April 29th 2002
I suffer from an unusual complaint. Whenever I get sick it happens on a weekend. Which of course keeps my employer happy but doesn't help me much when it comes to assimilating to the local customs. One of which is taking as many sick days off a year as possible.
So having picked up some stomach bug or other I was feeling rather drained and for once slothing in front of the TV was a preferred option. Having made myself a good pot of coffee (some Canadian customs are very easy to get to like!) I spent some time randomly flipping through the eighty odd channels available.
It is very much like the old song about “so many channels and nothing on”! The obligatory Saturday children's programs and cartoons. A few charity organizations holding out the guilt laden begging bowl. Multicultural channels with their allocated hours of mayhem back home, interspersed with sport. The pre-show show about the pre-show spotlighting the pre-show of the game later that day. And then of course there was the marathon.
Just about every week at least one channel will be having a weekend marathon. Either TV shows from the past or a run of a range of movies or some topic that is explored to death via twenty-four hours of movie and comment. I'm not referring only to Star Trek either by the way. Which for some reason seems to be on a continuous rerun on the TVO and Space channels.
This Saturday my surfing took me too one particular channel having an Elvis movie marathon.
I can remember many years ago in the sixties being taken by my parents to the Durban Drive-In by the beachfront. I can't remember the picture but it was one featuring Elvis.
I fell asleep!
Which may have been due to my age but, having settled down to watch a few of these movies, was probably as a result of the show itself.
Elvis was, too put it mildly, a lousy actor!
I will admit that it could be as a result of the bad movies he was in. I believe that he was pressured into doing many of these films to please Tom Parker and others who realised that his teenage female fans would pay any money to see him onscreen. And their screaming probably drowned out the banality of the plot and lines totally.
It could just be the films that I watched. Most of which I hadn't seen or heard of before and seemed to follow a formula. Boy meets girl. Girl's parents hate boy due to his long hair (yes I know!) and rebel attitude. Girl hates boy (never fully explained!). Local boys hate boy. Boy sings to girl. Repeatedly! Girl loves boy. They all live happily ever after. Royalties notwithstanding.
Variations on this theme merely change location from Prison (Jailhouse Rock) to a Cowboy Ranch to the Ozarks to an Army Base (G.I.Blues) and some other forgettable places that escape me for the moment.
Of course the best movie was the one where they combined the Army and the Ozarks and had Elvis play two characters. One of which had dyed blonde hair!!!
There is a certain fascination in watching a movie that is so bad you begin to enjoy it! It cheered me up immensely as I immersed myself in pure escapist entertainment for a while.
Most of which revolved around what an idiot Elvis looked with dyed blonde hair. As well as the observation that back in the fifties women actually looked like woman with all the right curves and figures that would no doubt have weight watchers knocking on their door today. Nothing at all like the silicone bosomed, peroxide blonde, stick insect, trowel caked make up, Barbie dolls that America seems to feel the need to foster on the masses lately.
Which led me to another train of thought as I moved on to the local PBO channel offering of a Britcom telethon.
I love British humour and watch as much of it as is possible. Thank goodness Canada still has fairly strong ties to the UK because this means we get a good dose of AbFab, Vicar of Dibbley, Waiting for God and others. Good strong belly laugh inducing humour at the best of times.
What hadn't occurred to me before though was the difference in actors that we get from the UK offerings and those from the USA and, too an extent, Canada.
In North America looks are everything. The majority of actors are good looking. Nothing at all like real life when it comes to that area. Whereas, in the UK offerings, we have what I would call real life actors. Down to the nose hairs and bad teeth if necessary. They actually look like the people you see as you walk down the street. Even in North America!
No! Especially in North America!
Ah well. I suppose the baby boomers still need to kid themselves that they are the beautiful people and what better way to do it than a good dose of Hollywood propaganda.
In the meantime I will pick and choose some of the marathons and reruns that you can get lately.
“Gone with the Wind” being one that seems to be a perennial favourite although the other night they had “Singing in the Rain” which I decided to watch. It was doing well until Gene Kelly broke out into “Good Morning”.
At which stage I suddenly realised where the latest Viagra advert had got it's music from! Talk about insult to injury! The spell was definitely broken!
Damn you Madison Avenue Advertising agencies and your looting of all my childhood music memories to back some stupid product!
April 12th 2002
Down in the Bay Street area of Toronto there is an old lady who sits on a corner and begs. She is a really pitiful site. Dirty, bedraggled and continually shaking. She has the obligatory badly written sign that asks God to bless you and never seems to be aware of the steady stream of coins that are given to her.
Well coins and notes apparently. Bay Street is after all the Wall Street of Toronto and the lifeblood of Canada's business hub. So having a pitiful reminder of poverty thrust in your face every day means that giving a few dollars to assuage your guilt is almost mandatory!
I have even given the same woman some money.
All right, it was only a dollar, but I was out of work and this was done against my normal habit of not giving to beggars as it only encourages them! And anyway I was working on the principle that “what if that was my Mother”? So I tipped a loonie into the tin and went off to seek employment again.
I had forgotten all about the beggar until last week when the Toronto Sun ran an expose on this particular individual.
One of the reporters on the Sun was given a tip about the woman. I think that it actually came from some of the other beggars around, no doubt rather annoyed at the prime stake that she had commandeered.
The reporter then watched the “shaky Lady” for a while in order to get to the bottom of the mystery. During the day, while staked out, he reckoned that she made about $500 in money given to her by various passers by. Well actually he “estimated” anything up to a couple of thousand dollars but then decided that a couple of hundred a day was more appropriate. It doesn't really matter because whatever it was, it was still up there in the realms of lawyers and politicians salaries when it came to an average hourly rate.
At the end of the day when all the suits had rushed off to “happy hour” and the streets started to empty the reporter noticed an interesting phenomenon.
The lady in question suddenly had a miraculous revival, stopped shaking, stood up and walked off to a car waiting around the corner and was driven off by two hulking young men who were apparently her sons.
Actually once she saw the cameraman she broke into a trot and the car did one of those Hollywood movie starts, leaving all in it's dust. Just too late for the licence number not to be noted and photographed.
This, along with other tidbits of information, led the reporters to the beggar in question. Who was living in a high-rise, along with a husband, her sons and a big screen TV among other paraphernalia. Not exactly opulence but certainly far removed from the poverty that she desperately portrayed on the street. At which stage threats and recriminations were bandied about, as well as some violence toward the cameraman. Always the cameraman I note!
This seemed to spur on not only the Suns reporters but members of the public as well.
Suddenly certain interesting facts came to life!
Seems the lady in question was a “refugee”. As with all “refugees” who come to Canada not only was she receiving Government aid but monetary assistance as well.
A little deeper digging found an even more interesting piece of information. Seems the poor “shaky lady” was on some Central European nations television a few years back extolling the virtues of coming to Canada as “refugee”! Looking at the very fit and spry image she portrayed on TV it was interesting to note the difference.
The crux of the matter would appear to be that she is a Gypsy, or Roma for the politically correct among you, and that her “refugee” status hinges on the perceived persecution that the Roma are facing at the hands of authorities in many of the newly liberated communist bloc countries.
As an aside here I was rather interested to note the depth of loathing that many central Europeans have toward the gypsy's. And they don't use the sanitized “Roma” name either. Mind you some of the terms used would make many of you blush so I will gloss over that as well. Let's just say that the “shaky lady” lived up to the expectations that some of the spokespeople for these countries voiced.
The upshot of all this is that once again we have a “refugee” involved in nefarious activities once they have landed in Canada and are living a relative life of luxury at the taxpayers expense. I find it astonishing how many of the people sought for crimes in Toronto have the tag of being “refugee status” or “illegal immigrant”.
“Illegal immigrant” is so Canadian politically correct double talk by the way! It is designed to fudge the whole issue of legality when it comes to the debate as to why legal immigrants are treated so unfairly compared to “refugees”. Given the ongoing debate as to how easy it is to get into Canada as a “refugee” this whole episode added fuel to the fire.
I was also astonished to see how quickly the “shaky lady” managed to retain a top Bay Street lawyer to represent her as well. Mind you the protestations about a hard life and meager earnings certainly weren't helped by that little action. Bay Street lawyers aren't exactly Pro Bono types at the best of times. Given the estimation of her earnings perhaps he recognized a fellow professional!
I had a good laugh at the “usual suspects” of the left though. Despite their earnest attempts to make this a “homeless” issue and blame the Harris Government, Canadian society and every other culprit in their twisted little minds, they wound up with more than a little egg on their faces after the true facts became known. Of course their cause wasn't helped by having some very nasty comments made by the true “street people” who, after all, are the real losers when it comes to this.
The other factor that tended to make a mockery of the left's rant was just how much money many of the normal Canadian people were putting into this ladies tin. I was astonished to hear of amounts up to $100 at a time!
Canadians are a generous society at the best of times but that is some amount to give out. Even if it was “guilt” money it is incredibly generous. And even more incredible is that it wasn't a one-off thing either. One woman apparently gave a regular $25 every payday! As she was a receptionist and not one of the high money people that is very generous. Imagine how that amount would go toward helping a true homeless person and not some con woman?
By the way, why do I only talk about money and not all the other kind acts of the local people like buying food and drink for the “shaky lady”? Well because, as seems to be the normal action of many of the panhandlers downtown, the food given was unceremoniously tossed into a local bin!
Which was an interesting lesson I learned some time ago. It is eye opening how often a panhandler turns down your offer of food. Try it sometime. It's how you can tell the difference between the truly destitute and those out to fleece you.
Mind you I do make an exception for the bum who honestly asks me for money to buy a drink. I don't know why but honesty appeals to me more than a story about missing a train or whatever other excuse is trotted out to remove my loose change from me.
The sad thing is that once more the rich streak of goodwill that exists in Canadians has been taken for a ride.
The real people who will suffer though are the real homeless who are going to be looked at with suspicion from now on. I, and many others, are going to be hesitant as to how much and whom we give our money to in future.
Even if God will bless us!
April 2nd 2002
My Daughter pointed out to me the other day that there are three words in Afrikaans, that most South Africans use, that just don't have a good translation into English. No matter how you try they really don't have the depth of feeling imparted when you use them that translates easily.
The three are “woes”, “gatvol” and “tjank”!
Think about them. Now try to get an English word that means the same with the same strong meaning when used as those.
I will use them in a sentence or two later to sum up my feelings about an aspect of Canadian society that has annoyed and amused me since I have been here.
Last week was the International Woman's Week. It culminated with the International Day of the Woman on Friday. Oddly enough in a country such as Canada which seems besotted with Woman's Rights, there was very little fanfare or even activity associated with this event and if it wasn't for the Toronto Star's sudden awakening on Friday I, and I am sure many others, would not have known that it was being celebrated. There appeared to be very little action taken at all.
Except by all the poor students who are forced to take “woman's studies” as a first year course at University that is!
The Star however did itself proud on Friday with a bombastic outburst of sexist ranting that totally made up for all the lack of comment earlier in the week. The Star is, at the best of times, subjective on all matters, but when it comes to all the trendy left wing causes it strives to outdo all others in the haste to show its bias.
So we were treated to page after page of feminist outpourings about what a hard life woman have in Canada. How unfair it all is. What a terrible tragedy it is living as a woman in Canada. How the sisters must gird their loins to fight the good fight to overcome male oppression.
Which is, to put it bluntly, bullshit!
In fact I am gatvol of how the women in this country tjank about their hard life.
About the only article that made sense to me was one written by an ardent feminist sixties warrior who was having a retrospective flashback to the “struggle” and how far they had come (apparently not far enough according to her!). The part that I particularly enjoyed in her little diatribe was the bit where, after having made a vitriolic little comment about today's women dressing in their power suits, yakking on the cell phone as they went to their Bay Street offices, she went on to ask;
“Is this what we fought so hard for? To be equal to men?”
Um…well yes! Wasn't that the whole point of “equality”?? Maybe not!
The irony in her statement was completely lost on her apparently.
It does of course put into question the whole feminist movements stated aims. She is after all fairly well accredited as a founding member of this or that Woman's movement and was a past President of the National Council of Women. So you can presume that her attitude is fairly indicative of the group speak in the circles she inhabits.
Which given the nasty comments about Bay Street women isn't likely to be any stockbrokers meetings for a while. Although most women on Bay Street don't read The Star anyway and are too busy making money to worry about jealousy. The Globe and Mail seems to be their preferred method of looking up stock movement.
Which sums up my point exactly. In Canada the whole “war of the sexes” has been won. By the women!
This country has almost reached a stage where it can be classified as a true matriarchy. Despite the fact that most of the visible figureheads in Government and business are men they are led by their collective noses by the powers behind the throne, which remain solidly female. And should there be no female in their life to take control then there are always the professional agitators and lobby groups to heap abuse, scorn and lawsuits on any hapless male who thinks that equality actually means equal.
In fact the women in Canada have not only achieved equality they have surpassed it in certain areas. Unfortunately not quite the areas that they should be proud about, but nevertheless they have certainly taken those wonderful male qualities of arrogance and rudeness and refined them to an extent that men never could!
Maybe that was what the Sister was talking about after all.
In the meantime there is an equality in Canada that surpasses most of the world's expectations and means that all women can, and are, accorded the opportunity to excel! Even at complaining! Which I might add they are mistresses at!
So what was the most important aspect of Woman's Day? What was the most important rally that was reported by the media in the evening news and over all the newspapers the next day? The despicable action most responsible for usurping the rights of the downtrodden mass of Canadian women?
Ah yes! The tax on Feminine Hygiene products!
The “TampTax” if you will.
Seems that paying tax for tampons and pads was the complaint of the day. A press conference was called whereby MP's and various “interested groups” had a lot to say about mans inhumanity to woman by keeping them in slavery every month by forcing them to pay taxes on what is after all a natural female function. Fascinating how feminists discover their feminine side when it suits them.
The upshot is that in true Canadian fashions petitions are now floating around demanding an end to male domination through the Tampon Tax.
I keep waiting for the women in this country to dress up as Indians, march down to the Toronto Harbour and tip boxes of tampons into Lake Ontario in protest. All the while chanting: “No taxation for menstruation!”
Except that, if you have to believe the TV adverts, then the absorbent quality would empty Lake Ontario, leaving what little fish haven't been killed by the chemicals, floundering around gasping for smog!
At which time maybe men would become useful at last, by trying to teach the fish to ride bicycles.
The most interesting part of this being that at no stage was any mention made about the tax on condoms. Which I would have thought fell quite squarely into the same category as tampons. Now that condoms are no longer the exclusive prerogative of males (thank God!) I would have expected them to be added to the list. The thought that occurs though is that a pregnant woman doesn't menstruate, so maybe this is the Governments way of giving females a tax break after all?
Of course feminists never realise how full of it they are, otherwise they could quite legitimately add toilet paper to the list of items that should have the tax taken off!
At which stage, and on behalf of all “stirrers”, everywhere I would join the crusade.
Meantime I will just get “woes” at the stupidity of it all!