Poutine – Cultural Cuisine Or Misspelling?

We are just about to encounter Canada Day. It’s the 1960’s revision of the first of July –  Dominion Day – that allows Canadians to make slightly sad cultural asses of themselves throughout the world…or throughout the world that actually notices. This would be about 0.08% of humanity…

Shorn of its fun features – picnics on the shores of freezing lakes, fireworks, and a couple of months off school – Dominion …Oops…Canada day is a time of wild celebration for Canadians overseas. All through Kenya ice hockey and curling is breaking out. The mountains of Holland echo to the sound of gunshots as Canadians open fire on moose. The Indians dedicate another temple to Justin Trudeau and then flush it…

Just kidding. We go out a buy a carton of Molsons or a bottle of rye and some ginger ale and  scuff round the kitchen to see if that recipe for butter tarts has turned up. And we contemplate poutine.

I say contemplate, because I do not know any Canadian overseas who has eaten the stuff. Indeed, I passed a childhood and youth in the Dominion of Canada without ever seeing it, and I lived in Montreal and Chicoutimi for years. I did see strawberry pie in Quebec, but my parents were wise not to let any of it get on me.

Poitine would seem to be French fries with cheese and gravy. I should like to hear the Canadian Heart Association’s take on the dish, as it seems to be comprised of equal quantities of cholesterol, oxidants, and toxins. I am surprised it is not linked to Donald Trump. In an age that views anything other than salad as sin, how has poutine become a star dish? Is it because it is French Canadian, and is therefore excused from any goodness? Is it the culinary version of the Cirque du Soleil?

Well, for me, I shall celebrate Dominion Day with the aforementioned rye highball and something else Canadian enough to do the trick. I am going to get a pound of small fish, split them and roll them in cornmeal, and fry them in Crisco like Fraser River Smelt. Add some PEI potatoes and creamed corn and it will be as close to the True North Strong And Free as you can get in Western Australia. Unless I can gun down an elk on St Georges Terrace.

I may even put up a picture of the current Prime Minister, if I can find the dartboard, eh?

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So Who Knew, Zealand…

I have just been looking at Facebook and apparently there is a problem occurring within the cartographic world – New Zealand is being left off world maps. And some people who live in New Zealand are distressed about it. This is all very wrong.

The people in New Zealand should be overjoyed. Being left off the world map is wonderful. If they play their cards right they can be left off any number of world charts – the ones that enroll them in bogus UN-ternational organisations for a start. The ones that seek to tell them how to live their lives in their own country for another. The ones that look for natural resources to exploit. The ones that want charity money to distribute amongst the tinpot* rulers of the world.

Exclusion from these lists is like a dream come true. What a blessed relief.

God send that they are able to opt out of the Commonwealth, the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, the Anti-Hegemonist World Socialistic People’s Church of the Kims, and any other grasping, seething, load of horseshit that comes along. They have already been politically snippy to America, and we look forward  to them turning their tiny little sights on us next. They’ll close the consulates and evacuate the Kiwis from NSW. Possibly on canoes.

For my NZ readers – some of whom are friends –  do not take this badly. I do not wish to drive you weeping to the shore and throw you into the sea. You are wonderful people and as long as you keep your cans of Toheroa soup to yourselves you are welcome to stay. If you want to can something, can the haka.

*  I nearly wrote shithole, but apparently that is subject to copyright.

The Experiments – Part Four – Final

The heading image placed on this last experimental page is a conventional representation of a one of the flags of the Confederate States of America in the 1860’s. Recently it has become the centrepiece in a storm of controversy in the United States and has been used in a number of deplorable political and criminal acts, as well as for theatrical presentations.

It was also an extremely small part of an image on a weblog column dealing with die-cast toy cars – fuzzy and pixellated though it was, I suspect it triggered a mechanism in Facebook that blanked the image. I determined to see how that mechanism operated. The previous three posts on this column ( go back and read them ) detail the experimental means I employed to see if the thing could be set off again.

If we don’t see an image up there on Facebook today – or if it’s a generalized image of my studio card – we’ll know the trigger mechanism is the entire, coloured, detailed pattern. Every other combination has been ignored. If you do see the flag pattern, then the whole episode was just a flash in the social media pan.

The flag pattern won’t be shown again – not for political or moral reasons – but because it is just not relevant to life and thought here in Australia. And that may be a hard thing for anyone in North America to accept…that this is another part of the world with people who lead other lives. The distresses that the North Americans encounter or engender within their own borders are theirs to deal with amongst themselves. To put it succinctly – it’s none of my business.

Readers can be as proud or as ashamed – as busy or as idle – as high or as low as they wish. No need to howl at me with either rage or approval – my opinion on North American matters is not relevant. The only thing you might care to do is to share some thoughts:

If you can’t see an 1860’s flag on the top of a Facebook post…what other things are you not permitted to see? What price constitutional amendments or bills of rights ? Who decides the let and hindrance of your life?

 

Sneer Away, Vermont.

The people of Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, and upstate New York need a laugh occasionally. They are accustomed to the beauty of rich colours in their forests every September and October. We’ve all seen the wonderful calendar photos of the covered bridges and the old churches amongst the red, oranges, and yellows…

The heading image is Fall in Perth, Western Australia. Autumn if you want to be pedantic. Those are dirty yellow trees in the Hay Street mall overarching a wet pavement. That’s it. That’s as picturesque and romantic as it gets. You can take long, soulful walks between JB HiFi and Vodafone if you want to but be aware that no songwriters have ever made ballads about it. And the Perth City rangers will move you on if you slacken your pace. You might as well get back on the train and go home.

Autumn in Australia is wet and cold, followed by a wet and cold winter. If you get nostalgic for sunshine and heat you can either go to Singapore or wait for January when the Weather Bureau will have a little surprise for you…

Perth in winter is bracing. So is Skegness and root canal treatment. But at least if you are languishing in the dental chair under rubber dam you are not standing at a bus stop getting splashed by the 507 from Booragoon as it speeds past unheeding. Winter in Perth combines discomfort with banality – cold with pointlessness. It is the least you could do, but you re compelled to re-do it every year.

The only way to escape it is to go North. North to Geraldton and Broome and Exmouth and Darwin. You’ll find good weather and a lack of culture. Your body will rejoice and your mind will shrivel. The choice is yours.

Note: Perth does have covered bridges. They’re covered in bird shit and motor cars.

 

Well Goodness Gracious Me

I have been resigned for a long time now to the sound of the telephone ringing just before tea-time. It’ll be the land line – not the mobile – and it will have the classic silence and clicking before a subcontinental voice comes on and lies to me.

The lie will be one of the classics  – Telstra Technical Department, Microsoft Technical Support, Australian Taxation Office, Australian Federal Police, roof solar panels,etc.

It will commence with the voice asking me if I am Mr. Stein, or the householder. I have learned to ignore this question and ask directly to whom I am speaking. Generally they will give a first name and a slightly mumbled organisation name. Very few of them ever admit to being a Gupta or a Ranjit…it is always a Brad or a Janet. In many cases you can hear the Hindi being screeched in the background and in one instance I could swear I could hear the humidity…

I’ve tried everything. Abruptness, sugary sweetness, baffled confusion, a heavy German accent…none of it seems to stem the flow of bullshit from the receiver’s earpiece. It’s only a whim or the effect of the afternoon cocktail that makes a difference between swearing at them and singing to them. But I grow tired of it – especially when I have better things to do.

So now I am going to start firing off a series of letters of complaint to the only authority who can put a stop to it – the Indian government. If they are going to host these electronic bedbugs, they can be held up for airing as well as the bedding. I’m sure it will be for the most part futile, but the pleasure to be had in abusing a dignitary for a dollar is cheap enough amusement.

Vladimir? We Have Problem.

Is leaking again. Someone lift lid and gas escape. Germans and French find out.

Ministry of Denial is deny it but damned western press still report. Not sure if the story about it being from Romania worked.

Quick – time to distract. Get Australian branch of Ministry to make film about Amerikanski waste dump in Pacific island. That keep them busy for a while.

Meantime we glue lid on Chelyabinsk once more. Old stuff dissolve in rain. Soviet-era glue to blame – those responsible will be liquidate.

Broadcast Live From Your House

When you watch the news about the US president Donald Trump – or click the Facebook side panel – or listen to your friends deride him based upon what they have read on the internet…have you ever stopped to consider what YOU might look like if you were subject to the minute scrutiny that attends him?

I ask this as I remember being afflicted with similar scrutiny when a child in school – I was the fat, new, frightened kid…and was fair game for all the bullies and smart arses in every school I attended. As my detractors wanted to belittle me, they watched every single thing I did and found fault. The simplest action was cause for howls of contempt. Nothing was private, sacred, or approved. President Trump seems to be in the same position vis-a-vis the people who supported the other side of politics – and lost – and who now want their revenge.

So let’s imagine you – if you’re a Trump detractor – going about your daily routine. Let’s see if the treatment works on you.

You get out of bed in time for breakfast: ” Lazy swine lolls in bed while others slave to prepare feast. ” Not sounding too good.

So you get up earlier next day : ” Can’t sleep. Guilty conscience. Snoops on cooks behind the scenes. ” Still not good publicity. And who is feeding these stories to the press?

Okay, this time you’ll please someone…you’ll do without breakfast: ” Too good to eat like a normal person. No pleasing some people. ” Well, what the actual…

And we haven’t even started on your bathroom routine, your clothes for the day, or whatever it is you’re going to be doing for a living – never mind your religion, family, or politics. These topics will be covered by your enemies and will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are evil incarnate, totally incompetent, and in collusion with the Russians, the French, the Tongans, and the firm that makes Cheezils. Every single action that you undertake, all day, all week, all year, will be wrong. The press and your detractors will be free to lie about you, to you, and because of you. No-one will hold them accountable.

Feeling the love yet? Feeling the burn yet? Feeling the bigotry and pettiness yet? Want to do something about it? Here’s what you do.

Nothing. Not a damn thing. Do not take the slightest notice of your detractors. Do not reward them with anger, or distress, or recognition. Take note of the fashionable meme that started up a few years ago: ” Keep calm and carry on. “. By all means use social media but do not use it to vent frustrations or angst. Be benign, vague, and cheerful. Send kitten videos. And do what you were going to do regardless.

Don’t be too sanguine about the results. You won’t reap any better opinion of yourself from the people who are determined to hate you; they have invested to much of their time in speech and writing to resile their position. Many of them hope for benefit from your opponents*. The best you can hope for is a better judgement of history.

* And if, in a few years, they present their intellectual bill to the other side of politics – and it is not paid – they have a ready-made supply of protest that they can direct to them.