The Lost PowerPoint Slides (Battle of Vimy Ridge Edition)

attle of Vimy Ridge -- a painting by Richard Jack
General Ludwig von Falkenhausen presents “The Week of Suffering” (circa April 2-9, 1917) –>slide 2

  • Artillery relentless
  • I’d guess about a million shells
  • Somehow can target our artillery, even though they’re hidden behind ridge
  • We ran out of aspirin, earplugs.

Allied General Arthur Currie presents “Better Creeping” (circa April 9, 1917) –>slide 4

  • first wave attacks behind creeping barrage
  • continuous line of shells
  • improve on what we did at the Somme.

Corporal Gus Sivertz (2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles) presents “Nervy” –>slide 7

  • a macabre dance
  • nerves vibrated
  • thousands of shells, machine gun bullets whizzed overhead
  • advanced over no-man’s land
  • if you put your hand up, you’d touch a ceiling of sound
  • and probably lose a finger or two.

French soldier learns of victory at Vimy –>slide 1

  • C’est impossible!

French soldier learns four Canadian divisions fighting at Vimy with one British division–>slide 2

  • Ah! les Canadiens! C’est possible!

Notes: The shelling at the battle began April 2, 1917, and the battle itself began on April 9, 1917. Vimy marked the first time that Canadian troops fought together on a a corps level, and they took the ridge with casualties of 10,000. Previous attempts to break the strong-point in the German line had cost French and British troops more than 150,000. Vimy is often seen as a defining moment in Canadian national history, and as Pierre Burton wrote in his book on the battle, it quickly attained mythic status. This seems like an appropriate post for Remembrance Day.

Alltop is in the trenches of comedy. Originally published November 2008.

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, Justin Beiber … 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:
YouTube Preview Image

And here is Bill’s send up of the I AM CANADIAN rant:
YouTube Preview Image

Part One: History

The FridgularityKick off your summer holidays with a fun summer read. Right now you can get the paperback of The Fridgularity for $3 off, if you buy it direct from Monkeyjoy Press. Use coupon code: YGMVFZZY. Available in all formats in all the usual places online :

Paperback ($15.99)
Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble Amazon.ca

Ebooks ($4.95)
Kindle | Smashwords | Kobo | Nook | iTunes

Alltop is an honourary Canadian. Originally published June, 2009, and now a part of my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures. 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.

Ten indisputable facts about Canada (Part One: History)

To commemorate Canada Day (aka, Hoser Day) tomorrow, I thought it might be useful to clear up some common myths people have about Canada and Canadian history. Many of the readers of The Skwib come from outside Canada, so this brief history may be especially helpful to you (though we Canadians can always learn more about our rich history too):

One: The Vikings

Leif the Abbrasive and his butch roadiesThe first Europeans to arrive in Canada were the Vikings, in 1009, making this the 1000-year anniversary of this important (factual) historical event. Their leader, Leif The Abrasive, was told by several Irish monks that a “vast and rich land” lay across the Atlantic Ocean. Leif, who was torturing them at the time, took them at their word and immediately launched a massive invasion. Many of the longboats sank in the crossing, but the core band arrived in Newfoundland (which the Vikings hopefully called “Vinland”, as they expected to find many fine wines in this new world — a hope which would not be fulfilled until the early 1990s.) Initially, the Viking settlement was successful, winning several Juno Awards — a kind of Canadian Grammy — but soon they split because of “creative differences”. Little was heard of them afterwards, but one of the members later had an interesting show about the early days of Viking rock on CBC Radio.

Two: Other Invasions

The preferred method of trapping beaverThe next massive invasion came from the French, who had an insatiable thirst for beaver. Eventually, the British invaded too, declaring that they too had a hunger for “beaver and other pelts”, but really they were just jealous of the French, who were so good at trapping and mating with the cute, industrious rodents. Throughout this period, the aboriginal populations of Canada (erroneously called “Indians” because of the navigationally challenged racist Christopher Columbus), tried to cope with their perverted new neighbors, though they never understood them.

Three: Canada” does not mean “village”

Lord Alfred O. Canada, shortly before he incinerated York (now Toronto)Many people believe the name Canada is based on the Iroquois word “kanata” or “village.” The sad truth is Canada is named after Lord Alfred O. Canada, the first Twit Plenipotentiary sent by the British Crown to rule over the beaver-addled country with an iron fist (he’d lost his original hand in the Battle of Ipswich — fought between the Dutch, the French and the British over who was going to pick up the check at the annual Let’s Rape the New World Convention and BeaverFest) and his laser-beam-firing eyes. (He is a ancestor of Queen Victoria.) Though he was a twit, his powerful eyes were capable of leveling cities and the primitive flintlocks used at the time could not penetrate the force shield he was able to generate with the power of his idiocy. He fed himself on a steady diet of French babies and British virgins (who were plentiful in the Age of the Pox). Many were lost in the battle against the depredations of Lord Alfred or “he who should not be named”, but eventually, he was tricked into getting into a canoe just upriver of Niagara Falls. (The clever rebel force had placed a sign on the canoe that said, “fresh French baby here”.) When he was in the canoe, confused by the lack of baby, the plucky freedom fighters pushed the canoe into the swift current. The heroic rebels were vaporized by Lord Alfred’s fiery gaze, but their plan had succeeded: the Twit Plenipotentiary fell to his death as not even his incredibly stupidity field could save him. Niagara Falls is a venerated site because of this history, and most Canadians will, at some point, make the pilgrimage to Niagara Falls where they will watch with reverence as they gaze at the power of the natural wonder for at least five minutes. They will then spend the afternoon looking at freaks. Canadians decided to take the name that they has formerly been afraid to utter, and use it to remind themselves of their resilience and fortitude. Furthermore, early Canadians immortalized this story by turning it into Canada’s national anthem:

O. Canada,
You evil, nasty man,
Never again will babies be e-a-ten!
With glowing hearts we see thee fall
Thy hand of iron a weight.
From far and wide, O. Canada
With you we’re quite irate.
God keep our land, British twit free!
O. Canada we stand on guard from thee.
O. Canada we stand on guard from thee.

Four: The National Capital Region

Rare dagguerreotype of morlockDespite the victory over Lord Alfred O. Canada, the British Crown continued to make decisions for thepeoples of Canada — they just stopped sending the twits here, and made their determinations in the UK; this is why the capital of the country is in Ottawa. Sitting on the south bank of the Ottawa River, the city is the fourth-coldest capital within parsecs. The only colder capitals are Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), Moscow (Russia) and Pakit! (Hoth). What many people do not realize is that it is also a) one of the most humid capitals in the world (in the months of June-August) and b) the center of an underground civilization populated by Morlocks. The Morlocks, as you know, see human beings as a food source, but they are quite conservative in their culling practices, which incorporate a model of sustainability and eugenics rarely seen. The Morlocks have found that it is most efficient to eat only the most intelligent males in the National Capital Region. This explains the predominance of women in the civil service (one of Ottawa’s major industries). One supposes the Morlocks do not cull the intelligent females, because they are confident that the remaining male population will be of little interest to them. In fact, Queen Victoria’s twits actually knew about this, which is why they built Canada’s parliament in this region, ensuring the safety of Canada’s politicians for generations to come. (At this point in history, they still held out hopes that they might return to Canada and rule in person.) Note: Many textbooks will tell you that Ottawa was not made the capital until 1867, but this is, in fact, a typo. It was 1847.

Five: The BNA Act

John Alexander Despite their alleged abhorrence of violence, Canadians have traditionally been fierce warriors. During the War of 1812, for example, Canada was defended from US invaders not by the British Army, nor our own irregular troops (they were all engaged in a real war with Napoleon Bonaparte), but by a cadre of little schoolgirls and one-legged lumberjacks. (Thus explaining the draw, or if you’re a student of American history, the “victory”.) No warrior was more fierce than the Scottish-born firebrand John Alexander “The Madman” Macdonald. He rose to prominence during the first Zombie War, 1837, and was elected to Parliament. (It is worth noting that The Madman is one of the few intelligent politicians to survive Morlock culling practices; while he was still young and hale, The Madman would spend many an evening in the underground world, doing a little culling of his own. (He led a group of Morlock-hunters called the Association of Really Ripped Gentlemen (ARRG) in his off-hours.) As he aged, The Madman discovered that he was able to feign stupidity by keeping himself “well-medicated” with scotch. Despite this impediment, he was still able to convince the British crown to allow Canada to govern itself, forming a “Confederation” under the Beaver Not Actually needed Act. (BNA Act.) This forms, essentially, the constitution of Canada. After achieving Confederation, Macdonald went on to enlist the help of the Association of Really Ripped Gentlemen (ARRG) in building a railroad across Canada, eliminating all the vampires from the Northwest Territories, and inventing the game of hockey.

Part Two (Culture) here!

The FridgularityKick off your summer holidays with a fun summer read. Right now you can get the paperback of The Fridgularity for $3 off, if you buy it direct from Monkeyjoy Press. Use coupon code: YGMVFZZY. Available in all formats in all the usual places online :

Paperback ($15.99)
Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble Amazon.ca

Ebooks ($4.95)
Kindle | Smashwords | Kobo | Nook | iTunes

Alltop has a fondness for rodents of unusual size. Originally published in June 2009, and included in my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures. Thanks to Maxarchivist for the viking pic and Andrew for the beaver & Whatsthatpicture for the shot of O. Canada.