Monday 29 September 2014

Good Morning, Judge

Welcome to the single greatest song ever written about the legal system! And it's fun too -- if you love jazzy jive, you'll love this classic song!

                     Good morning, Judge, why d'you look so mean, sir?
                     And, Mr. Judge, what can the charges be?
                     If there's been trouble, I will plead not guilty --
                    It must be someone else, cuz y'know it can't be me!

By some strange twist of dark fate, I happen to know an ungodly number of lawyers and judges, so I'm sending this song out to them. Keep the wheels of justice grinding, everyone!

Friday 26 September 2014

Hymns Old and New -- How to Sing

It is so important that hymns be sung in the proper spirit! Thanks, Riot Kitty, for suggesting that I post this hilarious video by Eddie Izzard about how Christian hymns are typically sung. As always, he's spot on! (Please note: the hymn singing part starts about 0:42, after Jesus gets "tarted up a bit.")

Love it! This video reminds me of the only good thing I learned from the Baptists when I was in a Baptist youth group as a teenager. At my own United Church, the congregation always sang in the quiet, dreary manner described by Eddie Izzard. But at the Baptist church, the minister exhorted the congregation to belt out the hymns as loudly as we could, at the very top of our lungs. It doesn't matter in the least, he said, if you can't carry a tune in a bucket. God doesn't care if anyone can sing or not and neither should we. The important thing is that people walking down the street outside the church should hear the hymns blasting out and be drawn in by the conviction of our singing.

He was wrong about a lot of stuff, that Baptist minister, but he was right about singing out in a full-voiced, unselfconscious way. All voices are worthy in the ears of the Divine and everyone should be encouraged to participate in the joy of devotional singing.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Stratford Festival

A friend and I (no, it's not what you think) just got back from a few days at the Stratford Festival in Ontario. This summer celebration of theatre has been running for over 60 years, offering an annual playlist of various Shakespearian works, other classic plays, popular musicals and recent offerings by Canadian playwrights. Over the years the Festival has featured a wide array of the best Canadian, British and American actors.

We took in two plays by Shakespeare, both of which were excellent -- the ever-popular King Lear and the much less frequently staged King John. Colm Feore played the title role in King Lear. I've been a big fan of his movie and TV work for years so it was a tremendous thrill to see him live on stage.

[Stephen Ouimette (Fool) and
Colm Feore (Lear)]

Neither of us knew the plot of King John so the play was essentially brand new as we watched (a rare experience with Shakespeare). The always-excellent Tom McCamus played King John as a crazy weirdo with a fundamentally vicious and ruthless nature.

[Graham Abbey (Philip the Bastard) and
Tom McCamus (King John)]

The musical we saw was Crazy for You, an amalgam of various Gershwin hits held together by a ridiculous but funny plot. The dancing and staging were super high energy, to put it mildly. We were exhausted just watching them!

[Josh Franklin (Bobby Child) and
Natalie Daradich (Polly Baker)]

Seana McKenna outdid herself as Mother Courage in Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children. It's always good to be reminded of the uncomfortable truth that ultimately we are all collaborators in our own oppression.

[Seana McKenna (Mother Courage)]

The only play we didn't think too much of was the Restoration comedy The Beaux' Stratagem. It was way too arch and brittle for my taste but then again, who really cares -- I got to see Colm Feore again, LOL!

[Colm Feore (Archer) and
Mike Shara (Aimwell)]

We both adored Christina, The Girl King about the cross-dressing lesbian Queen of Sweden who lived in the mid-1600s. This recent Canadian play was written in French by the Quebec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard and performed in English for the first time at Stratford. It showed how Christina managed to successfully outmanoeuvre the Swedish court and the Lutheran church to become "the most free woman in the world, answerable neither to God nor man." Yay! Go, sistah, go!

[Photo credits: #1, #2 and #4 by David Hou; #3 and #6 by Cylla von Tiedemann; #5 by Michael Cooper; all © Stratford Festival]

Monday 22 September 2014

Hardcore Hopscotch

Oh, what has happened to the simple, innocent game we all played as children? I guess it's true what they say. The world is a much more dangerous place today.

Friday 19 September 2014

6th Blogoversary Today!

Well, another blogging year has come and gone. Six years I've been at this now! Holy moly!

The personal computer and the internet have really revolutionized our lives, haven't they? Things sure aren't like they were in the old days . . . .

Things are better now! So much simpler!

And let's be very clear about the role that the internet plays in our lives. Time for a revision to your hierarchy, Maslow!

Of course, there are always those who want to regress back to Ye Olden Days --

But the internet makes it possible to have the world at our fingertips, to connect with like-minded people on a scale never before possible and to see that any quirks we have are in fact shared by many.

Thanks for reading my blog, everyone, especially those of you who have been persevering through my blather for months or years on end! Love ya all!

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Scotland the Brave

So tomorrow Scotland votes on whether to remain part of the United Kingdom or to become an independent country. Debate has raged on both sides of the issue. But now, here's the definitive opinion on this momentous question --

Good luck tomorrow, Scotland, and remember -- vote early and vote often, och aye!

Monday 15 September 2014

Some Interesting Tattoos

If you're going to have a tattoo, people, try to make it something unique and interesting! The world has enough skulls, roses and butterflies already, okay?

A tattoo like that would make me want to go to big countries really quickly to help fill in all the blank space. And hey, buddy, you haven't been to Canada yet? Get your ass up here, fer chrissakes!

Behold a person with a good sense of humour about life's misfortunes --

And wow, here's a TRUE fan! Something tells me, though, that he'll never be able to have an MRI with all that fluourescent ink under his skin.

Another good example of why tattoos must be chosen wisely --

But look at this clever solution!

Sunday 14 September 2014

O Say Can You See

The best thing the Americans got out of the War of 1812 is their truly great national anthem. Its lyrics were written 200 years ago today.

A young Baltimore lawyer named Francis Scott Key witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by a fleet of 19 British warships. The attack started on the evening of September 13, 1814 and continued all night. As dawn broke on September 14, he could see the enormous garrison flag still flying through all the smoke and debris and was inspired to write his famous poem.

This photo of the battle-scarred Fort McHenry flag was taken 50 years later --

Francis Scott Key's poem was later set to the music of a popular song called To Anacreon in Heaven and renamed The Star-Spangled Banner. I think it is one of the world's great national anthems of freedom and defiance, right up there with La Marseillaise of France and The Internationale of pre-Stalinist Soviet Russia.

              O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
              What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
              Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
              O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
              And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
              Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
              O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
              O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Today, the original Fort McHenry flag is preserved and displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

Friday 12 September 2014

Rolling Around in the Gutter

It's true confession time, boys and girls! I've always had the most terrible gutter mind. I love sexual subtext and double entendres of all descriptions, subtle or obvious. I spend much of my life biting my tongue in polite company.

So today, please indulge me while I post a few LOLs of questionable taste.

If one is good, two is better!

Hmmm, if these people wanted a lightsaber, they should've paid the extra bucks for a bigger sheet cake.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear . . . .


We can always rely on Oscar Wilde to wax philosophical about the gutter.

Yeah, looking at the stars, eh Picard?

And when it comes to subtext, always remember . . . .

Wednesday 10 September 2014


The Irish know what will happen if their country allows same sex marriage . . . . Oh, they know alright.

Monday 8 September 2014

Back to School

I always loved going back to school every September. It's been 32 years since I last had that pleasure, but September still remains a special month to me because of it. So for all you students and teachers out there, I hope you enjoy these school-related LOLs!

Friday 5 September 2014

Southern Alberta Road Trip, Part 3

Here's the conclusion of my little travelogue series --

Next, My Rare One and I went to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, which is located near Fort Macleod. Long before horses and guns were introduced to North America via European contact, buffalo jumps were how native peoples mass-harvested enough buffalo meat and hides to survive the harsh winters.

Disguising themselves as buffalo calves and menacing wolves, the First Nations hunters would induce a herd of buffalo to stampede off a high cliff. Not any old cliff would do, though. It had to have a nearby stream (for processing the kill afterwards) and face the right wind direction so the buffalo couldn't detect their hunters by smell. Archaeologists think that the Head-Smashed-In site was one of the best buffalo jumps in the Canadian west.

This is the actual buffalo jump site as it appears today -- the steep drop off the cliff has now filled in somewhat as the landscape slowly changed over its 5000 year use as a buffalo jump.

Head-Smashed-In overlooks the flat plains of the Old Man River basin. You can see a modern wind farm in the distance.

In the late 1800s, the greed and guns of white Canadians and Americans destroyed the huge buffalo herds of the plains in a few short years, devastating the native cultures which depended on the buffalo for survival. First Nations in the west are only now starting to recover. Today, their leaders say that "education is the new buffalo" to provide everything the people need.

Our final stop was to view the Frank Slide located in the Rocky Mountains' Crowsnest Pass. In 1903, the top peak of the mountain in the photo unexpectedly shifted, broke off and avalanched downwards in the middle of the night, wiping out part of the small mining town of Frank and killing 90 people. You can still clearly see the scars where it slid down the mountain.

The rocky debris field of the slide's huge "splash zone" (as it's called) is still a stunning sight. Believe me, these photos do not do it justice.

My Rare One and I both enjoy visiting the cultural heritage sites of our region. History is so fascinating because it shows the inventiveness, artistry and indomitable spirit of those who lived before us on this land.

[All photos © My Rare One, August 2014]

Thursday 4 September 2014

Southern Alberta Road Trip, Part 2

Continuing on with My Rare One's and my recent adventures in southern Alberta --

We traveled down near the American border to visit Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. It is a small badlands coulee of sandstone cliffs and hoodoos found along the Milk River. For untold generations, it was a gathering place of the Blackfoot people.

It has hundreds of spectacular hoodoo formations created by time, wind and erosion. If you're familiar with southern Alberta, just let me say that the hoodoos of Writing-on-Stone put the hoodoos of Drumheller to shame. There's no comparison!

But what makes Writing-on-Stone even more special are the ancient petroglyphs (drawings) carved into the cliffs by the Blackfoot people. This awesome art was made before the days of first contact with Europeans and tells the stories of epic battles and buffalo hunts. To protect the petroglyphs from being vandalized, entry to the area where they are located is restricted and the petroglyphs may be viewed only under the supervision of a park guide.

Southern Alberta has the reputation of being the redneckiest part of Alberta so just to reinforce that stereotype, here's a photo of a lovely handcrafted antler display that we saw in the nearby town of Milk River. Love the howling wolf garden ornaments beneath it too!

Next we visited Fort Macleod, original home of the Northwest Mounted Police. This paramilitary force was created in 1873 and sent west to control the worst excesses of the frontier whisky and fur trade. Later on, the NWMP was renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Fort has excellent displays of pioneer artifacts and NWMP history.

Local students portray the NWMP and perform a Musical Ride several times each day. As you can see, Mounties originally wore white British pith helmets instead of flat-brimmed brown Stetsons. But the red serge jackets and single-stripe cavalry pants are essentially the same (dress) uniform still worn today by the RCMP.

[All photos © My Rare One, August 2014]