Sunday, November 4, 2012

Remembrance Day

While I accord the proper respect to the spirit of Remembrance Day every year there are certain questions that I always ponder when I hear the patriotic rhetoric that inevitably surfaces when this day appears. 
"We honour our heroes that sacrificed their lives to defend our rights, way of life..."  While I cannot dispute that our soldiers went overseas to fight and our side incurred heavy casualties, they in all honesty were not serving to protect our rights, way of life, etc. In both World War I and II, Canada was not under attack from anyone.  We may have had a few remote skirmishes off our waters but our lands were not threatened.  Our way of life, our government, our day to day lives were not invaded by any opportune enemy force. 
Our reason for partaking in the First World War was a microcosm of why the Great War started.  It was largely started because the various countries involved gave blank-check assurances to their respective allies which polarized into two opposing forces.  Canada and the United States sided with Great Britain and her allies.  Our veterans from that era went to war to honour that specific alliance.  The conclusion of that war saw the Allies suppress and humiliate the Germans so much that within twenty years, German bitterness and resentment for being treated as such transformed into vengeance that fueled a desire to overwhelm anything and everything in its path.
As bad and destructive as the Great War was, World War II was even worse.   The destruction of lands and human life was at a level never seen before.  Again, Canadian troops went in to fulfill its alliances to its commonwealth mother Great Britain.  Our war veterans sacrifices were very real but those sacrifices were more as a defense for our allies over in Europe and not for the inhabitants of our own country.
There are two things that strike me every Remembrance Day. The first is this global day remains confined to exclusively national and patriotic fervor.  Each country takes time to reflect on its own veterans with little pause to consider the sacrifices of veterans in other countries.  Americans do little to pause for remembrance of Dieppe much like Canadians give little pause for British fighting in North Africa.  Secondly, very few people give any reflection to the innocent civilians - men, women and children who lost their lives throughout these destructive military conflicts. We strive to recognize the agents of force (the soldiers) while conveniently forgetting those murdered, raped, wounded or tortured through no fault of their own.  Where is the day to remember their lives stolen unmercifully from them?
It is within these contexts that we should observe Remembrance day under a far more encompassing lens.   Let Remembrance Day allow us to learn that precious lesson of just how destructive and heartbreaking war was and can be.  Let the day be more globally remembered beyond our borders that war was an international and global tragedy that affected hundreds of millions of people and not just our own soldiers.  Finally, let the day allow us to move forward that we may never again relive those destructive ways in a present or future tense.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Northern Star

When one looks to Youtube for Canadian artists writing on Canada, usually many parodies in rock, pop and other genres can be found.  The only really serious Canadian anthem is O Canada.  I thought I would add this one to the fray.  It is fairly simple as I wanted the emphasis to be on the audio and not the video. 

I am sure someone else can come along and make an awesome video.  Just let me know.  My specialty is more for writing music and words. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Charlie Sheen: My Fedy-Rafi Analysis (Satire)

A great big hello to all of you out in Sheenland.  My goddesses and I just watched last night's Feddy-Rafi match.  It ended up with Rafi (winning!) shellacking Fedy 
I want to give you the Sheen on this matchup and the rivalry in general.  Rafi has tiger blood.  He also got a lot of help from me.  I stared at the television screen and I willed him to win that second set.  Fedy was all set to break Rafi in the first game of that second set but this warlock had something to say about it.  A couple of sniffs, a wave of my bewitched hands and it was apocalypse now for Fedy.  Hello, Fedy, loser!

Now I want to clear up a few pointers on Rafi N.  People say he is gracious and humble.  That is pure adulturated bullsh*t!!   He does not have a humble bone in his body.  He believes, no, he KNOWS he is way better than Fedy.  He's got tiger blood for crying out loud!  Did he congratulate Fedy on a great game.  DUH NO!  He pointed out that Fedy was WEAK in the second set (thanks to you know who, DUH SHEEN!).  He said Fedy made lots of errors.  UH...Roger that!! Rafi is the greatest and how he really feels is that he (like me) dominates his field and will rightly point to the faults of those he conquers.  Don't believe me?  Check every time he beats the Fedy on clay.  He says the same thing.  "Roger made mistakes."  I love a guy who wins and lets everyone know how weak the loser is.  Humility is for losers and Rafi is not a loser.  Duh! How many grand slams does he already have?  He is a teenager  with tiger blood. Okay, he is going to be 25 but I am an old teenager and I still party like it's 1985.  Me and him, we're teens that will go on forever.  WINNING!

This Fedy guy should go back yodeling in the Austrian Alps where he came from.  Give it up, man.  Your warlock days are over and I will push Rafi or Jokie to beat you simply by using my sheen mind. 
Fedy is a LOSER.  I mean, he lost what....already four games this season.  COME ON!  That is not....WINNING!   So what if he beat Rafi last November.  I cured it with my brain. Now it doesn't count.

Nobody hits a seven gram rock like Rafi except me.  That's how we roll.  We don't need to feel sorry for those we conquer because we're WINNING.  I want Rafi to come to my place and share this drug.  It will make him even more of a warlock and it cannot be detected because of its supersonic tiger blood.  The drug is called Charlie Sheen. I am the best at what I do and he is the best at what he does and IT IS ON.

Is Rafi the greatest tennis rock star ever? DUH!  He is really bitchin'.  Anyone who challenges him will be up against him and me.  BRING IT!  Be prepared to lose and be humiliated.  That's how we roll.  Fedy who?  Forgot who we were talking about.  He must have gotten sheened.  He wants my magic but I am too busy WINNING!  He can't handle my power when I watch his match with Rafi.  His perimeter has been breached.  He can't ruffle the assassin's feathers because I have already defeated him with my words.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Scientists Isolate "Sin" Gene: Religion Rendered Obsolete

Leading scientists at the University of Maryland have reportedly isolated the "sin" gene.  "We've struggled with its whereabouts for years.", declared German professor Helmut Blaupunkt.  "The only reason we have consistently located it is because of its tell-tale horns.", he revealed.  "This means the end of murder, torture, fornication and other indecent human acts throughout the ages.  Science be praised!", exclaimed Dr. Blaupunkt. 

Many scientists were ecstatic and called for the implementation of the removal of genes during the process of childbirth.  Others were not sure and raised objections.  Doctor Hellbent, a university professor at Stanton was one of those concerned.   "Do the rest of us want to live out the rest of our lives, constantly being judged by this new race of Jesus and Mary clones?  I mean there was enough trouble just to try and follow two and now there is going to be millions!", he shrugged.  

Scientists have confirmed over and over that there is no mistaking this "sin" gene.  Once removed they have observed a gold halo form above the head of the subjects.  Also noted was the subjects' speech pattern had changed considerably.  Before isolation, modern English verbs were employed.  However, after the isolation procedure, English verbs were changed to add a "eth" sound at the end of each one.  Thus, verbs like "runneth", "sayeth," "jumpeth", "walketh" and "burpeth" were regularly incorporated into their speech patterns.

The world religious leaders were resigned to the results and were tremendously dismayed.  The Pope himself called for calm on this sober, dark day.  "You no longer need our guidance.  Go forth and sin no more which I know you will do.  Before closing up shop, we will hold confessions for those wishing to hold on to their "sin" gene a bit longer."

Another group seriously affected was the US bible belt.  Statisticians immediately noticed that both crime and scandals immediately dipped once the effects of isolating the gene appeared within the said areas.  Another noticeable effect was the intense raised level of IQ and literacy.   Not only could everyone read, but their increase interest in diversity was extraordinary.    

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Rise of the Parti Quebecois 1976: The Party's Over

One of my friends from childhood, Terence Bowman has written a blog on the October Crisis from the perspective of a six year old which is quite charming and familiar.   I confess that at that age I had much less political awareness than Terence who was considered as the closest thing to an intellect in our age group.  The only thing I can remember is that my parents were undecided of who to vote for and the Union National kept coming up as a possible alternative to the man with the Buddy Holly glasses.

I remember feeling slightly sorry for Robert Bourassa for having to wear those glasses because my parents forced me to wear the same type.  The only other thing I remember was Pierre Burton having a talk show which looked pretty intense and far too serious for me to be interested.  Hey, put Pierre up against the Flintstones and I am going to choose the prehistoric cartoon every time.

The real shock that waved through our little Anglo conclave happened six years after the October Crisis of 1970.  Up until 1976 with the exception of some minor bumps, our Anglo community was a cut-off little island from French Quebec.  We were the Hong Kong of Quebec.

As Terence had pointed out, we did have a limited French program.  While I recall "Chez Helen", I do remember those televisions in the classroom showing us programs from France.  There was this woman who came on and said these phrases in French.  She would repeat each phrase with a whisper and we would have to repeat it in unison during the "whisper".  Our French lesson were never Quebecois but with Parisian accents. I kept my "Parisian" French until I got out to the workplace and adapted all the crude Quebec "joual".

Anyhow, the separatist Parti-Quebecois came to power in November of 1976.  The great migration of English headed down the 401 to Toronto and never looked back.  Of the dozen or so friends that I had made on our block, only myself and one other family remained.  I was devastated.  I remember asking my father when we were moving but we stayed put.  Eventually life went on and I made other friends.  That was one true political event that affected our social lives and it started the slow process of further integration with the majority French population. 

Toronto natives always look at me incredulous when I fix them with a stare and declare in all seriousness that they should name one of their streets after Rene Levesque for giving them so much wealth, people and power by instigating that migration.  Toronto supplanted Montreal as the largest city something which Montreal has never recovered from.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Fellowship Of Facebook

I have often thought about this wonderful and terrifying tool we have in Facebook.  Over thirty years ago, we would never have had the tools to keep track of so many people in our present and from our past.

The incredible thing I find about Facebook is the amazing ability to snare "new" friends and ignore them all at the same time.  The novelty of Facebook is very intense that everyone who gets hooked on it, invites every person that he or she ever knew.  Catch up with old friends and ex-flames from the past and turn it all into one big reunion party.

However, then you discover why so many of those "friends" were not great friends in the first place.  Like running into an old acquaintance on a long bus ride, you eventually run out of conversation.  Once the common talk and catching up is done, phase two kicks in.  Phase two in Facebook is when you decide to go silent on many of your friends postings.  You may decide that you have had enough but you don't want to be rude by outwardly "rejecting" the said person(s). Remember that person can see all your friends and can spread some pretty wild gossip in no time.

So the act of ignoring swiftly enters the Facebook arena.  It is one of the great passive aggressive features that Facebook has.  "I have Jane Doe as a friend but she has all these stupid applications that I hate and her posts are so dumb. I don't want to rock the boat, so I will put her news items on "hide" so I can get this skank out of my life."

"Jane Doe" does not know any better and goes on ranting and raving and attributing your quietness to...well..  your quiet side.  Of course if she inquires to your new found inactive state, you can always say the lie that everyone gives and believe me, everyone has said this - "I am not on Facebook that much anymore."

Dare I say that you learn stuff about your family that maybe you would rather not know.  Personal postings that are not intended for family viewing come to mind.  How about finding out that someone in your family has Paris Hilton as a role model?  Quick, the "hide" button, THE HIDE BUTTON!!

Facebook does allow us to keep track of those important people in our lives that may have moved to other places.  For those close friendships that may have diminished over years of losing touch, it is an invaluable tool that allows to stay in touch in an inexpensive fashion.  So let my "Friends" list grow astronomically with people who really care as little about my life as I do with theirs.  I can put them in "Limited Friends" and remain the quiet one.  Come to think of it, I do have some quiet friends out there....hmmmm.  Next week, we will learn all about the "BLOCK" button otherwise known as the Facebook restraining order.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A United Nations Address

Looking at my stats, I have seen that I have an international albeit a small audience.   So on my little podium known as my desktop computer, let me address my supporters all around the world before they get back to that world and conveniently forget who and what I am about. (Too late)

I see the majority of my viewers come from Canada.  That is nice to see because one thing we really appreciate in Canada are our own bright stars who flee down to the United States to make it big.   Then, we proudly make them our own.  If we had not done this, Superman would be fighting for "Truth, Justice and the Canadian Way".  Yes, Superman flew down to New York or um...Metropolis where he made it big, leaving us with ....Captain Canuck.  Yikes!

I did not get much support in the Middle East with my site so far.  I guess I did not write "death to Americans" enough throughout my blog although with that phrase in this one sentence, I should be able to get one viewer from Syria.

Speaking of Americans, they represent my second largest fan following.  Still no talent scout from L.A. banging down my door with a mega dollar contract in his hand for signing.  Nah, in order to do that, I have to have a gory, blood-soaked, graphic blog equivalent to something like Maury Povich and some surprise cross-cultural and maybe cross-species paternity tests.  What point was I trying to make again?  Oh yeah, welcome America!

Checking in at number three is beautiful exotic India.  I was thinking that if there was a way to cyber hook up with every "Kwiki-mart" between here and New Jersey, I would reach at least a tenth of India's one billion people.  Mind you, most of them probably would not understand a word that I would have to say unless I quoted something basic out of "Hindi For Dummies".  By the way, I have found a way to get my annoying cloying cat out of my studio room.  If he hangs around an annoys me, I put on a Bollywood film and he gets the message real quick.  Thank you, India!

There are five supporters in Singapore and I personally know one of them.  What a viral explosion!  However, I have to keep it clean on here because Singapore is an extremely clean country and there are heavy fines for people who read smut or smut-like topics and that includes swearing.  Fudge!

Checking in next is the enigmatic country that does not know what to call itself.  If you ask any Londoner where they are from you could get at least four different answers.  "England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom. Britain or even the UK".  Whatever the case, they do have a more sense of modesty here than in America.  If you ask an American where he lives he is more likely to respond - "on the greatest f***ing country on the planet!!".  Sadly, Britain has been on a steep decline.  First, the sun did set on the British Empire, the Beatles broke up and we are left with ... Susan Boyle.  Oh and Charles is next in line to be king with his wife Camilla.   Ta Ta!

Rounding out the bottom of the list are some former Soviet republics - Russia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.  When Ronald Reagan and his advisers toured the Kremlin, they got to see Gorbachev's luxury accommodations.  Reagan who was already past seventy stood up to Gorby and said "Mr. Gorbachev. tear down this wall!"  Gorbachev responded "NYET!"  Reagan was not to be denied.  "TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!"  "NYET!" came the answer.  It was tense.  World War III was imminent.  Finally, a nervous Soviet adviser whispered to his American counterpart.  "He thinks you want to tear down his bedroom wall."  After the adviser relayed the info to Reagan, he declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down the Berlin Wall."  Gorbachev agreed and the two men hugged signalling the end of the Cold War.  They then spent the rest of the afternoon testing out the bounciness of Mr. Gorbachev's luxury bed.   Welcome back to Capitalism!

That concludes my address. If your country is not mentioned here, send me a note and I will be more than happy to mock it...umm as nicely as I can of course.  I'm Canadian, I will be gentle to keep the peace.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, and Andy Murray: The Three Baseliners Live in Concert

SATIRE — Hey middle-agers and seniors!
Are you longing to the glory days of tennis?
Can't keep up with the new and upcoming faces of the racket sport?
Do you remember the days when tennis was about hitting the ball to the other side of the court and not worrying about top-spin, racket technology, or which banana or power drink was needed for replenishment on the change-over?
Do you hate having to watch players towel off after every single point?
Well, have we got news for you. Ronco, in association with Hack Productions, brings you...

The Three Baseliners In Concert
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray sing the praises of the older generation of tennis players.  They sing their hearts, hearkening to the days when men's tennis shorts were...well...just short!  Here they are singing that classic song:

Johnny Mac (Sung to the tune Jimmy Mac)
Johnny, Johnny, oh Johnny Mac when are you coming back
Johnny, Johnny, Oh Johnny Mac when are you coming back.
My arms are tired blue, no one hits the ball like you
I am going to lose the set when you charge to the net!
Johnny, Johnny, oh Johnny Mac when are you coming back
Johnny, Johnny, Oh Johnny Mac when are you coming back.

Yes, when the Three Baseliners get singing you'll be wishing for chippin and charging. Here they are singing about another baseliner Ivan Lendl tribute:

Robot Man (Sung to the tune Nowhere Man)
He's a real robot man.
Hitting all his wild forehands
Doesn't give a chance to win for nobody.
Never sad and never jolly
Doesn't know the serve and volley
Making all his Wimbledon plans for nobody.

Order now and get a five-setter of walloping hits sung by the best movers and shakers around!  The Three Baseliners drive home their points so well there is no return service.  Here they are grinding it out in a daring but glowing tribute to Bjorn Borg:

I'm a Borg (Sung to the tune "Bitch")
I'm a Borg, I'm a stroker
I am stern not a joker, there is nothing I can't do
I send right across to you
I'm a God, I am Thor
I am better than before
I can hit down the line
Wimbledon will be mine
You know I couldn't have it any other way.

Purchase this package now and we will send you a free Rafael Nadal/Roger Federer duet performance.  Watch and admire their unswerving dedication and passion as they sing:

To All The Players I Beat Before (sung to "To All The Girls I Have Loved Before)
Nadal:  To all di players I beat before
Federer:  We bagled their asses out the door.
Nadal: I know it may be wrong.
Federer: But we enjoyed it all along
Both:  To all the players we beat before.

Call our operators now and mention the code "Tim Ruffin's a hack" and we will give you the entire collection for the low, low price of $49.99USD (that is 249 pounds if you are a Murray fan).  Our operators are standing by hoping to get your credit card. 
Soon you'll be hearing "The Three Baseliners" crooning it out for a glowing Rod Laver tribute:

Tie Me Tennis Shoes Up, Mate (Sung to the tune Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport)
Tie me tennis shoes up, mate.
Tie me tennis shoes up.
I've been falling all over the place
Tie me tennis shoes up.

You'll get these and other great songs like the Andre Agassi-inspired "Crystal Meth Persuasion" and the Tipsarevic-inspired "I wear my sunglasses on court."
Call and order now and we'll even send you the crappy wooden racket that Bjorn Borg won his first tournament with. Our operators are standing by!

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Brother And I

I was nine and my brother was turning seven.  Our parents brought us to the zoo.  We had the notion that if we bugged them enough we could get them to take one of the animals back home with us.  Lions, tigers, chimps, kangaroos, koala bears, coyotes...we hounded them endlessly for them all.
By the time we reached the zoo gift shop. the idea of each getting a stuffed animal was much more easy to accept by our parents in light of the constant animal demands we had made earlier.  I got a zebra and my brother got a tall giraffe.  On the long car ride home, my brother and I played with our own newly acquired animals.  My brother was proud of his long-necked giraffe which took up a lot of space in the car.  He took every opportunity to wave it around saying it was better than my zebra.
He started picking on my zebra.  That giraffe became the boss of space and things in our car ride and there was nowhere that my zebra could hide.  Regular attacks coupled with my brother's taunts that his giraffe was king put me in a deep state of misery.  My father decided that before we got home, that we would go through the car wash.  As the car went on the assembly line to be washed by the heavy clunking machinery, I leaned over to my brother and told him that his giraffe's head was stinky and that he needed to be clean.  My brother looked out the window, saw the spritzing and flying soap everywhere and decided to give his giraffe an instant shower.
Without warning he lowered the window and poked his giraffe's head out into the car wash chaos.   The giraffe's body convulsed and my brother instinctively held on to it.  A storm of soap and water entered our back seat of the car and all hell broke loose.  My parents yelled, I was getting soaked and yelling, my brother was yelling trying to save his endangered giraffe.
My father put it in gear and sped through the car wash.  The car came out of the car wash covered in soap because we skipped the rinse and dry cycle during all of the chaos.   However, the real drama unfolded when my brother finally got his giraffe back in the car.  THE HEAD WAS GONE.  He shrieked in a mixed form of terror and sadness while I laughed my ass off.  The harder he cried, the harder I laughed.  My zebra suddenly became the prominent stuffed animal in the car as I proudly waved it everywhere while my brother continued to mourn over his headless animal.  My parents drove on in the front with a wish to get home and a sense of disbelief from what had just transpired.  My brother tried to convince them to go back and get the head.  Out of the question.  The mere thought that my father would have to go through a middle of a car wash, find a soaking mess of a giraffe's head just to bring it home and have to figure out how to sew it back on was too much.   My parents did the only thing they could do.  They arranged a small stuffed animal funeral and buried the headless giraffe out in the back yard.   I am sure that many years later when new people moved in and started to dig up the earth for a garden and came across a headless but buried stuffed giraffe, the house would probably go up for sale soon after.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The State Of Hamilton Comedy

Watching my half-brother Mike Vecchione on "Last Comic Standing" had re-awoken the impressionist comic in me.  I had been working on a few impressions in the last few years but was never building towards anything like a comedy set.  While I respect all of what my demi-brother has accomplished (he was recently on Jay Leno), I profess that we do not share comedy styles which is a huge relief to me.  Last thing I want to do is to be a carbon copy of a comic unless I can mimic him to a fault.

I have spent the last month or so honing my material and getting up the nerve to get on stage and test my comedy chops.  I have done that at two places in Hamilton.  First is at Hooters Hamilton.  I kind of had a difficult time explaining to my wife that there really was a comedy night every Tuesday.  I was half-expecting a "Yeah, right.  You are doing comedy.  Sure you are."  But she was okay with it and so I went.  The host there is Donny Coy.  Mr. Coy is like the guru MC there.  Donny is an expert at weaving current going-ons in the place right into his act.  He is there as a beacon to new and upcoming comics.  He will be the first to congratulate you on your successful set or relegate you to what he calls the "B" list.  One of his favourite comedians is Manolis Zantanos (that's Greek not Mexican, folks).

First time I saw Manolis, I thought "holy crap, Hollywood got it wrong. Here is the guy who should be playing Captain Kirk"  As far as I know, he does not do a Captain Kirk impression but he has the physique and the look and I bet he could do a Kirk without it looking like a parody.  For a guy who has the appearance of looking lost in direction, Manolis is more than accomplished.  He is also very affable (WTF is that, he would say) and has certain down to earth qualities.   Manolis likes to hang out at Hooters and also frequents the Staircase Theatre on Thursdays.

The Staircase Theatre is an old seemingly run down mansion with a guessed it ...a staircase.  One of the rising comics there is fifteen year old Mayce Galoni.  I can almost hear every comic whisper under his/her own breath as he takes the stage - "F***, he is only fifteen!!!" To have someone who is thirty years younger  doing the same thing you are and doing it quite well, is very ego challenging.  On this particular night, he brought his sister.   He left her at the table to do his act.  In the middle of his act, he mentions that his sister is gay.  HE OUTS HIS SISTER IN PUBLIC!!.  I am looking back to her and then back to him as he continues through it.  No reaction from her.  Wow.  He must have prepped her for this.  Only later, I figured out that he had a second sister and I now realize why she wasn't there.

You cannot read or see any comedy in Hamilton without running into the name Patrick Coppolino.   His act is completely raunchy and not for the faint hearted.  Then he metamorphoses into a completely shy and inward guy.  Kind of a bit creepy but then I realize that he could see me as a much older and bigger creep.  If Patrick is the introverted comic then Cliff Myers has to be the ultimate extrovert.  Cliff is a big man and uses his size as a comical weapon in his act.  He is comfortable in improv which I have found funnier than his prepared stuff.  Watch what you say about him because he comes across as vengeful so uh....Nice Cliff...nice Cliff.

I have learned a few things about the Hamilton comedy club scene.  Like all things, you have to be a hustler to get gigs and network to the extreme.  You also have to bring at least two people to Hamilton Yuk Yuk's if you want to perform there (A-holes!).  I've learned that crowds suck in humour that I particularly don't find funny.  They love it when a comic can acknowledge in a good-nature way that their jokes did not go over well or that they sucked.  I have also seen that even in the bowels of Hamilton, there are young comics with stars in their eyes, hoping that some talent scout will somehow get lost and stop by Hooters for a drink.  Or maybe some well known comic will stop by and take notice of the new talent and set them up with important contacts.  As improbable as the talent scout scenario is, I have seen the somewhat celebrity comic show up, finish his act and spend the rest of the evening at the bar while the "B team" got their chance. 

Finally, I learned that although I like to do impressions, my comedy power lies more in my written words.  I really enjoyed setting up my jokes in written fashion but delivery sucked.  In the end, my nerves did not help.  I had some fun, met a few acquaintances but am going back to what I do best which is writing.  I think I will leave the stand-up to my 1/2 bro even if I am the funnier one.