August 29, 2006

One Side of a Conversation Overheard in a Cafe

CAST: A WOMAN, in her mid-thirties. You wouldn't say she had a face that looked like ten miles of bad road. You'd say three
miles. Five, max.

SET: The back garden of a cafe in Rathmines, Dublin. Plastic lawn furniture with umbrealla is scatterred through the space, the awning drawn up against the rain.

[A mobile phone rings and is answered. Entire conversation to be hollered down the phone, rather than spoken into it.]

Hello? Hello? Stephen? Stephen.

You're bollucks drunk again.

You're pissed.

And you're drink driving.

I said you're pissed.

Where are ya?

You're in the car. You're driving in town? You're pissed, I said.

Listen: Get out of the car and go down to Sister Clonsillia's, will ya? Sort yourself out. Don't ever call me again.


Posted by Diablevert at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2006

Idle Thoughts on Canadians...

(There's this book blog I read, 50books. Not to drown you in backstory, but after reading a post of hers I was inspired to send her an email asking what she thought makes Canadians Canadian. She posted about it, here. I'm respoding to what she and her commentors wrote.)

1. I hate to allude to the Commercial-That-Must-Not-Be-Named, but does it not bug you at all that with Zed, the Alphabet Song doesn't rhyme? Seems to me using Zed makes it end with a clunk.

2. If Canada's enduring cultural attribute is mildness (politeness, tolerance, caution, etc.) , why is your major cultural export comedians? If often seems that way to me living south of the 49th, anyway. The Kids in the Hall, half the cast of Saturday Night Live over the years (including most of the ones who had a career after they left the show), SCTV (which in turn provides the core of much of Christopher Guest's ensemble). I'm sure there's all kinds of younger Canadian comics I'm missing out on. Is that where all that suppressed rebellious energy goes? The raging Canadian id is unleashed on the stage at Carolines? Am I wrong about this? Am I simply ignorant of the much larger wave of Canadian dancer/singer/sculptor/writer/designer/architects out there, which have revolutionized theatre/the arts/fashion/city skylines?

(Sidebar: If anyone wants to attempt to answer why the British are better at writing classic children's books, I've always wondered about that, too.)

3. Do you think maybe this is such a difficult question to answer because of Canada's relatively peaceful emergence as an independent nation? The early fight between British and French colonies and colonials have plenty of cinematic stuff in 'em, and the resulting rifts in Canadian society seem, to my limited understanding, to still be deeply felt. But as far as your national mythology goes --- the birth of Canada story --- it's all pretty peaceful. America has it's whole Brave-Band-of-Sterling-Men-Risking-All-To-Fight-for-the-Enlightenment-Values schtick. France has at least two major threads to draw from --- god sending Joan of Arc to save the throne of France and/or Marianne hurtling over the barricades with the mob behind her. Pretty much all of South America rebelled against its colonial masters. Whereas Canada's seems to go something like:

And Lo, a white paper was written by Lord Durham, and yea, Canada was transformed from a colony to a dominion by an act of Parliament, and thenceforth, through a many years of debate, referendum and legal tinkering, it became pretty much independent except for the Queen's being on the money and stuff. All Hail Canada, Land Through No Undue Haste.

Thinking about this idly now, in cases where your culture is not so ancient that its origin is lost in the mists of time (India or China, say) it seems like it helps to have a revolution. Not in terms of avoiding the tragic deaths of millions, a laudable goal which I am definitely in favor of, but in terms of giving your country a definite start point, a clear, black and white, There was a Them, and there was an Us, and these are the things We fought for and We won and so these are the Things We Believe. A myth, in other words.

4. Michael Ondaatje? Really? To be honest with you --- and please do not burst through the screen and kill me when I say this --- I didn't even know he was Canadian. I knew he was born in Sri Lanka. I knew he wrote the English Patient and Anil's Ghost. What's so incredibly Canadian about him? Of his major novels, one's set in North Africa and Italy, one in Sri Lanka, one in New Orleans, and one in Canada. I admit I'm not at all familiar with his poetry, and so perhaps it's that which marks him out as a particularly Canadian author. But just on a sort of Jeopardy-level knowledge of him, he doesn't strike me as a write particularly engaged with Canada as a subject. Not that everything the guy writes has to be set in Saskatchewan for him to be Canadian, but it's not only his settings -- his characters as well seem to be mostly from other places.

5. Finally, I just want to pimp This American Life's Who's Canadian? episode just because I find This American Life to be awesome in general, and this episode in particular has some quite funny and intriguing bits.

Posted by Diablevert at 02:27 PM | Comments (4)