Star Spangled Boner

Image result for Canadian Barbie

A lot of people ask me the difference between Canadians and Americans. Well, first the facts: our country’s larger, our population’s smaller, Canadian men liked wearing clogs in the ’70s and we’ve never considered testing the viscosity of spray cheese in space a worthwhile scientific endeavour.

I noticed while working abroad that colleagues soon began substituting American with North American in conversation. Such gestures are certainly appreciated but only serve to remind Canadians that while Americans have fifty states, we have only one: self-consciousness. Every Canadian feels guilty knowing their new co-workers are constantly bricking it lest they should inadvertently refer to us as American, a situation which can only ever lead to our greatest export: the apology. We’re famous for apologizing – we even apologize for it. I recognize that, even close up, we look and sound like our U.S. counterparts to most people. The differences are subtle, even to us sometimes. It is, however, my belief that the best way to differentiate between our two cultures is to study America’s greatest cultural icon: Barbie.

America has Malibu Barbie who likes strolling along the beach with the ocean breeze in her hair… Canada has Seal Hunt Barbie who is a crack shot.

Malibu Barbie drives a Dream Camper Van with built-in kitchen and fold-out tent… Ice Road Trucker Barbie cooks roadkill under the hood and homeschools three kids in her sleeper cab.

Prom Queen Barbie comes with her very own makeup and accessories table… Lumberjack Barbie’s sporting a Leafs toque in her wedding photos.

American Barbie hails from Wisconsin, studied in New York and now lives with her parents and younger sisters in California… Canadian Barbie was taken into care after her parents became addicted to online bingo and were caught trying to sell their own kidneys on ebay.

American Barbie dates long-term boyfriend, Ken… Canadian Barbie’s best friend is an orphaned bear cub whose mother was shot dead by two tourists up from Oregon for the weekend.

American Barbie is cosmopolitan and culturally sensitive… Yukon Barbie saw her first Sikh last week and asked him for three wishes.

American Barbie is a role model for her millions of followers on the internet… Canadian Barbie is completely unaware that a video of her bathing in what she thought was a secluded watering hole has placed her in Pornhub’s Top Ten.

Vegetarian Barbie only buys food from locally sourced producers… Marijuana Farm Barbie patrols the perimeter of her property in a JLTV.

American Barbie spent a fun-filled New Year’s Eve with Ken in Times Square… Canadian Barbie pointed out Ursa Major in the night sky to her orphaned bear cub – and apologized.

Bushwhacked

We have a hedge – when I say we

I’m merely being neighbourly

Which separates us from next door

We’re Number Two, they’re Number Four.

The hedge is green and not too tall

And forms a living, breathing wall

Which houses hedgehogs, snails and toads

Who are no match for busy roads.

The problem is, our neighbour’s plans

Involve a wall where our hedge stands

Three times its height and twice as thick

He’s done all the arithmetic.

Just think how private it will be!

I won’t see you, you won’t see me!

To me, this sentiment offends

Because I’d thought of us as friends.

His plan to rip the whole hedge out

This ‘eyesore’ he could do without

We thought he had it all in hand

Until we learned it’s on our land.

So now he doesn’t speak to me

Which happens when folks disagree

Their house is also up for sale

A sorry ending to this tale.

As for our hedge, it’s still intact

And here’s an interesting fact:

He’ll get his wish without a wall

For soon we won’t see him at all…

Alpha Mail

The moment I turn down your street
There’s no one that I wish to meet
So step aside or feel my wrath
‘Cause I’m a walking psychopath.
I don’t care how you feel today
If so-and-so has moved away
Or that you think the neighbour’s gay
Because he took up macramé.
I’ll knock your pots then slam the gate
And feed that dog of yours I hate
A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
To make the ugly mutt shut up.
As for your kid, if he’s on hand
And asks me for a rubber band
He’ll get one right between the eyes
Then several more until he cries.
And what’s the deal with Amazon?
Do you buy for the Pentagon?
Is it too much to take a bus
And shop just like the rest of us?
Just one more thing: if you complain
You won’t hear from your gran again
When we hear something we don’t like
My friends and me, that’s when we strike.

Because I’m not like most men
For I’m your local postman

Peace Nicked

“Have you been following events in The Ukraine?”

“John, we no longer call it that.”

“No longer call what what?”

“We no longer call it The Ukraine.”

“What are you talking about?”

“We just say Ukraine now; they’ve dropped the The,” Laverne gave me the lowdown.

“Who did?”

“The Ukrainians.”

“Don’t you mean Ukrainians?”

“That’s what I said.”

“No, you said The Ukrainians.”

“Oh, for God’s sake…”

“Why is it I’m only hearing about this now?”

“Try spending less time on TikTok.”

“I enjoy watching eco-tourists run for their lives.”

“Fair enough,” Laverne shrugged.

“So, when did they ditch the The?”

“I believe it was around the same time Kentucky Fried Chicken rebranded as KFC.”

“Do you think their KFCs serve Chicken Kiev?”

“We don’t say that either.”

“What? Chicken?”

“No, Kiev.”

“You’re kidding.”

“We now pronounce it Kyiv, like Steve.”

“Who the hell cares how he says it?”

“Who?”

“Steve Downey.”

“Please tell me you didn’t just say that.”

“And how would the Downeys know Ukrainian anyway? They’re a bunch of redheads.”  

“Sweetie, I want you to stop talking,” Laverne took my hand. “This is all the result of transliteration.”

“I thought their flag was pink, blue and white.”

“In the past we had a habit of anglicising names which proved tricky to pronounce and no one really questioned it. Now there’s a bit of a reset happening, that’s all.”

“My stress levels go through the roof every time I have to say anemone.”

“When did you last need to say anemone?”

“Two and a half hours ago.”

“I’m talking about foreign names.”

“Brunhilde.”

“Place names.”

“Melbourne.”

“More foreign than that.”

“Machu Picchu.”

“It’s Bombay becoming Mumbai and Calcutta becoming Kolkata, that sort of thing,” Laverne clarified.

“We weren’t that far off on those two,” I felt I ought to give credit where credit was due.

“My issue isn’t with the consonants so much, as the bloody diphthongs.”

“Your Vietnamese neighbours? What have they done now?”

“Stop it,” Laverne giggled. “Hey, did you know that Kanye’s changed his name as well? Apparently he now goes by Ye. My son told me.”

Ye?”

“Yup.”

“Maybe it’s short for Yeuch.”

“Or Yikes.”

“I still fail to see the significance.”

“Well, according to Ye himself, ye is the most common word in The Bible.”

“Blessed be the fruit.”

“Oh, there’s more… Ye then enlightened us further by explaining that ye can sometimes mean thee.”

“Which Ukrainians have dropped like a hot potato,” I reminded my friend.

“They dropped a The, not a thee.”

“Be that as it may, I think Ye will find that the most common word in The Bible is, in fact, the.”

“So we’ve circled back on ourselves,” Laverne groaned. “How do we bring this to an end?

“Here’s a crazy idea: add a The.”

The End

Chat Room

REVIEW: 50's Prime Time Cafe in Disney's Hollywood Studios

The cashier took my money

Without even glancing up

So I said something funny

As a means to interrupt

Her name tag spelled out Mary

And she didn’t think it cute

When I rhymed it with scary

Before asking: Are you mute?

The parking lot attendant

Waved me past while on the phone

A job that’s not dependent

Upon people skills alone

His name badge boasted Wainwright

And that’s all I gleaned from him

While he kept playing Fortnite

With a gamer in Tianjin.

My lunch was served by Lizzie

In a small, outdoor café

Where staff are far too busy

To cite Specials of the Day

Instead when it gets hectic

They just gesture to a wall

Good luck if you’re dyslexic

When you try read the scrawl.

The bank staff social-distanced

As they monitored the line

And then at their insistence

I saw Teller Number Nine

Laverne asked for my password

Followed by my date of birth

Then after that all I heard

Was my after-tax net worth.

Without a chat

We’re hardly here

Soon after that

We disappear

But I endure

This guessing game

Because I’m sure

God knows my name.

Bad Hare Day

This guy chillin with his dog in London : funny

Every evening after dinner my dogs, Gizmo and Spark, take me for a walk. On our way to the park the pair regularly drops in on our elderly neighbours who, in most cases, once had dogs of their own. One in particular, Old Ed, is especially fond of Gizmo who himself is knocking on 17 years. The two have a bond and Ed discusses everything with his loyal friend, from his time in the National Service to the state of the NHS.

During one visit in particular we had time to spare and happily sat down to watch Crime Watch UK, one of Ed’s favourite TV programmes. Ed is 89 years old but not without his faculties and he considers it his civic duty to keep watch over the neighbourhood.

“It’s the old dears we need to look out for,” he said. “They’re soft targets.”

“And who’s looking out for you?” I asked.

“Gizmo.”

Elderly Farmer Standing Leaning On A Wooden Fence Surveying His ...

That evening’s episode included a re-enactment of a homicide which had taken place in the shires. Like all re-enactments, the viewers were first introduced to the characters and setting to make its treatment of the crime less clinical and more personal. The victim in question was an elderly farmer. His last day on earth portrayed him as a hard-working, decent sort who was fair in his dealings with others. The narrator set the scene:

John Brown began his day like any other, checking his crops in the fields. For him, as for every other farmer in the county, rabbits proved a perennial pest because he grew their favourite food: carrots. Every morning, shotgun slung over his shoulder, he’d shoot as many as twenty before breakfast.

“Vermin,” Ed told Gizmo, who hung on his every word although deaf as a post.

After a long day’s work, John Brown drove his tractor into an outbuilding and locked it shut. He then checked on his cows and hens a final time before heading into the farmhouse.

“Cows and chickens make okay intruder alarms but he should have had a few geese as well. They’re the best,” Ed informed me.

“Why’s that?”

“They’re skittish. Geese’ll wake the dead.”

“They haven’t mentioned his family so I’m guessing he might be a widower,” I ventured.

“They didn’t say. But where are the sons?”

“Maybe they didn’t choose that life.”

“It’s the best life for a person,” Ed was staring ahead at nothing in particular. “Fresh air, proper food, hard work…”

File:Age-worn door latch and lock on well-weathered planks ...

The narrator went on to describe what police believe happened next. Apparently, at some point during the night one or more intruders broke into the farmhouse. From what they could gather, the intruder(s) found John Brown’s shotgun by the door. Whether it was because he heard them or not, John Brown came downstairs and was confronted by the intruder(s) who killed him with his own shotgun.

Nothing of value was taken as far as police can tell. John Brown had no known enemies and it’s suspected it might have been a burglary which went horribly wrong.

“Poor bugger,” Ed stroked Gizmo behind the ears. “And by his own gun.”

“Maybe he screwed someone over,” I weighed the evidence. “Maybe he owed them money. Farmers are always juggling massive debts.”

“It wouldn’t be that.”

“Maybe developers wanted the land and he wouldn’t sell.”

“Nope, that’s not it. Keep going.”

“Okay, last one,” I racked my brain. “Maybe he does have a son but they’re estranged and the son came to claim what he believed to be his birthright: the farm or revenge!”

“Not even close,” Ed laughed. “Not even close. It’s obvious; think about it.”

Home - Grimmway Farms

I was flummoxed, but moreover, I was intrigued by his self-assuredness in the matter. I had apparently missed a vital clue which was the clincher. Now watching him savour the moment without any smugness whatsoever I was proud of Ed. He’d seen more in his lifetime than I ever would: The Great Depression, WW2, the draft, rationing, The Cold War and a man on the moon, yet I knew he now felt utterly discarded by those who had come after him. What he’d already forgotten I’d never know; I had gained knowledge whereas Ed’s generation had acquired wisdom.

“Give up?” he grinned, thumbing tobacco into his pipe.

“I’m all out of ideas,” I conceded, happy to be sharing in his big moment.

“It was the rabbits,” he winked. “It just takes a couple of crosshairs.”

Alcohol On You Later

My granny’s got two teapots
(this tends to make her wee lots)
Her good one goes out on display
The other she keeps tucked away
When visitors decide to call
The posh pot serves them, one and all
Dispensing cups of Earl of Grey
On her brushed-silver serving tray

A person shouldn’t trivialise
A ritual so civilised

When Elsie Burns, who lives next door
Comes calling ‘round each day at four
The Staffordshire is put away
For it’s too late for Earl of Grey
Gran reaches for her other pot
Whose contents never need be hot
And pours her canny friend a cup
Of mother’s homemade pick-me-up

A nip of whisky leaves them feeling
Life’s too short to drink Darjeeling

I Noah Guy…

Image result for hipster nativity

In the spirit of the season, I drove an elderly neighbour to mass this morning after she knocked on my door claiming to need a lift due to the icy weather. The Church of St Mary Magdalene (didn’t get that memo) is a local Catholic landmark conspicuously situated between the Women’s Health Centre and Darth Vaper’s E-Cig Emporium about a mile from where I live. As we pulled up to the entrance Mrs Malarkey gently enquired, “Are you coming in? You can send a calendar back home to your mother. I’m sure she’d love hearing what’s been going in the parish.”

The old clam had me. At 85 she didn’t miss a trick and knew I hadn’t been to mass since my parents’ last visit.

“Of course,” I stated coolly, looking her straight in the eye. “It’s Christmas, isn’t it? Now, are you going to be alright managing those steps while I park the car?”

“I’ll just wait for you here,” she parried, then thrust, “and it’s not Christmas. It’s only the Fourth Sunday of Advent.”

“I know it’s still Advent. Hey, it looks like they’ve put down some salt,” I pressed on. “Try the steps and see how you go.”

“No, I’ll wait for you, then we can go in together.”

Game on.

Entering the church brought back a load of memories. I’d been an altar boy right through high school and was much more sanguine about the role the Church might play in later life. Uncompromising and unafraid to challenge the moral turpitude swirling all about me, from an early age I had developed a low tolerance to riff raff. After all, I’d been named after Pope John XXIII and unlike a lot of 12 year olds, had written my own Encyclical:

  1. When you overhear your parents choosing your high school, ask them to aim higher than one simply called St Richard’s or St Agatha’s, guiding them instead towards spiritual heavyweights like Our Lady of the Blessed Annunciation or St Anthony and the Holy Infant. This will disarm any cynics questioning the fact your parents stopped attending mass years ago.
  2. When adults catch the name of your school across your hockey jacket and ask what a Blessed Annunciation is, let out an audible sigh and look upon their children with pity. As you walk away rolling your eyes, ponder the fact they can read at all.
  3. Wonder why all the nuns at school have names beginning with Mary and ending with a male name, such as Sister Mary Edward. Believe your older sister when she tells you they all used to be men until God changed them into nuns as punishment for a crime only the Pope knows about.
  4. Think it a shame that priests can only wear black because it shows up dandruff and means they can never shop at The Gap.
  5. When a pretty young nun starts teaching at your school, tell your mother that if you were older and she lived next door, you’d become a priest and marry her.
  6. When a cool young priest starts teaching at your school, agree with your friends that if he grew his hair longer and learned how to play the electric guitar he’d be the most famous priest ever.
  7. When your father informs you that he saw your parish priest swimming lengths at his health club, ask yourself if priests are permitted such indulgences, then check if his bathing suit was black.
  8. When your teacher warns that thinking impure thoughts during mass will get you an extra year in purgatory, decide it’s worth it.
  9. Ask your RE teacher if Eve really looked like the woman in the Pantene Shampoo commercial.
  10. Ask if Jonah crawled out of the whale’s spout or got pooped out.
  11. Ask if, after turning water into wine at the wedding in Canaan, Jesus then made chocolate milk for the children.
  12. Ask your parents a million times if you can go to midnight mass this year because you’re now an adult. Reassure them that you no longer believe in Santa, elves and reindeer, explaining that you only wish to fulfill a religious obligation. Don’t tell them your older sister reliably informed you that this is the mass in which God appears.
  13. Tell all your friends you were allowed to go to midnight mass. When you’re sure none of them attended the service, lower your voice and inform them that God appeared. When they inevitably ask you what He looked like, whisper that you’re not allowed to tell.
  14. Turn to your Dad during midnight mass and insist you just heard sleigh bells outside. When he chides you, wonder how he can seriously expect an 8 year old to think about God and not presents on Christmas Eve. Hope that Rudolph drops a big steamy one on his new Ford Bronco.
  15. Point out your neighbours during mass and say out loud, “Hey, Mom… you’re right! The Espositos only DO go to mass at Christmas and Easter!” Then report back each time they sit down when they’re supposed to kneel.