Sunday, April 30, 2006

What's Your Sanity Quotient?

I've noticed that many blogs have the occasional quiz with catchy titles such as "What Kind of Drug Are You?" or "What Rejected Olympic Sport Would You Have Won Gold In?" or "Which Venereal Disease Are You?"

Curiously enough, I've been working on a quiz for many years as a quick tool to gauge relative sanity. This test works equally well on yourself as well as others, even complete strangers. This is important: who among us hasn't, say, been seated on a long flight next to someone who looks normal enough, but sometime between when the seatbelt light goes out and the drink cart starts to roll you sadly discover that you'll be elbow to elbow with Rush Limbaugh Jr. or Rosie O'Donnell for the next five hours? Forewarned is forearmed, I always say.

Here is a quick way to size up your own grip on reality as well as the relative mental stability of others. Since I don't possess SQL or PHP skills, I'll ask you to get your calculators out for this one.

Simply take the number of letters in your first name and divide by the number of letters in your surname.

If your result is:
One - you are most definitely obsessive-compulsive. Your parents' thing about symmetry has fucked you up permanently. Men should stop trying to piss the urinal mints into geometric shapes. Women of this sanity type tend to smile too much.

Even whole number - Bi-polar, but stuck at the depressed end of the scale because your family name is much shorter than your incredibly pretentious multi-syllable poly-hyphenated given name.

Odd whole number - Bi-polar, with huge swings not only in mood but political affiliation as well. The "Happy Trotskyite" phase of this disorder is particularly distressing.

Decimal (terminating) - Absolutely, completely, undisputably, categorically, undeniably, patently sane.

Decimal (repeating) - Persecution complex. You are overly protective of your genitals. Your best friend was someone called Walter Ego, but even he couldn't tolerate your whinging about how everyone has fucked you over.

Irrational Number - Relative mental stability, but addicted to pie. Narcissistic, with little to be narcissistic about.

No quotient because division by zero is not possible - Paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandure. Come on now, are you so famous that you think you can get away with only a first name, like Cher, Bono and Madonna? Get a freaking life, asshole! Even Jesus Christ has two names.

So, what is your sanity quotient?

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Zen of Being Shaved

The best pick-me-up in the world, as far as I'm concerned, is getting a shave at a barber shop. No matter how out-of-sorts, grimy, depressed and haggard I feel going in, I'm certain to leave floating on a cloud of foam and steel-induced bliss.

For those of you who haven't tried it, there is a whole ritual built around this particular aspect of male grooming. The barber's chair is reclined so you are more lying than sitting, and the barber places a scalding hot white flannel towel on your face. You lie still for a minute or so, and you can begin to feel the tension start to ooze away. If it is a particularly good barber (and I find Europeans are the best adherents to this tradition), the towel is discarded and the barber plies your cheeks and jowls roughly with both hands before putting a second steaming-hot towel on your face.

Out comes the mug and brush, and a layer of warm foam smelling faintly of Pine-sol is applied to your neck, cheeks and upper lip. The barber uses his fingers to push the work the cream into the moustache and sideburn areas.

The next sensation is auditory: the rhythmical swap swap swap of the straight blade razor as it is worked back and forth over the leather strop. It is at this time I remember that barbers originally were not hairstylists but bloodletters who would open up a vein to purge the system of unwanted humours. The red and white stripes on the barber pole outside traditional street barber shops are emblematic of blood and bandages, and harken back to the days of this profession's original purpose.

After the foam has set the facial hairs up properly and the straight blade is (hopefully) keen as possible, the actual shaving process begins. Most barbers begin with the neck, and I cannot describe the sensation of having a stranger hold a surgically sharp piece of steel right over your jugular except to say it is a moment of complete, almost delicious, surrender.

Shaving is a two-handed business: one hand on the razor scraping away foam and bristle while the other hand stretches the skin the make the beard stand up straight. Excess foam is wiped periodically on a towel drapped over the barber's shoulder, and he progresses from neck to cheek, then chin, upper lip and finally sideburns.

I once had a very assiduous barber who then reapplied foam and shaved me a second time, against the bias taking every bristle off seemingly beneath the skin. I highly recommend this, and it doesn't have to be for a special occasion.

After toweling off any stray foam, the finale is the application of an antiseptic lotion so sharp and astringent that your face seems to spring to life, revelling in its newfound self-awareness. The whole of this ritual is performed in silence and I like to do it with my eyes closed, which serves to focus the mind on tactile and olfactory sensations alone. It also adds to the solemnity of the proceedings and a sense of rebirth once the job is finished and you re-open your eyes.

Unfortunately, in this day of uni-sex hair salons, finding a barber who can shave you properly is becoming increasingly difficult. Freshly-minted barbers are much more likely to offer you a facial, perm or dye job than the centuries-old service of removing hair from your face and sending you back out the door a new man.

But for those of you who haven't had a shave and can afford the exorbitant prices charged nowadays, I highly recommend it.

[Ed. Note: This post is relatively late because I spent a long time looking for an appropriate graphic on Google Image Search. Key in "shaving" if you dare. Definitely NSFW, but the research was fun.]

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Inuttitut Language Lesson #1 - Swearing

We begin our introduction to Inuttitut with swear words because this is an easy lesson to learn: there is no profanity in Inuttitut.

Individual words in Inuttitut in and of themselves are all respectable. Inuit do not blush when hearing body parts being named. Excreta in all forms is part of the daily dialogue, and the one of the words for wife has the same root as the sex act itself.

This doesn't mean that Inuit don't curse, and invectives are voiced daily around my household with a flourish of words honed to flense the skin off the object of scorn and coloured with a tone capable of delivering a vocal slap in the face. But unlike in western cultures, no single individual word is considered as obscene and a forbidden part of the Inuit vocabulary.

My mother tongue, however, is making in-roads in the Arctic as in most other parts of the globe. My children speak to each other almost exclusively in Inuttitut, but when push comes to shove, as it often does with five children, English creeps insidiously into their conversation as an effective insult-delivery option. With my younger kids, it's nerd and the dreaded wannabe. The latter has me scratching my head because it has morphed into something roughly equivalent of asshole rather than meaning cheap imitation. The older children are now getting their toes wet in hardcore English profanity with bitch, but then this word is almost mainstream now and used unabashedly in sitcoms and night-time dramas on television.

Older youth and adults will use fuck you and fuck off from time to time, either as a standalone phrase or the closing verbal punctuation of a sentence. On the other hand you'll rarely hear elders swear, even those whose command of English is pretty good. The reason for this is neither propriety nor politeness: they know that single words by themselves cannot adequately convey meaning.

But then, Inuttitut has no words at all, at least in the western sense of "word". However we'll leave that subject for a future posting.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Northern Lights

A few nights ago it was very clear and moonless, and from my back porch I watched the aurora borealis weave its way back and forth across the dark heavens. This particular night they looked like the hem of some spectral robe as its wearer traversed the backdrop of an ink-black stage bespattered with a few stars. Not too colourful this time, but I was able to make out faint cotton candy shades of green and pink. They are notoriously difficult to photograph, so I am not able to offer you a picture of what I saw.

You would think that the Northern Lights would become mundane to someone living in the Arctic, but they are relatively rare. The night skies are frequently cloud-covered or hazy, obscuring these dancing lights from view. The half of the lunar cycle surrounding the full moon also banishes them, as the ephemeral nature of these nocturnal lights cannot compete with the strong glow of the moon. And as we move ever closer towards the night-bright Arctic summer, the sun dismantles the jet black backdrop required to view them.

The arsaniit, as they are called in Inuttitut, are best viewed far away from the lights of the community, and it is out on the land on those rare cloudfree, moonless lights of early fall or late winter that their majesty can be best appreciated. Away from human settlement, the aurora borealis are not ashamed to show off their full palette of colours, hues and tints. Their dance becomes more animated as well, and sometimes I've been struck by the crazy notion that they are rushing towards me, tumbling down from the skies. I am not alone in this weird sensation - Inuit legend has it that the arsaniit reach down from the skies and try to decapitate unfortunate noctural travellers.

Alone and far from home, the Northern Lights become almost malevolent and with sinister intention. They are aware of your presence and isolation, standing still as you gaze upon them but quickly darting around whenever you avert your eyes. Insanely, but true, they will dance if you whistle at them, and you can actually hear the rustling of their ephemeral garments as they move back and forth to your whistled urgings. No one has ever been able to make a recording of these soft sounds. But then, being alone you can imagine all sorts of things.

One of the things I imagine is that you can peer up the skirts of the these not quite solid celestial beings whirling overhead, but you can never see deep enough to learn their secrets. So we must content ourselves to stare, rapt but ignorant, at their horrible luminescent beauty.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

On Sleeping During a Blow

Last night* I got sea sick - in my own bed.

Houses in our part of the Arctic don't have fixed foundations - the heat transferred from the house through a conventional concrete footing would melt the permafrost with the result that the house would sink ever lower into a mucky mire. To prevent this, an insulating natural gravel pad is placed on top of the soil before a house is built, and the house is supported by a series of tripods (technically tetrapods) to keep the structure a good 2 feet off the ground. Follow this link to see some examples of houses in Nunavik.

The supports are never in perfect adjustment, and the house rocks and rolls like as if possessed by a massive poltergeist whenever the wind really starts to blow. My bedroom is on the second floor, and the lurching of the building is magnified at this higher altitude.

When lying in bed during a wind storm or blizzard, you do not feel a steady back and forth motion lulling you gently off to sleep. Rather, it's an irregular jarring and shaking about as the house reels in response to each buffet of the wind. After about half an hour of lying in bed wondering if they ever invented seat belts for mattresses, you get the strange sensation that you and your household are under attack. And these attacks can become quite violent: once when being pummeled by a particularly heavy gale I saw whitecaps in the toilet bowl.

No one else in the house appears to be bothered by this tilting to and fro. Yuri, my sometime lodger, seems to prefer it - "it's like good massage from Gorky call girl". He also described it, and I hope I'm doing justice to his analogy, as akin to sharing a bed with a drunken man and woman when they make love. I guess they suffered from a housing shortage in his home town.

But last night I got sea sick - in my own bed.

* Actually it was the night before, but thanks to Blogger, we're running a little behind schedule here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blogger Woes

I've given up on posting anything today due to the problems at Actually, I am a liar since I am intending to tempt fate and publish this entry anyways. But what I really mean to say is that I won't be publishing the fantastically witty story which I worked so, so very hard on at the first gleam of the morning twilight today.

Writing a post a day has been harder than I initially expected. In keeping up this pace I have discovered an obsessive-compulsive streak in myself which results in constant re-editing before I hit the "Publish" button - it seems I can't leave well enough alone and have to keep tinkering with each post until I run out of time and have to go to work. By nature I am a slob, so why does my blogging have to be as polished as possible?

At the same time it has been a lot of fun and your comments really do mean a lot to me.

So tune in tomorrow when and if Blogger has managed to put their hamsters back on the treadmills.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dear John:

It's been over a quarter century since John Lennon was felled in front of the Dakota Hotel in New York City. I remember thinking, selfishly, "Shit! There goes any chance of having a Beatles reunion", having missed them when they played Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.

Now it appears Mr. Lennon has put in an ectoplasmic appearance during a seance held at one of his favourite "haunts" in the Big Apple. And you, dear consumer, can watch it all on TV for the meagre sum of $20.16 CDN. The disembodied voice of the former Beatle has been captured on a tape recorder via Electronic Voice Phenomenon during a channeling session, but what he had to say is tightly under wraps until broadcast, understandable enough because it is hard to sell absolute shit.

But if Lennon's still floating around the ether somewhere, there are a few questions I would like to ask:
  1. Did you write Only Women Bleed and Women Are The Niggers Of The World because Yoko wasn't going to give any unless you did?
  2. During your bed-in for peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, were you actually composing "Give me, please, an advance" when someone suggested an alternate, less mercenary title?
  3. True or false? Norwegian Wood is about a fir-carved phallus.
  4. Did you ever dress up in drag with J. Edgar Hoover, and you were the mommy?
I'm sure you can come up with more questions. Just send along $100 per question (supplementary questions at the low, low bargain rate of $85) and I'll invoke my medium skills and email you back John's personal response to your queries. Act now, this is a limited time offer.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Why Do Women Do That?

Always the social psychologist, there is one thing about women that has always puzzled me more than any of the thousand other mysteries of femalehood. It's the "cover your mouth when laughing or surprised" reflex, witnessed especially in public. You know what I'm talking about, that involuntary thing women do with their hands when something amusing, embarrassing or shocking crosses their minds in the company of others. Just ask a female to say "oops", and you'll notice the arm beginning to twitch as it decides whether or not to bring the hand up to the face.

I have yet to see a man do it, even the most effeminate. And since it seems to be cross-cultural in scope, I think we can dispense with behaviourist notions of social conditioning.

It also appears to have nothing to do with being seen having mouth agape - my God! if keeping their mouths shut were somehow to give an evolutionary advantage to females, we men would be living in relatively blissful state free from endless nattering about cramps and the doings of men.

So I have two questions today for you, dear readers: why do women do this? and do men have a gender-specific reflexive response to social stimuli?

Friday, April 21, 2006

No Nookie - Just Hockey

Today is the start of the National Hockey League playoffs - a six week orgy of high intensity mayhem on ice culminating in the awarding of the oldest piece of sports hardware in North America, Lord Stanley's Cup, to whichever NHL hockey team manages to stave off elimination.

It is also the start of six week's of sexual abstinence throughout Canada and some parts (primarily blue states) of the United States. At this time of year, we men (and a growing number of women) have more important things to do than indulging our carnal instincts, at least those carnal instincts which don't involve drinking beer, high-fiving, farting, eating pizza and throwing things at the television set when our favourite team lets in a particularly soft goal.

I have the proof of the lack of sexual activity during this period:

[Graphic deleted may 5, 2006 at author's request. To see the chart, follow this link.]

Notice that February has the lowest birthrate in Canada of any month of the year. Now count out on your fingers the number of months between May (the month with the most playoff games) and February (the month with the lowest birthrate). The result is no coincidence.

Hockey is a game of extremes: speed, violence and artistry, all of which completely sap the last nanolitre of testosterone out of your system by the end of the game, which can often be a good five hours after the puck is initially dropped at centre ice. Couple this with the effect of swilling a dozen beers night after night, and the drop in the number of babies popping out in February is completely understandable.

Unlike football, (where the playoff games are on weekends), and baseball (which has a mercifully short playoff season), the NHL's annual quest for the cup runs night-after-night-after-glorious-night until the final championship round in June. Consequentially, hockey widows in Canada genuinely suffer much more than their counterparts in other sports. But their reward comes in spades in June, when the Stanley Cup is finally awarded and our libidos return to normal functioning.

Again, it is no coincidence that March, April and May have Canada's highest birth rates.

Go, Habs, Go!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Inuttitut is one of the few remaining aboriginal languages in North America. Various dialects are in use in Greenland, Labrador, Nunavik (Northern Quebec), Nunavut (Canada's eastern Arctic), Alaska and Canada's western Arctic. I can personally attest to its vibrancy: it is my children's mother tongue and is the language of preference in my household. It is the first language of education, the only language spoken on the local radio station, the language of the streets and a continuing source of bafflement and isolation for me.

Ashamedly, after two decades up here, my command of Inuttitut is limited to a few expressions, mostly to do with weather. My French is passable, and I learned Latin, Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse in university. But either from laziness, poor choice of priorities or an innate difficulty in learning a language radically different from European linguistic structures, I am absolutely useless in the primary language up here.

I do not understand 85% of what is said in my own house. One of the first principles of raising children is that kids will exploit mercilessly any advantage or weakness they can find in their parents. My offspring use my feebleness in Inuttitut to their own devious ends by hiding linguistically their plots to liberate spare coins from my pocket, the nature of their squabbles, their schemes, where they are going, and what is happening in their lives.

Sure, the English comes out around allowance time or if they want me to download an mp3. But otherwise I am often completely in the dark about most domestic matters from the mundane and trivial to the most serious.

Neuroscientists say learning a language is an excellent cerebral exercise to ward off senility as we grow older. But can an old bear learn new tricks?

I have therefore decided to take one last stab at learning Inuttitut. I do this not only to communicate better with my family, but out of respect to the people of this remote region who have kindly and patiently allowed a "foreigner" to live his life up here.

[Ed. Note: Tukisinnginamaa = I don't understand]

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Goodtime Charlie

Like the itinerant tinkers of years gone by, Charlie comes to our village twice a year to service sewing machines. I call him "Goodtime" because, even though a teetotaler, he always brings a crock or two of vodka along with him as a gift for me in exchange for a couple of nights under our roof.

Now most people would think that given the astronomically high cost of travel up here, coupled with the very small population, it would make sewing machine repair an unfeasible commercial proposition. However, given that every house has at least one sewing machine, and often more, I suppose Charlie gets by alright. I've heard rumours that he "supplements" his income while on his trips up here, but I've never seen anything, and I don't pry. After all, free vodka is always appreciated.

Charlie's real talent lies in repairing old manual handcranked Singer sewing machines, popular up here for sewing up home-made tupiqs (tents) and tarpaulins which would burn out most electric machines. As well, they are useful in camps where there is no electricity.

Anyways, Charlie's role in my house, albeit only an occasional one, and in addition to bringing me vodka, is to fix the odd toy, household appliance or tool which has managed to get itself mangled since his previous visit.

And this brings me to the saga of the electric blender, a regular patient of Charlie.

"Don't tell me you've managed to fuck up the blender again", Charlie complained. "Last time I told you the motor was getting old, and you shouldn't push it too far with your fucking fancy ice drinks".

"I drink my liquor with water only, you know that", I bristled. "But if the bloody blender is on its last legs, I might as well throw it out. We hardly use it and it takes up too much counter space".

Well, the thought of disposing of a broken appliance without trying to fix it first was anathema to Charlie, and an affront to his professional dignity. "Don't be too hasty", he said. "I might be able to coax a few more months out of her anyways". Despite my urging to forget about it, he focused on the blender like Scotty trying to wheedle a few more units of thrust out of the warp drive on the Starship Enterprise despite a perilously low dilithium supply.

"Well, there's your problem", he proclaimed a few minutes later. "Two of the screws holding the motor mount have fallen out. Must be stripped". So he pulled out a few jam jars worth of nuts, bolts and washers he's managed to cannibalize from defunct sewing machines to look for a replacement, but quickly came to the conclusion that they were all too small.

"Just throw the fucking thing out", I reiterated and returned to work, thinking that was the end of the matter.

When I returned home at supper time, the blender had returned to the counter top, cleaned up a little and plugged into the wall. I gave it a whirl on a couple of settings, and it seemed to work fine. So Charlie had prevailed again. I like to offer him some token money for his repair efforts and he usually refuses, but this time he accepted my twenty, saying "that bugger kept me busy most of the afternoon".

About a week later when Charlie was long gone I discovered that a screw was missing from each of the two light switch covers in the kitchen. This puzzled me greatly, until I remembered the blender. "Damn obsessive bastard!" I thought, after putting two and two together.

I think I'll puree his balls the next time he comes through, that is, of course, unless he brings vodka.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Taking in Laundry

I'm not in a particularly good mood this morning, after having spent the entire doubly-long long weekend trying to complete a contract to paint the office in which I work.

It seemed like such a good idea last July when I submitted a bid - what's easier than slapping a few coats of paint on some walls and walking away with some cash? Unfortunately, I had not factored in the time to be spent on manhandling enormous file cabinets (wonder what they have in there to make them so heavy), discovering holes and gashes which need extensive plastering, masking incredibly warped walls, and trying to paint 9-foot walls with a 2-foot step ladder. It's enough to put anyone off latex for life (oops, perhaps I've said too much here).

So nearly 9 months later I am making a concerted effort to complete the contract and send in my invoice. This means having to go in to today work three hours early to peel masking tape (which usually rips away the edges of my newly-applied paint), reconnecting phone and ethernet cables, wrestling with office furniture, and cleaning up the paint drips off the floor.

I had big plans for this money - additional computer equipment, a few nights in Montreal, massage therapy. But now my earnings will quickly transport themselves from my bank account into the cavernous pockets of a root canal specialist. I hate dentists, but I love my teeth more.

Enough of my complaining. For those of you who haven't seen this animation yet, I find it always uplifting and well worth the watch: French Erotic Film. Have a good morning.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hassenpfeiffer Hell

In our local store, on the freezer shelf, sits, or rather lies, a pair of rabbits. At least I think they're rabbits, but they could be cats or badgers. With their legs stretched out fore and aft, they seem to be in a state of suspended animation frozen as they made a futile bid at freedom before their necks were rung. If science in the future ever perfects reanimation after cryonically-induced stasis, this pair might luck out because absolutely no one in town has the remotest interest buying them.

I have never tasted rabbit or hare due to a childhood trauma associated with rabbits.

One of my friends had received a bow and arrow set for his birthday, and we were all itching to try it out. Being about twelve years old, we quickly became bored with shooting targets (probably becuase none of us could hit it even from ten yard's distance). So the obvious escalation was to live targets.

We prowled the ravine which backed our housing development for big game, little game, or anything breathing. We tried shooting birds in trees but quickly abandoned avian prey since the arrows were nigh on impossible to retrieve and our supply in the quiver was quickly dwindling. Besides, none of us could hit the broad side of a barn, and attempting to hit something that small was statistically improbable.

Rounding a bend in the path, we were startled to see a rabbit sitting motionless in a little meadow. Like veteran huntings, we came to an instant stop, and exchanged "should we or shouldn't we" glances at each other. Not able to achieve a telepathic consensus, my friend holding the bow decided to take unilateral action, drew, and shot the rabbit.

Poor, unfortunate rabbit. Its head became the only target we were able to successfully hit that whole afternoon. Straight through the head, with equal portions of arrow protruding symmetrically on either side of the skull.

As city boys we learned two important lessons that day - things do not die instantly like in the cartoons. And that rabbits cry like babies when they are injured. Bawling away, the rabbit hopped around frantically for what seemed like an eternity, and after about half a minute crawled under some brush to give up the ghost, arrow still lodged macabrely between its ears.

Shamed by the cruelty of what we had collectively perpetrated, we just left our first trophy there, arrow in situ, and returned to our houses shamefacedly like the guilty, Bambi's-mother-murdering criminals we were.

As an avowed meat-eater, I still to this day cannot pull a trigger on an animal, though I suppose I could if I was hungry enough. And I still won't eat rabbit.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Jesus Saves - the Retail Sector

Last night I was reading the unlinkable The Bitch is Back, wherein NunyaBusiness* decried the crass commercialism surrounding Easter and the relatively lower billing Passover gets in the stores of America.

We are all aware how much retailers rely on Christmas to turn red ink into black, but surely not Easter, the most solemn and dignified of Christian holidays?

So I googled "Easter Sale" and came up with 2.9 million links. Thinking to refine the search parameters a tad more, I threw "Christian" into the mix and was shocked to find 44,400 sites, most of which are Christian on-line retailers, whoring the Easter celebration for all it's worth for Mammon's sake.

I was amused to learn I could buy Christian board games such as "Catholic-opoly", the object of which is "to build as many churches and cathedrals as possible in order to help spread the word of the Lord". Not that the Catholic Church can populate most of the churches it has now. Or how about "Mormon-opoly", which has a very similar goal, "to build as many chapels and stake centers as possible in order to help build the kingdom of God".

I'm not mocking anyone's religion or spiritual beliefs - I only despise hypocricy and greed.

But let's just imagine, for a moment, that Christmas and Easter have maxed out their retail potential. What other retail sales could adopt the mantle of Christianity and further propel the retail juggernaut? Here's a few suggestions:
  • Twelfth Night Midnight Madness Sale: Be a wise man! Our doors open at 10:00 PM. Prizes for the best magi costumes. Forget about the frankincense and myrrh, just bring your gold.
  • Palm Sunday Clearance: You'll be blown away by our popular line of Christian erotic toys at low, low discount prices.
  • 40 Days in the Wilderness Extravaganza: Wander over to our site, and take advantage of our devilishly low prices! You'll be tempted to shop for months.
  • Pentecost Fire Sale: You'll have no trouble understanding our great, great bargains. Go forth and spread the word.
  • Walking on Water Liquidation: All our swimwear must go. A great selection of thongs still available.
I want to conclude by saying that, as a Christian, my balls get in a twist whenever I see people manipulating spirituality for monetary gain. While Dante condemns hypocrits to the sixth ditch of the eight circle of Hell, I can only hope that they will experience a fiscal bankruptcy on a par with their moral one.

Actually, I retract that last comment. I just want to say that Christianity, in many of its colours, is in dire need of a vigourous reform movement or risk descending once again into the excesses of the mediaeval Catholic Church.

* BTW, NunyaBusiness, "Passover Sale" only yielded a paltry 662 sites on Google. I for one take my hat off the those of the Jewish persuasion for resisting mixing religion with mercantilism.

Harper Puts Gag Order on Military

You have probably noticed by now that I have a hard-on about Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his dangerous hidden agenda. Since this preoccupation threatens to turn The Whitebear's Blog into something a little too provincial for its vast international readership, I have decided to create a second blog in the near future entirely devoted to my obsession with Harper and the death of democracy in Canada.

But I just couldn't restrain myself in the interim when I came across an article this morning reporting that our leader has declared that all speaking engagements by senior military brass will have to be approved first by the Prime Minister's Office. In addition, the texts of these speeches must be reviewed and edited by Harper's inner circle, a process expected to take 4 months.

When asked to relay this message to other senior officers in the Canadian military, Chief of Defense Staff Rick Hillier held a closed door session without notes "in an effort to avoid leaving a paper trail on the discussion", according to a source "close" to Hillier.

Come on, fellow Canadians, it's time to take the gloves off (mandatory hockey figure of speech) - we have a real peril right on our doorsteps.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Brown Shirts Infiltrate Canadian Bureaucracy

In order to write this post and keep it as inoffensive as possible, I have spent the last 15 minutes outside bellowing as many curses, expletives and viturperatives into the wind in a vain attempt to get overly offensive diction out of my system before putting fingertips to the keys.

I am also aware that for most readers of this humble personal journal the subject of Canadian politics is a sure fire way to prompt an instantaneous outclick to the next blog. I am certain that most of you have already done so.

But I am so beside myself with rage I cannot help myself, and must press onwards with this diatribe. My apologies in advance.

As I indicated a short while ago in a previous post, the recent election of the Conservative Party of Canada was about to inflict upon this nation a secret fascistic agenda. Not one week later, it appears that the muzzling of free speech has already reached a new level.

An Environment Canada scientist, as a private citizen, wrote a novel concerning global warming entitled Hotter than Hell. He was invited to discuss his book publicly at the National Press Club in Ottawa this past week, but was ordered by his department not to. Canadian Tory prime minister Stephen Harper was later quoted as declaring "I obviously not only hope, but expect, that all elements of the bureaucracy will be working with us to achieve our objectives".

There were some early indications of Harper's obsessive-compulsive desire to control free speech. Cabinet minsters have been warned that they will be dumped from their portfolio should they make any public remark which deviates from the official Tory party line. As well, all letters to editors have to first be approved by the Prime Minister's Office. His personal director of communications recently stated she didn't think "the average Canadian cares [about reduced media access to cabinet ministers]".

It is very ironic that the first plank in the government's electoral platform was presented to Parliament last week, the so-called Accountability Act, promising a more open and transparent government for Canadians.

Mark my words, this is only the start.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Good Friday. The most solemn day of the Christian liturgical calendar. A day when prophesy is fulfilled and all us sinners are redeemed.

I like Good Friday and not just because of its significance and the fact it is a holiday. I like Good Friday's style. Not content to fall on the same day of the calendar year after year, Good Friday picks and chooses its occurence annually seemingly willy-nilly anywhere from the last week or so of March through to mid-April. This capriciousness is very appealing to someone as disorderly and scattered as myself, who basically does things when the mood strikes and I'm not quick enough to avoid the blow.

Regular readers will notice I am somewhat obsessed with lunar phases, and so is Good Friday. It occurs on the Friday before the first Sunday after the first full moon after the sun on its northward journey passes directly over the equator. Complicated, but so am I.

I didn't always like Good Friday. In the days of my adolescence in Montreal it was the only day in the year when the Quebec licensing laws closed the bars, from midnight to midnight. The liquor establishments in this province stay open until 3:00 AM, and were allowed to open their doors the first second after the stroke of midnight on Saturday. So 11:45 PM on Good Friday precipitated a mad dash down to the local discotheque or pub for three hours of binge drinking before they closed again. So much liquor, so little time.

This annual race was as exciting as any LeMans start. With a night's worth of pent-up partying just oozing to be released, we were entombed in our parents' houses by lack of anywhere to go, eyes on the clock, the hands of which seemed to slow down Dali-esque as they approached the midnight hour. Then all it took was the sound of a single car's engine peeling down the road driven by some trembling teenager who could no longer take the strain. This triggered a mass opening of doors, spilling hordes of youth out onto the streets, piling into cars, grinding their starters, and laying rubber on asphalt as everyone sped to the bar of their preference for a few precious hours of blessed release until the cock crowed thrice.

Now, all is secular, and Quebec's bars serve 365 days a year. Good Friday is no longer a lenten day when the government forces us to give up alcohol and disco mirth.

Somehow, the years get less charming the older I get.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"Looks like we're in for nasty weather . . ."

Must sign off until Good Friday. If I'm still in one piece I'll have a good story to tell.

Anally Inventive

I usually troll the dark sites of the Internet looking for instructions for how to make zip guns, poison-injecting umbrellas, pipe bombs and thermite. I guess it makes me feel dangerous, manly, radical or something. It was during one of these research sessions that I recently discovered a how-to site outlining, in meticulous step-by-step pictorially documented precision, how to make a piece of shit using your USB port.

Now this is not to say that your computer actually crafts a pooey morsel from raw materials; however, the the shit my computer has been spewing lately on a daily basis leads me to believe mine has already developed that capacity. Rather, using an ersatz lump of crap purchased at any novelty store, it taps the computer's power supply via the USB port to create a dazzling, hundred points of light, glow in the dark fecal masterpiece.

While this site deals with the how, it doesn't delve into the why. Just what induces a mind to look at a piece of fake poo and think, hmmm . . . all this baby's missing is to drill it out, run a few dozen pieces of fibre-optic cable through it, add an LED and stick that mother into a computer?

Now we all know that Edison spent his formative years trying to invent a copper clad dog turd battery, and da Vinci's notebook has illustrated designs for a shit-firing cannon commissioned by the doge of Venice.

But the USB turd has no functionality that I can determine, unless I'm missing the point. So is this a case of art for art's sake, or can it actually be used for something? And for those of you with a more inventive mind than mine, can you think of ways to pimp it?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Farewell to the Northwest Passage

We Canadians pride ourselves for living in the "True North Strong and Free", although most of us live within 100 kms of the American border and only a very small percentage have ever been north of the tree line. But we'll be damned if we are going to let any other country take a maritime short cut across our arctic archipelago without our permission.

The recently-elected Conservative government has come up with a brilliant strategy to protect our arctic sovereignty. Feeling that the name "Northwest Passage" was too international in connotation, they have now renamed the waterway, hold on to your hats, the Canadian Internal Waters. This sounds more like a bladder than a commercial seaway.

With global warming affecting arctic ice in a big way, the virtually unnavigatable Northwest Passage may become ice-free during the summer as early as 2015.

Beginning with Martin Frobisher in the 16th century, the idea of being able to sail through the Canadian Arctic to connect Europe with the Orient was an obsession which frustrated the attempts of all who attempted to find this fabled waterway, and claimed the lives of more than a few foolhardy explorers.

In 1904, Norwegian Roald Rasmussen finally was finally able to sail from the Atlantic through to the Alaskan Coast of the Pacific, taking three years to complete the journey. And it was not until 1944 when an RCMP schooner, the St. Roch, managed to sail the Northwest Passage in less than a year. But now this east/west route is seeing renewed interest.

While other nations protect their domestic territoriality with military bases and government-established communities, we Canadians protect our national interests with a pen and a gazeteer.

I believe the next step in scaring away foreign multinationals and governments envious of our natural resources is to rename our country the Uninviting Land with No Commercial Potential Whatsoever.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Who was it said: "Prohibition - they tried it on TV and it didn't work"?

The puritanical, fascistic, hypocritical tin pot dictators in this town with their $75CDN/month alcohol order limit have won. Their war of attrition against the respectable tipplers and their tacit support for bootleggers has simply worn me out, and the white flag of surrender droops listlessly from my front door post.

Last night, while walking around town in the moonshine pondering the unfairness of it all, an idea started brewing in my mind. All was still, and droplets of liquid inspiration condensed on my brow. Then it hit me like a bolt of white lightning: perhaps it is time to change my whole perspective on the issue.

Yessiree, from here on in it will be nothing but water which passes this bear's lips. Pure, tasty, distilled water. Home distilled, I might add. I've managed to download a couple of sets of plans for my water home distillation unit, and Yuri is pretty handy with a welding torch. All that remains is to order some stainless steel pots, piping and stainless steel welding rods and I figure within the month we'll have her up and dripping away. And I'll never be thirsty again!!

Do any of you out there have any recipes for distilled water?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The First Qupanuak of Spring

The snow bunting's arrival in our village is a harbinger of spring, much the same as the robin is for those living in southern climes. This morning, despite a windchill of -20 C, I saw my first flock of a dozen or so intrepid qupanuak (pronounced who-PAN-oo-ak) flitting between the houses. This means the snow will only linger in town for another 6 weeks or so, and another winter will be put out of its/my misery. And not a moment too soon since I seem to have lost my mitts and don't want to spring for another pair until next October.

The return of the snow buntings has put me in a contemplative frame of mind as I realize that Nature's annual wheel is actually going somewhere after seemingly spinning its tires like a truck in a snowdrift for the last six months of whiteness, cold and darkness. There is a natural cycle of things, endlessly looping for milennia, which creates an ineffable rhythm for our daily existence.

Here is my northern Almanac based on many years' close observation:
JANUARY - Snowstorms and darkness.
FEBRUARY - More snowstorms and darkness.
MARCH - Yet even more snowstorms. But at least it is bright enough to tell visibility is zero/zero.
APRIL - The first days on the plus side of zero. A bumper crop of six month's of dog shit slowly appears.
MAY - Night time virtually disappears except for twilight. Children roam the streets 24 hours a day à la Dawn of the Living Dead.
JUNE - Geese migrate north. Cue the sounds of honking and shotguns.
JULY - Sea ice breaks up by the first week of this month. Freighter canoes in the water 15 minutes after.
AUGUST - First construction workers arrive. Massive spike in the local birthrate nine months hence.
SEPTEMBER - Geese migrate south. Cue sounds of honking and shotguns.
OCTOBER - First snowflakes fall. Snowmobiles reawaken after short hibernation.
NOVEMBER - Aurora Borealis (northern lights) at their peak. Temperatures plummet while cabin fever begins to set in.
DECEMBER - Darkness descends. Drinking begins.

[Ed. Note: I don't want to hear any complaints about the picture accompanying this post, which is actually of an English snow bunting. Ours have darker plummage at this time of year, but Google Image Search has seen fit to only propose British ones for my piracy. Bastards.]

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Conservative Party of Canada, or Bedlam Redux

It's started. Since the recent election of the Conservative Party, my fears of Canada drifting into a no-man's land of ideologically deranged governance are being realized.

The first proof? The denial of a modest $40k grant by the federal government to a McGill University professor who proposed to study the effects of Intelligent Design philosophy on Canadians' view of evolution theory. Pretty reasonable and benign, wouldn't you say?

The reason offered by Industry Canada (a federal department) for this rejection? The professor had not provided "justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of evolution, and not intelligent design theory, was correct".

I am not going to weigh into the Darwinist/Creationist debate, and I am usually quite tolerant of divergent view points. But shit on a stick! What neo-con addled asswipe came up with the notion that evolution needed to be proven? Sure, theories change and adapt themselves to new data and discoveries. Sometimes we even throw them out the window as contradictory evidence presents itself. However, to declare that evolution is an unproven theory on par with intelligent design is as ideologically-driven a statement as they come.

So what next on the Conservative agenda? Trimming the health budget by reintroducing leechcraft and bloodletting? Funding the Flat Earth Society? Removing all books from schools, universities and public libraries containing evidence that man was not coeval with the dinosaurs, as our current Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day asserts?

Mark my words, this is only the start.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bad Dog!!!

Last night in bed I thought of The Phosgene Kid. Not erotically, I must hasten to add, but for reasons which will become evident as you read this missive.

I have an aging Labrador named Papu. Anyone who has ever owned a Lab will agree that they are highly intelligent; unfortunately, along with intelligence comes deviousness and a generally sneaky disposition.

In my village, people store frozen "country food" such as caribou, seal and fish in their porches and shacks. These comestibles are economically important to most families up here, and make up most of the daily diet. Unfortunately for them, and luckily for my dog, the doors to these natural freezers are not always closed.

To make a long story short, someone let the dog out, and she slunk around the neighbourhood looking for a free scoff. She must have made off with some seal meat or fat, and I saw her return towards our house, tail guiltily drawn up between her legs, and mouth full of something vaguely edible. Despite my best efforts to get her back into the house (coaxing, banging her food dish, swearing and heaving things at her) it took me a good three hours to finally get her inside, by which time she had gorged herself.

Flash forward to my bedtime. I was gently drifting away into a daydream of skillfully circumventing the alcohol restrictions up here, when my olfactory nerves suddenly recoiled in a shock far worse than than sniffing pure ammonia. Where the fuck was that stench coming from?

There is nothing viler in this world than dog farts, but the vilest of the vile are dog farts when the canine in question has eaten seal or walrus meat. We are talking about a sinus-searing, paint- peeling, tear-inducing, stomach-wrenching, panic-inducing, gag-reflex-producing, nostril-cauterizing odor so incredibly hideous that I would rather have died from oxygen starvation than draw another breath.

What to do? What to do? I kicked her out of the bedroom, but she nosed her way back in shortly thereafter (got to fix that door catch). I moved to various couches and vacant beds around the house, but she followed, suffering from canine geriatric separation anxiety syndrome or something. I couldn't chain her outside for the night because she barks incessantly at rival dogs, both real and imagined, and I could picture my neighbours reach for old Mr. 22 by the time midnight rolled around.

So I opened my window, put on an extra blanket, and suffered. And thought of the Phosgene Kid and his gas mask.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In Praise of the Peculiar

The answer to the question posed in yesterday's post concerning the name of the now über-famous musical artist who wrote and recorded a song about a cemetary worker is David Bowie. A tip of the hat goes to The Wrath of Dawn, who ably demonstrated her tremendous, may I say, almost encyclopaedic command of the obscure and underappreciated.

The track, Please Mr. Gravedigger, was sung a cappella. Here's a few lines:
Please Mr. Gravedigger, don't feel ashamed
As you dig little holes for the dead and the maimed
Please Mr. Gravedigger, I couldn't care
If you found a golden locket full of some girl's hair
And you put it in your pocket.
I actually prefer Bowie's first three albums to all his output after Hunky Dory. Not yet famous, not yet a fashion clothes horse, his first songs were original, ironic, poetic and challenging. But like Elvis Presley, once he donned sequins, his creativity went down the tubes and he became much more about style and definitely less about substance.

Reflecting upon my trivia challenge, it dawned on me just how much of my musical soundscape is populated by the weird, the wacky, the obscure, the profane, and the downright unintelligible.

Here is a (very) shortlist from my i-Tunes library to illustrate my point:
  • Tubas in the Moonlight (Bonzo Dog Doodah Band)
  • Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop (Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band)
  • Fire (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown)
  • Untutored Youth (Hives)
  • Coca Cola Douche (Fugs)
  • Third Uncle (Brian Eno)
  • Wanking in a Winter Wonderland (Masturbate for Peace)
  • Corporate Slut (Selfish Cunt)
  • Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues (Stormtroopers of Death)
  • Tillicum (Syrinx)
  • Nowhere Man (Tiny Tim)
  • Deborah (Tyrannosaurus Rex)
  • 9th and Hennepin (Tom Waits)
  • I'm a Christmas Tree (Wild Man Fisher)
  • Ruby in the Skies (with Diamonds) (William Shatner)
  • The Ballad of the Skeletons (Allan Ginsberg)
  • You Ain't No Streetwalker, Momma Honey, But I Sure do Love the Way You Strut Your Stuff (Taj Mahal)
Despite the fact that (most of) these tracks are excellent in their own right, I feel it is my own particular way of thumbing my nose at conventionality. Not to mention an excellent way of clearing my house of unwanted children and visitors.

I'm certain that most of you have a favourite song which is not, well, appreciated by anyone else but you. I invite you to share your personal musical treasures with the rest of us in the "Comments" section.

By the by, if you are intrigued by musical arcana, visit Stuart Marconie's Freak Zone on BBC 6 for three hours (streaming) of pop's peculiarities from the last four decades. The current week's show is always available.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My First Dead-end Job

One summer in Montreal I worked in a graveyard.

My duties involved none of those hard-core activities you'd naturally associate with cemetaries, to whit the burying, the digging up, the stealing of jewelry, the necrophilia and the like. I earned my minimum wage by mowing grass, planting flowers on graves, and generally tidying up. Looking back, I like to call this my flower-power/proto-goth period.

I'd like to make two points. First off, all people who work in graveyards for any good length of time become stark raving mad. This is one of the few literary and film stereotypes which holds any water in the real world. Complete with the dour, unshaven faces, obsessive compulsive behaviour, lack of hygiene (especially involving handkerchiefs) and generally anti-social perspectives on the world, I made sure none were standing anywhere near when I passed by an open grave.

My second observation is that adjacent graves, identical in all respects, can have totally opposite soil characteristics. This I learned by having to dig with my hands and transplant literally thousands of flowers over the course of the summer. Some grave beds were warm, soft and yielding to my hands. Others were cement-like and almost required a jack hammer to make a hole large enough to plunk in a pansy or two. I eliminated all possible variables to account for this phenomenon, and could only conclude that the once-time personality of the grave-plot's inhabitant rubbed off on the soil surrounding the coffin.

Now the inevitable graveyard trivia question: which pop mega-star wrote a ditty about a cemetary worker? The correct answer tomorrow. No prize - just a hearty round of applause from this humble scribe.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Nanuk's Paradox

During my high school career, I was an attention whore.

It didn't much matter whether I slaked my thirst for the spotlight by debating everything the teacher had to say - "I'm sure the Prussian army numbered 45,000, sir, not 30,000" - or attracted the gaze of my fellow classmates through the standard bra-strap snaps, stink bombs, SBD farts, sheep eyeball tricks, ear pings, etc. I just had to be centre stage at all times.

One night when I was fifteen, I learned from a television show that, through logic, any and all motion was not possible. Instantly seizing upon the ramifications of this paradox for shining the classroom spotlight brightly on yours truly, I immediately vowed to bring this conundrum to the attention of my fellow pupils and teacher the next day.

Never being one to wait, I decided to unleash my logic bomb on my first class - science - which was taught by our football coach. Now Coach was not at his finest first thing in the morning. It usually took him until after lunch at the tavern to balance the chemical equations in his blood brought about by his drinking from the previous night. So, after I contrived to knock over a couple of beakers, he curtly said "Take them out to the garbage bins".

"I can't do that, sir".


"It's impossible", I replied, barely being able to contain my glee at the chance to demonstrate my intellectual prowess for the class.

Since he didn't ask why I couldn't take two broken beakers out through the doors to the garbage bins, and only stared at me blankly, I decided to forge ahead anyways.

"You see, sir, let's say it would take me two minutes to walk over to the bins. Now in order to accomplish this I would first have to walk half way there. And to walk half way there, I would logically have to first walk a quarter of the way there."

I paused, he continued to stare blankly, but undaunted I pressed on.

"And to walk a quarter of the way to the office, I'd have to walk an eighth of the way there, and a sixteenth, and a thirty-second, and a sixty-fourth and so on and so on and so on.

"So, you see it is quite impossible for me to walk through an infinite number of points in a finite length of time. Therefore, it is truly impossible for me to take these out to the garbage".

I learned very quickly, however, that it was evidently quite possible for a blackboard brush to fly 35 feet and hit me square in the forehead in less than half a second. Apparently Coach did not live by the laws of physics as those governing my universe.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Mr. President, a question please!

My wife's truck (our only vehicle) has been stuck in a snowbank unable to start for the past couple of weeks. I decided to enlist the assistance of my lodger Yuri in removing the starter, which I had deduced was the most likely cause of the problem.

I always like to have someone else do any actual manual work, preferring to apply my superior intellectual talents to advise, supervise and criticize. And Yuri is up for any challenge.

We were both flat on our backs under the pick-up and he had just finished disconnecting the primary ignition from the solonoid, when he suddenly stopped and said: "Nanuk, when you meet President Mr. Bush, what question you ask?"

"Yuri, I wasn't planning to go to Washington, and even if I did happen to bump into him wandering around the tundra up here, I'm certain that he would skate around the issue in a baffling maze of half thoughts and half truths".

"No no. I mean he must to give you honest straight goods answer, no matter if you ask crazy question".

Realizing now that Yuri was envisioning a hypothetical set of circumstances, the most hypothetical of which was that Bush would actually give a straight, honest, intelligible answer, I started to think.

"Mr. Bush, is it true you let Bin Laden escape when you were bombing the shit out of those caves in Tora Bora because the American people would perceive his capture as the end to the war on terror?"

"Mr. Bush, did you put the CIA up to the attempted coup against Chavez in 2002 to secure Venezuelan oil?"

"Mr. Bush, is it true you lied to Tony Blair to get the British on side for your Iraq invasion?"

"Nanuk", interjected Yuri impatiently, "You one radical bolshevik dude. Pass me half inch socket".

Wondering what he was up to, I decided to ask Yuri directly: "So, my friend, what would you ask President Bush?"

"What name tractor he drive on Texas farm".

"Why in hell's name would you ask him that?", I parried back.

"You can tell loads 'bout peoples by tractors they drive. Oh no! Gears fucked. Need new Bendix. Sorry, Nanuk", he replied.

I decided to let the matter rest there. Some of life's mysteries are better left unexplored.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Daylight Savings Time - A Capitalist Plot

In the Arctic, daylight savings time is nothing short of an absurdity. It's only a few weeks after the first day of spring, but already we have about 16 hours of daylight and twi-light. And by the time we reach mid-May, night-time darkness will only be a memory.

I don't know of how many of you are kept awake at 3:00 AM by kids, and I mean really young kids, playing out in the streets in hordes. But I can tell you that by the time of summer solstice, I would kill for a couple of hours of night. Deep, dark, ebony-flavoured night.

So I ask you, just who benefits from all this springing ahead and falling behind?

Yes, I understand the arguments (saving electricity, giving the farmers more daylight working hours, encouraging people who are afraid of the dark to shop after work), but it seems to me there are workarounds for each argument far simpler than screwing around with the clocks.

First of all, any savings in electricity and fuel costs gained by having one more hour of sunlight in the evening are immediately eaten up by having to turn on the lights and stoves 60 minutes later into each morning. Come on now, it's not like we're actually gaining daylight, we're just shifting it around like 3-card monte.

And more daylight hours for farmers - give me a fucking break! First off, do farmers actually have to work longer hours than they already do? And it seems to me that all the "ancient" professions - fishing, hunting, farming and hooking - work according to the normal diurnal timetable of the sun, moon and tides anyways. So this argument is entirely bogus.

Longer daylight shopping hours? It's not like we need more opportunities to spend our cash, with the Shopping Network, the Internet and corner stores going full bore 24/7.

So I ask you once again, who gains by removing one hour from the clock in April only to sneak it back into the deck in October?

Here's some hints - what activity (at least in North America) starts in April and ends in October? And what activity occurs usually in the evening during the working week? And what activity's greedy tentacles extend far into Washington's backside to push its evil agenda?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

2-year Drought of April Fools Day Mayhem

This year and next, April Fools Day occurs on the weekend. So where's the fun in that?

Gone are the opportunities to play vicious pranks on colleagues at work and fellow students. With most offices closed, we can't hack someone's computer, circulate fake memos or saran wrap the toilets. We are left with only our families to fool (practical jokes in my family usually lead to spilled blood), or posting the rather predictable (and lame, this year) hoaxes on blog sites.

So I say, let's just cancel the fucker for 2006 and 2007 and bide our time over the next 731 days plotting the most diabolical, subversive, pan-global April Fools stunt ever.

To enlist in this cabal, you must demonstrate your deviousness and sense of evil by describing your best madcap April Fools exploit ever. Those selected will receive further instructions in a plain brown envelope.

In the meantime, here is a great site to help inspire your prankstertorial plotting.