Thursday, June 28, 2007
I've got a serious post coming for Canada Day, but for the Friday prior I couldn't resist sharing some of these goofy Canadian WWII posters I found online:
Call me juvenile, but I just find "Lick Them" to be a funny war slogan, and kinda gross when you think about it.
I bet the Gerries were quaking in their boots about that flower-garden hoe.
Again, juvenile, but notice the position of the beaver. Really, anything with a beaver in it is funny.
Oh, yeah, a big British flag. That's really going to motivate the Quebecois to go risk their lives. Genius!
We Canadians are just so goddamn polite! Talk about a hard sell ... not! Also, gotta say, kinda gay... but maybe that's the point.
... Reckless, daydreaming show-offs, not paying attention to what they're doing. Just the kinda guys I want beside me in battle!
Well, that was fun, wasn't it. Hope all my Canadian readers have a great long weekend planned. See you all back here July 1 as we take a trip through time, to the ancient past and the distant, science-fictiony future. Ooo-wee-ooo.
Update June 29:
Just 'cause I needed a bit of cheering up, I whipped up this quick photoshop of the Lick Them poster, just to totally beat the gag to death. Enjoy!
posted by Mentok @ 11:33 AM, ,
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Long time readers will recall that I invest a lot in my kids' birthday parties. We do elaborate theme parties that include kooky invitations, unconventional activities, customized take-home items and, of course, me dressed up in a costume making a fool out of myself. Some of our great themes of the past have included super-hero party, spy party, pirate, cowboy and Harry Potter.
But, of course, there comes a point when you can't do themes anymore. My oldest boy turned 13 this year and naturally a kiddie-style theme party was not going to be tolerated. He just wanted to have some sort of dull get-together to "hang out" with his friends. I was pretty sad about that, so I begged him to let me try to adapt my birthday techniques in an age-appropriate way.
I landed on the idea of renting a convertible for the day. But not just any convertible: a white one. Then I figured we'd cruise around town with Trooper's Boys in the Bright White Sports Car blaring.
This turned out to be trickier than I thought. Local car rental places didn't have any white convertibles in stock. Everywhere I went, it seemed that red was the only accepted colour for convertibles. I had to do some hunting but by and by I found the vehicle I needed.
The result was spectacular. The guests came in as typical teenagers: shuffling, mopey, cynical, too cool to be impressed by anything. But two minutes out on the highway with the top down wore down their resistance. They were grinning, hooting, giggling and just generally having a great time.
"This is freaking awesome!" shouted one guest. I've still got the birthday party magic.
We took the guests in shifts and dropped them off in between at the party room of a local pool hall, where they were treated to unlimited pop and junk food - always the surest way to win over teenage boys.
Afterwards, their take-home item was a pack of Tag, one of those Axe-clone body sprays. Teen boys always seem to walk around in a cloud of that stuff, so I thought that was an age appropriate party favour.
In between it all, I think I managed to convince my oldest son that his dad is not totally uncool. While cruising around, I would occasionally honk at pretty girls, in keeping with the song. #1 Son and I would grin at each other with "Hope we don't get in trouble!" conspiratorial looks.
So one more birthday success all around. This time it really is going to be the last one for #1 Son.
But that's what I said last year....
Trooper - Boys in the Bright White Sports Car
posted by Mentok @ 8:45 AM, ,
Thursday, June 21, 2007
More than any other time of year, summer is an olfactory season. Flowers, cocktails, barbecues, decaying dog feces.... it's a veritable buffet of scents, both good and ill.
So what is your favourite smell of summer, dear reader? Do tell, 'cause I am such a hoo-er for comments, you know.
My answer may surprise you: basil.
I enjoy vegetable gardening in the summertime. I especially enjoy keeping up an herb garden. (notice how I wrote that: "an herb...". Please don't pronounce the H in my presence. My mother over-pronounces the H and it drives me batty.)
My idea of an idyllic summer Sunday morning is to get up early and get a big brunch ready for my family before they wake up. In the course of doing that, there comes a perfect moment when I sneak out quietly, still in my pajamas, to the dew-laden garden and carefully pick out a few fresh herb leaves to chop up for the omelette. Heaven.
But while I love working with all herbs, the greatest of them is surely basil. The smell of it is downright sexy. When I dead-head the basil plants, I don't just throw the flowers away; I grind them up in my hands and rub it on my face so I can enjoy the smell all day. If they made a musky men's basil cologne, I'd buy it. If they made a sweet basil women's cologne, Mrs. Mentok would be stuck wearing it whether she liked it or not.
And of course there's no greater scent or flavour combination than tomato and basil. Later in the growing season, when the tomatoes are ripe, I sometimes just sit right down in the middle of the garden, grab a tomato and a leaf of basil, and just make myself a sort of scent salad.
Here's a recipe I enjoy that takes full advantage of the tomato and basil flavours:
Rotini - enough for 4-5 ppl
6ish big, very ripe tomatoes
1 cup or so fresh basil (preferably the broad leafed kind)
More or less 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion (adjust up or down depending how oniony you like it)
Cook the pasta. Rinse it. Put it back in the pot and dump in some olive oil so it doesn't stick. Chop up the tomato fairly fine, but make sure to keep as much of the juice as you can. Chop the basil fine. Throw all that in with the pasta and toss it around well. Slice onion in rings or half-rings and mix those in gently, or use them to decorate the top of the pasta once you've transferred it to serving bowl.
That opens the door to another discussion topic: summer recipes. Whichever you'd like to talk about: favourite (or unfavourite) summer smells, or recipe exchange.
posted by Mentok @ 9:55 AM, ,
Sunday, June 17, 2007
In the original version of Superman, he couldn't fly and didn't have x-ray or heat vision. All of his powers flowed logically from the notion coming from a planet with heavier gravity. His powers were completely bounded by the full, extended version of his famous slogan:
Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in single bound. And nothing less than a bursting shell can pierce his skin.The traditional Superman, you see, was not invulnerable, just very tough. His thick hide could repel bullets but a bomb would probably leave a few scars.
I think about this when I look at pictures of my Dad, who passed away two years ago. He was very tough. His skin, I remember, was very thick, tanned and caloused. It was pocked by all sorts of scars and abrasions, no doubt left by too many encounters with bursting shells.
This was quite literally true. He was a World War II veteran who had survived being on a ship torpedoed by the Nazis. Much later, in his 60s he survived a horrendous car crash that killed two other people. He was a great outdoorsman and heaven knows how many scrapes and mishaps he survived out in the bush that no one ever saw. To me, my Dad was as close to invulnerable as a human could be.
And strong! When he went fishing (he was always going fishing), he loved going on great long portages. Until his 70s, he could carry a boat motor on his shoulders for a mile through the bush. He was also a master athlete who, until middle age, had won one championship after another in curling and golf.
In the last year of his life, his health collapsed rapidly. His legendary strength seemed to drain out of him steadily, as though he were being attacked by a vampire.
As his trips to the emergency ward became scarier and scarier, it became clear that my mother wanted to keep him alive at all costs, even if it meant reducing him to a more-or-less vegetative state in a nursing home. But I didn't want to see that. Neither did my siblings and he certainly didn't want it either. He had been blithely predicting his own death for some time. "Have a good trip. I'll be dead by the time you get back," he cheerfully told one of my nephews headed off to a teaching gig in China.
I'm not sure, but I think I was the last person to talk to him. "Get a good rest," I said, just before he rolled over to get some sleep. He was in the cardiac ward and had a zillion tubes and wires sticking into and out of him. Treatment had not been going well. He never woke up again.
Well, at least he finally listened to my opinion, the stubborn old bugger.
To my Dad, a real Superman.
posted by Mentok @ 9:41 AM, ,
Monday, June 11, 2007
As a follow-up to the last post, I guess I'll have to tell you the story of how I met Mrs. Mentok. She hinted at it in her comment to the last piece but I couldn't do the anecdote justice in a reply comment.
Once upon a time, when we were both in our early college years, the future Mrs. M and I belonged to Youth Parliament, which was basically a debate club that used full parliamentary format, like a mock session of the House of Commons. (After hours, the place was party central, so not as nerdy as it sounds.)
Our annual week-long session was held in the chambers of the provincial Legislature. For that week, the Legislative staff winkingly treated us like honourary elected Members. We were even allowed to use the elected Members exclusive private washrooms.
As an inexperienced small-town boy, I was dazzled by these facilities: Toilets made of marble, with elevated water tanks made of oak and flushed by pulling a long brass cord. Elaborate decorated mirrors above the sinks. Oak vanities stocked with cologne and mouthwash, etc. Paper towels? No way - strictly cloth hand towels that you tossed into a big laundry bin.
[I should interject at this point that this describes only the men's Members washroom. The women Members washroom, I'm told, is a converted storage closet. When the building was designed a century ago, no one dreamed people in the future would be so foolish as to elect female politicians ;- ) ]
I have since seen many washrooms the equal of this one, but at the time it was the most marvelous crapping facility my young eyes had ever seen. I wanted to get a picture of it, but had no camera. Someone pointed out a girl with a camera; I sent her a note and asked her to meet me out in the lobby.
When she arrived, I said:
"Got your camera? Good. Come with me into the men's washroom. There's something I want to show you, and you'll want to get a picture of it."
Honest to god.
Of course, it took several more days before we actually connected, and five tumultuous, Sid-n-Nancy-ish years of dating before we were happily married, but those were in fact the first words I ever said to the luv-o-me-life.
Pretty smooth, eh?
posted by Mentok @ 4:16 PM, ,
Friday, June 08, 2007
"Hey, you'd look great on a dollar bill."
According to this news story, Prince Harry may have said that to a bar wench at Cowboys Dance Hall in Calgary.
Really, if that isn't the hottest pick-up line I've ever heard, I don't know what is. The only thing that sucks is that you have to be in line for the British throne to use it.
Man, it's like having Austin Powers as an heir to the throne...which would be kinda cool in a way.
(BTW, that's an actual photo of the young "lady" in question used in the photoshoppy job above.)
And for the audience participation segment of our show: Best / worst pick-up lines you've experienced or used.
Labels: Dem Nutty Royals
posted by Mentok @ 4:44 PM, ,
Thursday, June 07, 2007
My latest favourite lunch spot is a new vegetarian place that opened up a couple months ago on the block near where I work. Their paninis are convincingly meat-like and I figure they're better for my cholesterol than those corned beef, ham and cheese paninis I used to eat.
The place is the epitome of hippydom, though. They've got all the zen waterfalls and feng shui junk all over the place. The magazine rack is full of the local over-earnest student activist rags. They appear to be members of the anti-scent faction of hippydom, otherwise I'm sure they'd have incense continually on the go. You get the picture.
And, of course, their sound system is loaded up with all your hippy favourites. Somehow, whenever I'm over there, they've got Simon & Garfunkel's El Condor Pasa playing. Either they have it on a constant loop or they must think I like it and run back to start it when they see me coming.
I've heard the song so often lately that naturally my mind has turned to parody. Here ya go:
I'd rather be an asswipe than a douche
Ferme la bouche
No, not a douche. Asswipe not douche. No, no.
I'd rather eat the green eggs than the ham
Oh Sam I Am
I'll skip the ham. And eat the eggs. Woo Who.
I'd rather be a toadstool than a bus
Oh what's the fuss
'bout a bus? No not a bus. Mmm hmm.
Tag, your it. Let's hear your favourite song parodies or misheard lyrics.
posted by Mentok @ 12:49 PM, ,