Log Cabin Chronicles


Rick Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act.

Recalling your life
Posted 09.23.15

MONTREAL | Looking back at life, it's strange how all the pieces come together. There is a myth that in our last moments our lives pass before our eyes. Unfortunately, no one has ever come back from the dead to tell us whether or not this is true.

D-I-Y equals Madness, I say
Posted 09.10.15

MONTREAL | After visiting the Home Depot store just off St-Jean Boulevard in Pointe-Claire, I am always amazed at how deeply the do-it-yourself culture has permeated our lives. I enjoy looking at all the possibilities I have of becoming a carpenter, a plumber or an electrician, but that's not what I am. To tell you the truth, I don't think I have ever tried to fix anything that I haven't then had to completely take apart and start over. I am really no good at it.

A perfect day in Maine
Posted 08.29.15

MONTREAL | Each summer I go to Maine for a week. The ocean has a Zen-like effect on me. As I say to my American cousins: "First there is a sandbar, then there is no sandbar, then there is." And because they are baby boomers, they get the Donovan reference. The ocean is a healing place. Just the smell of the air alone is worth the seven-hour drive. I sit and watch the tide come in and then go out, all the time blissfully aware that I am breathing.

In Canada, I could get used to Prime Minister Mulcair
Posted 08.21.15

MONTREAL | There was an article in the National Post recently about how Tom Mulcair mortgaged his house many times. I imagine the implication was that if he became Prime Minister he might mortgage our country many times as well. The charge that the NDP is a spendthrift party is not new. But that was not what interested me. It was that the house was in Beaconsfield, not far from my own. It even gave his address which I thought was a bit unfair. Next they'll be giving out phone numbers.

Could Canadian senate scandal really be work of mastermind Prime Minister Harper?
Posted 08.07.15

MONTREAL | Over the last nine months it has been informative to read journalists report on the scandals of the [appointed] Canadian Senate. It is not just the facts of the cases; it is the mood of their reports. They seem to all contain a sense of overwhelming disgust and weariness. As if the whole thing is a depressing exercise in human failure.

Ahhh, summer evenings
Posted 07.28.15

MONTREAL | So I walk out of my surburban house on a sweet summer night. And I have to stop. I have to ask myself: "What am I feeling? And why?" There is something sensual about a summer night. I was going to say "erotic," but I realize this is a family section and -- never mind, too late!

Montreal's Empty Nesters: The Big Question
Posted 07.19.15

MONTREAL | Here, empty nesters find themselves asking the inevitable question: Do we stay in the West Island or move?

Montreal anglos know the power of irreverence
Posted 06.29.15

MONTREAL | And another thing I noticed about life in Montreal not long after I arrived here as an anglophone is the importance of our local Jewish community. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that, being a minority in Quebec, regulated by discriminatory laws meant to render us invisible because we are considered a "threat," and constantly in danger of losing our national identity, we anglos are all Jews here in Quebec.

In Canada, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair will have to deal with the Clarity Act issue in the coming federal election
Posted 06.19.15

MONTREAL | The Clarity Act is a bulwark against the duplicitous strategy the separatists have been using for the last forty years. It states that the government of Canada will not negotiate the succession of a province unless a referendum provides a clear majority to a clear question.

It strikes at the very heart of the separatist ruse. Separatists claim that a majority of 50-per-cent-plus-one is enough to break up the country. That means they think they can start a new country even if 49.9 per cent of the population is against it.

Imagine the chaos that could ensue? The Canadian government would be forced to protect Canadian citizens in Quebec. Partition would surely be a given.

Go to university -- why do it?
Posted 05.21.15

MONTREAL | The value of a college education has skyrocketed since I went to university. That is, in monetary terms. I am not so sure whether its value has increased in human terms.

Pants, or Don't get your nickers in a twist, eh?
Posted 05.09.15

MONTREAL | Recently I was in Napoli, Italy. And one day, as we walked down its version of Ste-Catherine Street, we couldn't help but notice that every men's clothing store we passed featured a whole new look. They are called men's harem pants, or "drop crotch" pants. The crotch is down around the knees, and from the knees down, the pants are skin tight.

Austerity is upon us. But who is to blame?
Posted 04.23.15

MONTREAL | The time of austerity is upon us. Why now? Whose fault is it? Well, consider this. There was a time back in the day when politicians were famous for buying votes. But they would buy them individually. "Hey buddy, here's a fiver, go and vote for (name of local strong man)."

It would be nice if Canada was as independent-minded as Barbados
Posted 04.08.15

MONTREAL | Recently I was in the United States, and an American came up to me and asked: "Why do you Canadians have pictures of Helen Mirren on all your money?" Of course he was joking. But in some ways we might as well have a picture of actress Helen Mirren on our money. She's British. She has never lived in Canada. She is acting out an anachronistic role. And she has very little to do with our lives.

Opportunities missed can define your life
Posted 03.26.15

MONTREAL | Interesting how a life can take turns. How opportunities can be missed -- and how that can define the rest of your life.

It does take a village to raise a child
Posted 03.16.15

MONTREAL | It started as an "Aw" moment. I received a text out of the blue that said simply: "I love you, Dad."

Summer is not a season, it's a place.
Posted 02.19.15

MONTREAL | I just returned from a tour of Florida, Texas and Arizona with the Canadian Snowbirds Association. Apparently, it was a good time to go. Montreal, and indeed the whole northeast, is experiencing another one of the kind of winters for which we are famous.

If the freedom to insult is left only to comedians, is it really free?
Posted 02.02.15

MONTREAL | After the recent Paris murders, there was much discussion on Facebook about whether freedom of speech should be limited by the duty to never insult anyone. The immediate controversy was stirred by the reluctance of many periodicals and TV outlets to not show the cartoons that were the cause of the murders. Their reasoning was that it would insult other Muslims. But those of us who practice the art of comedy know full well the value of insults. In fact, there is an entire genre of offensive material known as "insult jokes." And the publication in question, Hebdo Charlie, made full use of it.

The new woman is a man -- at least on Netflix
Posted 01.26.15

MONTREAL | There is so much that can be learned from Netflix. And I am not just referring to the documentaries. For years now in dramatic TV series, writers have been creating crusty but benign, imperfect but fiercely moral male leading characters who struggle to balance their jobs as heroic protectors of society with the chaos of their personal lives. They still write those characters. But now they are women.

In the heart of winter, we seek to light up the night
Posted 01.03.15

MONTREAL | I felt it begin a couple of months ago as I noticed the days getting shorter. I realized that I had to replace lightbulbs that had burned out in rooms that I normally only used during the day, now that the day was becoming more and more dark. And lightbulb replacement isn't as easy as it used to be. There are so many different kinds and sizes of halogen bulbs that I had to go to Reno-Depot with the old bulb in my pocket.

Like animals, we are products of our environment
Posted 12.14.14

MONTREAL | Most of us are well aware of the shortcomings of our species. History is full of horror and folly. But I prefer to accentuate the positive. We have many accomplishments. And I am grateful for them. Then again, I live in the suburbs, not the city.

Revisiting your past for meaning
Posted 11.16.14

MONTREAL | As my generation ages I see how our common interest in the past increases -- at least our past. There are Facebook pages, school and family reunions. Somehow we would like to contact the past one more time, hoping that it can throw some light on what has happened to us since. Or perhaps to give the dramatic arc of our lives some meaning.

Cleaning out the garage not always easy -- or straightforward
Posted 11.09.14

MONTREAL | It's that time of year again. The icy claws of winter are about to grab me around the neck and squeeze. I can feel them. And so there is an annual task with which I am once again struggling.

In praise of anecdotal evidence
Posted 10.21.14

MONTREAL | As we enter our brave new world of secular science, there is one thing that bothers me. It is not the loss of the spiritual, or the dismissal of magic that can take away all our poetic wonder. It is the minimization of our individual experience. Or, as it is often referred to in a derogatory manner, "anecdotal evidence."

Call me Mr. Polyester
Posted 09.29.14

MONTREAL | When I was younger, polyester was a joke. It was what old people wore.

From Newfoundland -- Greetings from George Street
Posted 09.21.14

MONTREAL | It's Saturday night on George Street, in St. John's, Newfoundland. It's 11 o'clock and the small street, only a few blocks long, is beginning to cook. There are twenty-five pubs and they all seem to have live music.

We inhabit a brave new planet
Posted 09.10.14

MONTREAL | "Hey, if you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world..." These words from a country song by Charlie Rich in 1974 reveal a phrase that I grew up with. The phrase is: "In the world." This phrase pretty much described all we knew.

Happy Hour at the Sandbar
Posted 08.30.14

MONTREAL | It is the morning after the storm. Last night the wind and the rain were pounding on the windows and the roof. Someone said it was a nor'easter. That brought about the philosophical question, can you wear a sou'wester during a nor'easter?

Uniforms? We don't need no stinkin' uniforms!
Posted 08.10.14

MONTREAL | One question I would ask is this: Do they [cops] really have the right to enforce laws dressed like that? Could a citizen who received a $165 ticket for not making a complete stop from a guy wearing camouflage pants and a red hat successfully contest that ticket in court?

Notes from the Nasty Show
Posted 07.22.14

MONTREAL | What is interesting is that it is usually the older folks who object to this form of entertainment. They were raised under a value system that was traditional. One which is fast fading into the past. Young people have no problem with it. In fact, they crave it.

An Idea For Canada Day(S)
Posted 07.02.14

MONTREAL | I travel quite a bit in this country and spend far too much time in hotel rooms. But what I like to do while I am there is watch the local news of whichever city I am in. I find that I can learn a lot about a place by its local news broadcast.

Tennis, Anyone?
Posted 06.16.14

MONTREAL | The scoring in tennis is like the scoring in life. The idea that you accumulate points over a set time on a clock and win or lose on that basis is a less realistic way to see things. Life constantly gives you second chances.

The struggle of this century
Posted 05.12.14

MONTREAL | I am worried about the environmental movement. I think they may have painted themselves into a corner.

Not cool and loving it
Posted 04.25.14

MONTREAL | There was a time when being cool was everything. You didn't have to have much of anything else, as long as you had that -- you were in.

Quebec grows up at last
Posted 04.09.14

MONTREAL | I always found it ironic that the Parti Quebecois claimed the 'Yes' side in their separation referendum. They are the ones who reject the status quo. They are the party of the 'No.'

Everybody's gotta have a laugh (630)
MONTREAL | Kris Kristofferson once said about the folksinger Ramblin' Jack Elliot that he wasn't called Ramblin' Jack because he traveled a lot; he was called Ramblin' Jack because of the way he talked. So to take a page out of Ramblin' Jack's book, I'd like to ramble some thoughts about comedy.

Time for the gas bubble to burst (615)
MONTREAL | The Leno joke goes like this. Scientists have discovered the largest number in the Universe. And they did it without using a computer. They did it by using a gas pump and a Cadillac Escalade.

English Like Me (700)
MONTREAL | Even though the English language is a key to open the door into the international business community and the rest of North America, Law 101 doggedly insists that the English language is the enemy of Quebec, and by definition those who practice it -- Quebec's unilingual anglophones.

The Crisis Crisis (620)
MONTREAL | A neighbor of mine believes that global warming is caused by the absence of pirates. Since there are not many pirates left in the world and pirates are coolâ the world is warming.

Canada's dirty little secret? (660)
MONTREAL | The other day I was listening to an ad on a station beamed across the border from Vermont. It was the country music station from Malone, New York. The ad, for the Mohawk Casino, was completely bilingual. It started in French and finished in English. I realized that even though I live in Montreal, a supposed bilingual city, hearing this mix of the two tongues on the air was a shock.

An incovenient winter (600)
MONTREAL | There is a new McDonald's ad campaign using the slogan: "Cold is the new hot." They are trying to sell us a new cold drink. In the ad they pretend they are tired of people saying everything's "hot." So they want to replace that superlative with "cold." Thus: "Cold is the new hot."

A 21st century Christmas (595)
MONTREAL | I am going to give my son an educational toy to help teach him about life -- no matter how you put it together, it will be wrong. I also bought him a book. I am sure he will spend the next two days looking for where the batteries go. He thinks that at Christmas we celebrate the birth of Duracell.

Turning Canadian guilt into good times (575)
MONTREAL | I get the feeling, perhaps you do too, that something big is happening. It's our dollar. It's getting big! And we are getting bigger along with it.

Death by 'Booga booga' -- Quebec's tribal drums are beating (575)
MONTREAL | Tribal drums are beating all over Quebec. Can you hear them? The natives are restless. They are covered with blue and white war paint. They dance around the raging fires of nationalism. And on the fire is a large pot. Inside the pot are two victims, an Allophone and an Anglophone.

Double dipping in and by the city (650)
MONTREAL | Perhaps you have noticed that parking here is becoming more difficult all the time. It seems that our city government seems to want to make it more and more expensive and annoying to shop and entertain downtown. For instance, many meters only give you two hours for six dollars. But you cannot see a movie in two hours.

Premier Duceppe and the partition of Quebec (635)
MONTREAL | This has always been the Achilles heel of Quebec separatists. They see themselves as a pure, homogenous, and unilingual nation inhabiting a single territory called Quebec. So non-francophones within this territory have to be regulated, assimilated, or declared not to exist.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

The uncomfortable sanctification of Ernie (660)
MONTREAL | There was a moment at the beginning of the reception following Ernie ButlerÕs funeral that broke the ice. A moment of silence for Ernie was suddenly interrupted by a cell phone ring.

The Let's-Ban-Everything Party (630)
MONTREAL | I remember that in the past tolerance was a positive thing. I'm not referring to the current, politically correct group-think regulations that are misleadingly called "tolerance."

An unelectable American vice president (625)
MONTREAL | Bill Clinton is the best campaigner of his generation. He has charisma. He is very well liked. And the vice presidential position is usually chosen based upon the candidate's usefulness in winning the election.

Rap Radio, Talk Radio (650)
MONTREAL | Maybe there is a link between rap music and talk radio. Maybe talk radio is simply rap music for old people. Like rap music, talk radio is not pretty.

The most wonderful Canadian wonder of them all (645)
MONTREAL | But the only "Wonder" given to our region was to Old Quebec City, a revealing choice, a typical expression of the way English Canada sees Quebec. It celebrates the Quebec that is safely tucked away in the past, wearing costumes of the Filles du Roi and playing spoons.

One man's garage door is another's bylaw infringement (660)
MONTREAL | A garage is such a unique suburban invention. It is us. It is where we keep the car in the winter and the bicycles and sports gear in the summer. Sure it fills up, but at the end of each summer we have a garage sale.

Taxman, reward that tree keeper (640)
If a Middle Eastern country, being a carbon source, gets to pump it out of the ground, cash the cheques, and make trouble, surely we, at the other end, should be able to reclaim it from the atmosphere, store it, cash the cheques, and make peace.

Canada's Summer of Love a forgotten ideal (635)
Canada is now no longer a country of individuals, living equally under one set of laws and regulations. It is rather a patchwork of groups, each claiming the redress of historical grievances, special privileges for themselves, the repression of those who "threaten" them, and ultimately, greater access to the irresistible growing reservoir of tax dollars.

The lovely Belinda added so much drama to our boring Canadian political life (630)
She had this big burly guy so wrapped around her little finger that once, when he was supposed to be at a fundraising golf tournament in the Maritimes, he was spotted walking with her on a New York City street carrying an armload of packages. She had not only seduced the toughest guy in the NHL - she had also taken him shopping.

We who are not them (665)
Mario Dumont played the identity card and won big time. Because he is one of: (to borrow a phrase coined by Jacques Parizeau on referendum night in 1995) "we who are us." I love that phrase. It says so much, so succinctly. (Let's give the jolly old separatist fart his due!)

A political act of Quebec escapism (650)
I want to register a protest vote. At first I think that not voting would do that. But that is not really a protest vote, that's a non-vote. And I feel it is my civic duty to vote. After all, if you are given a right and you do not use it, then you deserve to lose it.

Quebec election a lost cause (590)
Another Quebec election - whoopdeedoo! An uplifting and intelligent period of new ideas and exciting solutions - not! We are all locked in a prison cell of high government debt, over-taxation, bureaucratic bumbling, and a litany of broken promises.

Clothes make the Don (600)
Every Saturday night millions of Canadians tune in to Hockey Night in Canada, a genuine Canadian tradition. And for many the highlight takes place right after the first period.

I don't want my boy to go soldiering (580)
How can it make sense to send them to a time-warped wasteland where they walk around as targets? We might as well paint a bull's eye on each one of them. In that twisted, sick, black hole of barbarism they can be blown up while they are handing candies out to children.

Grass is definitely greener in Alberta (580)
Recently, when I was in Calgary, a man came up to me and said: "You guys are from Montreal, right?" I answered in the affirmative. "What part?" I told him the West Island. "Oh, I used to live in Pointe Claire," he said. "How are things going back there"?

The Year that was (790)
Recently the Canadian government formally recognized the Québécois nation; who have been planning their exit for thirty years. Maybe this recognition is part of it. But what about the Anglos? We may live on the reservation but we're not part of the nation.

No matter what you call it (580)
One of the most enduring predictions of George Orwell's 1984 was his description of 'newspeak,' the control of words by the state in order to control thought. Today, the struggle to control words is everywhere.

Name one for Middle Of The Road Bob (575)
Money spent on new street signs and maps and self-congratulatory receptions will come from the highest-taxed people in North America. High taxes are as Quebecois as "Les Gens de Pays" which means "The mugs who pay."

Why the Oldies are still Goodies (580)
Recently, I rediscovered an old Peter, Paul, and Mary cassette to enjoy in my van, pretty much the only place I listen to music any more. They had been a favourite back when I listened to music all the time (before kids).

Plight of Quebec anglos a laughing matter, but not on CBC-TV (590)
Recently I have been lucky enough to be involved with a "hit" show. I call it a hit because it sells out wherever we perform it. It is called The Four Anglos of the Apocalypse. It features columnist Josh Freed, cartoonist Terry Mosher (Aislin), George Bowser, and myself.

Anglos can beat QC language cops by signing right names (590)
Imagine, this would undo ten years of kissing up to the nationalists while taking for granted all of us who mistakenly voted for Premier Jean Charest because we thought he might bring back justice and fairness to Quebec.

Help Montreal golfers keep it green - don't let the airport pave it over (590)
Why does it seem that in a back room somewhere deals have been made, plans have been drawn up and large sums of money have changed hands, public be damned?

Dad's Guide to Summer (580)
This summer I will be attending many sporting events. In my family there is a soccer player, a football player, a baseball player, a softball player and an umpire - and I only have two kids. Consequently, in my mini van I carry:

The Blues at Pete's (590)
If you have ever been to Smoked Meat Pete's on Ile Perrot, on Montreal's West Island, you know that Pete is a blues fan. He always has blues music playing in his restaurant and even has live blues bands on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Baseball, Bonds, and the Immortal Bard (580)
"I'll just take a little of this under my tongue and shoot a little of that into my heinie and suddenly a Texas leaguer will sail all the way into the Bay. Hello! Super-size me!"

From wheelies to behind the wheel (580)
Today I would like to talk about something even scarier than my Beaconsfield tax bill: my teenage son's learner's permit..."I can't wait to take you to England," I say. "I can't wait for you to find out what it's like to drive on the left side of the street legally."

The Quebec Liberal: Disappointed and in Despair (575)
Our local Liberal candidate could ride around the West Island in a limousine, drunk, with a lady of the night on each arm, yelling up at our windows: "Hey suckers, get down here and give me all your votes!" And as we reach into our pockets to give him the votes, we would say: "OK. Here you go, baby. Have a good time."

In Montreal: The Glom and the Civils (575)
We would have all been happy and well served, back to the way things had been run for years: competently. Instead we were dragged through all the smoke and mirrors of the riggederendum, and forcibly rounded up into the abomination council.

Before the Fall, Canada's Liberal PM lost his 'Paul' (580)
It was quite moving. By saying we could once again call him Paul he was claiming his life back, his "Paul-ness." Somehow, during his tenure as prime minister he must have felt he had lost his Paul. And that's like losing your mojo. Your centre. Your humanity. Isn't that sad?

Deciding who steals our tax money - what's the alternative? (580)
There is an election on! Hard not to notice with all our politicians rushing to outdo each other by proudly announcing how many millions they are going to spend. I'm thinking: Hey it's our money, Santa Claus!

Slain Quebec cop part of an impressive bunch of youngsters (580)
Officer Valerie Gignac's photograph was on the front page, her face full of ideals, full of hope, and full of the future. I felt like I knew her.

Quebec's secessionists still 'addicted' to referendums (570)
Cocaine is a good metaphor for the whole PQ trip. It will make you nervous, hyper, and reckless. You will run up a huge debt you can never pay for and talk about how you will do things that everyone else knows you will never do.

My lesson in civic democracy (590)
I am back, dear reader, after running for a city council spot in my district of Beaconsfield, Quebec. As Citizen Blue, I was embedded in the election process. I dipped my toes in the great democra-sea. But I did not win.

Hip, fast-talking, and cool. Not. (580)
If you are a baby boomer, perhaps this has happened to you. You are watching the news on TV and an advertisement comes on for a product aimed right at you. But you are put off by the quick editing…

Isn't it ironic… (550)
Consider this: Local music and poetry legend Leonard Cohen was recently robbed of his life's savings while he studied Buddhist philosophy. One of the pillars of Buddhism is that material possessions are impediments to cosmic consciousness.

Intelligent Design is where you find it, eh? (590)
I was struck by how perfect it was. The air. The sky. The water. That intoxicating smell of the ocean.

No jokes needed - Quebec's Tongue Troopers make fools of themselves (600)
They are forcing The Monkland Tavern to vandalize a 50-year-old 'Tavern' sign that won a heritage award. Even though there is already one side in French, the English side has to go. So, the Monkland will have to trash the old sign and put up a brand new one, exactly the same except with an 'e' at the end of the word 'tavern'.

I say, choose Canada's Head of State by - what else? - a lottery (580)
When I was in Cuba, the woman behind the money-changing counter asked me: "Please don't be offended, but why do you have the British Queen on your money? I don't understand. That would be like having the King of Spain on our money," she laughed, enjoying the absurdity of it.

How to spot a Quebec Anglophone (560)
If you can drive your car in rush hour while applying make-up, shifting gears, talking on a cellphone, honking the horn, and flipping someone the bird all at the same time, you could be a Quebec Anglo.

Sir Sponge Bob and the 'anti-poverty' Musical Elite (580)
Now they can proudly say: No. Wait a minute. This is the real me - the saint who wants to end world poverty! That naked, coke sniffing, whiskey drinking, pussy hound you saw prowling the strip last night was someone else.

Montreal's West Islanders have a lot of balls (570)
Everyone seems to be involved in sweaty physical exertion of some sort, seeking health and longevity. And beauty. God, we have some good-looking people out here. All blond and tanned and fit. And that's just the seniors.

Gays: Marriage is no piece of cake, eh? (580)
Those who wish to maintain the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman believe it is a biological and sacred trust endowed by our creator. Fertility is its purpose. Henry the Eighth proved this. He beheaded any wife who failed to produce an heir.

Let's hear it for an Audible Anglo star (600)
And so now we Anglos who also speak French with an obvious accent - I was once harangued by an editor of La Presse with: "Yes, you speak French but you obviously don't live in French!" (the "You Anglo pig" was silent) - are encouraged.

West Quebec? Bring on the next referendum. (585)
"Being as it is completely rational to let those people who wish to leave Canada to do so; but being that Canada has the right and duty to protect Canadians from being forced to live in a new nation-state of which they want no part; would you agree that Quebec should be partitioned into two new provinces; Quebec and West Quebec, Quebec being the province that wishes to secede from Canada and West Quebec being the province that wishes to remain in Canada? Yes or No?"

Follow the money, see the sleaze (580)
About half the salary of a CEGEP teacher, a Montreal bus driver, a nuclear physicist and even a plumber will end up going to one of our governments; either in income, property, water, school, GST or some other creative taxation scheme. So then where does it all go?

Education in Quebec rights? Say what? (620)
It doesn't make sense. The Supreme Court of Canada judged that francophones in Quebec don't have the same rights as anglophones.

It's Canada, and the spending is easy, eh? (555)
This invoice says that Canadian flags were manufactured in China for five cents. You shipped ten thousand of them here and billed the government for $50 each. Then you billed the government for consultation charges of $500 an hour for 300 hours, an extra $150,000. What exactly was that for?

What if George Bush is right? What then? (570)
I'm not saying that Bush is right. I don't know that. How could I? I am not a clairvoyant. I am just saying that he could be. No one I knew thought Reagan was right. But he was. No one I know thinks Bush is right. But he could be.

Small stores: real people providing real service (570)
I celebrate the stores in my little village. And I am sure you, too, know a useful little local store for which you are grateful. You know what I mean, an enterprise that is more than a store - one that is a real resource.

The world loves a good Dick joke (580)
Today I would like to discuss the Dick joke. And I don't mean George Bush's running mate.

Going to a party with a cold? Count me out (575)
The cold that hit me made me feel one hundred years old. And usually I only feel eighty. It took a week out of my life. And I needed those days. I want those days back.

Green Peace was wrong about the seal hunt ~ Mea culpa, baby boomer moi (590)
Do I think Greenpeace will ever follow my lead and admit that they were wrong? Never. The Newfoundland fishermen whose lives they have destroyed can go jump in the sea for all they care.

James of Nazareth, or Holidays are always hard for brother of Christ (600)
A 2000-year-old ossuary, a box that held bones, bears the inscription: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Until now, all references to the three men have been found only in manuscripts. So this Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I would also like to tip my hat to his brother James.

Tongue Troopers off mark with Quinn Farm (590)
Surely it can't be easy to wield the power of the State to persecute an honest, hard-working Notre Dame de l'Ile Perrot farmer who is known for taking children on tractor rides through pumpkin fields for having a sign in his store that reads 'Thank You for Not Smoking' without feeling mean and small-minded.

It's not too bad up here, eh? (580)
Ask a Canadian: "How's it goin', eh?" And you won't get back: "Great!" At best you'll get: "Not Bad."

Alberta: Good country, good folks (580)
We arrived at the Daysland Motel at 2 p.m. We had spent a lazy morning driving through big-sky farm country via Vegreville, stopping to eat brunch and see The World's Largest Easter Egg. The lady at the desk smiled.

No shoe-in, this party (600)
We knew we were in trouble when we saw the sign that read: "Kindly remove your shoes!"

Hey, we don't live here for the politics (590)
As we all know, Americans move to Canada for three reasons: (1) higher taxes (2) lower pay and (3) the winter.

And justice for all? Not if you're in Quebec (590)
This last slogan, recalling the Front de Liberation du Québec, a terrorist organization famous for bombs, kidnappings, and murder, is key. It was written to intimidate the community.

And justice for all? Not if you're in Quebec (590)
This last slogan, recalling the Front de Liberation du Québec, a terrorist organization famous for bombs, kidnappings, and murder, is key. It was written to intimidate the community.

Golf &a grave; la Marquis de Dorion Rules (600)
My son had been trying to get me out on the links for weeks. He had been playing Tiger Woods Golf on his Nintendo Game Cube and so he thought: "This is easy!"

The Clarity Act: Last line of defense against Pols use old bait-and-switch technique (600)
Bait-and-switch is a deceptive sales technique. You advertise one product to attract customers. That's the bait. When they arrive they find out you are really selling something else entirely. That's the switch. It's considered a form of business fraud.

Why do you think cops love 'em? (580)
He whirled around the entire group. Then he grabbed my nine-year-old daughter who was a good head taller then him and began dancing with her. Then, other kids followed his lead. Yes, kids were spontaneously dancing to the 1950s music in the Krispy Kreme shop. All hopped-up on sugar.

Cheated, democratically of course (500)
So town after town whose voters had actually endorsed de-merger were being refused it, because all non-votes were being treated as 'No' votes. I say that just in case you are the type of person who leaves democracy up to your fellow citizens and doesn't bother to vote because they think it will make no difference.

Remember the Alamo, eh? Vote on June 20 (580)
"Surrender!" they cry. "You cannot win." We answer with cannon shots. Pata-ping, Pata-poom, Pata-pouf!

Only one way to show 'em - at the ballot box (600)
The bullies who shove laws down our throats count on our apathy. They laugh at us. They spit in our faces. They are confident we will never get thirty-five per cent of all registered voters to bother to vote.

Screwed? Yes. Hey, have some Montreal lemonade… (580)
Fiendishly clever, I thought. While the French press blindly accuses the de-merger forces of being a recidivist group of anglophones, the ex-leader of the Equality Party himself is quietly taking over Montreal City Hall - and fifty per cent of the province - from inside. This stroke of Machiavellian misdirection won my profound respect.

French & the way she is written (590)
I have a friend who argues that if Bill 101 was about preserving the language of his ancestors, instead of the language of France, he might be more sympathetic.

Blowing harp with Bill Macy (600)
Having a few beers with a friend. We hear about a film shoot on the lakeshore. Some celebrity like Bruce Willis? No, William H. Macy - a real actor. On our way home we drive by. Too late.

Bada bing, bada bang (600)
In preparation for a performance in front of political writers we organized a fact-finding mission to Ottawa. After all, before we performed for the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons they asked us to watch a procedure so that we would get our facts right.

The Kids of Summer Cometh (590)
Baseball is a great game for kids. It provides friendly competition and teaches them lessons that they don't learn at school. Lessons they can only learn by living through.

A breast full of dollars (575)
The American breast may have been made of silicone but the Canadian breast was full of tax dollars.

Be here now or, I once had a crush on Vampira (575)
Maybe you were thinking of a loved one. Or, remembering something that altered your life years ago. Or simply ruminating about how we are all being royally screwed by the government.

Service, like they mean it (600)
There is a gas station in my local village that epitomizes customer service for me. And so I don't even look at the current price per litre when I gas up there. Because our relationship is more important.

Hell is other people's pets (570)
Most households knew these past two weeks as the 'holiday season.' But in my house they were known as the 'allergy season.' Not because trees or ragweed are growing in my living room, but because, to paraphrase Jean Paul Sartre: Hell is other people's pets.

Having a Blue commercial Christmas is OK (580)
Each Christmas, predictable columns and editorials articulate a general disapproval of the commercialization of the holy season. But I like the commercialization of Christmas.

Dullsville? Boringtown? Nah, it's Ottawa (580)
There is never a dull moment in Ottawa. Years? Yes. But moments - no. But residents are proud that their city is dull. They say, defiantly: if you want to party you can "go to Hull." After all, a city that never sleeps is a city of sin.

Giggles are good for you (590)
I had to go to Alberta to make people laugh. It's a tough job but someone has to do it. Actually, Alberta is a wonderful place. People are friendly and happy. And taxes are so much lower. Hmmm.

Coincidence? Are you sure? (560)
A biography of the prime minister of Canada reveals that he would not have accepted a slim separatist victory in the last referendum and might even have sent in the Canadian army to protect Canadians still living in Quebec.

Quebec Liberals: The We Didn't Mean It Party (585)
In China they would have an ornate name like: the Don't Blame Us When We Stick A Knife In Your Back Because That's What We Always Do Party.

The end of the world as we know it (580)
It seems that these theories have a real use: to get other people to do what you want them to do. In this case: don't drive a car and live in the suburbs. Be like me. Live downtown and ride a bike.

Sharing the wealth -- governments operating for their own (575)
The redistribution of wealth means taking wealth from people who have it and giving it to people who don't. It presupposes the government knows better than those who have it. And it presupposes that the government will actually give it to those who need it before they squander it on irrational dreams or boneheaded incompetence.

Civil disobedience - it's the way to go (586)
Last week, a hidden microphone caught this exchange at a meeting of the very secret West Island Warriors Society.

All'knotted up' in Montreal (585)
The work of R.D. Laing centered on the politics of the family. Specifically the way parents turn their kids into schizophrenics by denying the validity of the child's own personal experience. Because of the special parent-child relationship we now have between the government and citizens here this model fits like a glove. And it is slowly driving us nuts. The way our government always knows best. And how we cannot be trusted to make our own choices.

Quebec's Federalist Premier challenging Canada's federal system (575)
It could happen, in this country where we have never really decided what we are: a colony, a republic, a dominion, or a federation.

Honky-tonkin' on Montreal's West Island (585)
Behind the bar a blonde goddess named Danielle worked her magic, making everyone feel welcome and special. Up behind the dance floor a single musician played a keyboard, with a computer filling in bass and drum tracks.

Baseball Day on Montreal's West Island (580)
I think the way we treat our major league baseball team is nothing short of tragic. And when they leave us, Montreal will be poorer for it. But for those of us who appreciate it, we "people of baseball" who understand the game and can see the rise and fall of epic drama that comes with every pitch, Baseball Day is a way of restating our love of the game.

Learning about strip malls (580)
I once wondered why people lived in the suburbs, where there are so few bookstores or fashionable clothing stores, where there are so few fine restaurants or outdoor cafes to sit and discuss modes of alienation over espressos and cognac for hours and hours, where there is so little of the downtown cosmopolitan life I took for granted when I lived on Le Plateau.

A cherished glory of surburbia (580)
I can remember a time in my life when: "He must be out cleaning his gas barbecue" was a way of mocking a suburbanite. It would serve as a symbol for a meaningless life. That was when I lived downtown.

City of Dreams coming to a suburb near you (590)
I wouldn't be able to get used to writing "Montreal" as a return address. For now, I still get to write "Beaconsfield." But perhaps one day soon I will be writing "The Free City of the West Island."

A Reader's Digest approach to saving baseball in Montreal (580)
The only way we can do this is with the instantaneous medium of television. And the only way we can get Montrealers to watch the Expos on television is by introducing something I will call: Condensed Baseball (c).

Don Juan was a wuss (500)
For the last three weeks I have been falling in love every night in front of 250 people. And I'll continue doing it for the next three weeks — with a matinee on Saturday and Sunday.

My non-fat wino diet(590)
"Would you like some fat with your fat?"

Better an election than a war(600)
My perception of the Quebec election is being coloured by the war in Iraq. Those of you who read my column regularly will know that I believe in supporting one's allies and toppling dictators. In both cases.

To Market, To Market. Not.590
After the last two years, I have seen what are basically my life's savings shrink like the private parts of a weightlifter on steroids.

PQ suffering from obsessive repulsive disorder575
Bernie Landry recently stated in public that thousands of people marching for peace remind him that Quebec is a nation; the fact that Quebecers have sex more often than other Canadians reminds him that Quebec is a nation; and that the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York reminds him that Quebec is a nation.

Ah, the allure of Quebecois separatismo (600)
So many of my Quebecois friends tell me that the dream is over. Separatism is dead. But I don't believe it. And I think there is a reason why Bernie Landry wants to call a spring election — because in spring, romance is in the air.

Let's hear it for SUVs (580)
Yes, the people of the future will know that the real heroes of our age are those very now-maligned SUV owners who are actually saving the world by burning off the oil twice as fast as anyone else.

Trapped in Bell Hell (600)
Suddenly I had two computers talking to each other, in a kind of computer perpetual motion. Stanley Kubrick's 2001 Space Odyssey flashed across my mind: "Open the pod bay door, Hal." "I can't do that, Dave."

Bilingualism -- it's what's happening in Quebec (676)
In Montreal, even the bums are bilingual. They come up to you on the street and say: "Spare change? Du change, s'il vous plait? Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup." And when you don't cough up a loony: "Go to hell! Mange la merde!"

Nothing beats a good neighborhood watch (600)
My mind raced. What if I call Chubb back and tell them to call the cops and it IS a false alarm? Then the police will give me a real "false alarm" ticket for over a hundred dollars, completely wiping out this 50 that I am trying to save by waiting for this paperwork to finish.

Sympathy for Scrooge (575)
Is it too early to Christmas shop? No. This is the right time to shop. The panic has not yet completely taken hold. I know it because there was still a parking space in front of Future Shop. Although I did find that things were beginning to get nasty at Toys R Us.

Universal law of the inverse value of things in a garage (575)
This is Ricky Blue's law of the inverse value of things in a garage: When an object enters a garage all its previous positive value is reversed and now becomes a negative value.

The Queen, ladies and gentlemen, the Queen (590)
Personally, I always thought that it was a bit baffling for an independent country to have the monarch of a foreign country as its Head of State. But, as many are quick to point out, it seems to do no harm. And not changing it is easier than changing it. It is just a bit embarrassing.

Will October flowers bring Mario Dumont powers? (600)
Hot enough for ya?" It was the kind of greeting I expect in July. But although this was the first of October, it was 27 degrees. The leaves were still green. The flowers in my yard were in full bloom. And my neighbour was approaching me in a T-shirt and shorts.

Imagine a Quebec with no Bill 101 -- it's easy if you try (590)
He was polite, sophisticated, and probably considered himself quite tolerant. He just did not like the fact that I dared to satirize the Motherland and its Sacred Law. So he gave the classic pure laine reaction to anglophones like me.

Dreams of grandeur, both ridiculous (580)
It seems all but inevitable that the Expos will be moved in the next few years to Washington D.C., where people will actually attend the games and be able to watch them on TV.

Quebec National Library deserves a better name (590)
This could be big for them," he insisted. "They are down in the polls. They are on the ropes. They could turn it around with a magnanimous gesture like this. The best criticism of separatism is that it is exclusionary, bordering on fascist."

Powerboats vs nature's tranquility (580)
It is Saturday on Lac Quetaine. At 9 a.m. I see the first boat, a large powerful inboard towing two screamers on an inflatable raft. Thus begins the transformation of the tranquil silence of nature into the soundtrack from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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