Category Archives: Humour

to laugh is to live… I hope…

BILE BACK-LOG: Trump Trumps Top Twit with a Twist

Owing to having taken a solemn oath for the duration of the election period in Canada to maintain a non-​partisan position on political things, I couldn’t comment publicly on anything of any nature which involved the Canadian political parties, any of the topics covered by those parties as part of their campaigns, any of the individual running, the policies of any of the governments over the years, even foreign nations’ current events which might reflect how I might view a political position in Canada, and… well, everything, really…

This is the first in a series of posts where in I vent my spleen from those things which made me want to smash my head against any flat surface until my brain was sufficiently anesthetized the pain of trying to make sense of the news events was no longer noticeable.

So…

Rob Delaney on Twitter is re-​tweeting some seriously insane things from Republican Presidential hopful Donald Trump’s Actual Real Account. EG: he’s accused George W Bush of destabilizing the Middle East by invading Iraq, thus ignoring George HW Bush invading Iraq, Nixon & Ford propping-​up the Shaw of Iran, Eisenhower & the CIA for installing the Shaw in 1953 via a coup d’état, and the Allies for having built the foundation of boundary disputes in the first place c. post-​WWI.

But he seems to have always suffered from of selective memory, because in December of 2011 he said this:

So… ignore the cause, point finger at the idiot brother of an opponent, then posit the raping of another sovereign nation’s resources as the spoils of war that was created by the USA? The man is unhinged! More than a thing to laugh-​at, he is seriously dangerous! I mean, PEOPLE LISTEN TO HIM AND AGREE WITH THINGS HE SAYS!!

Aaaaaand he gets worse only a few months earlier than the last one saying this:

What? Was he saying…

Oh! He •did• mean that in 2011, because there he is clarifying it 2½ years later! So Iraq should •thank• the USA for destabilizing the Middle East by handing over all its national assets (save for the historical things, you know, rocks and old paper are boring, give us the black sticky stuff) in recompense for the Americans who died in the effort to force Democracy and apple pie down the unwilling gullets of the Iraqi peoples?

And then there’s this, proving the man is an idiot doing what he claims is something he is a genius at:

Donald John Trump, born June 14, 1946. Probably less useful than anything you can imagine, but if accused of that he’ll just declare how proud he is of it.

Mood: infuriated
Music: “The Primitive and the Passionate” by Les Baxter and His Orchestra [1962, Reprise R9-​6048 Stereo]
Book: “The Map That Changed the World ” by Simon Winchester [HarperCollins, October 2009, ISBN: 9780061978272]

PODCASTS: Funny & Thinky Content Recommendations

MORE PODCASTS TO RECOMMEND!!! This time it’s all about funny stuff; thinky stuff; and stuff that’s both funny and thinky. Strap yourself in.

As before, the titles of the shows link to iTunes but put the names into Stitcher or whatever you use for podcasts and you’ll probably find them easily.

NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour” [click to embiggen]

NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour” [click to embiggen]

NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour is awesome and I’m not sure if it’s a radio-​platform one as well or not. Things in the role of ‘pop culture’ are now mainstream, and it behooves us to stop poo-​pooing Super Hero Movies as being ‘fluff’; especially as Kenneth Branagh directed Anthony Hopkins in one of them. They talk about music, movies, TV shows, books, comic books, and general popular culture topics such as why aren’t there more women in tech? or why aren’t there more ‘voices of colour’ on NPR? Thoughtful stuff and often surprisingly deep for someone who thinks very little of the potential for covering ‘pop culture.’ Give it a try.

CBC Radio’s “Under the Influence” [click to embiggen]

CBC Radio’s “Under the Influence” [click to embiggen]

CBC Radio One’s Under the Influence is all about the advertising world and its effect upon us as consumers, which is a bit of a closed-​loop of us influencing it influencing us influencing it… Like ouroboros, really. I’ve loved this since it debuted as a summer replacement over a decade ago. It’s a look at marketing with societal geography and economics thrown together. It’s certainly not trying to train you how to be advertising person; but it could be said to be training you how to better understand what advertising is trying doing to do to you, and how to understand what you are doing to influence that.

Granted, not everyone loves the format…

Hey, to each their own, right?

It’s weekly, it should be wrapping up its season shortly, and has a bunch of supporting images and video on the CBC site supporting each episode as well.

NPR’s “Radiolab” [click to embiggen]

NPR’s “Radiolab” [click to embiggen]

NPR’s Radiolab (from WNYC) is thinky and informative and entertaining. News-​ish, but not ‘current events,’ if you see what I mean. In a way, they’re providing the background behind the news of a month or more ago. For instance, there was an episode explaining about the life and pillorying of ‘Patient Zero,’ “Typhoid” Mary Mallon [and here’s the iTunes-​based podcast of that episode]. Most of it at the outset was about her, how typhoid spread, and how she was dealt with; but then the episode veers off to find Patient Zero (the first one to carry the disease, yet typically one who shows no symptoms) of our modern day plague: AIDS/​HIV. Medicine, the humanities (including sociology, geographical economics, and philosophy), and social justice all in one. I’ve found some fascinating stuff in their programming, and you can probably find some as well. Even the episodes that don’t immediately call to you will turn out to be good, at least in my experience.

MaximumFun.org’s “Judge John Hodgman” [click to embiggen]

MaximumFun.org’s “Judge John Hodgman” [click to embiggen]

The Judge John Hodgman podcast featuring Judge John Hodgman (part of the Maximumfun​.org group of shows) is best exemplified by the recent episode “The Puck Stops Here,” so start there if you’ve never heard this one before. There have been a few in the last month or so which aren’t all that typical, as they’ve been a live show, and a couple where they were dealing with eMail. The usual format is simple: people come before His Honor [sic] John Hodgman in order to have someone arbitrate a dispute with someone else. One case involved someone who wanted to turn a room in their house into a sort of shrine to the Disney film Frozen; another show involved a rule where one person wanted to insist guests remove their shoes upon entering their home. This may not strike you as ‘hilarious comedy material,’ but trust me, it is. Amid the humour and satire is some solid, useful advice for living life in a better, more compassionate way. Mostly it’s damned funny, and more than a little nerdy on regular basis.

I may very well have finally earned my smoking jacket.

Guaranteed to make you lean over your desk trying to hide the fact you’re snorting with uncontrolled glee. Subscribe to the weekly updates, grab some of the old ones when you’re looking for an hour of great stuff, and donate during the annual MaximumFun Drive if you feel so moved to support the on-​going costs of this totally free podcast only programme (I’m dead broke, otherwise I totally would).

NPR’s “TED Radio Hour” [click to embiggen]

NPR’s “TED Radio Hour” [click to embiggen]

Say what you will about the exclusivity of the TED Talks given to The Great and The Good; some of them are pretty cool, especially those which challenge common wisdom on a particular topic. NPR’s TED Radio Hour packages together bits of three or four, plus some one-​on-​one interviews with the lecturer, all with a common linking theme.

Due to the mainstream media, you’ve probably heard about the talks given by Famous People, but there’s also some really smart and entertaining talks given by mathematicians examining dating statistics, people who have shows about people working jobs you wouldn’t want to have, how drummers keep their rhythm patterns, and what scares us and possibly why. Really: there’s more context to the talks themselves than you might get from the videos, and this is a way to get a taste of what the TED Talks’ content is by way of a guiding hand.

Weekly, just under an hour, and worth trying it if you’ve only seen the lectures.

NPR’s “This American Life” [click to embiggen]

NPR’s “This American Life” [click to embiggen]

NPR’s This American Life is a bit of an evergreen, or even gold standard of radio story telling /​reporting. That the podcast of it is popular is dead obvious. They divide things into sections with one story or report in each section which they call an ‘act,’ and the allusion to theatre is apt, given the style they use. If you’ve listened to long-​ish documentary reports on the news that have a somewhat editorial slant (ie: not actually documentaries), then this is what sort of thing you should expect. Real little slices of life, told by those in the middle of the story, all of them linked with a common-​ish theme. An excellent podcast to start with if you have never heard a podcast-​style show before.

NPR’s “How to Do Everything” [click to embiggen]

NPR’s “How to Do Everything” [click to embiggen]

NPR’s How to Do Everything is funny, but always informative and sometimes a bit inspirational at the same time. ‘How to save a calf from a death by frostbite’ is just as likely a part of the content as ‘can I be part-​man, part cheetah; no really, can I?’ The answer to the cheetah question is ‘yes, but it’s really neither ethical nor likely without tons of unsuccessful testing [cf. ‘ethical’ concern]. As for the calf: hot tub or Jacuzzi™.

If you want to, you can write into them and ask “how do I _​_​_​_​_​?” Someone wrote in and asked “why does my accidentally spilling cold water in the deep fryer help to loosen the scorched batter at the bottom?” which resulted in an interview with a woman who explained the physics involved in various liquids’ density and temperature’s influence on them (who then discussed her work consulting with the writers of Breaking Bad, which was fun). Weekly, always less than 30 minutes, typically about 15 or so. Funny but educational.

Warren Ellis’s “SpektrModule” [click to embiggen]

Warren Ellis’s “SpektrModule” [click to embiggen]

One of my personal favourites, Warren Ellis’ SpektrModule has been called “quiet music for sleepy people” by its creator, but officially describes itself as this:

This is an ambient /​haunted music podcast curated by Warren Ellis, who is a writer from England

It used to be that his music recommendations tended to something akin to the sound made by someone using a circular saw on a sheet of corrugated metal, sitting in an empty cavern; whilst the Norse God Thor yodelled and smashed open large glaciers with both his forehead and Mjölnir; and a walrus made love enthusiastically with a moose [EG: Jumbling Towers’ 2008 album Classy Entertainment; which isn’t as bad as I recall it to be, now that I listen to it again]. These days, he’s more into ambient, soothing, ‘sleepy music’ in the style of Brian Eno in his experimental mode (Ambient I: Music for Airports; Discreet Music; Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks; Music for the White Cube; The Pearl, etc.). It gets released whenever Mr. Ellis feels like mixing one together, and typically runs just under an hour. You’re guaranteed to hear nothing you’ve ever hear of (unless you happen to live next door to him), and is great for putting on when you need to relax and focus on peace and serenity.


UPDATE: It would seem to be that there’s a point in mentioning The Great and The Good when promoting one’s blog posting. Behold.

His Honor John Hodgeman approves [click to embiggen]

His Honor John Hodgeman approves [click to embiggen]

Warren Ellis of 'Bloody England' promotes [click to embiggen]

Warren Ellis of ‘Bloody England’ promotes [click to embiggen]

So that’s quite heartwarming, actually! Thank you, gentlemen, both.

The New Now

Odd note on discarded door in my car park.

Odd note on discarded door in my car park.

The last year or two has been a tad tumultuous, as some of you know. The end result of everything has been that I no longer live with anyone, as my wife and I are now separated.

While I shared the house with her since the end of January 2013, I had my own bedroom in the basement. It wasn’t an ugly experience filled with you suck! no, you suck more!! conversations, thankfully, but it was one which most likely tried everyone’s patience equally. It’s difficult to actually feel as though you really are your own person when your ex-​spouse-​to-​be¹ is still only a few metres and one floor/​ceiling away from you.

New place, new observations:

Less is more, and that’s awesome! I’ve pared down to what I actually need, without much of the detritus of a nearly half-​century of life cluttering-​up the place.

But yet, organising it all is tough sometimes: where does the desk go (which doesn’t even exist)? What do you move or clean first?

TOASTER!!

TOASTER!!

At one point, I didn’t yet own:

  • tea pot/​kettle
  • baking pans/​sheets
  • ice cream scoop (WTF?!)
  • broom
  • toaster [since rectified; photo, right]
  • coffee maker/​bodum/​french press [since rectified]
  • nail clippers [since rectified]
  • spatulas [since rectified]
  • wine glasses [since rectified]
  • highballs [since rectified]
  • steam iron (but I do have a new ironing board… WTH?) [since rectified]

LifeHacker–style Pro tip: if you don’t have – but need – a broom then substitute… a broom. Essentially, there isn’t one. You’re SOL, Sparky.

Also: this is fatness central, as inside a maximum of three blocks there are two of the breweries, as well as…

  • Dairy Queen
  • 7-​Eleven (open 24 hours, perfect for jelly-​babies and/​or licorice at 2:45 AM)
  • Convenience Store
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • McDonald’s
  • Little Caesar’s Pizza
  • On Lok
  • A&W
  • JJ Bean Coffee

Plus:

  • Foreign Auto Parts (20% off windshield wipers this week!)
  • a tattoo parlour (seems closed with a note to someone posted on the door about a “new key: see mgnt”)
  • at least two gas stations

More thoughts to come.


¹ If someone can come-​up with a better Proper Title for that situation, it would be appreciated. [back]

Mood: accomplished
Music: Discovery, Electric Light Orchestra [Released 31 May (UK) /​8 June 1979 (US); Jet]
Book: Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life Without Losing its Soul, Howard Schultz (with Joanne Gordon); Rodale, March 2011 [ISBN:978160961346]

Swimsuit Shopping

Women frequently bemoan the complexity of shopping for clothing. Most loathed is the swimsuit, but any wardrobe shopping is approached as a saga akin to the Labours of Hercules–or dodekathlon in Greek for those who didn’t study Classics in University – as well they should, really. The variety of styles, models, body types, colours, seasonal changes, and on and on… well, it’s basically a cluster-​fuck of failure for the simple reason that none of the clothes on offer are designed with an actual female in mind.

If you happen to be barely past your menarche then you may be in luck. Possibly. Chances are you’re too late as it is.

Anyway…

I decided to discover what the male version of this might be, and decided to live tweet the experience of the most challenging option going: the swimsuit.

What follows is a transcript of relevant material from the event.

Enjoy.

Continue reading

Mood: accomplished
Music: Peter Gabriel (et al), Scratch My Back /​And I’ll Scratch Yours, [2013]
Book: More Than Two: A practical guide to ethical polyamory, Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert [Thorntree Press, September 2nd 2014, ISBN 9780991399703]

RE:VIEW ~ Above His Station by Darren Craske

It’s not often I’ll write a review of a book, but it’s not often I get to read something so very, very different.

Cover of ABOVE HIS STATION by Darren Craske

Cover of ABOVE HIS STATION by Darren Craske

This is not a normal book, IT’S GREAT!

Right, that’s got the pull quote out of the way… which should make someone happy.

Now, what to say about the book per se… well… now comes the trickier part, because at least 90% of the joy of reading this is the constantly nagging question in the mind of what the hell is going on here? It’s not often that one can really have the feeling of discovering things along with the characters; typically one has a rough notion of where things are going ahead of time.

Not with this. No no.

Initially it seems like a fresh take on the set-​up presented in Arthur Machen’s 1917 novella The Terror, which also provided the starting structure of the Benji Spriteman Mysteries The Terror and the Tortoiseshell and The Designated Coconut. That’s just the starting point, however.

Once we’re past that… Lordy does the thing get up to cruising altitude quickly, and it stays there right until the end. Imagine trying to explain The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to someone who’s never even heard of it. How does one go from there’s a guy who’s going to get his house knocked over for a road… all the way to meeting a man who has two heads and three arms and who happens to be the Galactic President… without losing all credibility? You’ve barely got into the story at that point, as well.

Were any of the plot provided, too much would be given away. No, really: anything more than what you already have would ruin the surprise. There’s much in here to exclaim loudly at the page what? Are you insane? In a good way, obviously.

The characters are wonderfully developed over the length of the tale, the settings are excellently detailed, and the dialogue is grand stuff with all sorts of witty back-​and-​forth.

The Station Guard [sketch by the book’s author]

The Station Guard [sketch by the book’s author]

If there is any shortcoming to the book, it’s that it might benefit from a tiny bit of careful, very precise, surgical-​style editing. Hastening to emphasis the ‘tiny’ aspect of the criticism, as there’s so much to enjoy that someone simply looking for a dashed good read wouldn’t see a single thing wrong it. I just happen to be a bit more picky, which doesn’t make me any better, it merely makes me “different.”

The first chapter is considerably longer than the rest of them, but does have the herculean task of providing the entire back story of the protagonist and his relatives. While there might be some way to break-​up this block of material some way — possibly through the sort involving an initial arrival in Royal Street Station with a large tiger leaping at our hero, followed by a statement of the …but let me back up and tell you how I got here… variety — but I’m at a loss to suggest anything precise.

There are other points through the book that the Editor in me had thoughts of that last last exchange of dialogue ought to be trimmed back… as well as an occasional might be better to shift that ahead of the action it follows right now… but those both were few enough in instance to collectively count on one hand, and they’re only mentioned in order for this to not be seen as an altogether glowing and celebratory review. Praise the good, indicate the bits to work harder on next time; that’s my approach.

Honestly, the best suggestion I can make here is the following:

It’s great, it’s not like anything you’ve encountered before. It’s tough to really say much more, so just read it, okay?

Helpful links:

Mood: jubilant
Music: “The Ox”, The Who, Thirty Years of Maximum R&B (1965)
Book: Above His Station by Darren Craske [self-​published, ISBN: 1482531437]