December 18, 2018

So . . .

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I just happened to notice that while I've been keeping the reading log on the sidebar up-to-date, more or less, I haven't been too bothered of late to write anything here.

Of course, there was never a conscious decision to give up blogging. Other things just got in the way. In the 18 months and change since my last post, I've returned to school and since graduated with a two-year diploma in computer programming. So I've written hundreds of lines of Java and Python code, if not thousands, but not a line of English for this blog.

In the meantime, since my last post on this blog, I've also discovered the serenity Minecraft. So I've recreationally and virtually laid tens of thousands of blocks of dirt and stone constructing Asian-themed buildings, but not a single block of text for the Crusty Curmudgeon.

Of course, I remain ever hopeful that my personal recreational life will return to its old normal in the new year. I can't promise new posts every day like when the blog was at its peak, but I can probably promise something. Maybe jump-starting Saturday Superman or my lightning book reviews will be the tonic I need. We'll see. Until next time.

June 02, 2017

And now . . . this - June 2/17

It's a gardener's worst nightmare: Animals or birds have destroyed your prize display.

That's precisely what the team at Memorial University's Botanical Garden discovered on May 18—a moose had eaten most of their Canada 150 tulips.

[Full Story]

I heartily endorse this heinous act of horticultural hijinks.

Do trees make a sound in the forest if no one is there to hear it?

Apparently so, and it's "Yes, yes, yes!"

"Trees are very social beings," says German forester Peter Wohlleben, "the parents, the 'mother trees' look after their offspring…they like to stand close together and cuddle." They also talk to each other, have sex, form friendships and feel physical pain, he told the Canadian documentary series "Intelligent Trees."

[Full Story]

June 01, 2017

And now . . . this - June 1/17

"Hold muh beer 'n' watch this, Jeb."

Idiot tests whether his steel-toed boot is bulletproof by shooting himself in the foot. (Warning: Result is not pretty.)

It's a good thing he didn't try to test his hard hat in a similar fashion, though I suspect it wouldn't be protecting anything important, anyway.

May 23, 2017

Roger Moore (1927-2017)

Sir Roger Moore has died at the age of 89.

Moore is best known for playing James Bond in seven films (more than anyone else) from 1973 to 1985. He is the oldest actor to have played the character, and of the six actors to have portrayed Bond, the first to pass away.

Compared to the more serious portrayal by his predecessor Sean Connery--and certainly in contrast with Ian Fleming's brooding, nihilistic secret agent--Moore's James Bond was suave and lighthearted, almost cartoonish. It wasn't the best period for Bond movies. But when Moore played Bond straight, as he did in Live and Let Die or For Your Eyes Only, he was very good indeed, and we can forgive him for Moonraker and Octopussy. Besides, if not for seeing Moonraker on TV as an eighth grader, I would never have sought out the novel, and James Bond may never have become one of my favourite literary characters. I recently finished reading straight through Fleming's Bond books for the third time.

Moore was also well known for his six-season run on television as the Saint, based on another literary favourite of mine, Leslie Charteris' Master criminal.

Goodbye, Mr. Bond.

May 22, 2017

On the appropriateness of appropriation

A week and a half ago, the editor of Write, the magazine of The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC), has stepped down after an article he wrote generated numerous complaints. In this article, Hal Niedzviecki argued that there is no such thing as "cultural appropriation."

This generated numerous complaints from other members of TWUC, which was formed to "promote the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers," leading to a statement from the union in which they apologized "unequivocally," affirmed that the magazine exists to "offer space for honest and challenging discussion," and having been so challenged by Niedsviecki's editorial, bravely threw him under the bus.

I am not a reader of Write nor a member of TWUC. It is clear I could not be, given how they ignore their own mandate in favour of the intellectual Zeitgeist of the day, not to mention their apparent lack of a spine.

May 20, 2017

Don't believe the hype

In the spring of 1988, while in grade 12, I traveled to Calgary for a high-school band competition. To pass the time en route, in addition to the homework assignments for the days I was away, I had a reading list for the grade 13 English literature course. I would be taking the course the following year, but my then-girlfriend was enrolled in it, and she gave me the list of books (and my teachers were happy to loan me copies).

The required reading included Brave New World, The Stone Angel, and Cannery Row; optional books included Nineteen Eighty-Four, likely one or two titles that I have since forgotten, and, notably, two novels by Margaret Atwood: The Edible Woman and The Handmaid's Tale. The curriculum had a distinctly dystopian edge for some reason. Over the course of the trip, I devoured them all. I distinctly recall reading The Handmaid's Tale in one or two sittings on the return trip somewhere between Calgary and Winnipeg; in my mind, the novel still evokes memories of sunny prairies, grain elevators, and wheat fields seen from a train window, in stark contrast to the novel's actual, bleaker subject matter.

January 05, 2017

And now . . . this - Jan. 5/2017

The main takeaway from this article: The number of crazy, older single women in the world will soon precipitate a global cat shortage.

December 16, 2016

And now . . . this - Dec. 16/16

Many animals, including moose, have a natural need for salt in order to maintain good health and if there is no natural source available, they will search elsewhere for replenishment. . . .

While it is unclear exactly how many car-licking incidents have been reported in 2016, Alberta Parks says this is something that happens every year during the wintertime.

[Full Story]

Also not reported: the number of cars are spotted leaving Kananaskis at high speed with frozen moose tongues stuck to their bumpers.

Fa la la la la, la la la la

July 01, 2016

Our country reeks of trees

"Ah, trees, trees, and more trees. What a wonderfully green universe we live in, eh?"—Colonel O'Neill, Stargate SG-1

It is Canada Day once again. Today is Canada's 149th birthday, so there is but one more year the (presumably) big sesquicentennial celebration next summer.

I haven't been blogging recently—between a return to school and a change of employment, I found myself early on having little to say. At some point it became a challenge to see if I could go, say, six months without blogging. And so here we are. If nothing else, I'm not going to miss my annual tradition of posting a Canadian patriotic song each Canada Day.

This year, however, I'm feeling a little more frivolous than I usually do. This year's post came about mainly because at sometime on Thursday, the lyrics to the Anthem of the Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen came into my mind, and I couldn't get rid of them. (To their credit, they finally rid me of Styx' "Lorelei," an earworm I have been suffering for three days.)

So, it's kind of patriotic.

Additionally, it was co-authored by a Canadian: animator John M. Kricfalusi, who comes from Quebec. Kricfalusi is influenced by classic animation such as that of Tex Avery and Chuck Jones, and is best known for creating The Ren & Stimpy Show for Nickelodeon in the early 1990s. The Anthem of the Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen is the set piece of the second season's final episode.

The tune, of course, is that of the Royal Anthem, "God Save the Queen," but I imagine Kricfalusi's main inspiration was the American patriotic anthem "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" since it bears a closer lyrical relationship, most notably the wordplay in the first line.

As always, happy birthday, Canada.

Previous Canada Day songs: