Thursday, December 19, 2019

Olive’s Centennial

Olive Oyl first appeared in the cartoon strip Thimble Theatre on December 19, 1919. For a decade Olive was the strip’s main character. Her boyfriend was Harold Hamgravy, a no-good lay-about and philanderer. When they finally fell out, Olive’s affections settled on Popeye, who became so popular that Thimble Theatre was renamed for him. The Sailor Man always had a schtick. Initially he rubbed the head of the Whiffle Hen for luck; later he obtained superhuman strength from eating spinach straight from the can.
     Today, we know that spinach is best sautéed in butter or olive oil. Happy Birthday, Olive.


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Butter Brawl

A friend once told me that the way to stop the butter from burning in your frying pan is to add just a bit of oil.
     And it was an excellent piece of advice, too, except that I had this huge falling out with the guy—more than 32 years ago now—and still would be very happy if I never saw, or even thought of the fucker ever again, except that I do, every single time I add just a bit of oil to the butter in my frying pan . . . and I do eat an awful lot of eggs.
Photo found in Miz Gee's Kitchen.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Patterns of Force

A 100-word story shouldn’t require a 100-word introduction, but here goes…
     Recently, Ron wondered why we’re not writing here more about Trump, and I think a good part of the reason is that it’s simply too hard to keep up. This came to me a week or so after the inauguration when the first batch of Nazi stuff came out, and those stories of an addled president wandering the halls of the White House. With that, I started work on this bit of comedy gold, but by the time I’d finished futzing with it, everyone had already moved on. 
     Enjoy . . .
Remember the one where that “really smart guy” convinced himself the Nazis actually had some good ideas and so introduces them to one faction of a divided and unbalanced planetary system, in an attempt to remodel their world on what he calls the “most efficient society ever created,” except that the thugs who support him end up focussing on the bad Nazi stuff, persecuting outsiders, consolidating their power, and propping up the “stable genius” as a rambling, angry, and perpetually doped-up figurehead.
     Well, it seems those people who missed that episode of Star Trek are now condemned to repeat it.

Friday, April 27, 2018

A time for semantics (part 2)

“Van attack” has a “short sharp shock” metre going for it, but, for assonance, “van rampage” – the name the Toronto Star and Huffington Post are pushing – is hard to beat. And it has a spirit of something more extraordinary, of old made new, beast made man, of erratic movement and duration, of predictable unpredictability.
     “1715, in Scottish, probably from Middle English verb ramp ‘rave, rush wildly about’ (c. 1300), especially of beasts rearing on their hind legs, as if climbing, from Old French ramper (see ramp (n.1), also see rampant).”
     Yeah, on this one, that’s all I got.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A time for semantics (part 1)

Some earlier mass killings-by-vehicle, e.g., “the Berlin Christmas Market attack” or “the London Bridge attack” are named for more specific places. This one, on our “longest street in the world,” makes “Yonge Street van attack” unworkable.
     But is calling this “the Toronto van attack” (CNN, The Guardian, Globe & Mail, National Post) a done deal? How events get their names is the question of Peter Eglin, who traces how a 1989 event initially called terrorism, tragedy, and disaster, became “the Montreal Massacre.” Holocaust, Shoah, Final Solution: names encapsulate our views of cause, effect, rightness, wrongness, extraordinariness, ownership, and appropriate redress.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

In a Surreal World

Is Exquisite Corpse dead or merely moribund?
     The Corpse’s last post was made in November, 2016. Since then, Donald Trump has become U.S. President and Ford Nation has returned to life. In the Corpse’s absence, Britain is careening towards Brexit, ice caps are melting, hurricanes and blizzards are rampant, gunmen are rampaging, plastic particles are clogging the sea and our drinking water. By my count there have been five new Marvel Universe films released since the Corpse’s last breath. Can you dismiss any of this as coincidence? What kind of Bizarro World is this? (Disclosure: I’ve always preferred DC myself.)
Cartoon drawn by Jake Tapper of CNN.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Another Cent-less Loss

On February 4, 2013, in a typically arbitrary and mean cost-cutting move, Steven Harper’s Conservative government withdrew the Canadian penny from circulation. From that day forward, cash transactions were to be rounded to the nearest nickel.
     That summer, August 10th to be precise, I purchased a bag of ice from the general store at Wymbolwood Beach for $2.99, forked over my three dollars, and with some fanfare was presented with what would be the very last penny I would ever receive in change.
     And to honour that one-cent worth of rebellion, I have carried it in my pocket ever since.
Then, on the morning of November 8, 2016, when I was changing into short pants for a chiropractic appointment—swapping my wallet, my keys, and the coins from the pockets of my long pants—I realized I had lost the last Canadian penny I’d ever received in change. I had never considered it my lucky penny, just an important penny, and a comfortable little ritual in trying times.
     It was not on the floor of my bedroom, it was not in the little basket Dr. Eric keeps for the stuff that falls from people’s pockets as they lie on his table.

Really, I had never considered it lucky, and after three-plus years in the left-hand pocket of my many pants, I have to admit it was looking pretty grotty. Lots of pretty good things had happened to me in all the time I’d been carrying it, but lots of shitty stuff, too. And honestly, I was already getting my head around the loss of the silly thing, when a Tuesday that had already started out badly ended with the election of Donald J. Trump.
     Then, as if I needed any more proof, I found it again on Wednesday.
     Sorry, America.

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