were spelling errors without the spaces. These would apparently be the only times a spell-checker was used in the production of the entire paper.

But I was willing to overlook these problems until an unsolicited e-mail dropped into my inbox to offer me a free "phoneline". AAAAAHHHHH!!!! This cannot continue. There is absolutely no reason for this type of error to creep into print. Good heavens, vulnerable people are reading this! What if you confuse someone? I'm no fan of spell-checkers because they can be wrong, but they can help you avoid errors like these.

Because I am constantly going out of my way for the common good, I offer this handy reference guide for writers:

  1. Find a dictionary.
  2. If you don't know how to spell a word, look it up.
  3. If you can't find the word in the dictionary, consider the possibility that it is actually two words. Experiment with different ways to split it into two words until you find both words in the dictionary. For example, you might discover that "wa sin" is not listed, so you could try to split it into "w asin", "was in" or "wasi n".

Friday, March 23, 2007

Michael blogs again

dear nyree

i hope my mom or dad does it does your mom help you

frum michael

Swimming with manatees

Matt's Christmas: 1989

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Benjamin, Age 2: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

The sins of the fathers

I just found a stack of old photos and a pile of CDs with old audio files on them.

All I can say is that pretty soon, a few people are going to be really, really sorry they ever pulled my pigtails.

Dear Blueberry Princess, Part 2:

Mom has two options for the dress she wears to your wedding. You probably think this is silly, but trust me when I say that it will be easier for all concerned if you state a preference. We are most comfortable when everything about a wedding is a dictatorship, right down to the way we wear our hair. (Yikes -- I didn't show you the hair clip I bought!) We would probably go get fitted for contact lenses if you decided that everyone should have green eyes.

I am exaggerating for comic effect, but not by much. Here goes.

To remind you, this is the dress we showed you earlier:

This dress is a light silver colour. It has a long-sleeved, netted sweatery thing that goes over the top.

Here's the new dress:

And a better view of the detailing on the same dress:

This one is darker gray and short-sleeved in a satiny material. It may or may not be the same material as your bridesmaids' dresses. This may or may not be OK with you. The skirt is long and in the same style as the bridesmaids' dresses. Same wrap, same purse.

Princess, you are now forced to choose between them. This will make our lives much, much easier. Let us know which you prefer.

Michael Blogs

dear nyree

haw did you get a new blog did y0ur mom or dad do it

frum michael

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A bad day in celebrity flackdom

  • Your client, Lindsay Lohan, goes to a bar and, for no apparent reason, decides to pull her skirt up to her waist. I know that I'm always rummaging in the top of my underwear in public, so this one should be easy to handle.
  • Your client, Paris Hilton, takes more photographs of herself as a hard-core porno star. (No, I will not post the picture. This is a classy blog.) Your job is to explain that because Paris's thumb is not in the picture, the image must have been faked.
  • Your client, Tom Cruise, makes you call a reporter and say that he has never encouraged anyone to convert to Scientology.

10,000-year-old shells

Missing my MP3 Player

There are a million radio stations here in central Florida, more or less. Well, maybe a little less (or fewer, as LMK-i-A would say). The problem is that I do not like any of them. I spend car trips jabbing the "change station" button. Steve suffers in silence through all of this, and Michael demands that I stop jabbing whenever the dial lands at what he calls a "guitar song".

We don't listen to the music station at home, because it plays nothing but garbage. The ads for Subway and Pizza Hut are punctuated by the latest breathy trash from sensitive men who sit on icebergs in the snow, take off all their clothes and dive into the frigid water. You know the guy I mean. No, I am not going to look up his name. I've spent way too much time talking about him already.

So we don't listen to the music station at all. iTunes is our friend. There are very few things you can't find on there, although Michael W. Smith's early stuff is a notable exception, much to my displeasure. (Don't bother judging me: I've already come clean on that one.)

The point is, I never have to listen to anything I don't like. If I'm tired of the Dixie Chicks, I just flip over to Annie Lennox. That's not possible in our rented car. We are entirely at the whim of the disc jockeys, and I don't like it. What did people do before iTunes? Did we really buy tapes and listen to them all the way through?

Getting really, really scared

Yes, my own mother tried to convince me to watch a movie tonight by pointing out that David Hasselhoff was in it.

A normal person would have laughed and walked away at this revelation. I, however, stayed up past my bedtime to watch it, despite the fact that it featured fart jokes and Adam Sandler in a fat suit. I have become a shell of my former self. I am probably just a few steps from turning into a cartoon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

For Andrew: Homo-SASSA

Dear Blueberry Princess,

The Sock Bandit and I went shopping to find clothes for your wedding. If it's OK with you, this is what we plan to wear. I am not wearing black because I think it's a funeral: I am wearing black because I like this dress. If you think I should find another dress, I'll go find one.

We think this purple wrap might be the same colour as your bridesmaids' dresses. Did we get it right? Mom wants to blend in with the wedding party.

This is just a better shot of the dress without the gold wrap. Flowers are happy, right?

I put the purse down when these pictures were taken (yes, I am THAT dumb) so we got a shot of it all by itself.

What do you think, Princess?

Fashion no-no?

I always thought there were rules about what could be worn to a wedding. I thought there were three fundamental rules:

  • Rule 1: Don't wear white.
  • Rule 2: Don't wear black.
  • Rule 3: Don't look flashier than the bride.
Imagine my surprise when I attended a wedding two weeks ago and discovered that:
  • The bride's mother was wearing white.
  • Almost every other woman was wearing black.
  • My friend and I were apparently the only ones who did not get the memo that black is OK at weddings.
We huddled in the corner, checking out the other women's dresses and whispering to each other while my son chased her daughter around the reception hall. You could wear black to a wedding??? Why didn't anyone tell us? Are we just losers who never get invited to weddings anymore, or are we losers who weren't notified in advance about the dress code?

You see, the philosopher king is getting married in a few weeks, and I figured that I ought to wear something other than jean cutoffs and a low-cut T-shirt. So I've been shopping. At the same time, my mom has been trying to find something to wear. I've had it easier, though, because there are restrictions on what the mother of the groom can wear.

I looked all over the mall and eventually bought a black dress last night. This was a matter of some discussion: was it OK to wear to my brother's wedding? We finally decided that I should call the philosopher king and find out if the blueberry princess would be upset if I showed up in black.

The Princess says black is fine. Mom picked up some accessories today so she will match the bridal party a bit better, and I bought a bejewelled purse to replace the fanny pack during the ceremony. I'll post photos shortly. If there's a problem, now is the time to say so.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Buried Alive

We spent the afternoon at the Gulf of Mexico! The water was cold but the sun was warm, and we all had a great time.


Okay, okay!

I have seen the error of my ways. I am not using the fanny pack anymore. I always knew it was wrong, but sometimes you have to fall into darkness before you can find the light. I am back to the green hand-held purse with lots of room for pens, books, stray Disney characters and anything else I might want to schlep around rural Florida.

I promise not to wear the fanny pack to the mall, to church or to job interviews. Furthermore, I renounce the glittery scrunchies, the Cheez Doodles and the varmint-shooting.

Now, can I come back into the club? And can I keep the green eyeshadow?

Animal Kingdom

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Animal Kingdom: A photo essay

I can already hear Glen screaming

I am in big trouble. What I am about to say will be difficult for some of you. Think of it as a mini-Apocalypse. When the vials of the wrath of God are poured out upon the earth, you won't be able to say you weren't ready.

Here goes. This will hurt me more than it hurts you.

I bought myself a fanny pack, and I am using it and loving it.

Yes. This is all true. The fanny pack has replaced my purse during my visits to Disney World, and it is awesome. I can't help myself. It is fabulous. My hands are completely free for munching Cheez Doodles and drinking 32-ounce slurpees. If I need to rearrange the scrunchie in my hair or around my wrist, there's no problem. I just toss my slingshot over my shoulder for easy access whenever I want to shoot some varmints.

I know. This is horrible. I can't allow this to continue. Not only is it ugly, it makes ME look awful. Steve says it looks like I have an extra roll of fat on my stomach. And believe me, I already have plenty of those and don't need to create the illusion that I've sprouted more overnight. But come on! It's perfect! It has just enough space for my wallet, my sunglasses and Michael's EpiPen. I can't forget it on the Great Movie Ride, because it's never off my body. It doesn't roll all over the place during Star Tours, and I never have to worry about petty thieves stealing it. Heck, they get one look at it and run the other way.

Glen, can this really be wrong when it feels so right?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another dream is dead

It's time for me to face the facts. Steve and I will never be able to do The Amazing Race.

You see, we thought it might be a fun adventure. A chance to do exciting things, see the world, and be the Arctic Romber, if you will. But this will never happen.

And why, you ask? It's because only one of us knows how to read a map or follow street signs.

I don't think I need to go into much detail about which one of us it is. That would just be silly. It would really be ridiculous of me to keep bringing it up over and over again. Even though following arrows is clearly not a specialized skill, I shouldn't have to talk about it all the time. I mean, what would be the point of that? It would be mean-spirited of me to constantly bring the conversation around to the same topic, especially when I think it's important to protect the privacy of those with map-reading challenges.

And when the person who knows how to read the map is able to successfully navigate through an unfamiliar city after the other person takes a wrong turn (even though it is clearly labelled on a giant sign in reflective paint), it would be really out of line for the driver to call her -- I mean, the person who knows how to read the map -- a mean name.

Generally speaking, of course.


Pirates of the Arctic

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fighting back in public

This may not seem strange to my readers who live further south, but it's unusual to see any organization in my part of the world fighting back quite so publicly. Usually, people just silently stew about a perceived injustice, refusing to say anything about it to anyone. And God forbid you should actually talk to the media or post any references to the problem on your website. No, no, you're "working together in partnership".

Well, to be fair, it's not unheard-of for people to fight back. Some do. But they tend to go way over the top and lose all credibility on topics that weren't really that important to begin with. You have to figure out where to draw the line.

Happiest Place on Earth

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sharing is the heathen way. Somehow I can't believe that stealing would be the Catholic way.

A friend who doesn’t live in my community asked a reasonable question: What’s so bad about giving up a school for two years?

Putting aside the logistical nightmare of emptying a school and displacing 500 students instead of 250, the truth is that many people doubt it would only be two years.

I don’t think people would be digging in their heels this way if not for the things that were said in the past. YCS’s overcrowding problems are not new, and their board made its first pitch to take over a YK1 school ages ago.

The YK1 board refused to give up a school, but offered to share space. YCS refused to share space. They even placed inserts in an issue of the local paper to explain their position and denounce the minister of education for not letting them take over a YK1 school. In fact, “denounce” might not be a strong enough word: Steve and I couldn’t believe that they had actually put these thoughts on paper, much less paid to put them in the newspaper. And that’s where the issue stalled until the fire, when the boards were forced to share space.

If these things hadn’t happened, we might see this as a temporary, unwelcome but ultimately acceptable solution to a bad situation. In context, we see this as a move to take over a school permanently, using a bad situation as the excuse.

It’s also worth noting that from what I’ve seen, the majority of YK1 parents don’t want two public school boards. There has been a lot of talk about the duplication of administration and the needless competition between the boards. I don’t know what YCS parents think of this idea, but I know that it is completely unacceptable to their board: they believe that they have a completely different mandate and could never agree to combine resources. At Wednesday’s meeting, a few parents suggested that one school board and administration could oversee both Catholic and non-Catholic schools, but I don’t know if this solution would be acceptable to anyone else.

This might be a crazy idea, but I really don’t mind if a bishop wants to bless my local school. Come on in, toss your holy water around and do whatever you need to do to make sharing acceptable to you. If you want to put crucifixes up in your classrooms, go ahead. I promise they won’t burst into flames when they touch our heathen walls. Put your religious books in the library. It’s totally OK with me.

Presented without further comment from the public record, Part 5

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. McLeod.

Speaker's Ruling

Before I proceed to written questions, colleagues, I want to provide a ruling on Written Question 54-15(5) asked by Mr. Hawkins to the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment last Friday regarding funding for [Name of community withheld] schools.

This written question was in fact a series of 33 questions.

Rule 39(1) reads as follows: A question which would be likely to require a detailed or complex answer, or which would not reasonably be assumed to be within the present knowledge of the Minister, should be posed as a written question.

Members will know that this rule has been loosely applied by the Chair in the past. This was done for the benefit of Members and in the interest of full and open debate in this House. Like many things, however, when practices or privileges are misused, the intervention of the Chair is often required to set matters right. Previous Speakers have also cautioned Members about the
proper use of written questions.

Written questions are intended to provide Members with an opportunity to seek complex, detailed and lengthy information from a Minister that they would not likely have at their disposal, or that would more appropriately be provided in written form due to the nature of the information being sought.

Written questions are not intended to be an indirect way of extending oral question period. They are not intended to be an opportunity for Members to make statements, engage in debate or grandstand, nor should they be unreasonably long.

In my view, none of Mr. Hawkins' questions met the criteria for a written question.


MR. SPEAKER: He is not the first Member to use written questions in a manner that does not exactly fit their true purpose. However, the volume of questions asked clearly constitutes a misuse of the spirit and intent of rules and, frankly, was a waste of the valuable time of this House and its Members. I, therefore, rule Written Question 55-15(5) out of order and direct that the question be removed from the orders of the day and struck from Hansard. The Minister is under no obligation to provide a response.

In the future, the Chair will apply a strict interpretation of Rule 39(1). Written questions must not be asked in lieu of properly worded oral questions and must be in writing on the prescribed forms that can be obtained from the Clerk's office. Members should clearly be reading from a written text when asking written questions. Thank you, Members.


Written questions. The honourable Member from [Name of community withheld] Centre, Mr. Hawkins.


Written Question 57-15(5): Catholic Students In [Name of community withheld]Separate School System

MR. HAWKINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have one detailed question today not likely for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment not likely to have typically in their purview.

Mr. Speaker, noting that in other cities in Canada, such as Calgary, Alberta, you have to be baptized into the Catholic Faith in order to be a student in their Catholic School System. What information can the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment provide to me as to the details of how many children in the [Name of community withheld] Catholic School system have identified themselves as being of the Catholic faith, and, further, how does that break down per school in their district?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Hawkins.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Getting ready to go dark

Posting may be erratic over the next little while (although maybe not). We are going to a place that can only be described as awesome. Oh, yeah. I can't wait.

I'll still put up commentary, pictures and videos, but they might not come every day.

A note to would-be criminals: Don't bother planning to break into my house while I'm away. My father-in-law will be here, and he will cut you.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I love reality TV.

Fine, go ahead and judge me.

I'm no fan of most of the crap they call "reality television" -- I'm thinking here of the Who's Your Daddy? or Locked In a Box for Five Days sort of thing. (I've made up these show titles. They don't really exist. At least I hope they don't exist.) But I adore the strategy of Survivor, and The Amazing Race is one of the few shows we actually watch these days.

And I knew today was coming. The day when my favourite team would be eliminated from the race.

Fine, go ahead and judge me again. I've loved these guys since they first formed their unholy union on Survivor: All-Stars. I even watched their wedding on TV (a guilty pleasure indeed). Now, I understand why people hate them. After all, they are media whores. (Welcome back, Technorati users. This is not a blog about prostitution.) But they were fun to watch. I cheered for them all the way through their first run on The Amazing Race, and I was thrilled when I found out they'd be back for All-Stars.

But this time was different. You see, I know who wins. I knew when Rob and Amber were going to be eliminated. Last time, there was a decent chance they would win the whole thing (they ended up coming in second). This time, I knew they were going tonight. Yeah, this sucks.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Presented without further comment from the public record, Part 4

[UPDATED: The 33 written questions were ruled out of order on Monday, so they are no longer part of the public record. I have removed them from this post. This is not censorship, this is an attempt to accurately reflect the public record. You can still see most of the questions on YK1's website.]

[A few words of explanation: This is a transcript from our legislative assembly. Mr. Hawkins and Ms. Lee are representatives for my community and were present at Wednesday night's meeting. Mr. Dent is the minister of education. Written questions are formal requests for information, and the department must respond in writing within a certain amount of time. Typically, written questions come in groups of one to five questions.]

Member’s Statement On Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

MR. HAWKINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Much of the situation we are facing in [Name of town withheld] with the two school boards can be attributed, to some extent, to the way in which we fund the boards. The more students the board has enrolled, the more funding the board will receive to deliver programs. ECE continues to think of students as commodities. Mr. Speaker, I do not agree. However, if it’s the only way to get a message to the Minister, then so be it. Then if ogres can be like onions, students can be like commodities, Mr. Speaker. So students need investment just like commodities and they need stability to make sense. To illustrate my point, Mr. Speaker, I could draw comparisons to the stock market. Every once in a while there is market disruption, like a fire or school falling off it’s piles. Until this disruption is dealt with, all other schools will not see any new investment. Every once in a while a new product, or school, comes on the market. Everyone wants one; it has shiny bells and all the whistles. It doesn’t matter that there is a perfectly good product or school just down the road; everyone wants the new product until the next one comes along. Every once in a while a new concept or an idea comes along and soon everyone is copying it or modifying it until the great idea or concept comes along. Every once in a while the government decides it needs to meddle in the market, also known as market disruption, Mr. Speaker. The usual consequences of this is one sector of the market will suffer at the expense of the other. You know, Mr. Speaker, although the stock market has good and bad days, in the long run it is stable and usually corrects itself. The problem with the Minister’s solution is that it does not allow the market to correct itself.

We have two strong, excellent school boards, Mr. Speaker, here in [Name of town withheld]. That’s a wonderful thing. What I worry about is the ability of the public system to stay competitive and relevant if it loses one-sixth of its programming space. I’m also concerned with the inability of the Minister to clearly articulate his expectations to both the public and Catholic school board. If his mind was made up that the only situation for the public school board to lease one of their schools to the Catholic school board, he should have told somebody in September; certainly instead of spreading his letter here recently and creating such drama and hysteria as he has done as of late. Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you.


MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Hawkins.

[EDITED: Conversation then turned to other topics]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Handley. Oral questions. The honourable Member for [Name of town withheld] Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

Question 465-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

MR. HAWKINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In my Member’s statement today, I spoke about schools. Schools are about children, Mr. Speaker. Now when I have expectations for my own children, Mr. Speaker, I communicate the consequences of the actions immediately in a timely way. For example, I asked one monster to stop beating on the other one then and there, rather than wait. So can the Minister explain to me why he took so long to express and communicate his expectations and the consequences of them to the [Name of town withheld] school board at the end of February as opposed to explaining them in September? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Dent.

Return To Question 465-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

HON. CHARLES DENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In meetings with the facilities committee, I started telling them what I thought they should be looking at as early as May and June. That continued through the summer and into August. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Dent. Supplementary, Mr. Hawkins.

Supplementary To Question 465-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

MR. HAWKINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I think this decision or this type of discussion certainly is two years overdue. Mr. Speaker, will the Minister be picking up the extra cost if YK1 decides to lease the school? Will they be picking up the extra costs associated with the bussing, the money spent to date for the planning of the next school year that we have now rendered useless and, further, will they be picking up the cost of the severance packages if staff have to be laid off? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. Mr. Dent.

Further Return To Question 465-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am not convinced that there would necessarily be cost for laying off a number of staff. I think that the amount of money that YK1 could use could be put into programming if they were to reduce some of the duplication overhead that they have in keeping an extra school open. It’s stated in the letter and I have always said to YK 1 that we are prepared to look at reasonable transition costs. We are obviously going to be wiling to discuss those. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Dent. Supplementary, Mr. Hawkins.

Supplementary To Question 465-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now the new formula defines school boards is to choke one by his new design of funding arrangement. Now, Mr. Speaker, if YK 1 does not give in to the new funding arrangement he has decreed on one school board, not equally across the Northwest Territories, what is the next plan?

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. Mr. Dent.

Further Return To Question 465-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, the Member talked about consistency across the Northwest Territories. [Name of town withheld] has a unique situation. We have two public boards in [Name of town withheld] that collect taxes from the public. Most jurisdictions across Canada have gotten away from that. Alberta doesn’t allow local boards to collect taxes anymore, nor does Ontario. If we are going to talk about a consistent approach here, maybe we have to talk about removing local taxation ability and funding all boards across the Territories in the same manner. I am wiling to take a look at that. That would, however, have some impact here because the local boards have been using local taxation as a means to improve the services over and above what can be delivered in other communities. In fact, they have to spend the equivalent of somewhere between 103 and 105 percent of what they would have through the typical formula. So if it’s a consistent approach we want for [Name of town withheld], we can take a look at that. Right now, I agree, [Name of town withheld] is treated differently in our system.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Dent. Final supplementary, Mr. Hawkins.

Supplementary To Question 465-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

I appreciate the Minister not answering the question, Mr. Speaker. This question really was about the fact that if YK 1 decides not to lease or give up a school, he has no school. I would like to hear what happens now. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. Mr. Dent.

Further Return To Question 465-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld]

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. With the letter having gone to YK 1 only last week, it’s my intention to leave some time to find out where the situation moves from here. I am quite prepared to meet with parties and have discussions, but I am not going to negotiate here in the House. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Dent. [EDITED: Conversation then turned to other topics.] Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee.

Question 470-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I’d like to pose my questions today to Minister Dent and it’s in regards to the Minister’s letter. I was to YK 1 school board. I was also at the meeting and I do expect that there will be a lot more questions and statements, from my point of view, in the coming days, at least for the remainder of session. The first question that I would like to ask the Minister is that in listening to the parents that were in attendance at the meeting, I think it’s very clear that the parents and staff and the board of YK 1 does not see really any upside in this scenario where the school will be leased rather than their proposal, which is to have YK 1 and YK 2 share. They share existing facilities throughout the city. The parents really feel that in order to accommodate YK 2, that YK 1 is put into a position where they seem to be in a losing position. So could the Minister indicate why this proposal is beneficial to YK 1? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you, Ms. Lee. The honourable Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Dent.

Return To Question 470-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think that whether YK 1 were to lease a school to YCS or not, it would improve the opportunities for education in [Name of town withheld] if they were to consolidate one school. So that’s the first point that I’ve been trying to make, is that whether YK 1 should consider consolidating schools in any case. I think that one of their schools should be shut. That would allow them to flow the extra money that they’re spending now on duplicated administration to important programs that they may have to offer kids, whether it’s immersion, cultural programs. There would be an opportunity for more supports for students with special needs, or perhaps enrichment programming. So right now they’re spending money keeping a school open and that’s all it's doing is paying to keep that school open rather than actually being used to improve education for kids. So that’s the first thing that I’ve said in my letter, is that they need to consider closing a school in order to improve education in the system for kids in [Name of town withheld]. If that school is then closed, why not lease it during the construction period to the other school system so that they can place their kids in there? Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Dent. Supplementary, Ms. Lee.

Supplementary To Question 470-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, obviously the possibility of any closure of a school is very emotional and hard on the children and we heard a lot about that and I would like to pose further questions on that. But another question that I want to follow up on at this time is there are lots of questions that were raised in the meeting about the utilization rates that ECE is proposing. The parents feel that ECE’s counting a lot of public areas that are essential for delivery of programs as one that needs to be filled or that Catholic school uses. For example, one of their schools has the Four Plus Program that should be counted, or that St. Joe’s portables are not being counted. So could the Minister explain more about how ECE counts the utilization rate? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you, Ms. Lee. Mr. Dent.

Further Return To Question 470-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld]

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The same standards are used across the Northwest Territories as are applied to YK1 and YCS. For instance, the program like the Four Plus is not counted in the utilization rate at Weledeh. So that is not included. If they have children in a program there like that, it is not counted as students using space in that school. So that doesn’t count in the rate. We are using the same rates across the Territories. For instance, when we are increasing the numbers of or decreasing the pupil-teacher ratio with the funding we have added this year for physical activity or trades, we don’t think that is going to increase the need for extra classrooms. That is specialized space, so it doesn’t cause a situation where there is going to be a shortage of classrooms.

YK1 doesn’t disagree that they have the equivalent of over 400 vacant seats using an 85 percent occupancy rate. The Government of the Northwest Territories Education, Culture and Employment says that schools shouldn’t operate over approximately 85 percent full. Using that number, YK1 still has in excess of 400 spaces available, the equivalent of a 22-person classroom of 20 classrooms. So there is a lot of flexibility that is in the system right now. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Dent. A short supplementary, Ms. Lee.

Supplementary To Question 470-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld]

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know the YK1 parents continue to feel that the Minister wrote this letter because he is under pressure from the other school board to do so and that there is not an upside for YK1 in doing that. They want to know why the two boards cannot be asked to come to an agreement and why the Minister is making the suggestions. I would like to know how he would answer to that. Thank you.

Thank you, Ms. Lee. Mr. Dent.

Further Return To Question 470-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld]

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. For a number of years now, we have been working -- the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and I -- with both YCS and YK1 to try and facilitate some kind of discussion or agreement on how we could resolve the space issues in [Name of town withheld]. There was the facilities committee which provided me with the report. Following that, I had a facilitator come in to work with just the two boards. After that, I tried to work with the two boards. I have not been successful at negotiating any resolution to this. The situation now is that, this fall, we have a construction project that needs to get started. We need some resolution and some finality. What I have proposed is a method that I see that we can move forward during the process of construction. It is not as if this is going to satisfy YCS. It is not getting them any additional space at the end of the day. That has always been their concern. We are not offering to increase space. Our government has said that we are looking at [Name of town withheld] as one community. Until the whole community is at 85 percent occupancy in the schools, we are not going to build another school. So we are not increasing the amount of space. What we are doing, though, is saying that there is a lot of room for realignment of space. Because of the amount of space that is out there, there should be no reason for us to pay an increased cost to rent space for YCS students during the construction or to have to pay for the increased cost of administering students in several different locations. We think that, since the Government of the Northwest Territories paid for the facilities, during the construction project we should be able to take advantage of all of the facilities that are here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Dent. Final, short supplementary, Ms. Lee.

Supplementary To Question 470-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

MS. LEE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think there were lots of questions from parents who are very concerned about the changes and disruption that would incur for the students should an entire school be transferred. They couldn’t understand why in order to address one school’s needs, everybody else has to be disrupted. If there was -- and I say a big "if" because this is an ongoing question -- what measures would be expected to be taken to minimize disruption on all parties? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms. Lee. Mr. Dent.

Further Return To Question 470-15(5): Funding For [Name of town withheld] Schools

HON. CHARLES DENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the letter I sent to YK1 makes clear, we are prepared to discuss reasonable transition costs as part of doing business. That is to be expected. But I understand that there are concerns from the parents who aren’t certain which school might be impacted if YK1 were to follow through on closing a school. But it is not uncommon in education today to see schools specialized. Parents all across Canada tend to move their kids to schools through a town that is farther away but within the same town. Parents move kids to different schools depending on the programs that are offered. I say that if YK1 were to consolidate their programming, they could offer more and better programming. I would expect that if they had a discussion with parents about what that programming would be, they might find that some parents are willing to consider moving their kids. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Dent.

Friday, March 09, 2007

YK#1 is not going down without a fight

I've been critical of YK#1's communications in the past, but they have surprised me.

Summary of Wednesday night's meeting
(I am quoted, but not by name)
PowerPoint Presentation
FAQ handout

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Today has been a bit nuts. Nobody is talking about anything but schools. Everyone is upset.

One woman came to see me today to thank me for speaking at last night's meeting. She said she had called 40 parents the night before to get the word out.

I also talked to some parents who have kids in the Catholic system. In contrast to what their board would have you believe, we freely associate with Catholic parents and are happy to, um, SHARE lots of things with them.

I do not want to speak for parents in the other system. Heck, I don't even want to speak for parents in my own system. But I'm pretty sure of a few things:

  • They are concerned about the lack of space in their schools. They want something to be done about it. But they don't want it to happen this way.
  • They are upset to see so many people so angry, and they don't want to be the cause of this anger. Some have said that they are embarrassed about the things that have been said and done on their behalf.
  • In direct contrast to what their school board would have them believe, they are no different from us. In fact, it's stupid for me even to be using the words "they" and "us". We're all the same.
I thought one thing was interesting, though. The word "share" has been tossed around a lot, without really explaining what that means. I agree that there's a lot of room for interpretation here, and I don't know what other people might mean by it. But here's what I mean:

I mean that I personally would welcome Catholic students into the schools that I fund with my tax dollars. Pick a school and use any extra space. Fill up the empty classrooms with your students. Share the computer lab, the gymnasium and the library. Use the photocopier and help to clear the paper jams. Take turns manning the phone lines when the bomb threats come in. At the end of the day, send your students home on the same bus my son uses.

I'm not sure why this offer would be so completely rejected.

What's in my MP3 Player?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Public Meeting

Steve and I just got back from the public meeting. It was crowded: a few hundred people were packed into the middle-school gym.

Dozens of parents spoke at the microphone. Many were angry, but a few seemed genuinely confused about why we would be asked to give up a school.

Teachers spoke passionately about the need to put students first and to provide appropriate programming at all levels.

The minister was there, too. He didn't really give any answers, but he spoke after people asked questions. Fundamentally, he was unable to convince anyone that he was right. It didn't help that he kept talking about "business cases" and making vague statements about closing schools entirely.

I am not sure what will happen next. I did not hear from anyone with an opposing point of view, so I honestly don't know what parents from the other school board think about this. I can say that there was consensus tonight on several points:

  • We are happy to share space with the other board. We would welcome any of their students into our schools.
  • We are unwilling to empty one of our schools and hand it over to the other board, even on a temporary basis.
  • We are confused about how it got to this point, and we think that sharing space is an obvious solution. It doesn't make sense to us that our schools aren't good enough to share, but they're good enough to take.
Over the next few days, we will probably learn more about where this is going. I will provide updates.

Presented without further comment from the public record, Part 3

[Name of town withheld] (March 6, 2007) – After working with the [Name of town withheld] Education District #1 (YK1) and [Name of town withheld] Catholic Schools (YCS), Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) Minister, Charles Dent, has provided direction regarding accommodation of students during the phased École St. Joseph School renovations. The renovations are scheduled to start during the 2007-2008 school year.

"Our first priority is to ensure northern students have the space and support they need to succeed," said Minister Dent.

ECE is planning to fund YK1 and YCS based on the relative classroom space requirement for 2007-2008. This change in funding is designed to encourage more efficient use of the existing space.

Minister Dent wrote to the Chair of the YK1 board indicating it is his hope that YK1 will lease a school to YCS in order to provide space for students displaced by the École St. Joseph School renovations.

Currently the school utilization rates are 70.5% at YK1 and 96.6% at YCS. The transfer of one school would result in approximately an 80% facility utilization rate for both districts. This will bring both school districts under the 85% recommended maximum occupancy.

Minister Dent’s letter to YK1, a briefing note on the issue and a table indicating [Name of town withheld] school utilization can be found at:

For more information, contact:
[Name and contact information withheld]

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Kneading help

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Homophones.

I have been alerted to a grave error in one of my previous posts. Ironically, it is a homophonic (is that a word?) error in a post about homophones.

You see, I was writing about how people sometimes don't realize that words can be pronounced the same but have different spellings and meanings. I suspect that this is because we now have spell-checkers on computers. I illustrated this with a 131-word post in which 72 words were spelled incorrectly but would have passed any spell-checker. Sadly, this went over the heads of some readers.

You would not believe this, but in a post that was basically a teeming mass of incorrectly-spelled words, some astute readers were able to identify -- wait for it -- an incorrectly-spelled word. Yes! I have been informed that the word "brake" refers to a device that slows or stops a vehicle. Therefore, it was wrong for me to write "...brake it two ewe this weigh". The proper way to write this, of course, is "...break it two ewe this weigh".

Thanks for keeping me on my tows.

Monday, March 05, 2007


[UPDATED: This post appears to be very popular. This is the first of several posts about the same issue. I've created a new post at the top of the blog that links to all of the entries about the schools. I'll update it as news develops.]

Welcome to the blog. Please read the disclaimer at the top. Now read it again.

Welcome to the place where I post my own personal opinions about things that are important to me personally and that are not in any way official statements from anyone but me. (Got it???)

Okay, let's get started.

For the past couple of years, schools have been one of the hottest local issues. I myself inadvertently became the unofficial spokesperson for a group of parents who were furious with our local school board over its secret plan to convert the school across the road to an all-French school. So don't think that I am some sort of flag-waving fan of the public school board.

A bit of background is in order. There are two English school boards in town. YK#1 is the public board, where Michael goes to school. YCS is the Catholic board, except that they never really acted all that Catholic until about two years ago, when they suddenly decided they needed to build a legal case to prove that they were actually Catholic. They accept non-Catholics, they're funded by tax dollars, and so on.

I need to stop here and stress that both school boards have fabulous programs and excellent teachers. I also need to acknowledge that some of my readers will disagree with the things I am about to say. One of my friends is actually a YCS board member, and another is an uber-Catholic.

YK#1 has more schools and more space than YCS. Over the years, YCS took on so many students (mostly non-Catholic) that it was over capacity. Meanwhile, YK#1 was under capacity. YCS lobbied for a new school, but the government refused to build a new school when there were plenty of seats at YK#1. I can't say I disagree with this decision. It's my tax money, after all. The government threw the issue back into the laps of the two school boards to work out.

YK#1 offered to share a school. YCS refused to share. They wanted a YK#1 school. And that's where talks ended. YK#1 called a meeting for parents to find out what we wanted to do. Dozens of parents spoke at the microphone. Every single person said that we should share. Not one person said that we should hand over a school.

Then one of YCS's two elementary schools caught fire. An entire wing was unusable. During the clean-up, students had to be relocated. I want to stress that the YCS students were welcomed into YK#1 schools. We had always been willing to open our schools to them, but in this emergency situation, there was never any question that we would help in any way we could. Some students went to the YK#1 middle school for two months. Some needed a longer-term solution, so the French-immersion students went to Michael's school, which is English-only. At the time, many people commented that the students appeared to have been placed in unwelcoming surroundings on purpose. Why couldn't the French-immersion students have been relocated to a YK#1 school with French immersion? Why did they have to have separate recess and lunch periods? We thought this was weird, but figured that we would provide whatever they needed.

Six months later, it is time to start seriously planning for the next school year. And don't worry, the government is also seriously planning. The minister of education sent a letter to YK#1, which has been helpfully posted on the YK#1 website.

Go read it. I'm serious.

This letter is written in government double-speak, but fortunately I am a professional double-speak decoder and will help you through the main points.

The last time I discussed space issues with (you)...was last summer after the fire at Ecole St. Joseph School (St. Joe's). I haven't talked to you about this since the emergency last summer. You probably had no idea this letter was on its way.

We have reached a critical time with regard to space needs for students as the renovation planned for St. Joe's begins this fall.
It's getting late. I knew this was coming, which is why I put it off until the last possible moment. Now you have to do what I say.

Over the course of the renovation project, between 100-280 students will have to be relocated for two years. The other board needs space. And there's only one way for them to get it. You need to give them your space.

I believe the disruption to these students should be minimized, and...I see no reason for them to be housed in multiple schools in [NAME OF TOWN WITHHELD TO THWART THE SEARCH ENGINES]. Because these students are being taken from their school, they should not have to deal with extra trouble. All of the students who are displaced from St. Joe's should go to the same school. (Yes, this is confusing. I didn't get it myself until I read the entire letter a couple of times.)

We really need a solution now that will allow the renovation of St. Joe's to proceed this fall...I had hoped the Facilities Planning Committee would resolve this issue without my intervention; however, it has become apparent to me this issue will not be resolved without Ministerial direction. Because you won't play nice, I am going to tell you how it's going to be.

As you are aware, across Canada school boards are encouraged by the Province to close schools that are underused, and consolidate programming in order to achieve economies of scale. Our Government intends to follow a similar path. You heard me. That's a threat. I'm not afraid to close your school.

As a first step, both districts will be funded based on the relative classroom space requirement of each district in the 2007-2008 fiscal year. I'm changing the way you will be funded. Trust me, this means you'll be getting a funding cut.

This decision is also intended to encourage your District to lease the use of one school to YCS. You won't be able to afford to stay open unless you lease a school to YCS. Make plans now to empty a school and displace all of the students into other YK#1 schools.

The timing of the lease would also allow students displaced by the upcoming renovation of St. Joe's to continue to be accommodated. This is happening in September.

Lease payments would be restricted to the actual costs associated with the transition to the lease arrangement.
And don't think you're getting any extra money out of this arrangement.

I am so angry about this that I could spit. YCS kids can't be distributed among different schools, so we have to empty out OUR school and distribute OUR students among different schools?!? I don't think so. You know, I didn't even think of it as "our" school until YCS started demanding that we hand it over.

I figured that the minister would step in eventually to settle the dispute, but never in a million years did I think that THIS would be the decision.

YK#1 is holding a public meeting on Wednesday night. I'll provide an update after that meeting.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Goodbye, Nate

Stuck in a Snowbank Theatre

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Unkel Nat

Humour-impairment test #3

[UPDATED: Link re-directed to a video that still works.]

What is the funniest thing about this video?

a) I don't see anything funny about this video. How dare you suggest that Emma is funny? She's been through so much since the Spice Girls broke up!

b) I suppose the costuming is sort of funny. The song's so prim and proper, and she is dressed, essentially, like a stripper.

c) The fact that she points to her vagina every time she sings the word "Downtown", leading to an entirely new interpretation of lyrics like Forget all your trouble, forget all your cares and go downtown! Things will be great when you're downtown!

d) Something else.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me

I hear a lot about how people all over the world hate Americans. This is an established fact in Canada. If you try to suggest that it might not be true, you will hear a story. It will always be the same story:

When Canadians travel internationally, the locals are always suspicious and hostile until they see the Canadian flag on the traveler’s backpack/purse/lapel. (Of COURSE there is a Canadian flag somewhere on the person’s body! Go ahead and forget your passport – just don’t forget your maple leaf!) Upon seeing the flag, the locals reverse course and welcome the Canadians to their homes/iglus/yurts. Personality doesn’t matter: the only thing that’s important is that the locals don’t think they’re Americans.

Don’t bother suggesting otherwise. Canadians cling to this story like it’s the last helicopter out of Saigon. They are already preparing to defend it to the death in the comments box. They KNOW this is true! They’ve seen it happen! It happened to a friend! How dare I suggest otherwise?

The funniest part of this story is that Canadians are convinced that they have a fabulous international reputation. All those threats from al-Qaeda specifically naming Canada are just a joke. Osama’s mistaken. We aren’t the enemy! What’s important is that we’re not in Iraq! Everyone knows this, and it changes everything!

Canadians are so frantic to distinguish themselves from Americans that they haven’t bothered to establish a Canadian identity. Go ahead: ask a Canadian what it means to be Canadian. If you get any answer at all, it will be something along the lines of “Um, NOT an American.” How descriptive!

I am reminded of Borat’s interviews a few months ago in which he passionately defended Kazakhstan and viciously denounced Uzbekistan. Hilarious, right? How many differences could there possibly be? I imagine that this is what the locals in Poland, Botswana or Turkmenia think when they watch Canadians desperately flashing their maple leaves.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Canadian television

My dad mentioned that it was a shock to watch the CBC show I posted a few days ago.

This got me thinking about how Americans view Canadian programming. We, of course, see American shows all the time. The Canadian airwaves are saturated with them. But Americans don't get to see our stuff very often.

So this post is a bit of an experiment. I have purposely avoided looking for "representative" clips; these are the first clips I stumbled across from each show. I've tried to give you a sample of the different types of Canadian programming that are available and that have a sizable audience. I'd like to know what you think.

The Hour:

The Hour is a current-affairs show with commentary and interviews. This is George Stroumboulopoulos, or "Strombo" as he apparently likes to be called. He is going to save the CBC, right after I throw up in this garbage can.

The Mercer Report:

The Mercer Report is one of our favourites, although I admit that we are biased because he is from the same part of Newfoundland we are from. We watch it every week. Rick travels around the country, basically acting like a doofus and making fun of the federal government.

Corner Gas:

Okay, so this clip isn't great. This looks like the pilot episode. I may have backed myself into a corner by using the first clips I could find. Corner Gas is the number-one Canadian comedy.

the fifth estate:

Hehehehe. This clip was the first on the list, and it's about American TV. This program is probably the best investigative news show in Canada. I don't expect anyone to watch the entire clip.

Canadian Idol:

Yes, this is our version of the singing contest. My favourites never win, although I voted (over and over and over) for the first guy in this clip: you can also see him in this post. Considering the crap they make the winners sing, it is probably best that my favourites don't win.

Okay, that's your sample. What do you think?