My Son is an Orc Dork & Other Exciting Stories

Last week we got to watch our son play cello with his school orchestra in their performing arts center, which was a giant leap from standing in a crowded elementary school gym, listening to both the school band and orchestra. I'm so glad he chose orchestra and from a daily grind perspective, I'm pleased he chose the cello. Having to endure repetitive notes from some of those other high-pitched wind or string instruments...I don't think I could take it. Although I will concede that the viola sounds kinda cool.

For orchestra pieces, they played Sahara Crossing along with a couple of other impressive numbers. Have a listen - it's Übercool and perfectomundo for a budding young cellist. We were then able to watch performances by the two other middle and high school orchestras, allowing us to hear where our orc dork will be heading. You know what they say: if it ain't baroque, don't fix it. Unfortunately, there's a fine line between baroque and broke, if our $40.00 monthly cello rental and soon-to-be private cello tutoring fees are any indication.

The closest I ever came to string as a child was making cat's cradles. And my only acquaintance with musical instruments was playing Mary Had a Little Lamb on my recorder and taking drum lessons from Bob Ego's brother at The Drum Shop on Whyte Ave in Edmonton. Bob was the drummer in Streetheart ( a famous Canadian rock band) at the time. I don't remember his brother's name. And I never did nail the 64th note on my drum pad. But I played percussion with precision, pride and pizazz. I was a boom chick boom boom chick.

Fat lot of good it has ever done me except that I have been able, over the years, to air drum that wicked drum sequence in In the Air Tonight with impressive accuracy, and speaking of air, I have become quite adept at playing the nose sax on dance floors, when the moment has called for it. This is many musical movements removed from our budding young Yo-Yo Ma ma's boy alchemic ability to read, interpret and transform sheet music from sight to sound.

As the Decade Fades
In just a few days, Holy Son turns 11. I accidentally bumped into him last week in the kitchen and had to take a second look because it felt like I ran into a Huskies linebacker. Who was this giant 5 ft. 4 inch, blue-eyed, teenage-wannabee dudester and what was he doing in my kitchen?

More to the point, what happened to our little eggghead (forceps babe), our baby whoa-wah, our meistieman? Time is the greatest of tricksters. One minute you're bathing your bare-assed babe in the sink, the next minute you're having to remind your bare-assed boy that mooning the family in the kitchen is perhaps not the wisest of options, considering that the next door neighbors have full view of his pretty posterior.

Ten years ago today, we were busy planning his first birthday party in Pakistan and desperately searching Islamabad for black string licorice. We planned the party to be a bit of a blow-out event, because we were about to be booted out of the country - a long story involving Nawaz Sharif not wanting to honour a signed joint venture agreement between his predecessor, Bhutto, and zat faymoose Canadiene PM bastaird, his right dishonourable, Mis-yewer Jean Createn. And a rather short bit about Holy Hub's company not realizing that the only way a contract really gets inked in the third world is when a little dirty money gets laundered.

This first birthday party and last big hooplah was hysterical. A dozen or so ex-pat babes from my Moms and Tots group attended, with parents, ayahs and assorted other servants in tow. As I recall, our son was the only one of the bunch who had his sea legs, having recently learned to walk. Holy Hub's boss graciously lent their lawn for the affair, which included hot dogs, chips, a double-sized zoo cake (adorned with a black licorice train track begged, borrowed, stolen from the British commissary) and last but not least, camel rides.
What a difference a decade makes. He still runs around impulsively sticking his fingers into light sockets and deliberately defying me whenever I tell him he can't do something. But we no longer see camels strut past our house enroute back to their villages miles beyond and centuries apart from the city confines of Islamabad.

I have a theory. It's a story I've always stuck to and that is that all that early social conditioning with weekly happy hour at the Canadian Club and having a bevy of Thai beauties ooh and ahh over him throughout his early travels to Thailand has forever shaped and altered him.

He now spends an inordinate amount of time in front of the mirror, fiddling with hair products in order to get his hair styled just right. And his cell phone rings off the hook night after night with calls from girls. Pick a girl's name - chances are good it's saved in his contact list.

Two weeks ago, he decided to plan a group date at the local schwanky mall as a public way to be able to hang out with one particular girl he's pretty sweet on. He met up with about 8 girls from school and one of his scout buddies, who ended up bailing on him early afternoon. Having to go from perfume shop to Claire's to Mariposa so that all these tween girls could try on dresses and get the boys' opinions - that was too much for the other boy.

Holy Son, on the other hand, ate the whole thing up in one super big gulp. He was like a metrosexual sheik with a harem that day, trying on men's colognes at Sephora and modeling 'dudes' dress shirts at Hollister while the girls sighed and complimented him profusely. The only low point was when he walked into Zumiez, a skater-type shop, and the kid behind the counter called him a Hollister fag. He heard about the comment after the fact but it didn't bother him overly much because he knew that he looked good in his Hollister shirt and that he looked even better surrounded by a bunch of pretty girls. He chalked it up to jealousy.

And so begins his next decade, which shall be defined largely by image and typecasting, popularity and peer status, athleticism and academic standings.

I'm proud that he's self-confident enough to ignore snide comments. And that he was courageous enough in the midst of his gang of wallflower friends, to ask the girl he likes to dance in public view of all the 6th to 8th graders at the middle school social last month. And that he's brave enough to take the lead role in the Nutcracker again this year, despite not being a dancer and being the only boy in the cast.

And that he never hesitates to step up to the microphone in order to thank a coach or leader on the team or troop's behalf. And that he feels as comfortable playing sports or snowboarding or going on a scout backpacking trip, as he does sitting at the lunchroom table with a bunch of giggling girls. And that he instinctively knows to open doors and say please and thank you, and to do a good turn daily.

But I miss the little guy who impulsively yanked on the dreadlock of the sadhu way back that cold December day in '97 in Kathmandu. Not that he's forgotten the fine art of yanking - his sister's chain sees the bulk of it these days.

Time flies in the blink of an eye. The next time I should happen to glance up, my prodigal son will be looking down upon me in ways too multiple to count.

He's already begged to skip a birthday this year on account of the fact that all his school friends are one full year older than him and he wants to be, too. I want to tell him that I already have my parental seatbelt notched as tight as I can on this whirlwind ride that keeps getting faster and crazier and dizzier and more terrifying with every spin, and that every time I sneak a peek at the top of the track, I'm reminded how precarious this game called mortality really is.

To appease him at his birthday party with friends this weekend, we will put a generic sparkler on his cake and trust that suffices. It will catch up with him when he's 15 though, and his friends are driving while he is not.

As The Whirl'd Turns: Parental Edition. One minute it's Johnson's baby powder and sweet chamber music, the next minute it's defiance, car keys and tuition dues.

Stop the ride. I think I'm going to throw up.


Mediums, Channeling & Other Occult Musings

God, Glitz and Politix
I finally get what drove Bruce Springsteen to pen
57 Channels (And Nothing On).

Two years ago when we moved to the States, one of the perverted prospects I found myself looking forward to was increased television programming. Goodbye 'predominant and distinct' Canadian programming (merci beaucoup to the CBC and Canadian tax dollars)....hello big network TV due south, which has continued to hold a certain mystique for me, since that much beloved day we first opted for cable television upon moving to the big city in 1976.Well, ask and ye shall receive.

Yes, I got the plethora of television programming, it's true, but it wasn't exactly the kind I had bargained for. In order to work my way up the food chain on the remote to the so-called higher channels where Biography and History Channels are located, I first need to negotiate through a minefield of home shopping, C-Span, local political and no less than four Christian broadcasting networks first. ow there's nothing wrong with any of these channels per se ~ this is a so-called free country, after all ~but insofar as they happen to be mandatory broadcasting networks that take up a huge chunk of American programming, I think they speak volumes. If you are what you program, then it is safe to assume that consumerism, nationalistic political speak and evangelism fairly define the cultural fabric of this nation.

Schmeebs & Dweebs
Conversely, Islamic nations don't get quite the same picture of America.

Tune into their English channel fare, and you'll find the obligatory BBC News, together with two of our finest, quality television exports - Baywatch and MTV.

I remember sitting in my modest shalwar kamiz some 10 years ago, watching a retro Baywatch episode with a few gaggle-eyed Pakistani (male) hotel workers in the lobby of the boutique hotel that we were living at for a time, and having to give these boys a reality check that North American women don't actually strut the streets in Pamela Sue Anderson attire ~ beach and Spring Break locales aside.

This seemed to tarnish their American dream, but regardless, the impression was formed and I remember feeling relieved for once that I had chosen to dress in modest local attire that day. Small wonder though, that some/many/most of them have a narrow, and some (not I) might claim false, impression of American culture.

We are what we broadcast and always have been. In fact, the more other-worldly, the better, at times. Embedded in that 1938 Orson Wells radio wave oratory was the fear of impending doom and gloom of the world; which was an apt projection, given that these were the penultimate moments leading up to WWII. Conversely, broadcasting also reflects our greatest dreams, such as it did on that beautiful summer day of 69, when Neil Armstrong provided one of the most infamous soundbites about the seamless labyrinth between one small human and all of humanity.
Sometimes these broadcasts meme our highest familial ideals ~ think Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best ~ and sometimes they remind us that we are not as evolved a species as Darwin once claimed - or so the plethora of reality TV will tell us. To be fair, the one bright spot in reality television programming of late was the $70 million raised for charity this past spring during the special airing of Idol Gives Back.

So if we are what we watch, what sayeth this about turn-of-the-millenium America? Does this neo-religio/politico/consumerism broadcasting instantly gratify us, or are more and more of us beginning to tune out rather than tune in to the endless array of garbage strewn across the telewaves of the atmosphere?I, for one, am selective.

When I want my garbage escapist programming, ABC more than delivers with my perennial faves of the moment - Ugly Betty, Brothers & Sisters and Desperate Housewives ~ three of the best satirical abstracts of our popular culture as one could ever hope for.

When I want to know what fears and fascist food du jour stream the consciousness and neo-con-tours of this nation, I watch Fox News. Or Glenn Beck. Either suffices.When I crave subtle imprinting of subliminal imagery on my brain (heh, don't knock it - it's cheaper than frontal lobotomy surgery and often as effective) - I watch CNN News. And when I wish to live in a bubble and not have any news from the world outside our immediate 50 mile radius, I tune into the local Seattle news channels: they always deliver on this front.

Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?
Children's programming has come a long way since the shows of old from my childhood - Romper Room, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and that great Canadian classic,
The Friendly Giant. I loved the Friendly Giant and all those other mythical TV heroes, real and cartooned. Sometimes I despair the world will never know another man like him.
But if you follow the yellow brick road back to the 70s kid's TV, Sesame Street was The destination. It was utopia. Still is. (Oops - no sooner do I post this than I read a day later about warnings on old school Sesame Street episodes - what is the world coming to?)

Unfortunately, retro shows such as this get lost in the remote shuffle. Enuf of Snuffleupagus. PBS is many, mucho, muy numbers removed on the remote control from Nickelodeon TV, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network, which is the land of the living dead where I often find my zombie daughter, when left to her own electronic devices.

She is so very much a product of this new media age of kid's programming ~ where product merchandising, the Net, and TV are one big happy ménage à trois ~ that I'm fairly convinced a cultural anthropologist need focus their lens no further afield than her bedroom for the perfect cultural study. Providing, of course, they can find a pulse and some semblance or sign of life, so mesmorized by the tube is she.

I can't begin to recount the number of times she has the sold the merits, features and benefits of a particular product, or imparted a little known piece of trivia, or even better, used a particular brand of humour with me. I ask her how she knows these things. The answer never changes: TV.

To television nay-sayers who see TV as the devil's babysitter, I say hear me out. TV is a form of junk food that is not good for the digestive system of kids, to be sure, but there are, at least, some merits.

I credit Popcorn Playhouse, a popular Saturday morning show that aired in my hometown of Edmonton and which featured a goldmining segment, with teaching me the fundamentals of kitty litter poop scooping. Digging for nuggets or turds, as it were, was all about depth of the scoop and quick flicks of the wrist.

Be this good, bad, ugly or a chimera of all three, TV is nurturing my daughter's inner diva. Whether this is because of too many Spongebob marathons, I cannot rightly say, but I do know that my daughter has a wickedly good sense of humour and keen sense of comedia timing, not to mention acute appreciation for voice, pause and intonation; things not as easily or affordably grasped from books or live theatre.

Case in point, she strutted on stage last week at her annual school cultural festival, and whilst many of her international peers jammed out at the mic, and shuffled away, too afraid to speak, she bucked the trend by confidently striding up to the microphone, boldly introducing herself, her class teacher, and the country from which she hailed, as though her obtrusive red maple leaf-shaped felt toque and bright, bold Team Canada hockey jersey weren't proof enough. "My name is (Holy Daughter) and I'm from Canada." It won't be long before she'll be drinking beer and spouting
I.Am.Canadian rants, and/or I used to be Canadian rants.

And while she doesn't owe all of her personality to TV, it owns a fair chunk of her. I know this is not a good thing, but in the cosmic scheme of things, when this grand alien experiment is finally over and the mothership comes to get us, she will fit in perfectly with the rest of us
homosapien drones.

It's true - I saw it on TV once.


Crazy 8

I totally forgot that I got tagged late last week by Brenda. Oops. Sorry, Brenda. Time flies when you're as scatterbrained as I am most of the time.

OK, so here's how it goes:

(1) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves

(2) People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.

(3) At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
(4) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

OK, so in no particular order, here's my Crazy 8 list of random, crazy things about me:

1) I am such a bargain shopper that I have been known to walk from one end of West Edmonton Mall, the world's largest shopping and entertainment complex, and back again to the first store I entered, in order to save a dollar or two. I go into paralysis by analysis mode when it comes to any kind of comparison shopping and oftentimes, I come home empty handed because I always think there's another better deal out there somewhere. Which there is. This explains why we haven't gotten around to doing most of our furniture shopping since moving in.

2) I can't swallow pills, no matter whether they are two tonne horsepills or eensie weensie birth control pills. So I end up chewing them. Most of them taste bitter and gross, so I wouldn't recommend this practice. One time, Holy Hubby got sick of hearing me whine and complain about my awful toothache so he secretly crushed some Tylenol 3's in my chicken noodle soup and didn't confess until after I told him the miracle of how the soup mysteriously took away all my pain.

3) Whenever my husband and I are in an elevator alone together, I always have to kiss him.
This annoys him, because of how obsessive-compulsive I am about it.

4) I'm also obsessive compulsive about picking his belly button and toe lint, and smoothing his extremely-unruly eyebrows. These things annoy him even more than elevator kissing, but what can I say? OCD habits die hard.

5) I have a thing about plastic bubble wrap. I can't just pop one, I have to pop them all.
I once told Holy Hub that he really didn't need to worry about fancy presents and wrapping - all he needs get me for Christmas is bubble wrap. And I mean it. I noticed the other day that Target sells rolls of it. I couldn't resist walking by and squeezing a few. I was just getting into it when my daughter heard the popping and caught me in the act. She yelled very loudly so everyone in the store could hear, so I had to stop. Which really sucked, because I was....on a roll. Sigh.

6) I get mad at my kids if I catch them pronouncing the letter zed as zee. Or asking for a soda instead of a pop. Or referring to runners as sneakers. Or calling something as quintessentially Canadian as a toque, a hat. It's not a hat, it's a toque. And I'm not talking annoyed mad here. I mean I get mad and yell at them for assimilating the way a good immigrant is supposed to. Talk about a crazy Canuck, eh?

7) I am a dentist's worst nightmare. I was recently turned down as a patient at the UW Dentistry office because "I'm not a good potential patient candidate for student dentists." Translation? Patient from hell. I have a bad gag reflex, mostly due to the latex gloves and that disgusting air - God, I hate the drool sucking air that gives me dry mouth and causes me to gag again. I usually need to have sedation dentistry for extensive dental work because I'm so bloody difficult. But the UW doesn't offer sedation dentistry. I've been known to bite dentists and hygienists, and have sent more than a few assistants into a panic when trying to run between the xray machine and my chair to get rear teeth bitewing impressions from me. Suffice to say, the wild animal look in my eyes is enough to scare them. I haven't been to the dentist in 2.5 years.

8) When my kids step on cracks on the sidewalk in my company, I go into fake convulsive pain and pretend as though they've broken my back. It's very animated and must look extremely weird to unsuspecting passerbyers.
And if there was a number 9 to this list, I would add that I hate following any kind of rules, which includes doing these chain memes in a timely fashion. So on that note, I'm only going to tag three people - KC, Tanya and Lynn.

Notes from the Trenches

The ghost of a steam train echoes down my track
It's at the moment bound for nowhere
Just going round and round
Playground kids and creaking swings
Lost laughter in the breeze
I could go on for hours and I probably will
But I'd sooner put some joy back
In this town called malice.
The Jam, "Town Called Malice"

The Village of Eville

Once upon a long lost time, the beauty of life was that we could lead seemingly disconnected lives and remain pretty much oblivious to the evils and ills around the world, except when said ills occasioned and slandered our own idyllic communities.

Before podcasting and RSS feeds and the World Wide Internet and 24/7 TV and radio and telefaxes and wires and foreign affairs newspaper reporting, we could live our small lives with little or no regard to the bigger world around us. I mean, really. We could eat dinner peacefully, without having to see genocide footage, such as the 1994 Rwandan crisis and then having to murmur sympathetically, "how awful" before going back to our steak and potato feasts. If you have yet to see Hotel Rwanda, from which I just lifted the wryest and singularly most powerful quote in the film, or even Blood Diamond, machete open your worldview and make yourself watch these necessary evil flicks that tell haunting tales out of Africa.

Now as much as ignorance is not a justification for oblivious living, it is bliss insofar as its antithesis, knowledge, inevitably entails sorrow and discontent. The more we know, the more we feel compelled to act, even in the face of powerlessness. The more we know, the more we realize how little we know. The more we know, the more we're exposed to the insidiousness of evil. Pundits now label it axis, but the truth of the matter is, we can no more locate and eradicate the central spine of evil than we can pinpoint it's yang, which is good, so pervasive are both.

Guns Before Butter
All this talk of blood and iron
Its the cause of all my shaking
The fatherlands no place to die for
It makes me want to run out shaking
I hear some talk of guns and butter
Thats something we can do without
If men are only blood and iron
O doktor doktor, whats in my shirt?
Gang of Four, "Guns Before Butter"

It's too bad Yale didn't teach GWB about how to use a compass and identify an axis and for that matter, how to play a decent game of chess, at some point during his college years ~ it could have saved this late, great nation a tidy 8 trillion dollars (or 1.6 trillion, if the real costs are to be tallied).

But what's a little loose change, when the big dollars are made for oil slick politicians in 'insider' trading? And for that matter, what are a few scattered skulls and bones between nations and alumni, who apparently learned everything they needed to know about the preservation of secrecy and stealth in university? This above all, to thine own clan be true.

And so it is guns before butter. $200 billion more guns, if you please.

When I heard his little B**sh*t soundbite yesterday, in which he compared the Democratic attempts to pass budget proposals for health care and education ('pet projects' of the Democrats is how he worded it) as "acting like a teenager with a new credit card," I wondered for not an entirely small moment if there really was an axis of evil, and if we were just too busy, distracted and fearfully looking "out there" to plainly see what was in front of our noses the whole time.

Said pissing match reminded me of politics in Pakistan in the 90s, when Sharif's govt. would blame Bhutto's govt., etc, etc., to the extent that the endless row between the two political factions meant no public spending on any projects because inevitably, said projects always happened to be "pet projects" of the other party.

So it's only a little ironic that Bush dares admonish Musharaff for declaring a state of national emergency and continuing to run his quasi-military dictatorship under the auspices of democracy. Only a little. Mostly, it's just sad.

Recent polls suggest that I'm not the only pessimist pissing in the wind. We're all sick and tired ~ well OK, except granny in traffic yesterday who was sporting so many Bush/Cheney and soldier ribbons on her car, it was a wonder she wasn't driving a bloody red campaign caboose (the little engine that couldn't). Unfortunately, most of us, granny included, don't have adequate coverage to cure our sick and tired ailments.

Another recent survey cites 46% of Americans perceive the nation to be in recession. The remaining 51% of the population have their heads up their asses. Heads, they win (or is it their favorite dancing star or Idol that wins? - I get confused these days), tails, we're all losing. Big time.

I'm not even sure history will be any kinder to Holy Hub and I than it will be in glossing over Mr. Bushevik's revolution.

Make it or break it, 07....that we dared buy a house in the United States, regardless of the fact that we chose the stablest of all e-ville markets or so a recent Top 10 list claims - in the penultimate days before the dollar, stock and housing markets tanked.....what the flaming red firetruck were we thinking, over. Oh well, perhaps the tattered scrapbooks and future generations of Schmidts will be kind to us. They will say that we were Redneck Albertans who had the brawn and brass to grasp the big Texas bull by the horns but oops, we slipped and inadvertently made a grab south instead. Schmidt happens, dontcha know.

Axis Malum
And so it would seem evil is all around us, disguised in the unlikeliest places. It hides unsuspectingly between the letters in pleasantville and evangelist, it rubs slant rhyming shoulders with civil, and it dresses up in medieval costume as the party might dictate.

And sometimes, I'll admit, when it mocks most outrageously, I don't feel very Gandhian and non-violent ~ just the opposite. It rears its ugly head and I want nothing more than an eye for an eye, a death for a death.

We're being bombarded in the media lately with what a shapeshifter that Axis of Evil can be - it's everywhere.

Does it posit itself within the stepfather and his friend, who allegedly raped and murdered the nine-year old Missouri girl earlier this month? How can that be so, for they are spineless and their lives should now be deemed worthless. Or perhaps it is connected to the satellite rod that sits atop OJ Simpson's house and empowers him to tower above all laws - right, wrong and otherwise? Or perchance it is alchemic and Frankensteinian and only comes to life in chemical marriage to unfortunate gals named Laci or Stacy Peterson.

I'm not so sure. Today marks the 10th anniversary of the senseless murder (the most oxy of moronic word pairings, I realize) of Reena Virk. Tears gloss my eyes every time I think about this and I'm left grappling with whether evil really does mean "the absence of good," and if justice has a timezone.

On my udder blog, I've latched onto an Anne Frank quote, which I will paste here in its entirety. Anne's world, suffice to say, was neither ignorant nor blissful. She lived long enough to look evil in the eye and then shift her gaze to the idealistic landscape beyond.

"It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. . . ."
~ Anne Frank ~

Some make call her utopian outlook, in the face of genocidal slaughter, juvenile, naive; even delusional. Indeed, many claim religion is the ultimate delusion, like an invisible latchhook in the sky that we cling blindly to in times of extreme adversity. And yet I call it brave.

Ignorance is bliss but in the age we live in, it's near extinct. My 10-year old son has begun reading Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, a teen folk tale about the Holocaust and the fine line between Beauty and Ugliness.

Some may claim he's much too young for this book, and they're probably right. But I let him watch Troy last year, so the least I can do is have him read the best re-telling of Sleeping Beauty I know. And considering that our entire filter for the world is apparently firmly affixed by age 9, I'm, arguably, a year too late in having him read this mythical Holocaust book.

Suffice to say, if you have not read this book, you haven't read. Run to your bookstore or your library and read it. Read it and weep, for it is as powerful a narrative of why beautiful poppies dare grow and dance in the wind on battlefields, and why the soft and sometimes too-Frank voices of girls named Anne will always ring louder and more victorious than the Sieg Heil's of misguided fascist armies.

Perhaps there is an ultimate beauty that will triumph over all this worldly ugliness and evil. Perhaps when the curtains close on Act however many thousand or million or infinity we're in now, that tattered ugly, evil drape will finally lift and we will get to see the real show. Until then, the show must go on, even when we wish nothing more than to tune it out.

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."
Karl Marx


In Remembrance


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae

Today is Remembrance Day and thanks to my MIL and the not do studious postal workers who failed to catch that there were 8 bobby pins in the envelope she sent me, I will be able to sport a poppy on my lapel for the first time in 3 years.

It's silly but I find myself torn between going to church ~ where at the very least there will be a Canadian Minister at the pulpit who will be commemorating the war dead in her service about sacrifice and our duty to remember, not ignore ~ and staying home to watch the tribute on CBC. The CBC tribute will be much more poignant this year than in years past, because of Canada's armed forces role in Afghanistan.

In the end, I think I will opt to go to church, but I will slip in late for the 11am service so as to honour the minute of silence, for the fallen in the peaceful tranquility of our church's Memorial Garden, lest I forget their toil and sacrifice. It will be yet another juxtaposition between war and peace.
Naturally, the common people don't want war ... but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.
Hermann Goering


Loonie Toons

Here's a slice of Canadian humour, American style. Mind you, pretty soon Canadians will be changing the Internet joke to, "why can't I own an American?"

Holy Schmidt!

My udder little blog, Holy Schmidt, has been shortlisted as a 2007 Weblog Awards finalist under the Religious Blogs category.

I don't expect to win - far from it, in fact - my blog is a godacious breed apart from the rest and I'm not really one for pandering because I don't exactly have a large readership. Nevertheless, I'm ultra thrilled to be on the shortlist. These things are arbritrary popularity contests, at best, and I'm up against a couple of pretty cool sites, together with a few others that appear savvy, shall we say, to the ways of church tithing and planting and mass prostration. That's hard to do when you have 5 readers.

So that said, if you have three seconds, click here and cast your Holy Vote so I'm not left completely in the dust.

And tell your friends to vote. And their friends. And Stephen Colbert's friends. And so on. Every daily vote counts as an entry in my drawing for a most impressive chatzkah - my Holy Toast stamper, pictured below. Simply keep tabs on how many times you've voted this week, drop me a line at holy dot schmidt at hotmail dot com with your total vote tally, and I'll enter you in this cool running. How divine is that?
Polls close on November 8th. Wish me godspeed!