Thursday, October 20, 2005

Guy Incognito Praises Toronto Star ... and some other things

Does anyone else get a whiff of fish from this? It's awfully well-written, and awfully comprehensive in its identification and praise of so many liberal Canadian staples to be the work of someone so recently immigrated, and someone, likely, whose cultural context is radically different from our own. I mean: "I extend my thanks to my English teachers ... They not only taught me English but also taught me that Canada has three territories and 10 provinces, about Pierre Trudeau, Lester Pearson and Tommy Douglas, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and even customs like the potluck meal"? Or: "[I extend my thanks to] the CBC, with its documentaries, The National, its films and even Hockey Night in Canada. Thank you for showing me the diversity that Canada has to offer"?

Sounds an awful lot like propaganda to me. Right down to the declaration of faith: "in the future."

There's no by-line, but I guess that doesn't really mean anything. You get the impression that one refugee is as good as another to the Star's editorial staff, so I could be wrong ...

"Karim Abbud Abdul-Aziz is finished that piece, Mr. Star."

"Good, good ... Er, what did you say that name was again?"

"Karim Abbud Abdul-Aziz."

"Bit long, what?"


"Tell you what, replace Karim Abbud Abdul-Aziz with Immigrant. See how that looks."


"That way it'll seem as though they all wrote it. Get some serious consensus going there."

"Um ..."

"Did he put anything in about gay marriage? How great it is, I mean."

"No, sir."

"Health care?"


"Damn. Oh well. Tell you what: call him a Refugee, then. We'll save the Immigrant for a ripe piece on gay marriage and health care."


For the sake of verisimilitude, the Star decided at some point this afternoon to append a name to this piece. (No doubt because they saw it so utterly lambasted here!) Ricardo Artunduaga, now, is the great mind behind this masterpiece of free thinking. It's a very culturally diverse sounding name too ... Two birds with one stone, fellers. Nice. Now, I wonder what kind of hindsight it will take to get "Ricardo Artunduaga" to change the title and the content?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

One doesn't know whether to laugh or weep, what?

The case against infinitive splitting is considered hair splitting these days, and is so, likely, for very good reasons. However, the odd time you're given an example that reminds you of the integrity of the rule. To wit, in this weekend's National Post, the following quote appears (my emphasis added): "It's going to unfortunately be an unvarnished fact that their futures were changed" ... And while I don't know that this use of "unfortunately" and "unvarnished" so close together in the same sentence makes for a strict instance of a double negative, it is, anyway, confusing and extremely hard on the ears.

It's interesting, then, to note that the speaker was the Honourable Gerard Kennedy, Ontario's current Minister of Education, commenting on the poor showing of the new provincial curriculum. Unvarnished and unfortunate indeed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

From: Snook (The Elder) at Home

I saw a fellow on a bicycle this morning, making a left turn on a relatively heavily trafficked street, who, in addition to holding his arm outstretched to indicate the direction in which he was going, opened and shut his hand repeatedly to simulate the blink of a car's turn signal. Now it could be that this is what's done now, and is not, as I suspect it is in fact, the sort of embellishment by way of precaution typical of your average pedant. (I was, after all, in the very heart of the U of T campus, next Robarts library—where I get the impression such men grow out of the lawns like potatoes.) But if it is, it really shouldn't be ... If it is what's done now, I mean. Apart from looking ridiculous, it's just not necessary. Indeed it runs quite contrary to reason.

A car's turn signal blinks to distinguish it from the various other lights on its rear panel that are likely to be employed on your average drive. (And which don't blink themselves, obviously.) Namely: the rear running lights and the brake lights. Without these, a turn signal shouldn't need to blink even the once, as it would stand out rather obviously on an otherwise conspicuously unlit background ... Cyclists, however, have no such concern. And thus they don't hold out both their arms when coming to a stop—which, of course, is for the best, as they wouldn't likely be coming to a stop if they did. Nor do they hold aloft their elbows at nighttime to light their way through the darkened city streets.

(But was this, I wonder, a case of life imitating appliances? Will this sort of thing provide the great philosophical dilemmas for the bourgeoisie of our age?)

An arm sticking out perpendicularly from a man, already precariously balanced on a vehicle with just the two wheels, remains to be and, I dare say, will always be what's termed blatantly obvious. The pumping action of the hand is as unnecessary as a pair of nipples on a telephone pole. (But which I wouldn't be surprised to see in that part of the city as well, come to think of it.)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Satire's Satire

The appallingly named T'cha Dunlevy reports in today's National Post that Montreal indie music scenesters Nick Diamonds and Adam Gollner are the geniuses behind a recent spoof of Bob Geldof's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" called "Do They Know It's Halloween?"

An interesting concept that the gluttinous cynic in me was immediately drawn to ... except that I am still at a complete loss as to why exactly they're spoofing the jolly old hymn. I mean, Diamonds gives a vague impression that it has something to do with Bob Geldof's being an arrogant man, and that the money made from Live Aid (not Live 8--that's not mentioned, which makes me wonder if this has something to do with sour grapes over not being able to perform thereat) was mishandled. Which alone, as reasons for the "Do They Know It's Halloween?" enterprise, would've been fine--though one does wonder a bit at the total absence of a sense of timing here and, indeed, at the rather naive notion that by sending the proceeds from their song directly to UNICEF they will somehow have avoided the possibility of those proceeds being mishandled--but Diamonds and Gollner inexplicably allow their reasoning to take a turn for the decadently absurd with this little bit of banter:

Though they whipped off the lyrics in an afternoon, and the whole thing is undertaken with an air of tomfoolery, Gollner and Diamonds had some serious issues they wanted to address: "Fear," they said, in unison. "There is a climate of fear -- we're supposed to be scared, always," Gollner explained. "Terrorism, American foreign policy, [it affected] the lyrics. It's subtle, but it was there in our thought process when we wrote it." "There's a reference to razor blades in apples [in the song]," Diamonds said. "It's a common fear growing up -- be careful with your candy... That kind of thing plants the seed of fear, and it becomes this thing everyone assumes is happening. It's what George Bush, or the people in charge these days, are getting by on."

... Um ... Is this meant to be part of the spoof? They're also satirizing the inane, clearly drug-addled ramblings of reality (and, apparently, education) deprived rock stars? Because if they are--and full credit to them for their Swiftian brilliance--it's just way too clever to be anything but well over most people's heads. I mean: you wrote the song in one afternoon, but you managed with your artist's sensivities to tackle issues of terrorism and American foreign policy into the bargain?! Or: the seeds of fear are implanted in us like the mythical (or, actually, not quite so mythical, but I take your meaning) razor blades in the apples of our trick-or-treating youth?!

Priceless, lads. And the song's awful to boot.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

From: Conversations with Snook (The Younger)


A buddy brought it up from Mexico for me. Pretty sweet, eh?

Yeah, those are all the rebellion’s guerrilla bigwigs, drawn onto a kind of forest-primeval background. I don't know; in Chiapas, I guess. They, like, represent a wall protecting all the happy dancing stick figures in the background there; the indigenous peoples. No, the stick figures are, asswipe.

And see how the smoke from Marcos’ pipe goes up and morphs into a dove? ‘Sfuckin’ beautiful, eh? Just look at that goddam symbolism there!