Gen X At 40 Year In Review 2008 – Part One

What a great looking headline for a blog post. I have no idea why I never thought of this before. I have a need to coast between Christmas and New Year’s Day like everyone else so this is perfect. All I have to do is think of something I have already thought. of. The weird things is I have done this sort of post over at the beer blog every year. Look. This is what I wrote about 2006. Over here? Nothing. Maybe its because I really don’t write stuff and even really observe over here. I really just rip off others. Sure there was all that good stuff about the 157 phoney Saddams back in the day but that was when blogging was cool. Now it’s just an addiction verging on some sort of social pathology that is, for some unknown reason, destroying the journalism industry that it coincidentally clings to like a parasitic…sorry, there was no need to use a simile there. But this is a winner. I am sure of it. The best of 2008. Can’t wait. Plenty to think about. I am certain. This is the road to returning to the hay days, the halcyon year of cheques from the CBC, of requests to join discussion panels. This is it. Excellent.


“And Now On BBC…”

You never know what is out there waiting to enrich your life in unexpected ways. The DVD sets of Dr. Who include clips of BBC “continuity” – meaning the bits between shows telling you what is coming up. Suddenly, I am back in my grandparents house in the 1970 visit to Scotland face glued to the inordinately sharp TV screen with all those extra lines and only four buttons for four channels.

Christmas Countdown: An Evening With Dr. Who

I think I am a softie. I have taken to handing out twoonies for the slightest sign of good behaviour and calm in these hours before the binge. I am even talking to them by name rather than the usual “now!” But I don’t know whether it is a good think that I picked up a few episodes of Dr. Who from 1975. The Genesis of the Daleks. Far more piles of bodies than I recall from my innocent years, even if machine guns did not apparently create bullet holes or any show of blood. The plan was to have a pre-Christmas showing over a few days to play the role of the panic button when things were getting out of hand. Instead we watched the whole thing – or at least the males did. Toggle switches were very cool in 1975 and evil, too, when they are about three inches long and made of translucent red plastic. Many eerie moments with hands hovering over toggle switches or, worse, flicking them. Too much in the end for anyone but me in the house.

Did you know that mad scientists when they create machines of mass murderous mayhem also include a feature of a red button that has the words “Total Destruction” neatly wrapped around it just in case people do not get the point? I imagine the 157 identical Saddams knew of such things even if it didn’t make it to the act.


Countdown To Christmas: I am Bagged

Bagged, I tell ya. Walking around the mall last night with a ten year old who was walking around the mall making sensible selections for a bunch of people as I handed out five dollar bills at the proper moments without flinching, discussing how Rihanna’s “Shut Up And Drive” has echos of Gary Newman’s “Cars” in the phase-shift syth, stopping at every grocery store around looking for large cuts of meat on sale, noting beef is on sale everywhere but never seen gia-norm-ous cuts (including a $55 joint the size of six cats tied together) are being placed on offer, standing in a line up at Tim Hortons only to be told that the mug someone wants for someone in all the TV ads sold out yoinks ago, enjoying the fact that my new YakTrax work so well, waiting to get home to post another thirteen prizes in the 2008 beer blog photo contest, staying up to midnight (even though I got up before five) to figure out the final seven prizewinners so that I don’t have to stay up to midnight tonight, eating the first duck we ever roasted for a vary late supper, marveling at how nice the house smells as the duck stock steeps.

I am bagged.

A Very Special Friday Bullets For Christmas

Why so special? Because I took the day off, of course. We have stuff to get in, stuff to put up and stuff to eat. We have a snow storm coming a guests tonight. Ball cap wearing guests, fortunately. But there is that eternal question – how much booze to buy in anticipation of a party that may be one-third of the expected if the snow storm hits hard? Last weekend I kad the kids note down all the species we may consume in one form or another as part of Yule and it was quite impressive: scallops, lobster, crab, oysters, haddock, cod, salmon, chicken, duck, turkey, beef, lamb, pork, buffalo. Surely there are more. T’is the season to eat nature.

  • Mr Orange Togue heads to Afghanistan. I showed Darcey’s pal MOT a good time around Ottawa a year and a half ago. Our thoughts are with MOT and his companions. Christmassy. Definitely Christmassy.
  • Evil web hacker jerks help destroy nature. Not Christmassy at all.
  • The New York Times has vital cookie batter information for you just when you need it. Massively Christmassy.
  • Can the definition of individual liberty posed here actually stand? Seems like wishery to me. Christmassiness neutral.
  • Please tell him to be quiet. Interesting to see how many of the At Issue panel considered Stephen Harper overrated. Very Christmassy or not at all depending on your position. I saw Iggy on The Hour last night. He can actually string two sentences together, something foreign to Canadian politics. Harper is toast. But thanks for the extra seats at this special time of year.
  • Ben pointed out the 1793 legislation (within maybe a year of Ontario’s creation) barring slavery’s expansion. Anti-slavery is very Christmas.

There you go. Off to buy cleaning products and liquor. Happy happy everyone and if your happy is a holiday, whoops up and woots a plenty for that, too.


How To Govern Canada When You Have No Ideas

Has anyone else noticed that the days-long coalition of the opposition (COTO) has somehow become a source of conservative party economic theory? The mere existence COTO, which seems to have had a life span of six days, has caused Ontario to gain of 20% in its seats in Parliament (thus alienating the west even more), has caused Finance Minister Flaherty to go from “we’ll look at this again in March” to “would you like more money with that?”, has caused the Prime Minister to (again) blurt about this all moving to depression and even how he’ll never write a memoir…like we are waiting for one like we are waiting for that “hockey book” of his, which was all the news when we thought he was all burly-man rat-jacketed, pick-up truck and maply syrup in his veins.

Sure these are wacky times but do you have any idea what the policies of the Government of Canada will be, you know, next week? Is there any way to suggest that they are not simply a poorer version, a chippier example of the Liberal Party of Paul Martin, flopping around for any straw to grasp that can fit the day’s needs even to the point of asking us to use this 1998 web survey (h/t David) to tell him what to do? Maybe it’s the times. Maybe anyone would be having to do this given the economic news and the political reality. But one word keeps popping up that is absent from the Reform Party master plan for social engineering that has been gathering dust on the shelf for some time now: weak. Is anyone not surprised that this one characteristic – indecisive rudderless weakness – you would never have applied to the man now seems be at the heart of Stephen Harper’s political nature? I wish better for him…because if he can’t pull it together we are not going to be doing too well.


Pre-Drinking: What Is Old Is New Again

I am not sure what it is about journalists these days but they seem to have entirely forgotten what life was like in the 1980s. People seem to think that, you know, the special friends relationship of hooking up was invented by those with a Blackberry and that facing economic tough times is something that no one has coped with before. Odder, however, than forgetting the lax ways of amore and getting together with pals over a pot of weak tea is the idea that “pre-drinking” as described by the Toronto Star this morning is new:

Young people are engaging in a “new culture of intoxication” that even has its own buzzwords – “pre-drinking” or “pre-gaming.” If you’re a confused parent looking for a simple definition, just click on YouTube, or on, where it’s described as the “act of drinking alcohol before you go out to the club to maximize your fun at the club while spending the least amount on extremely overpriced alcoholic beverages.” This new form of binge drinking goes far beyond a warm-up to a night out with friends, says a new report by Centre for Addiction and Mental Health researcher Samantha Wells and two colleagues at the University of Toronto and University of Western Ontario. It’s an “intense, ritualized and unsupervised” drinkfest, in many cases perfectly timed so that the booze hits the bloodstream within minutes of stepping inside the bar, Wells said in a telephone interview from London, Ont.

Wow. They are “unsupervised” when they do this?!?!? Imagine that.

Did anyone involved with these studies ask a Maritimer who was in university a quarter century ago? Frankly, I still find it odd to be in a pub before ten in the evening given that the Halifax social scene required picking up a case (Nova Scotian for 12 beer) on the way home, having something for supper like K-D or oven fries and then landing at one house or another to, frankly, pound them back until it was time to get the taxi downtown. But these days I get all snoozy well too early for this sort of thing. I hardly make it to the end Num-Three-Ers on Friday night at eleven now. Yet somewhere some part of me is happy that gangs of the young are still being safely dumb in fun packs within reasonable parametres, singing at the tops of their lungs, turning into bags of seat as they slam-dance or whatever the kids are up to today.

Why Does Technology Do These Things To Me?

Why, when I am up way too early, is one TV getting the regular cable transmission of CBS affiliate WWNY of nearby Watertown NY on channel seven while the one with the digital box is showing ABC 22, a station serving Vermont, Plattsburg NY and Montreal? Don’t tell me I need to get used to upper Champlain Valley local news now, too. This is an extension of another phenomena. If the digital box TV and the non-digital box TVs are set to the same channel, there is a three second lag between the digital one and the non-digital one. What are the electrons doing during that lag?

The upside? I learned from ABC 22’s broadcast at 5:51 am that – according to the apparently not uncontroversial Pastor Arnold Murray Shepherd’s Chapel, speaking from his nondenominational church in Gravette, Arkansas – the answer to all of life’s questions appears to be “you got to read your Bible, son” if his question and answer session, apparently to Vermonters and others of the upper Champlain valley, were anything to go by. Maybe that’s more aimed at Montreal. Give me the late Perry F. Rockwood any day.


A City Of 1890 In Love With Strong Ales


I had reason to mine the archives of The New York Times today – for entirely proper purposes, I can assure you – but it was quite a moment, that moment when I knew in my small way that I was living out the life Pattinsonian, beery archive sleuth. What I came upon today was an 1890s travel piece with beer references worked in for good measure, the sort of thing our pal Evan Rail of Beer Culture fame, provides for The New York Times today, 118 years later. This is the key beer-related bit.

…The similarity to the English extends quite noticeably to minor matters, even to eating and drinking. Pipes rather than cigars are smoked in the streets and public places. English relishes and sauces in great abundance are displayed upon the dining tables. Lager beer is wanting almost absolutely. I remember in all my travels, extending through hundreds of miles in Ontario, beginning at this place, to have seen the sign “lager beer” displayed only once. Light wines are rarely called for. Strong ales like Bass’s and stouts like Guinness’s abound. Coffee is rarely served and when ordered is found to be a mockery. Tea is, next to mineral waters, the stable temperance drink at table…

That is an interesting bit of social observation. The whole piece with its August 16 1890 dateline is interesting and, if you have any idea of Kingston and its rare preservation of a huge part of its Victorian architecture, one that you can immediately place in the streets about the downtown. Except there’s lager beer here now. A little too much, frankly.