Happy Victoria Day!
(And to our readers outside Canada, psst, it’s Victoria Day) Queen Victoria: longest reigning British Monarch, first to be crowned Empress of India (a tad presumptuous), last of the House of Hanover, longest-lived British monarch until Elizabeth II recently surpassed her. Victoria’s reign saw 20 British governments come and go, and her name is evocative of the height of Empire, of the flowering of British sciences, letters and invention, of the Dickensian horrors of industrialization, and of class rigidity, pomposity and prudery. So enjoy the day, but keep your pleasures confined within the limits of British decency, and keep those suggestive table legs covered up.
…in nómine partridge and fillet of herring…
Vivian Stanshall as a Pied Piper in a Garret in the Palace
More doo dah after the break.
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It must be Friday. Two colleagues are making rounds of the cubicles. They carry thin cardboard boxes, limply open, full of slices of spongy and creamy cake wrapped in cellophane. A friend with a camera follows. You take a piece of cake and you have your picture taken with the cake giver.
It’s the cake giver’s last day at work and this is the tradition. It’s been a few weeks since the last one. Some months it’s every week and sometimes it’s not just Fridays. Usually I don’t know the person but I often still get a piece and a picture. Today I know one of them.
A few weeks ago as I waited by the bathroom for the cleaners to finish, Jane turned in her chair and motioned to me.
-I have a secret. Promise not to tell?
-How did you know?
- It’s the only secret people tell me.
My colleagues, fresh from university and at their first job, work hard. They are well paid, jumping straight into middle-class from the first day, but I imagine the working life which they once thought glamourous disappoints with long hours and weeks away from home. They lack the evenings and weekends spent at part-time work at movie theatres shovelling popcorn or at fast food places mopping floors. They don’t know that the better life is trudging days.
And most have options: some are hunted, some have found other things, and some just want a break. They think that the job around the corner is better – better pay and less overtime. But it’s another job. At four years, I am a veteran. It’s not just the factories and the construction companies that suffer from high turnover. A booming and diversifying economy brings options to educated people with experience, even only a year.
With the cake comes email. Long, flowery, overly earnest and sentimental, the message thanks everyone. Frequently 500 words or more, the messages read like high school yearbook essays – friends forever, keep in touch, miss you. They are less filling and more saccharine than the cake but equally well-intentioned.
The cake is eaten, the message deleted.
Innumerable species play, and many – certainly many primates – laugh and tease and jest. But are we alone in our ability to grasp, appreciate, and delight in the absurd? How stands the octopus on Dada? (On his head-foot, of course.) As this video of the Maywa Denki group illustrates, true nonsense requires a most subtle and flexible mind, and whimsy takes dedication.
Via Laughing Squid
Originally posted May 24, 2011
In this 1968 episode of Firing Line, William F. Buckley and sociologist Lewis Yablonsky attempt to put Hippie-ism, in the persons of a gooned and pugnacious Jack Kerouac and Ed Sanders of the Fugs, under the microscope. A stilted sort of hilarity ensues. Buckley smirks, Kerouac blunders, swinging wildly, Yablonsky drones and Ed the Fug, alone, emerges with personal dignity intact.
Via Open Culture
William F.: Do you draw any generalities on the basis of the behavior of the Soviet Union [in Czechoslovakia] which instruct you in assessing other political situations…
Ed the Fug: Yeah, like Mayor Daley in Chicago.
William F.: What are those?
Ed the Fug: Those are, when you attempt to, essentially peacefully, gather together to press a point about a war, about freedom, or about freedom of journalism, that you are confronted by people like the Soviet leaders, like the leaders in Chicago, namely Mayor Daley… …you’re confronted with essentially the same position. No, you’re not allowed. You are clubbed. You are maced. You are gassed, freaked, zapped, pushed over. If you are an old lady, you get thrown through a plate glass window. If you’re a cripple, you are thrown against a street light. If you are a peaceful, long-haired, loving protestor, you are smashed and knocked down. If you are a camera man, you are bricked and your camera is destroyed, and your blood is splattered all over you… I mean it’s a nefarious scene.
by Michelle Lovegrove Thomson on April 17, 2013
The Cape Breton singer died on Tuesday as a result of complications from surgery. She recorded 24 albums over her career, and her song “Working Man” will live on as an evocative and emotional tale of mining-culture in the mid-Twentieth century. I would describe her sound as Celtic showtunes, or 80s adult contemporary imbued with local flair. MacNeil’s Christmas TV specials were a delight. At the core of each song—the lyrical heart—was an evident love of the east coast life.
In 2008, it was widely reported that the RCMP had maintained a file on MacNeil in the 1970s, before she had embarked on a singing career, tracking her “Women’s Liberation” activities. As noted in a Toronto Star article from August 2008,
In the early 1970s, MacNeil was a married mother of two children and living in east-end Toronto. Every Tuesday night, she’d attend downtown meetings with women from all walks of life where, MacNeil says, they talked mostly about equal rights. The Mounties infiltrated the Toronto Women’s Caucus, starting in the late 1960s. The force kept tabs on the group’s activities and compiled biographical sketches of its members, including MacNeil.
In the article MacNeil quips, “What’s radical about equal pay for equal work? And trying to empower women to reach the potential that they have? The only thing I’m sorry about now is I didn’t know I was under surveillance, or I would have got them to drive me home.”
Rita represented the women and men of the Maritimes with her beautiful, genuine, and passionate voice. Her music will be missed.
ECMA Tribute to Rita in 2005:
by Gaalen Engen on April 17, 2013
A precipice has been steadily building over the last five years and with the collapse of the global economy, parity of the Canadian dollar and an aggressively competitive marketplace, BC’s film and television production industry is teetering on the edge of it. What used to be the third largest producer of film and television in North America next to Los Angeles and New York is now slipping past fifth place. Film and television production in BC was a 1.2 billion dollar a year industry. Now the twenty-five thousand workers directly employed in this sector have their livelihoods hanging in the balance. What is behind this monumental slide and why is the present government refusing to do anything about it? I pursued veteran actor and UBCP board member, Ellie Harvie and current face of Save BC Film, Wayne Bennett, for answers.
Two people were killed – including an 8-year-old boy – and at least 100 were injured as two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, today.
The attack occurred without warning, and the devices appear to have been planted in the spectator section. Boston Police have no information on who was responsible at this point, but they are not ruling this out as an act of terrorism. No individuals or groups have claimed responsibility, at this time.
In a statement, President Obama has said that “we still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this … Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”
In this video: a scene of chaos, as the second bomb goes off:
CGP Grey provides a pithy tour of the worlds only elected, non-hereditary, absolute monarchy.
Richard Thompson ~ Mother Knows Best
So you think you know how to wipe your own nose
So you think you know how to button your clothes
You don’t know shit
If you hadn’t already guessed
You’re just a bump on the log of life
‘Cos Mother knows best
She tells everybody she was born in a ditch
She backcombs her hair till she looks like a witch
Wolves in her train, serpents suckle at her breast
Don’t forget to wash behind your ears
‘Cos Mother knows best
O you lost your job, well ain’t that a shame
Got nobody but yourself to blame
You deserve everything you get for such carelessness
And don’t eat your peas off the knife
O Mother knows best
So your baby’s hungry
So your baby’s sick
Don’t make babies, that’ll do the trick
Put another string of barbed wire in your little love nest
It’s better than a cardboard box
Mother knows best
She got a zombie army to serve her well
She got a thousand bloodhounds from the gates of Hell
She got a hundred black horses with sulphur and coal on their breath
And she rides the unbelievers down
Mother knows best
She says, bring me your first-born
I’ll suck their blood
Bring me your poor
I can trample in the mud
Bring me your visionaries
I can put out their eyes
Bring me your scholars
I’ll have them all lobotomised
Mother knows best
Her life’s work long since accomplished, and her ideological legacy our present, it seems the octogenarian biological life form of Margaret Thatcher (unable to attend the Royal Wedding) may not be long for this world. While her death is unlikely to be met by orgiastic throngs of gleeful, flag-waving patriots, many will not be sad to see her go even if her legacy endures. So then, Elvis Costello, performing a fitting tribute to the Baroness from his late-eighties album Spike.
Lyrics and a Ken Loach doc below. Read the rest of this entry »
by Laurence Miall on April 8, 2013
In some respects, Justin Trudeau is a lot like Barack Obama. Those that like him like him because they can project their own ideas onto him. Being around him is like breathing in air that is momentarily transubstantiated into stardust, like water into wine. Breathing that rarefied air, you start to believe this handsome devil might have transformational powers. “I want hope.” Zing! Trudeau has hope… “I want change.” Zing! Trudeau promises change, and not of the pocket variety. Unlike Obama, Trudeau has a famous father. This, by the standards of our humble country, pretty much makes him an aristocrat. Because Canada has for so long lacked the American or British flair for state pomp and ceremony, we have been compelled to turn for a second time to the only family that gives us some version of “Camelot.” We, and by we I mean the Liberals (the self-appointed collective embodiment of all Canadians), will now crown Justin Trudeau as a party leader because as PM he would give us a beautiful face to turn toward the world. His face, unlike current PM Stephen Harper’s face (a more sneaky and devious face would be hard to find) might compel us to finally believe Good Things again about the Great White North that we call home. Read the rest of this entry »
Dance (wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous) critters!
Fun fact: At the Battle of Stirling Bridge, William Wallace arranged his defensive shiltrons in Fibonacci sequence. The numerous but innumerate English invaders were baffled as well as defeated there.