Friday, December 30, 2005

Larry Gets Mugged by the Ghost of Christmas Presents

Now that the Christmas fever has abated I can tell this sordid little tale. I couldn’t before because it might have given away a surprise.

It’s a sad tale of the decline of the west, the slow spiral of the concept of customer service into the fetid sump of irrelevance.

It all started about two weeks before Christmas when Suzy Homemaker buttonholed me in the hallway just outside the cafeteria at the Yoni School for Wayward Poets.

“Larry,” she said, “I can’t find my Messiah, I’m missing the Messiah, do you know where the Messiah is? You know, Handel’s Messiah, I can’t find the Messiah, you’re the one who organized the tapes, where’s the Messiah, he isn’t where he’s supposed to be, can’t find him I know you must have put him away in the manger somewhere, where is my Messiah?

I pointed out with some asperity that I had only organized my own Messiah and left everyone else to seek their own.

“But it’s Christmas coming and the Messiah nowhere to be found where is the Handel where is the Messiah I need my Messiah you know like dice need spots like cats need mice like pudding needs rice I must have Handel!

I gently led Suzy to the taped copies I had made several years ago of her very own version of this Messiah, and I also showed her a CD of my own which I purchased several years ago also, because you can never have too many Handels.

This mollified Suzy somewhat. And for several days I called her Molly. This confused and mystified her and probably was the cause of her sentence at the Yoni School being extended indefinitely. “She’s not quite ready for release,” they said.

But it also gave me a wonderful idea. “Larry,” said Larry, “You’re going to surprise Suzy Homemaker by going out (unobserved and unattended) and buying Miss Molly Good Golly her very own brand new copy of The Messiah, performed by those very same Hawgtown Mendelssohn Singers and Hawgtown Symphony Orkesteers that she had before but now cannot find anywhere in this godforsaken Yoni School.”

So I set out.

Now, in Lunchbucket, there’s only one store I know of that would carry this sort of thing, and that’s a store called Twelfth Night. Why is it called Twelfth Night? I don’t know. Ask Shakespeare. Or maybe it’s because if you order anything from them, that’s when it will arrive. Anyway, they have an excellent classical collection, cuz they specialize in that, and jazz too, and independent local artists, and blues and folk.

I went there. Looked for Handel’s Messiah. Under Handel. No Messiah. Asked. Now, understand that I did ask specifically for this Hawgtown Mendelssohn Symphony Orkesteers version, which, although fairly well known, is also fairly old. Woman at counter said, “Oh yes, I know the one you mean. We don’t have it.”

“Can you get it?”

“I’m not sure it’s still available.” But she looked and sure enough, it was. However, it would have to be ordered. By now, I figured if it came on the Twelfth Night, that would be about two days after Christmas.

“If you order it, will it arrive in time for Christmas?”

“I can’t say one way or the other…”

“Cuz it’s kind of useless if it comes after Christmas, isn’t it?”

“I guess so…”

I stood and looked at the woman. Now, understand that my idea of service is that at this point, the clark says, “We have another recording here. Would you like to look at that?” Nothing like that happened here. She just stood and looked back at me.

“That’s it?” I asked.

“I guess so,” she replied.

And I left that store swearing it would be at least a gross of Twelfth Nights before I ever set foot in there again. “You just lost yourself a sale,” I muttered under my breath.

So. No Messiah so far. (And Suzy’s been waiting so long…will the Messiah never come?)

I went for the second choice. HMV. You know, HMV is a British company. Surely the Messiah would be there. After all, Handel was an honourary Englishman.

But here the story gets both goofy and complicated. I went to the store up in North Lunchbucket, hard by one of the thirty-six universities in this town (all called Lunchbucket U or Buck U by those who should know better). Straight to the classical section, arranged by composer. Look! There’s Handel. No Messiah here, though. I wandered all through the store looking for a Christmas display. One with some classical music. No luck. All the so-called “Great Gift Ideas” were the latest Hollywood DVDs and corporate logo CDs. No Handel. I did find something which said Messiah…but only highlights. Alleluia. Oh we like sheep…follow the insipid march of mass marketing…

I did find something that interested me, though. And this is the first big twist in the story. See, I’m a Seinfeld fan. Can’t help it. You need something to distract you from the daily poetic drudge of the Yoni School, what with Suzy Homemaker nattering about the latest development in dayglo yarn, LaLaLeo quietly quivering in a corner pretending he’s the alpha male and Cosmicat mewling about the place as if she were about to drop a poetic pearl from her prim lips. Malton McGuilty has been too busy on the Yoni School Election Watch to be of any use as a diversion. So that leaves Seinfeld.

And what do I spy but seasons 3 & 4 of Seinfeld on DVD…on Sale! On Special! A Two-fer! I snapped em up and walked up to the counter to ask about the Messiah.

There was a young woman, maybe twenty, sitting at the little computer that passes for inventory control.

“Oh, shepherdess of the vast consumer desert, I am following a bright star in search of the one who is to come, the Messiah. Where can the Messiah be found?”

Actually, what I said was, “I’m looking for the Messiah by Handel.”

Her response was a somewhat blank expression.

“The Messiah. By Handel.”

“Hmmm…let’s see what the computer says.” She typed in Messiah. A long list of titles appeared. “You mean the heavy metal band Messiah?”

“No. Georg Friedrich Handel. The Messiah.”

“Oh! OK!” She began typing…H…A…N…D…L…E…

“No, that’s HANDEL.”

Again a long list of titles appeared. In fact it was nearly endless.

“These are all discontinued,” she said.

Ah, so that’s it. Handel has been discontinued. (Just for interest’s sake, Microsoft Werd just tried to correct “Handel” to “Handle”.)

I said, “You do realize that Handel’s Messiah is the most popular and well-known classical Christmas piece there is?” I was heavily discounting The Nutcracker at this point. She gave me that blank expression again.

“Look,” I said, “Can you phone down to Glareview Mall and see if they have it there? I really don’t want to go there if I don’t have to.”

She got on the phone, but said while she was dialling, “They’re really busy down there, I’m going to have to just ask if they have Handel…”

Which, of course, was practically useless. But it didn’t matter, because whoever she spoke to at HMV Glareview said they didn’t have any Handel at all. By this time I was so frustrated I just shook my head and walked away. On the way out of the store, I put Seinfeld back on the shelf and swore it would be at least a gross of Twelfth Nights before I ever set foot in that store again.

But here’s the problem. I was infected by that Seinfeld Special. See, those marketing people are not so stupid as we all would like to believe. At Christmas time, they put together these deals that you won’t necessarily find at other times of the year, so if you want em you gotta get em while you can, even if you can’t stand canned Christmas music and lineups and crowds and all that crass commercialism oozing out onto the slick pre-Christmas pavement.

So what did I do? I spent the next three days travelling around to every bloody HMV store in the whole greater Lunchbucket region looking for those Seinfeld DVDs. Not Handel. I’d sort of given up on Handel. No surprise for Suzy. No, I was now looking to bolster my own flagging Christmas spirits. And guess what. Not a single store had both seasons 3 & 4. They all seemed to have only season 4 left. What good is a Two-fer if there’s only one?

And all the stores were insanely busy. I went to Glareview. Asked for help. The young man said he was just helping someone else and he’d be right back. Five minutes later he walked right past me without acknowledging me. I left.

At the Stoned Mall in Gwulph, a pleasant young man passed me off to a perky young woman. She led me to the place I’d just been to look on the shelves and discovered that there was no season 3. She hurried off to the computer to check. “Oh!” she said…perkily, “That’s just been sold out!”

The smile on her face made me want to scream. How can you smile like that…so…perkily…when you’re delivering news that you can pretty much guess is not going to please the customer? It’s like the doctor saying, “Gee, yer gonna die in a month, are you interested in our special this week…a hemorrhoidectomy?”

Sad to say, I finally admitted defeat. About three days before Christmas, driven by the obsession to find both seasons of Seinfeld, I returned to the North Lunchbucket HMV, hard by Buck U, and there, to my great relief, found that they, at least, still had both seasons. I meekly presented my debit card, taking care not to examine too closely the huge deposit I was making on the debit side of my Indignation Account, and left the store with Seinfeld under my arm.

Not satisfied with this level of abject surrender, I turned my thoughts back to Handel and Suzy Homemaker’s desperate desire to hear the Messiah once more. I had no better ideas. A surprise Messiah was the best thing I could come up with this Christmas. Dejectedly, I returned to Twelfth Night.

Fortunately, the woman who had annoyed me so much was not there. Two young men were at the cash. I took a look about the store, and there, near the front of course, was the Christmas display. And there, near the front of the Christmas display of course, was Handel’s Messiah. CD. And! DVD! I suddenly had a brainstorm. Since we already had a CD, why not get Suzy the DVD? Then she could watch the Messiah as well as hear him.

Both the CD and DVD were Mozart’s arrangement. (For Messiahphiles, that means there are trombones lurking in the horn section.) The covers of both CD and DVD had a lot of German writing on them. I asked the twin gentlemen, “Is this in English?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “It’s just Mozart’s orchestration, a little different from other versions, you know, with the trombones and South African thumbscrews and all that.”

“OK,” I said, “I’ll take the DVD.” And so I did. Christmas mission accomplished.

But no! Story not finished yet! On Boxing Day we cleared the detritus out of the Common Room at the Yoni School. They grumbled a little, wanting to watch reruns of the Mayor’s Levee, Mel Lastman backslapping and inadvertently insulting entire cultures. While fending off both a right hook and a left jab from Malton McGuilty, we reverently placed Mozart’s Handel’s Messiah in the DVD player. And watched a fine young tenor who looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth sing.

In German.

That bum Mozart! He takes an English classic, adds trombones and Zulu war drums, and has the nerve to get the libretto translated so his precious Salzburgian burghers can follow the plot. And there we were, Suzy and I, watching the Messiah arrive in Lunchbucket with subtitles!

Never fear, however, persistent reader! There is a tale of redemption yet in the Messiah. A couple of days ago, I returned again to Twelfth Night. Unfortunately, the woman who so annoyed me the first time was there this time. But it was not the same woman! It was an agreeable, accommodating likeness of the previously so annoying woman. I explained my problem and she accepted my disappointment with great equanimity.

“Is there an English DVD?” I asked.

She searched the computer and discovered not one, but two English versions. One of them was a special recording made on the 250th anniversary of the Messiah’s birth, recorded in the very town in Ireland where he was born, conducted by Neville Marriner and sung by Sophie von Rocky Raccoon, among others. That’s the one I ordered! I’m hoping it will arrive on the Twelfth Night.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

Yoni School Election Watch Pt. 5

Citizens of Canada, we are pleased to announce the creation of a new political party, just in time to be included as a write-in vote in the upcoming federal election. Candidates are running secretly in every riding throughout the country, including territories, shires, townships and colonial possessions.

Our Name: Bunch of Utterly Lame Losers aka B.U.L.L.
Our Logo:
Our Platform: May be viewed at Jedediah Martin's hog farm in Jakobstetl ON
Our Membership: Restricted to only those who do not wish to belong. In fact, anyone who does not wish to belong is automatically a member. Disavowal of membership is a priori construed as a falsehood, whether intentional or inadvertent.
Our Slogan: Taken from a song made popular during the election of 1915.

Cows may come and cows may go
But the BULL will go on forever!

Vote for the BULL

Song of the Day

Nothin' But the Blues by Whisky Howl

A fabulous blues band in the early 70's that came out of Steeltown. This song popped up completely out of the blue. Haven't thought of that band for quite some time. The song I expected to be singing in my head this morning was Oye Como Va by Santana, because it was the last thing I heard before I fell asleep.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Yoni School Election Watch Pt. 4

The Not-So-Great-Debate

Jack Layoff: Gliberals bad. Elect more National Deficit MPs. Constipators bad. Elect more National Deficit MPs. Floc Quebecois bad. Elect more National Deficit MPs. And by the way, elect more National Deficit MPs.

Gilles Deceit: Good line but not very original: The west wants in and Quebec wants out.

Stephen Harpy: I’m sorry, I can’t seem to get this little smirk off my face.

Paul Martinette: I’m incredibly optimistic about all these programs and initiatives we have, even though most of you have never heard of them before. Actually, I just thought them up a minute ago.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Notes on Emptiness #9

The question to be answered is this: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The chicken cannot come first, for this would mean there was a result without a cause.

The egg cannot come first, for this would mean there was a cause without a result.

They cannot be simultaneous, for this would mean there was no connection between them. One would be unable to act as the cause for the other.

The chicken cannot appear without an egg. The egg cannot exist without the chicken. They cannot exist independently.

Answer: emptiness. Dependently arising mere appearances.

Digg! diigo it

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Choosing a Formal Practice Or: Letting it Choose You

I had a good talk with Lama Phuntsok today which included, among other things, a discussion of undertaking formal practice. I’ve always felt a little insecure about the legitimacy of my most regular formal practice, which is Vajrasattva (in union with consort). The most salient feature of this practice, in general terms, is purification. But just saying “purification” doesn’t really convey the whole meaning.

The reason for my insecurity is that I’ve been following this practice on my own, really, without any direction from a guru or teacher. My feeling was that (given the emphasis in Tibetan Buddhism on relying on one’s guru) I should be following some practice prescribed by a qualifed teacher such as Lama Phuntsok. But no one told me to do this Vajrasattva practice, at least not directly. I picked it up on my own. I learned the basic elements of it pretty much on my own too.

I say that no one told me to do it. But how I came to be doing it is a (perhaps) interesting story. It began when I picked up a little practice booklet at an early teaching by Ven. Wongmo. The booklet had fallen on the floor (a no-no), so I picked it up and saw that it was a Vajrasattva practice. It looked interesting, so I kept it.

A couple weeks later I asked people at our gathering whether any of them knew where I could get hold of an image of Amitabha Buddha, because I had read (erroneously, it turned out) that Amitabha was related to issues of sexuality. “No, no,” somebody said, “That would be Vajrasattva.” Hmmm…I already had that little booklet.

A couple of weeks after that I went to a store in New Humbug belonging to a friend of this same person. The store sold articles related to Buddhism…malas, meditation cushions, artwork, practice implements. All that kind of stuff. In one room was an extensive collection of statues. For some reason I gravitated towards one in particular. A beautifully detailed bronze statue of a deity in union with his consort. Actually, the statue practically fell into my hands. (And it turned out later that this particular statue was quite well-known to some of the Dharma buddies. In fact, it was a bit of a prize.)

I picked it up and said to the woman there, “And this is…?”

“Vajrasattva,” she said.

“And how much is it?”

“Well…this is a fairly expensive one,” she replied, “Because it’s decorated with lapis lazuli. Four hundred and fifty dollars…”

Ordinarily that would cause me to set the thing down immediately. But not this time. By coincidence (he says sceptically) I had been seriously considering buying a painting I had seen in Gwulph priced at $750. I’ve never spent that much on any piece of art. But I was prepared to spend it on that painting. Needless to say, I never bought the painting. I quickly concluded that $450 was money well spent. An investment for the future, let’s say. Future lives.

A few days after that I was at Riwoche Temple in Hawgtown. I forget why. But I happened to mention that I had just bought this statue to a woman I knew. She practically yelled over to Sonam Rinpoche, the head of the temple and the monk with whom I first took refuge that I had bought a Vajrasattva statue. He just smiled and nodded his head. (His English isn’t that great.)

Then, only a few months later, I was told that Sonam Rinpoche was going to confer a Vajrasattva empowerment, something which he had never done before. Of course, I was convinced that he had chosen this moment to do it expressly for my benefit. So I took the empowerment and have been practising to the best of my ability ever since.

But no one told me to do it.

Digg! diigo it

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bashing Heads for Emptiness

Some of the Tibetan stories of famous gurus are quite Zen-like. Here is one quoted by Gen Lamrimpa in his book, Transcending Time:

Is the ordinary appearance of the guru simply the guru's actual appearance or is it something created by one's own mind? The ordinary appearance is created by one's own defiled mind, which is blemished by mental afflictions. The story of Naropa illustrates this point.

With great difficulty Guru Naropa sought out his teacher, Guru Tilopa. While on this quest, he met a man with a backpack. Naropa asked him, "Have you seen the master Tilopa?"

The man said, "No, I have not seen Tilopa, but if you go over there by that mountain, you will find a person beating on his parents' heads." The person carrying the backpack was an emanation of Tilopa.

Naropa went to the mountain and saw a person bashing two heads. Naropa asked the person beating the heads, "Have you seen Tilopa?"

The person said, "Yes, I have. I will show him to you, but before I do that, my parents have not treated me well, so you need to bash their heads, too."

Naropa answered, "First, I am a prince; second, I am a fully ordained monk; and third I am a pandit; and for these reasons I find it wrong to bash people's heads." Naropa reflected further and said, "I have been seeking out this teacher Tilopa in order to practice Dharma, and bashing people's heads is not Dharma, so I think I will be on my way."

As soon as Naropa thought that, the person beating the heads and the people being beaten vanished. A voice from the sky said, "For the cultivation of great compassion it is necessary to realize emptiness. You must beat the head of self-grasping with the hammer of identitylessness."

Digg! diigo it

Monday, December 12, 2005

Song of the Day

Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando & Dawn

I don't even like to admit this. I can't stand that song.

Friday, December 09, 2005

After All, It's Not as if Aslan Were an Ordinary Lion

So this is the weekend that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is being released. I think I’ll wait until it comes out on DVD. (Hate those multiplexes, hives overrun with drones selling fries, pizza, pricey popcorn and supersizeme kegs of watery pop and the actual reason for being there is reduced to a distraction what with self-serve ticket kiosks and unholy lineups and everybody yelling and running around like this is the most important thing they could be doing when what they’re actually doing is playing some video game in the hallway or talking on cellphone to nobody in particular while they wait in the second lineup to get into the stupid theatre where some acne-faced Project People reject regales you with lukewarm humour using all the bravado he or she can muster and then proceeds to make sure you know he/she has all the glutinous sugary treats you could possibly want at exorbitant rates as if it was the Movie Mafia you were visiting…OK, I’m done…)

Really, I wanna talk about LWW. This morning, the CBC1 program The Currant (is that a description of the size of its audience?) spent an entire half hour discussing LWW, Disney’s marketing scheme, and the supposed controversy being generated over LWW’s Christian content.

Here’s what I wanna say about this first: IT’S AN ESSENTIALLY CHRISTIAN ALLEGORY FER CHRISSAKE! Of course it has Christian content. And who really cares? The success of CS Lewis and his little Narnia Chronicles has very little to do with the Christian themes. It was because he told a pretty good story and captured the interest of kids. And the film will stand or fall by the same criteria. If the story ain’t any good, and they don’t tell it well, who gives a good god damn whether god approves. It’ll still bomb.

I’m pissed off at the media (CBC & others too) for trying to make an issue of it. It’s a commercial enterprise. If Disney wants to make Winnie the Pooh Goes to a Rave and Chills Out on E let em go ahead for all I care. This is not the same thing as Mel Gibson promoting The Passion of the Christ. For that matter, I don’t understand what all the fuss was about there, either. Lemme tell ya, if they get to the point where they’re telling me I can’t watch Ben Hur because it has Christian content and one of the extras died during the chariot race, there’ll be hell to pay, know what I mean Vern?

Now, I just reread the entire Narnia series this past spring. I can’t remember the first time I read LWW. I do remember that the series was introduced to us kids in class by a visiting librarian from the Lunchbucket Library. I don’t know about the other kids, but I ate them stories up. I bought the box set many many moons ago and I’ve read the whole series about ten times over the years.

This last time I was less impressed than I remember. Narnia doesn’t hold up as well as Middle Earth. But the stories carry some home truths like telling the truth, apologizing when you’re wrong or have been a nasty blighter, having faith, being brave, not letting pride overwhelm you, not eating too much Turkish Delight. What’s objectionable about all that? Even if Christ did say stuff like that?

I also don’t remember whether as a child I made any particularly Christian connections. Later on, you see them quite clearly, but mostly what I remember was the romance of kids becoming great kings and queens and getting to wear armour and talk like silly kniggits.

There is one interesting thing that I took more notice of in my last reading, though. In one of the books, The Horse and His Boy, the bad guys are clearly modelled after Muslims. They come from the south, wear pointy turbans like some sultan, brandish scimitars and have a bloodthirsty deity. Hmmm…some things never change I guess.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Calling the Guru from Afar

Sunday afternoon I dreamt of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. I think it’s somehow related to the fact that we recited the prayer Calling the Guru from Afar in the morning.

They say it’s auspicious to have dreams of your guru. And yet this dream was rather mixed in the feelings it aroused in me.

Perhaps this is because I’ve never actually met Lama Zopa Rinpoche. He’s my guru because he heads the organization in which I’ve received much of my Buddhist teachings. But I have a certain frustration over not having personal contact with this man who carries so much Dharma energy with him.

And that’s what the dream was like.

There were two, maybe three parts. I don’t remember anything about the first part. The next section started with my friend Annabanana. She suddenly appeared and (I presume) was going to give a little talk on literacy. She had with her a copy of the book on Universal Compassion, the Eight Verses on Training the Mind, which I had lent her. I asked if she was using that book and she said yes, indeed she was, implying that she was in fact going to use it in her presentation.

Next thing I knew, there was Lama Zopa Rinpoche, sitting on a throne, surrounded by monks and nuns, horns, drums, cymbals, the whole bit. In fact, we were suddenly in quite a large amphitheatre. My first thought was, now how did Annabanana manage to get Rinpoche to show up here? All my yearning to have a meeting with him, and here’s Annabanana pulling this surprise.

But then I got caught up in the surroundings, in watching Rinpoche, listening to him. Still, I couldn’t get very close. At one point, I walked up to the front of the section I was in, to a sort of railing. But it was still some distance from him. And there was too much activity. I eventually backed away, simultaneously content to watch and frustrated to have him so close yet so far.

Then, just as suddenly the event was over. Rinpoche got up with all his entourage and began to file out. The crowd rushed forward and we all ended up between two railings, as if in a paddock, lined up behind Rinpoche and the rest. Somehow I managed to be at the front of this line, but still not close to him. There were security or body guards just in front of me. And the crowd behind me began to push me forward.

Finally, Rinpoche’s group in front began to move with much fanfare. It was like a parade, with Rinpoche leading. But in fact he went in a circle. The front of the line, with Rinpoche leading, circled back in the direction from which we had just come. Suddenly I was amused. I wished I could tell the people at the back of the line just to wait and Rinpoche would come right around to them.

But he didn’t. In the twinkling of an eye, he just vanished. He never came back to the starting point. He simply disappeared. All that were left were the musicians and dancers dressed in traditional costume making a raucous noise as if to exorcise demons. I only shook my head and smiled, thinking, “Isn’t that just like a guru…?”

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Yoni School Election Watch Pt. 3: Dire Warning About the Dangers of Separatism

I had a good look at Gilles Deceit, the leader of the Floc Quebecois, on TV tonight. He looks supremely confident. He knows he’s going to blow the Gliberals out of the eau in Quebec. Even federalists will vote for the Floc because they’re so pissed off. Tabernac suitcase!

But I saw something else there, as well, which I hadn’t really noticed before. M. Deceit, with his careful coif of silver hair and finely chiselled, ruggedly handsome features, has a patrician look about him. Something of an aristocrat he is. And suspiciously French. I mean, Gilles Deceit looks French. Not Quebecois French. French French. As if he’s been sitting in Paris boardrooms sipping Perrier.

Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion…and remember, you read it here first…that M. Deceit is not from Quebec. He is not pur laine. In fact, he is a plant. No, I don’t mean like broccoli. I mean, like a plant, a mole, a saboteur, a provocateur.

The question then is, who planted him? Not the CIA, not the FBI, not CSIS, not al Qaeda, not the Mossad, not the KGB, not MI5. Nosirreebob! It was the Gaullists. Gilles Deceit is a secret agent of the Gaullist party of…well…Gaul. In other words, il ne se souviens pas. Not Quebec for Quebeckers. Quebec for the French! Deceit’s secret plan is to rip Quebec from the heart of our beloved Canada and deliver it directly into the hands of the French Imperialists.

Mark my words, it’ll be another Algeria. Before long, Quebeckers will begin to whine and moan about domination by those arrogant French, who look down on them because zey hav zese funny accents. They’ll think they’re being treated as second class citizens. They’ll question their deportation from the picturesque Laurentians to the harsh, unforgiving wilds of Normandy. That’s when the trouble will start.

They’ll start raising ell. They’ll take that L and stick it between the F of Floc and the Q of Quebecois, and what will that spell? FLQ.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Yoni School Election Watch Pt. 2

My esteem for Buzz Hardnose, leader of the CAW, fell dramatically today when he gave a ringing endorsement to Paul Martinette and the Gliberal Party. I’ve always been impressed with Buzz’zzz forthright talk on behalf of workers, but I swear when I saw him on TV presenting Martinette with one of those cool CAW jackets, his hardnose was streaked with brown. God, it makes me wish for a return of that rare but brilliant breed of unionist, the Indigenous Belligerent Bobwhite.

The prime party of union members has always been the NDP (aka National Deficit Party) or its predecessor, the CCF (Can’t Continue Forever). Well, that’s the Canadian mythology anyway. But the relationship between unions and NDP has always been also fairly tenuous. The Canadian Labour Congress would endorse the NDP and give them money too and then union members would vote for whoever the hell they felt like. Nevertheless, one could always expect a certain base of support.

But now! Now the NDP has the most interesting and dynamic leader it’s had for years, and what happens? The country’s largest union smacks it upside the head. This tells me either the union movement has abdicated its role as defender of workers, or the NDP is completely off the track.

I think maybe it’s the former. The NDP still has some principled stands. Neither the Gliberals nor the Constipators seem to have any principle other than what is likely to garner votes. This is not a recipe for consistency. Neither party has demonstrated a consistent policy with respect to the governance of this country.

Hardnose’s endorsement is one of mere expediency. It completely ignores the main reason the government fell in the first place, the question of integrity, ethics, honesty. The fact that he and his union can endorse a party with such large questions hanging over its head is not a good sign. Heaven help us if Buzz decides to take up politics in the future.

Archie & Jughead

One of the comic books I liked to read as a kid was the Archie series. Yeah. Archie. Jughead. The two girls...what were their names? One blonde and buxom, the other slim with black hair. Can't remember the blonde's name...was it Betty? But I remember the other one...Veronica. Cuz I had the hots for Veronica...

Anyway, was her last name Gray? Veronica Gray? Did she have a last name? Did any of em?

The reason I ask is because now, when I have a delivery to make, I see this woman who works as a receptionist for an engineering and consulting firm in Gwulph. Name of Veronica Gray. And she looks, to me, exactly as Veronica would look if she were, say, twenty years older. I haven't mentioned this yet, but maybe some day, if the appropriate moment arises. I wonder if anyone else has ever pointed this out to her.

Also, I wonder if anyone else has met comic book characters in real life?

I don't mean running into Mickey at Disneyland.

Song of the Day

Rag Doll by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

I remember we used to play this song in the early days of the band. Can't remember, though, how well we did it. That falsetto is hard to reproduce.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Yoni School Election Watch Pt. 1

So. Stephen Harpy of the Constipated Party of Canada has promised to reduce the GST by 1% right away, if elected, and then another 1% within five years. His primary opponent, Paul Martinette, the leader of the Gliberal Party of Canada, insists this is not the way to go. He says he will provide income tax cuts for all Canadians, especially those squeezed in the middle.

(This is a long aside but I can’t help it: has anyone ever noticed that the initials of the Constipated Party of Canada are exactly the same as those of the Communist Party of Canada? I don’t mean to connect any dots here, I just think it’s an interesting bit of trivia. The old Progressively Constipated Party of Canada had an interesting acronym too: PCPC. As in Politically Correct! Politically Correct! If you’re a Loblaws shopper or a US citizen, you might like the name President’s Choice Party of Canada. Can you imagine if the Yanks had a choice in a Canadian election? Whom would George W. pick?)

Back to GST. I actually heard Mr. Martinette, our once and former Prime Rib, say on the radio, “Look! (In that way that he says Look!) Canadians have been down this road before…”

No kidding. I’m more inclined to use the phrase, “Canadians have been down this garden path before…”

And just who was it that led us down that path? Why, none other than Mr. Martinette himself back in ’93, I believe, as the author of the Gliberal Ded Book in which he promised to scrap the GST. We remember that, don’t we?

This is all nothing but Canadian electioneering…mouseketeering… M…I…C…K…E…WHY? Because we think you’ll buy it.

What it proves to me is that neither of our biggest political parties have any economic principles by which they are willing to stand. It was the Constipated Party that instituted the GST! And the Gliberal Party which was going to scrap it! Fifteen years later the positions are reversed. But even that has degenerated. The Gliberals promised to end the GST. The Constipated Party now can muster only a reduction. How much you wanna bet they’ll keep that promise just as effectively as the Gliberals kept theirs? Especially if it’s a minority government situation?
Help! I've written and I can't get up!