Archive for November, 2006

The War on Christmas Seems To Start Earlier Every Year

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

I get a lot of comment spam here, usually five to ten a day that get through the filters and whatnot. Not a hideous amount, but still a pain in the ass. Normally it’s the usual suspects (and for fear of triggering keywords I won’t describe them here), but today I got a great piece on last year’s post The War Against Christmas: Is It A Quagmire?, that I thought was worth sharing for everyone to mock. Here’s the text:

Thanks for keeping the spirit of Christmas alive. I’ve been fighting on the Best Buy front on the war on Christmas with an original song that seems to be generating lots of interest.

As you may know, Best Buy banned the use of “Merry Christmas” in their ads this year. It caused me to wonder what kind of an Inn Best Buy would be if it were an Inn, and not a department store, back in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.

That’s pretty wacky as is, since you could hardly accuse this blog of keeping the spirit of anything alive. We’re more in the spirit-crushing business around here. Anyways, the best part is the linked mp3 protest song, which I just know is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the night. Check it.

UPDATE

Holy mamma! This guy’s songs are awesome!

More here. I don’t want to reward spammers, but wow. I can’t pick a favorite! Every song is crazier (and hence awesomer) that the last.

The Water Situation

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

The drinking water here has been a bit sketchy since that storm blew in off the Pacific last week. The massive rainfall stirred up all this junk in the tapwater, making it turbid and brown. Right now we’re clocking in at around 24 nephelometric turbidity units (NTUs), well above the Canadian Drinking Water Guideline’s recommended 1 NTU. There have been fistfights outside CostCo over bulk bottled water. Can you believe that shit? I wonder how these people would behave in a genuine crisis.

But it’s not a big deal; it’s just minerals, sediment, organic matter and such that got washed into the reservoirs. I’ve been showering and brushing my teeth and doing my dishes without problems. Really, this is just a little taste of how most of the world lives. Do you know how thrilled people in China or Iraq would be if their tapwater was only a little bit brown and cloudy? They’d be pretty fucking happy.

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Tupperware Party

Friday, November 17th, 2006

During the summer of 1995 I worked in the tupperware mines near Sault Ste. Marie. There were six of us to a team. We would single-file down the narrow mineshaft with our pickaxes and helmets to blast the tupperware out of the solid granite of the Canadian Shield. The first guy in line would pry a piece loose and hand it back to the guy behind him, who would pass it to the guy behind him, and so on until the last guy in line (which was me), who would would scramble towards the surface and toss it on the pile.

We had to be fast because on the way back up we’d all begin to wheeze and cough, from the tupperlung, the Betty Crocker lung. But hacking and choking towards daylight we realize, shit, we’ve gotta go back, we forgot the lid! You gotta get the lid, the whole thing is fucking useless without the lid!

It was a shitty job, but worth it, you know? For the leftovers, for the meatloaf and the stew and the tuna salad. How are you going to carry your tuna salad without tupperware? You can’t put that shit in a bag!

So next time you’re bringing your lunch to work with you, give a thought to the brave souls of Sault-Ste-Marie, wheezing from the tupperlung, the Betty Crocker lung, who made it possible.

Time of the Season for Loving

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Dear Wendy, written by the infamous Dutch Americanophile Lars von Trier and directed by his longtime collaborator Thomas Vinterberg, is the heartwarming tale of a boy and his gun, although in this case the heart is warmed not so much by sentiment but by hot lead.

The story revolves around a group of young outcasts, (mid to late teens seemingly, but this is a little vague, in some ways they seem very adult, in other ways, particularly their enthusiasm for escapist fantasy, quite childlike). In their podunk American mining town of Estherslope, they form a secret gun club in an abandoned mine works, lead by Dick, a strict philosophical pacifist who discovers that carrying a small pearl-handled pistol greatly improves his self-confidence. Sharing his newfound source of confidence and power with the other downtrodden and abused residents of their backwater berg, their guns become mystical fetish objects imbued with personality and will, and around which they devise elaborate cult rituals. Calling themselves ‘The Dandies’, they dress in Wildean vintage costumes and speak with an affected literary erudition, study ballistics and gunshot wound pathology and practice marksmanship. Their guns are given names (Dick’s pistol is the titular Wendy), and new members take part in a wedding ceremony to their chosen weapon. The link between guns and sexual power and knowledge is made explicit throughout the film. Susan, picked on at school for her small boobs, finds that as her skill with her akimbo pistols grows, so also do her breasts.

Dick deals with his moral conflict about his pacifism and his gun cult by developing a strict moral code that the guns are never to be drawn. So repelled by violence are they that they cannot even utter the word “killing,” using instead the word “loving.” Loving, says their code, must never ever happen; that would be the worst thing of all. None of the real, human relationships in the movie have any substantial sexual element, which is part of what makes the characters seem extremely child-like. The confusion of loving vs. killing is pretty much the central conceit of the movie. Written by Lars von Trier, it retains the sort of theatrical-realism as in Dogville or Manderlay, the same heavily allegorical “village square” setting, although in this case the third-person omniscient narration is replaced by Dick’s voice-over reading a love-letter to Wendy. Borrowing from Manderlay in particular is the interest in confronting the audience with racial tabu, especially with respect to the fear of black sexual potency, a theme completely hammered home in Manderlay and introduced again here.

I wasn’t really watching the film, as a lot of other reviewers did, as a satire/criticism of American gun-fetish culture. von Trier is often dismissed by silly idiots because his movies are only about shitting on America. I didn’t really see this film as dealing particularly with American society, the guns here being, I though, metaphors for sexual power. Structurally, the film has a lot in common with the coming-of-age genre, with the major exceptions that the obligatory romantic interest between Dick and Susan is here completely sublimated into Dick’s passion for his pistol, and that everyone dies at the end.

Dear Wendy is definitely more lighthearted than either Dogville or Manderlay, maybe thanks to the contribution of Vinterberg, but if you weren’t impressed by either of those, Dear Wendy is unlikely to change your opinion of von Trier.

Gallows Humour

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Good Comfort Food

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

I made a big pot of lamb stew last weekend, and it was so magically delicious that I thought I’d share the recipe.

2-3lbs lamb shoulder
2 cups beef stock
Half a bag peeled mini-carrots
3 celery stalks
1 medium-sized turnip
diced potatoes
2 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp garlic
1 big white onion
3 small bay leaves
Half a tallboy can of Kilkenny

All these quantities are rough estimates – I never measure anything. I got the lamb shoulder from the Halal butcher on the drive, which I highly recommend. Friendly guys and good-quality local meat. When I ordered my lamb shoulder they didn’t have enough out, so they had to drag a whole lamb torso out from the back and carve it up on the tablesaw. It was pretty graphic; I’m not used to such an intimate relationship with the origin on my meat. Nevertheless, it was delicious.

You’ll want to coat the lamb chunks in flour and brown it in a pan. Then put everything except the potatoes in a big-ass pot and simmer on low for three or four hours. Drink the rest of the Kilkenny while you wait. Add the potatoes and cook for another half-hour. Serve with a nice crusty sourdough for dipping.