Welcome to last Wednesday’s mailbag on this Tuesday, where work, travel and illness conspired to prevent me from promptly answering your thoughtful and pressing queries. These same factors also kept me from following the weekend’s Great Liberal Chin Stroking, so I guess they had their upside. Thanks, horrible infection!
All the following queries were actually submitted by actual readers. And remember – there are no stupid questions, unless you’re asking whether there’s any simpler way to attract hundreds of comments to a blog than by writing a blog entry about commenters.
Ann Coulter says that she is a victim of hate speech as a member of an identifiable group: “conservatives.” How can one identify a “conservative” in Canada? Where can I get a guide to help with “conservative” identification in the field? Are they an endangered species as Andrew Coyne claims, or an invasive species, as Paul Wells claims? – A_logician
A terrestrial, day-active animal with sketchy taste in footwear, the conservative hibernates in snowy climes.
There was a time when conservative thoughts and the busy conservatives who think them had almost disappeared from Canada because of over-thinking. But the conservative, who will always be associated with Canada’s early days, has been reintroduced into many areas, and it’s made a successful comeback.
The conservative builds societies defined by the vilification of collective effort because he advocates a rigid, me-first ideology – and also because he has no friends.
With all the fear-mongering the conservative needs to do, it’s fortunate his sense of his own righteousness and self-worth never stops growing.
For a more complete story of the conservative, why not contact the Canadian wildlife service in Ottawa.
Let’s say you’re bed ridden with some horrible affliction. You need to send someone out to get meds for you. Unfortunately, it’s a bit complicated. Said person has to know how many KMs to walk, how many people to pay, how many pills to take back etc. What I’m saying is, there’s a lot of basic math. You only have two choices to help you out. Jim Flaherty or Michael Ignatieff, who has your life in their hands? – WDM
First of all, thanks so much for the note – within a day of reading it, I was bedridden with a horrible affliction. And I had to cope not only with the affliction itself but with the lingering fear that my recovery may hinge on the mathematical competence of Michael Ignatieff or Jim Flaherty. Terrifying.
Needless to say, I devoted what little energy I possessed to putting my affairs in order. First bit of business: filming one of those video wills, a very enjoyable pastime in that it really allows one to milk the drama. “To my gardener, Miguel, with whom I have shared so much and who, over the course of decades has become the person I trust most in this world, I leave… [long dramatic pause]… nothing! I told you to plant posies along the retaining wall. Miguel! Not ivy – POSIES!! Stephen Harper’s cat gets everything!!! [Throws pile of money into the air.] MWAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Anyway, you have a question, WDM. You ask to whose math skills I would trust my life in a crisis of health – those of the Leader of the Official Opposition or the Minister of Finance?
The scenario you devise leads me inexorably to another important question: Who should give the eulogy at my funeral? Because obviously I am not pulling through. If I sent Ignatieff out into the world on my behalf, he would come back to my sick bed covered in burs and brambles, holding a bag of magic beans and a copy of Lapham’s Quarterly. As for Flaherty, well, I think we all know how that journey would end. But let’s picture it cinematically just for fun:
Jim ambles happily along the sidewalk, coins in his hand. He sees the sign for the drug store on the other side of the street and prepares to cross. Then he spots the sign for an ice cream shoppe right next door. He stops.
Jim looks at the money in his hand.
He looks at the pharmacy sign.
He looks at the ice cream sign.
He looks at the money in his hand.
He looks at the pharmacy sign.
He looks at the ice cream sign.
He smiles. He’s made his choice. He begins to skip across the street.
Jim Flaherty being hit by a bus.
So – my eulogy. The thing about eulogies is that they haven’t kept up with the times. They haven’t really evolved. I mean, people were eulogizing the dead the same way decades, maybe even centuries ago. But this is the 21st century! We live now in a celebrity-obsessed culture where famous people are paid to do everything from cut the ceremonial ribbon at car-wash openings to make us feel fat. Why do we continue to settle for funerals sullied by the reminiscences of mere friends and family?
Don’t get me wrong: you’re not landing Tom Hanks to give your eulogy. And you’re at least three more bombs from having a shot at Julia Roberts. But let me ask you this: Wouldn’t your grandmother go more easily to her eternal resting place knowing that the tribute to her life was uttered not by fat Uncle Jimmy but by TV’s Starsky? I think we both know the answer to that question.
Celebrity Eulogies Inc. joins the list of other surefire business ventures I’ve yet to get around to making heaps of dollars from. I present them to you now. Investors, please form an orderly line outside the door of the van where I live. And bring your cash in one of those bags marked with a dollar sign. Hilarious.
1. Celebrity eulogies. Call and within 48 hours we’ll have a D- to C-list celebrity on hand to pay tribute to your dead relative. We’re talking a Kathy Griffin, a Sarah Michelle Gellar, a Mr. T – someone who’s famous but needs the work. For the right price, we could even have cast of The Sopranos act out one of the many scenes they shot around coffins. Believe me: those guys aren’t doing anything else.
2. Celebrity pay-per-view weddings. Don’t even try to tell me you wouldn’t pay $69.95 to watch Jon Gosselin’s ex-wife marry Sandra Bullock’s soon-to-be-ex-husband. You’d watch it. We’d all watch it. The pre-ceremony jitters and AIDS tests. The lavish wedding itself, highlighted by the 18 bridesmaids – all of Tiger’s sexual conquests together at last! The swanky reception crammed with drunken reality TV stars. And, for an extra fee, after-hours footage from the video-camera we rigged up in the honeymoon suite. I’m still typing this paragraph and already I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a millionaire.
3. Anti product placement and the unendorsement. No one listens to celebrity pitchpersons any more. So let’s shake it up. Want to increase market share? Hire one of our celebrities to talk trash about your competitors. (“Hi, I’m Leonardo DiCaprio, and this can of Pepsi I’m drinking tastes like ass.”) Or put your rival’s leading product into a carefully constructed scene in a movie featuring one of our celebrity clients.
FADE IN. We see Pauly Shore. He is dressed as Hitler.
HITLER: This Burger King Whopper sure makes me want to invade Poland!
It’s 4 AM and you’ve been out partying with Ann Coulter. You split a cab home. One thing leads to another and you start making out in the cab. She invites you in. What do you do? – JJ Money
JJ Money –
Take off my Colby Cosh mask. Either that or confess that back in college, I experimented with bi-partisanship. Anything to break the spell. That’s the moment I pry loose the talons and flee.
Speaking of maternal health and contraception, three weeks ago I wanted to switch things up in my relationship and bought a pack of female condoms. Since presenting them as the new option we have yet to use one and I haven’t even had the opportunity to use an old fashioned condom. Does this mean that simply having a female condom around the house is 100% as effective as abstinence? – Kyle
You know that Malcolm Gladwell book – the Blink one? I have adopted Gladwell’s thesis to my everyday life: if I encounter something that instantly doesn’t sound quite right to me, I refuse to read even one more thing about it. Believe me – it’s a real timesaver. A female condom? Come on, that’s just weird. It sounds gross and unpleasant, like a male condom. (Kids, I’m only joking. Condoms are terrific. Stay in school.)
I also apply Gladwell’s Blink logic to current events. If a story doesn’t immediately grab me, I just tune out completely. I never read a single thing about it. Take Rights and Democracy, for instance. I saw that it kept coming up in the titles of Wells’s blog postings, but it sounded really boring so I didn’t bother reading the first one. And now weeks have gone by and I still have absolutely no clue what the story is about or even what Rights and Democracy is. Maybe you all think less of me. Whatever. Life is too short to worry about [insert whatever Rights and Democracy is – is it like an Old Navy?]
Lastly, I Blink the release of most major motion pictures. If the thing doesn’t grab me with its first trailer, I’m out. No amount of critical praise and you-gotta-see-it buzz can get me to change my mind. Keep trying, producers of Invictus. YOU CANNOT BREAK ME.
Speaking of movies, if you’re interested in killing time – and really, for what other reason would you find yourself here – I recommend clicking on this link and seeing how far you can scroll down the list of the all-time top-grossing films before you come across a movie you have not seen. My honest answer: Fourteenth. The Passion of the Christ. (Hey, if I wanted to see Jesus get beat up for two hours, I could watch MSNBC for free.) The only other film among the Top 30 that’s I’ve failed to see is Spider-Man 3, whose trailer basically announced: “We have completely stopped trying.”
Two other notes: I have seen 96 of the 100 top-grossing films of all time. (I’m missing The Passion of the Christ, Spider-Man 3, the second Twilight movie and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.) And I have seen every single one of the Top 40 movies of all-time on the inflation-adjusted box-office list. Clearly, I am a) the reincarnation of Gene Siskel and b) not a very social person.
And to think – we learned all this thanks to female condoms. Thanks, female condom people!
How’s the online poker coming along, anyways? It turns out we are fifty-odd billion short around here this fiscal year — any chance we can count on your help? – madeyoulook
Depends on the day. Sometimes I go online and I’ll lose a bit of money. But other times my luck will change and I’ll go online and lose a lot of money.
How can the NDP believe in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which includes religious beliefs and then criticize Liberals for exercising their religious beliefs as allowed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? And how can the NDP spew the sanctimonius openiness and accountablility and then refuse to open the books on their MP’s expenses and hide their party constitution? How can they do both at once? – OntarioTown
Let me begin my answer with a question of my own: Are you a parent? Maybe you’ve got a few kids. And maybe one of them is a little less gifted than the other ones. Don’t get me wrong: he’s great and everything, and well-meaning, and he cares about people – but the scouts from Mensa aren’t exactly sitting in the stands when he writes his algebra test. So you begin to apply different rules to this child because you know his potential is different from that of your other children. You praise small victories. You ignore contradictions and shortcomings. This child is Canada’s, and it’s name is the New Democratic Party.
The NDP benefits mightily from the fact we don’t really take them seriously. I mean, sure, they dress up in big-boy clothes, but when the meat and potatoes of public policy are cooked up they still find themselves at the political equivalent of the kids’ table. We don’t apply the same standards of ethics and logic to their actions and proposals because we know they’ll never hold any real power. Also, because homely looking people deserve a break.
On one hand, I like the NDP because they’re well-meaning and their suits make me look stylish by comparison. Plus, if you don’t happen to own a breathalyzer, one great way to figure out if you’ve had too much to drink is to see if you can successfully pronounce Wasylycia-Leis. (Try it after four beers: this test is surprisingly accurate.)
But let’s be honest about it: If New Democrat MPs and officials really believed in the causes they claim to support, they would do the sensible thing and disband their party. I’m being completely serious. The best way to advance the interests supported by the NDP is to abolish the NDP.
Let’s take a moment to think this through. We’ve got an Official Opposition that for years now has been largely ineffective and self-destructive. And we’ve got a divisive, conservative Prime Minister presiding over a cabinet comprised of dim bulbs, hissy-fitters and rejects from the Island of Misfit Toys. These are what any fair-minded person would describe as “winning conditions” for New Democrats. And still the NDP can’t get past 20% in the polls.
Listen: If the House of Commons gift shop sold MPs in plush form, the NDP members would definitely be the most adorable (exception: the Denis Coderre doll). But I’m sorry, Jack Layton: the Canadian people have no interest in what you are selling. None. How can you not see this?
If you really believed in what you’re saying, you’d shut it down – kill the NDP, join the Liberal party en masse, use your influence to sway the Liberal platform and policy and actually get elected. Then you could get some shit done. But no. That would make too much sense. Better that the NDP remain the Ralph Nader of Canadian politics – self-serving and actively setting back the causes they claim to care about.
Although, in their defence, they did just help me come up with my fourth surefire money-making idea: plush dolls of MPs for sale in the Centre Block gift shop. Thanks, NDP!