Tag Archives | culture

Ten indisputable facts about Canada
(Part Two: Culture)

To commemorate Canada Day, I decided it would be useful to clear up some common myths people have about Canada and its culture. I thought it might be especially helpful here at The Skwib, since many of its readers come from other parts of the world. You may want to read Part One, about Canadian history, first:

Six: Hockey

Baby with hockey stickIf you are familiar with Canada, you may have heard something about hockey — or ice hockey, as it is known in countries where other, sissified forms of hockey are more popular. Hockey is quite possibly the most important thing in Canadian culture. Did you know that most Canadians emerge from the womb clutching a tiny hockey stick? Did you also know that infants who do not have a hockey stick when they are born are given one by the National Hockey Commission? It’s true. (Though quite often the Canadian babies born without hockey sticks must have it duct-taped to their tiny fists.) Hockey was invented by Canada’s first PM, John A. “The Madman” Macdonald and his Association of Really Ripped Gentlemen (ARRG) in 1847 (the same year the Canadian parliament was built in Ottawa). Hockey permeates Canadian society the way that guns permeate US culture. When there is no ice to play on, Canadians make do with roads, sidewalks and abandoned tennis courts to play their favorite game. There are probably about 29-million people playing hockey right now in Canada. (The other four million are either too infirm or too drunk to play, or they are part of the small percentage of selfless Canadians who keep our various hockey-supporting infrastructures serviced, including the universal hockey injury health service, the power grid, and of course, the lumberjacks who chop down the trees we use in the creation of hockey sticks.)

Seven: Timmys

Tim Hortons coffee cupAlmost as important as hockey, Timmys, or Tim Hortons, is Canada’s national coffee chain. (It may be no surprise to learn that Tim Horton was a legendary hockey star, capable of decapitating his opponents with one slash of his razor-sharp hockey stick.) Timmys is best known for its highly addictive coffee, made from the distilled sweat of NHL hockey players, ultra-caffeine, phenylcyclohexylpiperidine (rocket fuel), and one supposes some form of coffee bean, though the dark coloring may be provided by some kind of cocaine-based food dye. Timmys coffee is powerful enough to wake even a thoroughly hung-over hockey dad at 4 am, as he attempts to deliver his hockey-addled progeny to a 5 am practice.

Eight: International Stars

Pamela Anderson in hey-dayYou may not realize this, but one of Canada’s major exports is international stars. In fact, fully 63.2% of our Gross Domestic Product is the result of remittances from our international stars. What stars am I talking about? Well, the Department of International Entertainer Breeding has been most successful at creating three kinds of super stars:

  • female singers:(Celine Dion, Joni Mitchell, Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morrisette, Shania Twain … etc.
  • comics: Dan Akroyd, Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Howie Mandel, Lorne Michaels, most of Second City, the Kids in the Hall … etc.
  • actors: Michael J Fox, Kiefer Sutherland, Keanu Reeves, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Rachel McAdams, Seth Rogan etc.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for this, but really, what choice do we have? We would go broke without them. Though we really are very, very sorry about Celine.

Nine: The CBC

CBC logoMany of you may have heard of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which is purportedly Canada’s national broadcaster, running services in both English and French; the CBC has television and radio stations across the country. This, is, of course, a front. In fact, the CBC are highly trained cadre of scientists, weapon-specialists, and blade-wielding warriors who keep Canada safe from another outbreak of zombies. (This is always a danger, particularly in the summer months after the NHL hockey season is over, when Canadian men, in particular, are prone to fits of zombie-ism.) Without the brave and tireless work of the CBC, Canada would have long been overrun by zombies. Even so, some taxpayers think it would be nice not to have to pay for CBC TV.

Ten: William Shatner

William Shatner is a national treasure, so he gets his own category. It is just a matter of time until we have a National Holiday named after him. (Personally, I think we should have some kind of break in February.)

Here is some classic “stylings” of Bill, performing Rocketman:
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And here is Bill’s send up of the I AM CANADIAN rant:
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Part One: History

Alltop is an honourary Canadian. Originally published June, 2009.

Thanks to Iragerich for the baby-hockey evidence, Loimere for the Timmys cup, UltimateGraphics for the Pammy pic.

Note: we may have different interpretations of what the word “indisputable” means.

The banished words list: futility in the Age of Fail

The Phrase FreakThe Phrase Freak heartily supports the efforts of Lake Superior State University to find those words that are most obnoxious, most odious, and clearly damaging to the glory that is the English language. However, this year’s list is a little weak.

Many of the words on the list are related to the Internet, and therein, we see the true motivations of this banished words list. It is link bait. (And very effective link bait, too. I noticed they had more than 9,000 shares on Facebook and I myself shared the link on Twitter.) As I say, I agree with many of the words listed, “epic” in particular, but I would like to confine myself to the term “fail”.

Fail is verb. A fine verb to describe something that is at the heart of the human condition. Without failure, there is no opportunity to learn. To live. So to turn it into a noun or adjective is not merely an linguistic excrescence, it’s symptomatic of the meanness of our age. (Unlike the nominators in the banned word list, I don’t want to turn this into a generational issue.)

Homer Simpson becomes the new Fail Whale

“Fail” is used to describe everything from mistakes, bad judgment, slip ups to non-human server failure, for example Twitter’s infamous “fail whale”. (Pictured above with Homer instead of the whale.) In fact, anything that is less than a success is seen as a “fail”. And this is all from the perspective of the person using the word too, so a “fail” from one, may be a “succeed” from another. (Yes, that would be the antonym in logic of this usage was extended.)

It’s meant to be funny and ironic, but it’s massively overused, though not on an epic scale. (Ahem.)

And instead of being funny, it tends to be mean, snide, snarky, and sometimes simply cruel. But it is now in such common parlance, that I fear this one may become a permanent fixture of our crude and roughshod culture.

You can find the banished words list here, and in yes, the usage of “fail” gets eight gob-smacks out of 10:

8 gobsmacks out of 10

Alltop is full of succeed. The hilarious Homer fail whale is by Ed Wheeler, found here.