Thursday, March 27, 2008


There I was, doing my bit for Queen and country by researching on the Internet when I accidentally come across an entertainment site. “Whoops,” I said as I tried to back out of it, then I noticed a short piece on a new movie directed by someone named Kimberly Peirce. Well, a chick directing an entire movie by herself. You’ve come a long way, baby. As I read further I found the movie is sort of a war movie called Stop-Loss, and it’s about a young man who goes AWOL after he is ordered back to Iraq even though he has fulfilled his military obligation. Ho ho, I thought, what will these Hollywood people come up with next? First it was the zany, loopiness of Oliver Stone’s JFK, and now this. I understand that movies are fantasy, but shouldn’t they at least be a little bit plausible? Imagine, any US administration being so bereft of morals as to force someone back into a war zone and imagine the citizens of the US allowing them to do it. Fuggedaboudit. Never happens. Oh, except it does.

Apparently Stop-loss is the involuntary extension of a soldier’s service contract and was brought in to the US Legal Code just after the Vietnam War. It wasn’t used until the first Persian Gulf War and has been used many times since. The weird thing is, the citizens of the US don’t seem to mind. Let’s take the latest war as an example. How many of the young people who volunteered following the 9/11 attacks knew that they would not be exclusively going after the people who attacked the United States, but would also be put into harms way by an administration that was swinging wild, and once the time they volunteered for was up the administration could say, “Hold on there, pal. You got to stay. You’re not dead yet.” You would think that people would be rioting in the streets. I mean, if you try to take their handguns away, then you have a fight, but if you force their child to stay in Iraq longer than they were supposed to and they come home mutilated, that’s alright. That seems messed up to me.

I have read that one way to get out of the Stop-Loss thing is if a soldier agrees to an involuntary stay of twelve to fifteen months on the front-lines along with a three month “out-process” period. Twelve to fifteen months. I believe that if you add up all the military service times of the top Bush administration people it comes to less than five minutes so I guess that’s fair. Not. And somehow it only seems right that the chicken-hawks would be the ones to decide to extend someone else’s military service.

I suppose at the time, George W Bush was drunk and most of the rest of the chicken-hawks were hiding in university but I read that when vice-president Dick Cheney was asked why he hadn’t volunteered to go to Vietnam he said that he had had better things to do (the quote is, "I had other priorities in the sixties than military service." The Washington Post - March 14, 1989) Well there were 54,000 US casualties in Vietnam and I’ll bet they all had better things to do too. And I’ll bet that the 4000+ US dead and who-knows-how-many wounded and crippled in the US's Iraq adventure all had better things to do as well. I guess it’s like Dick so famously said on the news recently, “So?” That’s not being anti-American and hating democracy, is it, Dick? Right.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Europe '08

My minion, Professor Chaos (see blog entry October 24, 2007), left for a short tour of Europe the other day with the stated purpose of tormenting the French, harassing the Germans, and totally ignoring the Swiss (if he has a spare moment). Before he left we spoke at length regarding how he should comport himself whilst checking out the sights of old Europe (as my good buddy Don Rumsfeld used to call it) and he said that my greater experience, acting-like-a-knob-wise (if that’s a word), was something he would be totally, if not entirely, depending on.

“Take France, for example,” he said. “I’ll be in Paris for a couple of days, then I intend to roam around the country-side and make sure that they’re not getting up to anything out there. Is there anything special I should know?”

“Ah yes, France,” I answered, “the only country in the world where the common yard-snail is considered a culinary delicacy. Actually that pretty much tells you everything you will ever need to know about the French right there. Imagine, mighty French hunters combing the vegetable gardens of France, tracking the wily snail. Then ‘oh, ho, ho’ the hunter whispers as he sights his quarry, ‘les snail!’ Slowly he sneaks up on the unsuspecting critter, then the hunter leaps and with a squeal of ‘oo-la-la’ he raises the snail in one limp-wristed fist. Mission accomplished.”

“Right,” commented Professor Chaos. “Snail hunters.”

“That’s right, and it doesn’t end there, my long-haired minion,” I continued. “The captured snails are packed up in old boxes and shipped all over the French landscape, to little bistros and wine-shops and whatnot where the shells are muscled off and then they’re drowned in boiling garlic butter and served to some Frenchmen along with cheap red wine, a deck of smokes and a doughnut. This is what the French call civilization.”

“Okay. What else do I need to know?”

“French chicks don’t shave their armpits. That and snails and you’re good to go. Oh, and they don’t call them snails either. They call them ‘escar-something’, so don’t be fooled.”

“Right, and that’s it?”

“Pretty much. There’s a lot to see there, all of it designed and/or built by other people of course. The French spend too much time on strike and on days off to actually accomplish anything. Like there’s that Triumph thing, built by the Romans, and that tower, the Eiffel or whatever. Designed and built by some Egyptian dude. The pyramid shape is a dead giveaway. Then there’s that painting of Mona there, painted by some Italian. It’s kind of famous. They made a movie about it, I think. Here.” I handed him a twonie (a Canadian two dollar coin). “I want you to throw that off that Eiffel tower thing.”

The Professor looked a little worried. “Aren’t you worried I might his someone?”

“Not really. I figure if you do it’ll be a Frenchman and I’m okay with that. Besides, the worst you can do is knock the cigarette out of his hand. What I want you to do though is try to hit one of those crappy French cars. I think they’re called Roulettes or something. Try to put it through the roof.”

“Right,” he said, jotting down a quick note, “crappy French car. Now what do I need to know about the Germans?”

“Germany is a whole different pail of eels from France. Remember, the French surrendered during the last World War (although to be fair, the French understand that the War started in 1939 and not in 1941 like some people seem to think), while the Germans had to have their butts kicked for them. That gave them two losses with no wins and I think they’re still kind of bitter about it.”

“Alright. So I should be ready for them to be rude?”

“Actually the Germans, or ‘Square-heads’ as they like to be called, are always rude. I’d be more concerned about them trying to make you listen to some horrible opera or ‘techno’ music and then trying to make you eat bratwurst, which is just sausage with a weird name. You probably won’t be able to get a decent stick of pepperoni while you’re there but they’ll be jamming “schnitzels” and “wurst” at you daily so be ready.”

“Right, schnitzels and wurst. Anything else?”

“Well it’s like General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett said during the trench warfare of World War One, ‘I wouldn’t lick a German if he was glazed in honey!’”

“What’s that got to do with anything?” asked my ever-curious minion.

“Nothing in particular,” I reassured him. “Let’s just call it a heads up. The Germans can be a strange people.”

“And what about the Swiss?”

“Forget about them. Nobody likes the Swiss. Get me a picture of a mountain and of one of those Swiss-guard guys. Enjoy your trip.”

So he’s gone now and I can only hope and pray that he listened to what I had to say. One of the best parts of travelling is knowing that you are superior in every way to the people you are visiting.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Monday, March 10, 2008


I was looking over some resent blogs, especially the one dated March 1, 2008, and I began to think about postcards. I would describe a good postcard as being like a one panel cartoon in that they have one chance to get the point across. One shot at telling somebody something about where the postcard has been sent from. In a lot of ways that is pretty cool.

Some examples: My home province of British Columbia has postcards with mountains, rugged coastlines and trucks holding gigantic apples.

Alberta’s most famous postcard from the last ten years was a photograph of a guy in a cowboy costume receiving a cheque from the Albertan government.

The longest lasting postcard picture in Canada is from Ontario. It shows a bunch of pigs feeding at a trough in Ottawa.

La Belle Province, Quebec, for years had a postcard showing a guy smoking two cigarettes at the same time. It was recently altered to come in line with modern health concerns, and both cigarettes were covered with whiteout strips.

In ancient times postcards had inspirational photos and sayings on them. “May the bluebird of happiness… “ sorts of things. You could send them from pretty much anywhere, but they didn’t tell the receiver anything about where they had been sent from.

In times of war some postcards lean towards the jingoisticly patriotic. During the First World War postcards would a soldier pulling the Kaiser’s beard or kicking him in the butt. During the Second World War the soldier would be kicking Mussolini, Tojo or Hitler in the butt (personally I think they should have shown Hitler being worked over with a dentist’s drill and a monkey wrench, but I digress).

I wonder what sorts of postcards our friends to the south (the United States) can buy these days. I think a popular one would show the seal of the Department of Homeland Security with a caption reading: “You better keep your ass clean because we’re watching. Have a nice day.” Another good one might be of a US Administration chicken-hawk sending some young guy off to war with inadequate equipment. I don’t know how you’d get a picture showing that but the people who do postcards are pretty sharp so I’m sure they could figure it out. If they want to use that idea that’s fine by me. No charge.

Anyway… Humouroceros

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Whale food

The pro-whaling community in Norway has gone on the offensive with a Eat Whale Not Cow campaign the appears to be making waves worldwide. Bjorn Bjorn Bjornson, president of the non-profit group, Whales Are Fat, Ugly and Delicious, says, “Yah. Many people once they stop to think about it want to kill whales and eat them. Yah, when I show people my group’s information then they all want to stop eating cows and chickens and start eating whales. Yah, one whole whale prepared properly can feed many people. Can you say the same about a chicken?”

The group also claims that eating whale is an environmentally sound practice. “Yah,” says Mr Bjornson, “look at all the millions of cows walking around all over the place and eating grass all of the time. Yah, if everyone eats whale, which is delicious, then we can get rid of the cows and build houses in the fields for people to live in. Yah, and cows you know, people are always saying, “Look at the cute cows.” Well you know that cows fart all the time and that makes methane and that is bad for the environment you know. Yah, when you eat whales there are fewer cows farting and less methane, so eating whales is good for the environment. Yah, and if you consider it logically, if eating whales is good for the environment, then having whales swimming around not being eaten must be bad for the environment. Whales are bad for the environment so that’s just another good reason to kill them.”

It doesn’t take too long to find recipe for whale on the Internet, either on specialty sites such as, or you can buy whale specific cookbooks like 101Great Whale Recipes, Vols 1 & 2. While whale consumption has dropped in the world’s other whaling nation, Japan, in Norway whale meat is as popular as ever. Recipes such as, whale and spotted owl stew, roast whale with rhino horn flakes, fried whale and panda bear fritters, or the whale version of veal known as wheal have Norwegians chowing down on the big mammals more and more. There are plans to enter the North American market with an entry-level whale burger, which it is hoped will capture the imagination of the North American consumer. The Norwegians are optimistic.

Mr Bjornson is aware of the controversial nature of what he is doing, but he claims not to understand why it would be controversial. “Yah, my mother makes a whale rib casserole with a beaten seal-pup garnish that is to die for. Yah, it is exquisite. Why the whale lovers, so called, won’t even try it is a mystery to me. Honestly, I don’t know what they are blubbering about.” Bjornson laughs to himself for a moment. “Yah, this is my favourite joke.”

Anyway… Humouroceros

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sillier and sillier

A Winnipeg, Manitoba folk band (if you define 'band' as one person plus whoever happens to be hanging around at the time) is continuing with their lawsuit against the movie makers at Warner Brothers (home of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck). Kim Baryluk, who is the singer-songwriter of the Wyrd Sisters, figures that the unnamed band in the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was originally called the Weird Sisters in the book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is totally messing with her ownership of the name, and that people will think that she stole the name from the book and movie. She has already lost the suit once, with the court ordering her to pay $140,000 to Warner Brothers for their legal costs.

Never say die though and Ms Baryluk has again filed suit seeking the destruction of DVDs, CDs, video games, and anything else connected with the movie that may contain the name Weird Sisters. She also wants 40-million dollars (well, who doesn't?). Her lawyer is also going after two judges and two Warner Brothers lawyers in Ontario claiming improper conduct, so he'll be busy for the next while. On the other hand, Warner Brothers has filed suit in Winnipeg saying that Ms Baryluk has not paid the 140,000 that she was ordered to pay. So it's all quite a pickle when you look at it.

Here's the thing though, Ms Baryluk's lawyer said that the original claim centered on which musical act had the right to use the name. So okay, on one hand we have the Wyrd Sisters out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. On the other hand we have fictional characters in a book (and unnamed characters in a movie) who are not actually a musical act. Also, the band, Three Weird Sisters, out of Atlanta, Georgia, US of A, was also contacted regarding the use of the name in the movie and they thought it would have been cool. Of course that all fell apart when the Winnipegers didn't go for it (in other words, the band was contacted and when they complained the name was dropped from the movie - weirder and weirder).

I think that Ms Baryluk and her lawyer should drop the suits, apologize to Warner Brothers (man, that hurt to type), and just get back to creating music. I've listened to the Wyrd Sisters on Myspace ( and it's not bad. I prefer a harsher sound to my music but I can appreciate quality when I hear it, except for jazz. I don't know anything about jazz.

Anyway... Humouroceros

PS: Way back the Marx Brothers were set to release a movie called A Night In Casablanca. Warner Brothers sent them a letter saying that if they didn't change the name (because of the Warner Brothers movie Casablanca) there would be no other option than for Warner Brothers to sue the Marx Brothers for copyright infringement. This caused Groucho Marx (one of the many Marx brothers) to gird his loins and fire off a letter to the Warner Brothers legal department:

Apparently there is more than one way of conquering a city and holding it as your own. For example, up to the time that we contemplated making a picture, I had no idea that the city of Casablanca belonged to the Warner Brothers.

However, it was only a few days after our announcement appeared that we received a long, ominous legal document warning us not to use the name "Casablanca."

It seems that in 1471, Ferdinand Balboa Warner, the great-great grandfather of Harry and Jack, while looking for a shortcut to the city of Burbank, had stumbled on the shores of Africa and, raising his alpenstock, which he later turned in for a hundred shares of the common, he named it Casablanca.

I just can't understand your attitude. Even if they plan on re-releasing the picture, I am sure that the average movie fan could learn to distinguish between Ingrid Bergman and Harpo. I don't know whether I could, but I certainly would like to try.

You claim you own Casablanca and that no one else can use that name without your permission. What about Warner Brothers -- do you own that, too? You probably have the right to use the name Warner, but what about Brothers. Professionally, we were brothers long before you were.

Even before us, there had been other brothers -- the Smith Brothers, the Brothers Karamazov; Dan Brouthers, an outfielder with Detroit, and "Brother, can you spare a dime?" This was originally "Brothers, can you spare a dime," but this was spreading a dime pretty thin,

The younger Warner Brother calls himself Jack. Does he claim that, too? It's not an original name -- it was used long before he was born, Offhand, I can think of two Jacks -- there was Jack of "Jack and the Beanstalk" and Jack the Ripper, who cut quite a figure in his day.

As for Harry, offhand I can think of two Harrys that preceded him. There was Lighthorse Harry of revolutionary fame and a Harry Appelbaum, who lived on the corner of 93rd Street and Lexington Avenue.

This all seems to add up to a pretty bitter tirade but I don't mean to. I love Warners -- some of my best friends are Warner Brothers. I have a hunch that this attempt to prevent us from using the title is the scheme of some ferret-faced shyster serving an apprenticeship in their legal department. I know the type -- hot out of law school, hungry for success and too ambitious to follow the natural laws of promotion, this bar sinister probably needled Warner's attorneys, most of whom are fine fellows with curly black hair, double-breasted suits etc. in attempting to enjoin us.

Well, he won't get away with it! We'll fight him to the highest court! No pasty-faced legal adventurer is going to cause bad blood between the Warners and the Marxes. We are all brothers under the skin and we'll remain friends till the last reel of "A Night in Casablanca" goes tumbling over the spool.

Groucho won that argument, and rightfully so.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


I got a postcard with the above photo on it some years back from some people I know who were traveling in Europe, and in the best tradition of your better postcards it captures an image that by itself gives an excellent description of where it's from. Hey, it's a windmill and short of showing a bunch of guys wearing funny hats and clog-dancing, what could say "the Netherlands" better than that?

Windmills themselves are pretty cool anyway. When you are really young what could be more cool than a house with a propeller on it? (I don't know for sure but I'll bet that even girls thought that windmills were cool, until they discovered ponies.) Then in school we learned about windmills being used by the ancient Netherlanders to grind grain, torture heretics and whatnot using the power of the wind, and they're still in use today. That's cool too.

I found that as I got older windmills sort of faded into the background noise. Other things became important and eventually I just didn't think about them any more. Then I found this postcard and it all came rushing back to me. Windmills are still cool.

Anyway... Humouroceros