Monthly Archives: March 2013

Jim Carrey Hits the Social Satire Bullseye With ‘Cold Dead Hand’

I swear that if the famous satirist Jonathan Swift were alive today, he would have a field day with the American addiction to guns. In all of recorded human history, I don’t think there has ever been any civilization that rivals the United States and its absurd lust for firearms, with the possible exception of Yemen, which leads the world in per capita gun ownership. The United States ranks second. A dubious badge of honour, indeed.

I’m not going to recite the litany of evidence based facts and figures about how many hundreds of millions of guns the Yanks have, or how many tens of thousands of innocent lives in their country are slaughtered or wounded every year in the perverse name of freedom to protect oneself from black UN helicopters and Barack Obama. Or how Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association must be the illegitimate totalitarian love child of Josef Stalin. It’s just too depressing for words.

I am glad to report that biting social satire against the lunatic American gun lobby is alive and well in the USA, and being led by a CANADIAN no less. Jim Carrey just released a music video on the Funny or Die website that makes a mockery of the late Charlton Heston (former president of the NRA). The song is called ‘Cold Dead Hand‘ and it’s a cutting rebuke.

In a clever reference. note that the band members are Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon, and Mahatma Ghandi, all of whom were assassinated by gunmen.

“The angels wouldn’t take him up to heaven like he planned, cuz’ they couldn’t pry that gun from his cold dead hand.”

The Grumpy Ferret

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The Story So Far

Probably one of the best pieces of advice I received about writing came from a chance meeting ten years ago with the great Canadian writer John MacLachlan Gray, the creator of the award winning musical production Billy Bishop Goes to War. An acquaintance introduced me to him at the Cheshire Cheese Inn on West Boulevarde in Kerrisdale. I told him I wanted to do more writing, and asked if he could provide me with any advice.

This is what he said:

Write. Just write. Grab a pen, a yellow pad of paper, find somewhere quiet, whether it’s a rock or whatever works for you, and just write.

It’s been almost seven weeks since I started The Grumpy Ferret. I wasn’t  sure how people would react to this blog, but so far I’m pleasantly surprised at how things have developed. One of my biggest worries was if  I’d be able to think of things to write about. Looking at the posts I’ve published so far, there’s no doubt that I have no problem finding something to say! If anything, I’m suffering from a surplus of ideas 🙂 After 1 1/2 months, the blog has been viewed 321 times and there are 14 people who decided to follow along. I’ve had visitors from Canada, the USA, Australia, France, and Germany. Thank you for the votes of confidence; I really appreciate it.  Knowing that I have a small audience of people expecting regular posts helps me to keep going. I’ve received some positive reviews from an extremely tough critic – my Mother! Believe me, this woman isn’t afraid to tell you if you write like crap – just ask my father the professional novelist!

Writing these posts helps me to discover my ‘voice’. It’s not easy to figure out one’s writing style. I try to write clearly, concisely, and hopefully with a tinge of humour. When I really care about something, my words become more passionate and I’m not afraid to use strong language without resorting to profanity. A friend asked me about this; I explained that I only use profanity in my writing when there is a specific need for it to emphasize a point. The English language is so vast; four letter words are really not necessary. Finally, I’m trying to strike a balance between posts that are light hearted and those that are serious. I don’t want to become consumed by the ‘Dark Side’ of blogging.

Sadly, the Cheshire Cheese recently closed after almost 40 years and is about to be demolished to make way for yet another high priced Vancouver mixed commercial/residential condominium project. I’ll miss their Emerald City Martinis and the fish and chips. But I won’t forget John MacLachlan Gray’s advice.

The Grumpy Ferret (Write. Just Write.)

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Public Safety Minister?

Cartoon by ROSEN (www.ipolitics.ca)

Cartoon by ROSEN (www.ipolitics.ca)

I’m sure most Canadian visitors to my blog are aware of the current situation regarding the illegal immigrants who were filmed by a production company doing a reality show based around the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). Over the weekend, it was revealed through an Access to Information request that permission for this filming was granted by the Minster of Public Safety Vic Toews. This blue nosed Conservative cabinet minister is the fellow who loudly proclaimed last year in the House of Commons that anyone who dared to disagree with his bill on internet security was siding with ‘the child pornographers’. The supreme irony is Sheriff Vic withdrew the bill after a huge public uproar.

I don’t like Vic Toews. He comes from a world of narrow minded people who want to tell everyone else what to do,  how to live, and what to believe. I wrote an e-mail to the Minister to let him know that I disagreed with his decision:

Mr. Toews.

 I’m writing this e-mail to express my complete disagreement with your belligerent position about approving the CBSA to be featured in a television reality show. You’re a pig headed fool who is using the plight of illegal immigrants to make the federal government appear to be tough on crime for the conservative supporters that elected you to office.

 Now, before you take out your ‘child pornographer paint brush’ to smear me as a left wing malcontent (which you seem so fond of doing to anyone who does not agree with your worldview), I agree Canada needs to be observant that legitimate refugee claimants and immigrants are offered every opportunity to apply for residency through a recognized due process. However, what you’re doing here is parading illegal immigrants in front of cameras like they were some form of ‘enemy combatant’. This is exploitation of those who find themselves in desperate circumstances.  Not only are these people being publicly humiliated, they’re forced to sign waivers they didn’t understand. As several of the illegals pointed out, nothing was explained to them by the CBSA or the production company about what they were signing.

 To put it in a law and order analogy, they’re signing confessions without someone explaining their rights. I believe the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has something to say about that.

 In closing, I’ll just say this. You, sir, are a callous bully. Autocratic people like you don’t scare me. I wish I could come to Parliament Hill and tell you in person what a mean spirited bastard you are.

I don’t expect any kind of response from the Minister.

The Grumpy Ferret (did I just hear the sound of horse hooves at my door?)

Stupid Human Tricks Part One (Or Why I Sometimes Think We’re Doomed)

I think that it’s part of the human condition to have weeks where you wonder if we’re truly doomed as a species due to our own greed and stupidity. I’m sure it’s covered in the owner’s manual that comes with each one of us when we’re born.

Wait a moment – What do you mean we don’t come with a manual? How about an app? Surely there’s an app for that?

What? No app either?!

Guinea Pigs - The Next Great Evolutionary Leap

Guinea Pigs – The Next Great Evolutionary Leap

In the last 72 hours, I’ve read, viewed, and witnessed FIVE instances of what I can only call greedy, stupid, thoughtless acts that make me wonder if it wouldn’t be better to wipe the slate clean of human beings and let another species have a go at being the dominant form of life on Earth. I vote for guinea pigs.

Exhibit #1: Global Greed

With the election of Pope Francis at the Vatican, there have been news reports about his concern for the plight of the poor in this world. I’m not Catholic; I have some very strong personal opinions about the church’s history and teachings. Do I believe in God? Yes. Do I believe in God as promoted and taught by organized religions? No. One fact I read this week in a news report was that 80% of the human population lives on less than $10 a day. This would mean that approximately five and a half billion people on the planet are desperately poor. But what about globalization and the shiny new consumer society which would raise everyone’s standards of living and let us all share in the good times? We’ve seen what has happened. The economic results of globalization have been profoundly unequal. Large corporations move their operations offshore to lower manufacturing costs and avoid inconvenient government regulations. A tiny minority of humanity controls the majority of the wealth derived from the global economy. Your sacred smartphone was made by a factory worker in China who is paid two dollars an hour. At the same time, Chinese superstitions about the potency of bear gall bladders, shark fins, and tiger penises is driving these endangered species to extinction, along with the African elephant because of overwhelming demand from China’s ivory industry for making tourist trinkets. By the way, the BBC reported earlier this month that approximately 100 MILLION SHARK FINS were harvested from the ocean in 2012. 100 MILLION SHARKS killed for the LUXURY of  putting their fins in a soup pot for ‘Good Luck‘.

With globalization came increased corporate and political corruption, increased environmental pollution and degradation of sensitive eco-systems, and massive populations of young people in developing countries who have no opportunities to better themselves. I believe North Americans don’t understand how much of the world doesn’t play by the rules. Democratic societies are a rarity in this world; authoritarian control, corruption, and humans rights abuses are the norm in many part of the globe. It galls me no end to see the poobahs of business and the sycophantic economic pundits earnestly promoting all things economic as the saviour of humanity while the opposite is proving to be true. It really feels like we’re being indoctrinated to accept a ‘false’ religion beamed at us 24 hours a day (cue visions of a golden calf and Charlton Heston as Moses).

Stay tuned for Part Two – coming soon!

The Grumpy Ferret (So shall it be written, so shall it be done!)

Stompin’ Tom Connors – A Canadian Original

stompin-tom-connors-stamp-600-030713When you ask yourself, ‘what does it mean to be Canadian’, the first thing that comes to my mind is the size of this country. You don’t know how big Canada is until you travel across it by land. I did it once, from the outports on the south coast of Labrador, across the country,  to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and north to Fort Nelson in BC. The immensity of Canada imprints itself, creating a sense of identity that becomes a part of you.

Canada is a big place; a really big place. Roughly 9,000 kilometres from east to west, 5,000 kilometres from north to south. The country is defined by its geography. My province, British Columbia, could eat California and still have room for Oregon and Washington State! BC has five mountain ranges and 17,000 kilometres of coastline. Our population is approximately 4.5 million people; 3 million live in southwestern BC and southern Vancouver Island.Yet despite its massive size, sometimes Canada feels like a being in a small town. There’s about 34 million of us, compared to the state of California which has a population of 37 million.

Canadians are quiet patriots. We do love this country, but we don’t wear it on our sleeves. Once a year on Canada Day (July 1st), we shed that well known Canadian reserve and show our pride. We celebrate the country through our music. There are so many great Canadian musicians who are well known around the world. But no one sings about Canada with more passion and pride than Stompin’ Tom Connors. The man in the black cowboy hat, boots, stompin’ foot, and that famous gravelly voice has passed away. It seems like Stompin’ Tom had been around forever, singing about Canada and his experiences. I remember when I first heard him sing the theme song for CBC’s TV program Market Place. That tune has stuck in my head for years!

Stompin’ Tom sang about the lives of ordinary Canadians and uniquely Canadian stories. His music was always there in the background of Canadian life, whether it was on the radio or television. Someone called him Canada’s version of Woody Guthrie, high praise to be sure. Perhaps that’s a fitting way to remember him. He will forever be a cultural icon that reminds us there’s more to Canada than its big cities where most Canadians live these days.

Oh, Canada! Standing tall together, We raise our hands and hail our flag, The Maple Leaf forever!

The Grumpy Ferret

(Margo’s got the cargo boys, and Reggie’s got the rig!)

Bratty Beast Bieber Needs a Swift Kick

I don’t know why I’m writing a post about Justin Bieber, the latest incarnation of estrogen fuelled adolescent angst to be marketed and sold like so many boneless chicken breasts in Safeway’s poultry section. Ho hum, another teen heart throb. Another cutesy poo boytoy for young girls to fantasize about. The pop music industrial complex hard at work churning out more Grade A teenburger for mass consumption. Never mind that it tastes and sounds like every other teenburger from decades past – it even has rockhard abs and a pompidore (oh wait – didn’t we see that look back in the 70’s? ).

Justin Bieber was discovered on Youtube almost five years ago. He’s from Stratford, Ontario (yay, Canada!). When he first popped up all chipmunk cute and freshly discovered, I thought ‘Good for you, kid! All power and success to you! Go for it’ He certainly has. He’s a huge success; I congratulate him for that. He earned his success. He earned his awards. He’s a mega-millionaire (grumble, grumble). He used his fame to help others and make little girl’s wishes come true to just meet ‘The Beebs’. I can’t fault him for that, nor would I.

Justin Bieber just turned 19. He’s not a teenybopper any more. He’s a young adult male now. Focus on the word ‘adult’. I remember being 19 once upon a time. I was thrilled. I could vote in a BC election. I could DRINK! I could stay out all night if I wanted to, no matter what my parents thought at the time (but seeing as they fed me, clothed me, let me live at home, and paid my university tuition, I wasn’t going to ruin a good thing!). Being an adult  means accepting responsibility for your actions. When you’re a major recording artist, it also means being considerate of your fanbase. Sadly, Justin is starting to show the signs of being a callow, self-absorbed  young man who needs a swift kick in the rear to knock him off his fantasy pedestal.

I speak of his Tuesday night no-show in London, England. The concert was to start at 8:30 pm Grenwich time. There were many parents there who brought their young daughters. Bieber didn’t start at 8:30 – he showed up at 10:30 pm. He was TWO HOURS LATE! TWO HOURS LATE! If he pulled this sort of stunt at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, we would have had a full blown hockey style riot in the streets. Imagine for a moment that you’re a father who brought your beautiful, bright eyed, Bieber crazed 11 year old to the concert of her life and then had to leave because he was late? To add fuel to the fire, Bieber claimed he was only 40 minutes late. What a pathetic, flippant excuse from this punk. Worst of all, he apologized to everyone through Twitter, which is the online refuge of cowards who won’t publicly step forward to accept responsibility for their actions in front of real living, breathing fans who paid good money to see the concert.

What do you say to a young girl whose dreams you crushed because you chose to abrogate your obligations to your fans by starting on time, or at least as soon as possible?

Shame on you, Justin Bieber.

An update (March 8): The Daily Beast website published an article about his week in London. Wearing a gas mask? Swearing and trying to punch out a paparazzo? Fainting spells at his concert? It just gets better and better.

The Grumpy Ferret (Who is being just plain grumpy today!)

We Heil! Heil! Right in Der Harper’s Face!

If you want to see me do an imitation of a rabid raccoon, just say the magical words, ‘Stephen Harper‘. My eyes go wide, I start growling, hissing, foaming at the mouth, and immediately want to bite someone so I can infect them with the same amount of loathing I have for our bland, pudgy, helmet haired Prime Minister 😦

Whenever I feel the feral madness coming on, I immediately go to Youtube and inject myself with a heavy dose of Donald Duck. You heard me – Donald Duck. I recently discovered an outrageously funny Walt Disney cartoon, ‘ Der Fuehrer’s Face‘, that was produced in 1943. The song became famous during World War Two; the cartoon even earned an Oscar! I wish I was a cartoonist, because I would just LOVE to see the faces of Herr Harper and his hapless caucus of Tory clowns being satirized. This cartoon sums up exactly what I think about the ‘Harper Government’ and its relationship with the Canadian public today.

Just to twist the satirical knife blade a bit deeper, here’s a biting scene from Spitting Image about the British Conservatives during a national election. I think it accurately reflects how the Conservative Party in Canada views the average Canadian voter. Notice how former Prime Minister John Major is portrayed as a bland, grey man. Remind you of anyone we know in the House of Commons?

I know what you’re thinking: what about the opposition parties? What do you think of them? One of the joys of being in opposition is you can come up with all kinds of great policy statements without providing any specific details about how you’re actually going to pay for it.

Quick! Stop me if you’ve heard this one before ! Justin Trudeau walks in to a TV studio and says to the host:

Not to love der Harper is a great disgrace! So we Heil! Heil! Right in Der Harper’s Face!

The Grumpy Ferret