Archive for April 2010

Continuing to Celebrate my Literary Ignorance: More Books I Haven’t Read

April 18, 2010


Following up from an earlier post

Almost everything by F. Scott FitzGerald
I read The Great Gatsby in Grade 12 English, because I had to.   

The teacher was so bad, he pretty much killed my desire from pursuing this author any further.


Anything by Margaret Atwood
Ssshh…don’t tell the Berkenstock-Wearing Granola-Crunching CBC Inteligentsia…they’ll have my head!


The Harry Potter Series
I admit, I liked the movies.    And I’d probably like the books.

But my brother just told me he read the entire series aloud to his son.   He said it was over 1,000,000 words. 

Ugh.   A time committment like that frightens me.   


The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Because I took the actual three-day course at work.

And it was the best training course I’ve ever had at my company.

By default.


Anything by Jane Austen
And I never will her, either.

No, wait.  Let me qualify that.   

If, for whatever reason, I was stuck somewhere on a desert island, or taken hostage and put in solitary confinement…and it was the only thing around, I might consider reading it.


(No…still…probably not). 


Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre
See Jane Austen.

Moby Dick.   
Let me guess.   The whale did it.


I started reading it once, but had to quit.  
It made less sense than the movie.

If that’s at all possible.

Which I didn’t thias possible.    

Better-Late-than-Never Category (*)

(*) Books I’ve enjoyed, but didn’t get around to until well into my 30’s and 40’s. 

– The Adventures of HuckleBerry Finn (Just read it last year….though I did read Tom Sawyer 30 years earlier)
– The Good Earth
– To Kill a MockingBird
– East of Eden
– 2001 Space Odyssey (A few months ago…Now I finally the last 20 incomprehensible minutes of the movie)


Those E-Books from the Cool Kid Bloggers. 
They’re supposed to be awesome.  They’re supposed to ‘Change your life”.   They’re supposed to make you weep with tears of self-awareness.

You know, if it was narrowed down to a few dozen, I’d be tempted.    

But there are so many “Life Changing” E-books out there, that you can’t click twice with your mouse without tripping over one.    And each one claims to be the lastest, best thing.

So no thanks, I’ll pass…

Sorry.  Nothing personal.  

I just have too many other books on the “must read” list that I need to get to first.

Like Jane Austen.


The Many Uses of Bacon

April 16, 2010

Vikings Versus Ninjas

April 15, 2010

In the final match of the Pan-Asian-Nordic Warrior games, it was the Vikings versus the Ninjas.

“Try to keep the kills clean”, said the referee, “…and no disemboweling below the belt.”.

The Ninjas started out with their fiercest battle poses,  in the attempt to intimidate their enemy.

This did little to impress the Vikings, however.

“Hyårgen!  Hyårgen!  Hyårgen!  “, they laughed.   “What are these grown men, in pajamas?”

“So, you MOCK us?”, cried the Ninjas.   “Then taste our Stars of Death!”

“Oboy…cookies!”, said Thrull.

“Idiot!  Don’t EAT them!” scolded Clöst Æfröck.

“Okay, my turn to play!”, said Thrull, and he proceeded to pile onto the Ninjas.

The air literally clapped with Viking Thunder, as he broke wind on his unfortunate foes.

“Foul!”, cried the referee.

“It sure is!”, laughed the Vikings.

At this point, the Ninjas started to anger.

“Feel the full force of our wrath!”, they cried, and set themselves upon the Vikings with their full force.

“Oh, Goody!  They’re attacking!”, observed the Berserker.

“Do we get to fight for real now? “, asked Olaf ThunderFrö4ck.

“Yes, but lads, please try to show some decorum, shall we?”, said Clöst.  “Let’s not expel any more bodily gases, if we can help it.”


The final battle was brief, but intense.

When all was said and done, it was clear who the victors were.

“The Pan-Asian Nordic Champions of the World are…The VIKINGS”, declared the referree.

The Ninjas were devastated, especially the Lead Ninja.

“This sword was in my family for six centuries….handed down from father to son.    And you…you BROKE it with your horrid walking stick”.

“We have dishonored ourselves and our ancestors.   We must committ sepuku!”

“Awww…come on….don’t be like that.    Why dont’ you join us in our victory feast instead?”, the Berserker asked.

And so they did.

“This food…it’s so GOOD”, said the Ninjas.   “It’s a lot richer than the meager fare we’re used to”.

“You were worthy foes” said Olaf.   “You’re just a little underweight for these type of battles”.

“Yes”, agreed Olaf.   “Rice and fish is fine.  But try to eat more mutton, porc, chicken and beef, as  we Vikings do, and you’ll fill out nicely.

“This time next year, who knows?    Maybe you’ll be the ones massacring US!”.

The Bear visits the Charlevoix region

April 10, 2010

Here’s Junior Bear on top of Le Massif last Easter weekend.

It was an exceptionally warm day.  Temperatures were over 20 °C, and people were skiing in shorts (myself included)

Le Massif has the highest vertical drop (2425 ft.) of any Canadian ski hill east of the Rocky Mountain.  It’s located about 75 km east of Quebec City.

This is part of the Charlevoix region, an exceptionally beautiful area in Eastern Quebec, where rolling mountains meet the North Shore of the St. Lawrence River.

The scenery is quite stunning.   From the top of the hill, you can look northeast and see Ile aux Coudres, about 20 km alway.

The island itself is about 5 x 11 km, to give you an idea of the scale.   It can be accessed by ferry-boat, from St. Joseph de-la-Rive.

The ski hill is located right next to the navigation lanes of the St. Lawrence Seaway, so it’s not uncommon to see ships passing back and forth during the day.    As far as I know, this is the only ski hill where you can look down on ocean-going vessels thousands of feet below you.

Who knows where these ships are going?   As far west as Thunder Bay, Ontario?     Or Duluth, Wisconsin?

Anyway, the ski hill ends quite abruptly at the river’s edge, right at the town of Petite Rivière St. Francois.

The river is on the verge of becoming the ocean, at this point.  The water brackish…not quite salty, not quite fresh.

And yes, there definitely are tides.

One of the highlights was some guy who apparently had a pet fox who liked to hang out around his house.

The critter didn’t seem to be too concerned over “rush-hour” traffic.

While we were in the area, the Bear and I also did a side-trip to check out Baie St. Paul.

And also Ste. Irénée

PS:   In case you haven’t noticed, pretty much every town east of Montreal has “saint” or “sainte” in its name.   (Either that, or “Notre-Dame”)

I think it must be mandatory, or something.

It just goes to show how prominent the Catholic Church was, when Quebec was first settled in the 1600-1700’s.

Cereal Box Literature Reviews

April 9, 2010


By Professor Friar,  PhD in Cerealogical Linguistics



The box starts with a dark blue color on top, with serious nutrition information in the upper right corner.

The tones then gradually change into a lighter-blue,  ending where the Crispix pieces dance gleefully in bowl of milk, with the help of the whimsical Snap, Crack and Pop.

The transition is seamless, and is a an apt metaphor for the North American post-modern lifestyle.

Even though we adults have many responsibilities, the author reminds us to “lighten up”, and to remember our childhood roots, which made us who we are today.

As if to emphasize this point, the back of the box repeats this theme, but this time, our elf companions are replaced with sweet fruit and berries.

A commentary, perhaps, on our obsession withe materialism: we should take time to enjoy the simpler things in life.   We can still have our cake and eat it to, provided we adopt an attitude of responsibility and moderation.

So as not to take itself too seriously, and not to alienate younger audiences,  the back of the box displays friendly alien creatures, who invite us to check out a “mission nutrition” web sit.

In addition, the side of the box provides a recipe for Kellogg’s Crispix Krispies Original Mix, an activity that the whole family can participate in.

All in all, I found this box an excellent read:  informative, yet entertaining for both adults and children alike.



The title proudly announces itself in bold black letters.  It is assertive, confident and inviting.

The golden rays emanating from the single oaten O dotting the “i” suggest warmth and goodness, a treasure that the Godless Demeter herself would be proud of endorsing.

This theme is then suddenly punctuated by  “1 gram of sugar per serving “.  At first, this appears as an afterthought, but upon repeated readings, it soon becomes apparent that this is a crucial side-story.   The 1-gram sugar is the Duncanesque foil the Macbethian Cheerios.

The heart-shaped bowl, however, is somewhat over-the-top.   Whether indicating true amorous feelings, or cardiovascular benefits, the symbolism was a bit too obvious here.     However, the intentions are well-meaning, and most readers will accept this minor oversight.

At this point, however, the plot unexpectedly shifts.   Out of the blue (literally), the storyline is abruptly broken by a free yogurt ad.

The boldly emblazoned banner takes over the story, and seems rude, crass, and out-of-place.  Cheerios has been around for decades.  However, the yogurt is just another johnny-come-lately trying to ride on its coattails.

The yogurt character development continues on the back, which the reader cannot identify nor sympathize with.   The familiar heart-shape cereal bowl weakly tries to make a reprise, but the damage is already done.

This box started off well.   But the author allowed the yogurt to completely over-shadow the cereal itself, leaving the reader confused, and without a sense of closure.


Cap’n Crunch

The story line is deceivingly  simple, yet we find ourselves drawn to the box, again and again.  There is a riveting sense of anticipation here.

The Cap’n admires his cereal, yet he seems to be reluctant to eat it, let alone touch it.

It leaves the reader puzzled.   What’s stopping him?  Is it lack of confidence?  Is it fear of disappointment?

No.  There is almost a Zen-like childish innocence here.    The Cap’n seems enthralled by the beauty of it all, almost like he wishes to make this magic moment last forever.

This sense of optimism is reminiscent to that found in early 20th-century literature.  The Cap’n is our modern-day Hemingway.   He’s a sea captain, and a rugged outdoors-man, a man of many talents.

Even when losing his sled dog in the Arctic, for example, he maintains a stiff upper lip.   Rather than wallow in self-pity, he enlists our help to find the do, which we gladly do.    The dog shares his optimism, also smiling, despite a sharp mountain peak wedged on his posterior.

However, the Cap’n is not 100% sincere.  Just as we are drawn into his adventure, he averts his gaze away from the ice-capped peaks and dangerous mountain trails, and directs us towards the Aeroplan offer on specially marked Quaker Products.

“Come join me”, he seems to invite us.   But it comes with a price.

I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine.

This is a harsh lesson for less mature-readers to learn.

But a valid one, no less.

Discounted Easter Chocolate That Never Quite Sold…

April 7, 2010