Friday, June 24, 2005

Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair

As of late, I've been preoccupied with the play, to the consternation of my lovely wife:

"Did you let the dog in, honey?"

"The Raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Mali
Under our battlements."

"Cut it out, you freak!"

"Strange things I have in head, that will to hand,
Which must be acted ere they may be scanned".

Six days until MacBeth! If you're coming to Goderich for Dave Armour's production, now is the time to buy tickets. Here's a link to the Livery website:

Come to See MacBeth in Goderich!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Mali The Insult Comic Dog

This is a lovely Turkish carpet...For me to poop on!


What's in a name? Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Are tourists drawn to certain places rather than others merely because the name conjures up positive associations? What sounds better? Would you rather tell friends about your stay in Bayfield, Ontario, or Smut, Saskatchewan? Of course, one of the most beautiful towns in all of Canada is Dildo, Newfoundland. For some reason, they sell more postcards than any other municipality in Canada. On roadtrips, I enjoy pondering the names of various localities; trying to suss out their origins helps pass the time.

Where I'm from, towns names are often derived from Ojibiwa: Minnetonka, Wayzata, Mahtomedi...If you watch the 80's Charlie Sheen movie Hot Shots, an entire dialogue between Sheen and a Native American actor is comprised solely of Minnesota and Wisconsin town names. It was, without a doubt, the greatest inside joke in cinema prior to Fargo.

In Southern Ontario, older towns usually are named after the first settler in the area, or are named in honor of a prominent Scottish or English nobleman of the time period. Goderich, for example, is named after the English Viscount Goderich, and Port Albert, 10 miles north, is named after Prince Albert. Other town names reflect their Catholic and/or French Heritage, like St. Catherine's or St. Eugene.

A friend of mine recently moved to the Greater Toronto Area and found an apartment in an outer-ring suburb with the unusual name of Orangeville. Doesn't it seem strange for a Canadian town to be named after a citrus fruit? Wouldn't a more regionally-correct name be Appleville? Of course, if there were an Appleville, Ontario, it would be useless to compare it to Orangeville. That would be like comparing two very different things. It would be like comparing a citrus fruit to a fruit from the genus Malus...But I digress.

As I pondered this mystery over the weekend, it occurred to me that there could be some link to the English monarch William of Orange, or to Irish Protestants. I couldn't let this mystery be. A quick Google search revealed the mystery of this place name. Orangeville is named after the first resident of the area, a man with the unusual name of Orange Lawrence, who settled there in 1820.

Orangeville, we hardly know ye. Are you a homogenous, ticky-tacky suburb, or an enigma shrouded in mystery? What Victorian-era mother, gazing down upon her infant son, chose to name her son Orange? The world may never know.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Why Aren't Canadian GM Plants Closing?

The American auto industry executives never learn from their mistakes. Remember the eighties, when GM bet its future on gas-guzzling tanks like the infamous K car? When oil prices rose, consumers made the thrifty, dependable Honda Civic the number one car in America. Twenty-five years later, GM and Ford bet their future on mammoth SUVs and muscle cars, and Americans responded to rising oil prices by buying Toyotas and Hondas.

The American media, in its typical incisive fashion, reports that GM blames the closings on rising healthcare costs. The talking heads infer, from this limited information, that if only the greedy unions would cease asking for their heart pills and checkups for their children, GM might be able to turn a profit.

Without a doubt, the fact that General Motors plans to cut 25,000 jobs and close five American auto plants will have reverberations on this side of the border, but the initial bloodshed will take place in Detroit rather than St. Catherine's, Windsor, or London.

How is this possible? They make the same cars in Canada. All my life, I've been told by the free market capitalists that an American national health care system would put us at a competitive disadvantage...

If that's the case, why aren't GM's many Canadian plants closing?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Hot Canadian Political Action

I never thought it would happen to me..Nobody thought it could happen to anyone, as a matter of fact..I'm captivated by Canadian politics.

Even though I write another blog that deals mostly with U.S. politics, I rarely watched the soporific C-Span. Exciting things happen in the capitol, but it seems like C-Span intentionally focuses on mind-numbing minutiae. It's as if the channel exists in order to foster apathy. I wouldn't be surprised if it's funded under the table by mediocre sitcoms like "According to Jim" ( I've never actually watched the show, but it is Jim Belushi after all, so I feel an assumption of mediocrity is fair on my part).

The Public Affairs channel in Canada, on the other hand, is often riveting drama. The liberal government of Paul Martin is beseiged by charges of corruption. There is a public inquiry, claims of bribery, and even a smoking gun tape promising a cabinet position. A prominent conservative defects to the liberals in the 11th hour, spurning the conservatives and her former lover simultaneously. Bitter invective leaps off the T.V. screen, and while the MPs speak, the angry cries of the opposition rise to the rafters. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the political scene has been reduced to a third-rate zombie flick featuring stiff-armed, slack-jawed pundits repeating "Bush Good...Must Eat Brains" while the liberal opposition shrieks in terror and barricades the door to no avail a la Thriller.

It's good entertainment, but is it good politics? As an American, I've seen my share of mudslinging, and I've seen the corresponding lack of faith in democratic institutions that occurs as a result. I've rarely voted for someone. Instead, I've voted for the lesser of two evils.

Will Canada descend into vicious negative campaigning, thereby sullying its squeaky-clean international reputation? Will the Grewal tape be proved a forgery? Will the sexy heiress Belinda Stronach reconcile with her conservative lover Peter MacKay? Tune in to the Public Affairs Channel for next week's exciting episode.
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