No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Great Moments on Canadian History

Happy Canada Day long weekend, y'all!

I'm revelling in that fact that I get an extra day - woo hoo to staff appreciation day! I gotta say, working in a heavily unionized environment does bring the perks!

But back to the subject at hand. We're just a few days from Canada's 140th b-day and I felt it was high time to celebrate some of the moments that have made our proud and free land what she is today. And then we'll drink some beer, eh?

Jen's Brief History of Canada

23,000 BC - A bunch of Asian hunter-gatherer types walk across the Bering land bridge, through Alaska and soon become the first people to live in Canada. They immediately complain about the snow, then the humidity, then that the Leafs suck.

1000 AD - Vikings come to Canada. Vikings basically spend one winter in Newfoundland and hightail it back to Scandinavia. Tough guys, my arse.

1604 - Europeans 'discover' Canada. Oh, well spotted, Jacques Cartier!

1608 - Champlain begins a settlement at a Quebec City. Pepsi-cola and cheese curd industry shares reach record heights.

Next 170 years or so - British and French fight over who gets to control the world. Oh, and Canada too.

1759 - British General James Wolfe lays some serious smack down on the French forces at the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City. Wins glorious victory. Promptly dies.

1812 - The United States looks to the North and decides that Canada would make for some nice vacation land. British troops, led by General Isaac Brock, repulse the initial invasion. Brock secures a number of glorious victories, including one at Queenston Heights. Promptly dies.

1813 - Laura Secord walks 32 miles to warn British troops about an impending attack by American forces. No chocolate was involved. Really.

1837 - William Lyon Mackenzie starts a rebellion in Upper Canada. In a bar. Seriously, in a bar.

Next 30 years or so - lots of political maneuvering and colonial pissing contests. Who says Canadian history is dull. Revolution, shmevolution.

1867 - Confederation. Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia all agree to play in the same sandbox. Ontario promptly takes and hides all the good toys. Quebec cries for Mommy.

1869 - Red River Rebellion. Political agitator Louis Riel leads a band of Metis revolutionaries in Manitoba. Sir John A. Macdonald sends militia to ask him to stop.

1885 - North-West Rebellion. Total loon Louis Riel leads a band of Metis revolutionaries in Saskatchewan. Sir John A. Macdonald is slightly less forgiving.

1908 - Anne of Green Gables is published, creating PEI's biggest cash cow since the potato.

1917 - Vimy Ridge. Canadian troops capture a big hill in France. No, not from the French. From the Germans. It was way hard. And way important. Mostly though, it is a big deal because British and American troops had already tried and failed to take the hill. And we Canucks actually did it. The battle quickly takes on a central role in the forming Canadian identity, so much so that its been called our 'founding myth'. See, big hill, way important.

1922 - Banting and Best discover insulin, instantly becoming Canada's most famous scientists. Okay, Canada's only famous scientists, but still.

1963 - Wayne Gretzky learns to skate.

1964 - Tim Horton opens a donut shop in Hamilton.

1968 - Rush is formed, and Geddy Lee proves to the world that there is an uglier musician than Keith Richards. And he's from Canada, dude!

1970 - Robertson Davies publishes Fifth Business. Millions of grade 9 English students wonder what the fuck he's talking about.

1971 - During a Commons debate, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau tells a Conservative MP to fuck off. And who among us hasn't?

1976 - SCTV launches, starring John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara and Dave Thomas. Canada is suddenly funny. In a good way.

1981 - Terry Fox runs his Marathon of Hope. And what have you and your two good legs done lately?

1988 - Ben Johnson becomes the fastest man alive, winning the Olympic gold medal in the 100 metres. Was doped to the gills. Stripped of the gold medal. Except, everyone else was also juiced. Which means he really was the fastest man alive - and Carl Lewis can kiss my arse.

2000 - Tom Green humps a moose on MTV. Maybe Canada isn't funny anymore.

2001- Conrad Black renounces his Canadian citizenship to become Lord Black of Aren'tIanAnnoyingLittleTwirp. Canada may or may not be funny, but Lord Black asking for that citizenship back sure is.

2005 - Canada legalizes same-sex marriage, making us - legally anyway - one of the most tolerant countries in the world. Not a bad thing to be proud of, I'd say.

So gw'on and celebrate.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Fixed Point of Reference

I was in San Francisco last week, my first trip in quite a while, and flew in late at night (well, it was only 11:00 their time, but felt like the middle of the night to me anyway).

I'm in the cab, struggling between the urge to fall asleep and the urge to dive under the seat cushion for cover (my driver was a little, lets say, aggressive in his motoring style). So, I'm looking around, trying to get my bearings, trying to get a sense of this city I've never been to - when all of sudden I catch a sight that makes me feel comforted and at home. Like the architectural equivalent of a big hug. Ah, I said, now I'm in San Francisco.

Golden Gate bridge? Nope.

A trolley car? Hardly.

Actually it was this:

Yup. Candlestick Park. Now that says San Francisco to me.

And ultimately, how sad is that?!?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Canada Loses?

Sure, Canada loses all the time. At the Olympics, we lost every 4 years for 50 years. But did we lose last night?

I don't think so.

As a Canadian, should I be sad that Jean-Sebastien Giguire and Scott Niedermayer won the Stanley Cup instead of Daniel Alfredsson? That Anaheim's collection of Canadian, Americans and Europeans beat Ottawa's set of Europeans, Americans and Canadians? Hardly. Because no matter what the Canadian media and the Ottawa management wanted us to believe, Ottawa isn't and never was 'Canada's Team.' Canada's team plays at the Olympics, the World Juniors, the World Championships. And they don't have a cheap-shot Swedish guy as their captain and spiritual leader.

Just before the series, a cartoon appeared in a California newspaper. An Anaheim player stood facing a Senator. The Senator was backed by a huge, raucous Canadian crowd. The Anaheim guy was accompanied only by a small duck. The little duck offered his player this sage advice: "Just worry about the one in skates."

That's one wise little duck.