Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I'm on vacation for the next coupla weeks. I will be at a hill-top cabin that has no internet, poor cell phone reception and a hot-tub view of the ocean.
I'll be back mid-July. I'll try to get this site back into gear then.
In the meantime, have a great summer everybody.
posted by Mentok @ 11:23 AM, ,
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The Bernier-Couillard affair may have left some people in foreign countries with the misapprehension that Canada has become cool all of a sudden. As if to quell such loose talk, Canadians recently got themselves in a lather over the threatened demise of the Hockey Night in Canada theme.
In a nutshell, for you foreigners: CBC TV has used the same jingle for 40 years to introduce NHL broadcasts. The tune has become so ingrained in the Canadian mind that it has been called "the second national anthem."
Being an incompetent government-owned agency, the CBC recently lost control of the rights to the music. Fortunately, private sector broadcaster CTV stepped in to "save the theme for Canada."
Which all puts me in mind to this great old travel story of mine....
Back in the day, I took a year off of college to do the old backpacking through Europe bit. One of the great joys of backpacking is the easy camaraderie of the road. To that end, I had a suite of standard ice-breakers I used whenever I met a fellow traveller. For my fellow Canadian backpackers, I challenged them to a set of Canadian pop-culture trivia questions.
My journey ended up in the beach village of Pelekas on the island of Corfu. The place was a bacchanalian paradise of sun, parties and half-naked women that glows in my memory still.
One day, a visitor arrived at Pelekas who I immediately dubbed "Joe Canada." All Canadians publicize their nationality when travelling (so as not to be mistaken for Americans), but this guy was over the top: a huge flag on his pack plus a maple leaf t-shirt and maple leaf shorts. I tried to connect with him, but he seemed especially unsociable and even seemed to be dodging me.
I immediately suspected he was a poser. American backpackers often put a maple leaf on their packs to avoid hassles, but these types are usually just posing for the locals and typically don't lie to their fellow backpackers about their real nationality. Joe, however, had told me and others that he was from Toronto.
Finally, one night Joe and I ended up on neighbouring barstools at a club. We were both choking down Ouzo-Sprites, the village's abominable signature cocktail favoured by the village's mainly British clientele. Then, in an Indiana Jones-like moment, I spotted a dust-encrusted bottle of Canadian Club way at the back of the bar's liquor shelf.
"Joe, lookit, they have rye!" I exclaimed.
"Ah, you go ahead. I hate rye," he sneered.
"Hate"? "Rye"? I had never heard a Canadian male speak such words before. Yes, to some Canadian males, rye is not their favourite but to actively hate it? Now I really had to test him.
"Hey, Joe, there's a question that's been bugging me that I've asked every Canadian I've met on the road but none could answer. You remember the kids show, the Friendly Giant? Can you tell me what was the third chair on the Friendly Giant intro?"
The Friendly Giant was a pre-schoolers show in Canada that ran for about 30 years. Think of a cross between Captain Kangaroo and Barney then mix in a jazz jam session and you're sort of in the ballpark.
"Oh, don't ask me," said Joe. "When I was a kid I was more into Gilligan's Island."
Hmm. A strange answer, since the shows were apples and oranges - one a prime-time sitcom, the other a daytime children's show. I decided to unload the big guns.
"Hey, Joe, ya know what? I've got this sure-fire way of smoking out every Canadian in the club. All we have to do is sing the tune to Hockey Night in Canada at the top of our lungs and they'll all come over to visit. Wanna try it?"
"Oh, yeah, yeah," he said. "I can just see the tune rolling past me there on CTV. Can you start me off?"
Busted. Hockey Night in Canada is a CBC show. And no Canadian - not one, not even a small child - needs someone to start them off on the tune. But just for shits and giggles I decided to play along.
"OK... Dunt da dunt da dunt..."
He proceeded to fake this half-assed tune that sounded like a cross between the themes to Maverick and General Hospital. It was pretty sad.
He bolted and I didn't see him much after that. He never did admit to my face that he was a lying poser but he did start wearing regular clothes.
posted by Mentok @ 8:44 AM, ,