Wednesday, February 25, 2015


We were delighted to learn the other day that the NDP is considering the filibuster as part of its Parliamentary strategy.

The filibuster has long been a treasured tactic in US politics, but it seldom has been employed in Canada. A shame--we could have had John Diefenbaker fulminating nonstop for days.

The longest filibuster ever given in the US Senate was delivered by Strom Thurmond, a politician remembered for all the wrong reasons. The South Carolina senator spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes in opposition to the Civil Rights Bill.

More recently, American senators have taken to filibustering in relay teams, which we believe should be disqualified. That's not a filibuster--it's a tag team talkathon.

The word "filibuster" is derived from the Spanish "filibustero," meaning "freebooter;" i.e., an adventurer engaged in some irregular military activity. How the word came to mean a long-winded speech is unknown. Well, unknown to us.

Most entertaining filibuster on record: the one delivered by Bob Hope in the 1941 film "Louisiana Purchase," which includes a scene where the near voiceless Hope draws portraits in colored chalk on the floor of the Senate.

Way better than Strom Thurmond.

Our advice to the NDP: take lots of material to read from and plenty of throat lozenges.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Post Oscar Tristesse

February 22 was the first Sunday of Lent, but I don't believe this was mentioned by Neil Patrick Harris or in any of the acceptance speeches.

The eighty-seventh running of the Academy Awards celebration dragged along predictably, apart from a few happy surprises, one of which wasn''t seeing the host in his jockey shorts. Who, we wondered, wanted to see Neil Patrick Harris in his underwear? Answer: Probably a lot of people.

But it was fun to see Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, and Jack Black as Kanye West. And who knew Lady Gaga could sing like that? The morning after, as usual, brought fashion writers trashing the dresses, but how about the guys' wardrobe choices? The Vancouver Sun had a nice line about Jared Leto looking as though dressed for a 1978 high school prom, but we remember how people looked at 1978 high school proms, and not one was wearing white high-tops. As for David Oyelowo's three-piece maroon tuxedo, Manny Goodman of the Jazzmanian Devils suggested that he looked like the maitre d' at a Willy Wonka theme restaurant. And then there was Benedict Cumberbatch, channeling "Casablanca" in his white shawl lapel dinner jacket.

But on to the great moments.

Neil Patrick Harris's best line: Telling Eddie Redmayne that his job was, every five minutes, to wake up Robert Duvall.

Best acceptance speech: The guy who said. "I want to thank my dog, Larry."

Best pregnant pause: Sean Penn's, before revealing the winner of the best picture award.

Best bit of business: Benedict Cumberbatch pulling a silver flask from his dinner jacket, recalling a revered archbishop's advice on "the wisdom of always carrying your own flask."

Gotta say, some of us still missed Seth MacFarlane. But maybe not many of us.

And then there were some who skipped the show altogether, being tuned instead to the curling championships in Moose Jaw. Or better, catching a rerun of a Simpsons episode in which the family goes to a book fair, and is greeted by Stephen King, Maya Angelou, Amy Tan and John Updike, all speaking in their own voices.

A great moment for Updike. Maybe he didn't get the Nobel, but he did get a bit on "The Simpsons."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Year of the Woolly Quadruped

Here we are at what some are calling the Year of the Sheep, others the Year of the Ram or the Year of the Goat.

If it is the Year of the Sheep, we enter sheepishly, hoping not to get shorn. Some astrologers predict that having sheep as our lunar mascot will lead to "a kinder, gentler year." May we remind you that the last person who promised us "a kinder, gentler year" was George W. Bush?

"Goat" is a bit stronger, but "goat" is now a term generally applied to football coaches who call a pass when their team has first down on the one-yard line.

And speaking of football, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Rams says, "There is no bleating way we are changing our name to the Los Angeles Sheep."

For those of us born under the sign of Capricorn, both goat and ram work. Hard to picture sheep leaping from mountain crag to crag. Of course, being a black sheep has a certain attraction, especially for those of us who also identified with the Year of the Snake.

What do we predict for the Year of the Sheep? That a lot of mutton stew will be served in 2015.

Or curried goat.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Foot Politics

For some reason, it has become traditional for Canadian finance ministers to pull on a new pair of shoes before delivering a budget. Recently, some, advocating austerity, have worn old shoes--shoes left unclaimed at a repair shop or shoes dragged behind a newlyweds' car. No Ballys for these guys; or, if the finance minister is female, no Jimmy Choos. Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson was famously photographed with a hole in his sole, but he lost anyway. Whereas many politicians, suspected of having a hole in their soul, have been elected.

But we digress. We are here primarily to recommend footwear fashion for future finance ministers. Track shoes would suggest someone who is prepared to get the economy running. Army boots would promise firmness. Bunny slippers would give voters a warm and fuzzy feeling. Forget loafers.

But perhaps the ideal shoes would be swimming pool jellies. Remember jellies? An indication of transparency in politics.

Or maybe the right choice would be...flip-flops.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine Verse Clearout

The day having now receded into history, we find we have a number of Valentine verses left unsold. Please feel free to take any of these and save them for next year.

Zucchini are green,
Pomegranates are seedy.
You're the one that I love,
Oh yes, indeedy!

Kumquats are small,
Pumpkins are big.
If you've got Parfait D'Amour,
Go have a swig.

(Ed. note: Parfait D'Amour is a purplish liqueur tasting rather like an alcoholic cream soda.)

Lemons are tart,
Persimmons are sweet.
Go out and hug
Everyone on the street.

Champagne is bubbly,
Old brandy is mellow.
When I look at you,
My brain turns to Jello.

Obama is cool,
Stephen Harper is not.
Go look in the mailbox
And see what you got.

If it's only junk mail,
Don't feel blue.
Know that Domino's Pizza
Still cares for you.

And many thanks from the Pointless Digressions crew to the sender of a heart-shaped block of limburger cheese signed "Guess Who."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bishops in Love

In the spirit of St. Valentine, whose festival we celebrate this month, and in the glow of recent announcements (which discretion forbids us to elaborate) the Parish of Saint Amand (patron of wine merchants and innkeepers) announces its spring musical production, an original work by music director Wilfred Witherspoon to be performed by our Senior and Junior Choirs, with guest soloists of the highest artistic calibre and moral stature. Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to announce the inaugural production of "Bishops in Love"!

While the plot (or "book," as show business people put it) must remain as secret as the confessional until opening night, we have been permitted to share the lyrics of the show's title song. (Did someone say, "Eat your heart out, Billy Joel"?)

La la la, bishops in love!
La la la, heavens above!
Could anything ecclesiastical
Be so romantically fantastical?

Bishops now get out and date
It's not their fate to be celibate.
They know that somewhere there's a mate
Waiting just to conjugate!

Although they wield the mighty crozier
Two in love can be much cozier.
So when Venus calls they don't fight her--
They ditch their cope and mitre.

Though some may claim to be quite shocked
They know they will not be defrocked
(At least, not for all to see
In their See.)

Wedded bliss is salutary
From Qu'Appelle to Canterbury
So give your hearts a shove,
All you bishops in love!

Wo wo wo, bishops in love!
Romance can be non-verbal
Hidden beneath the purple.
La la la, bishops in love!

And one more tantalizing tidbit, or, as they say, a plug from the pulpit: as this is sung, dancers will appear in white stoles studded with red hearts and carrying Cupid bows and arrows, which they will shoot into the audience. (Well, not actually into the audience--over their heads, we pray.)

Mark your calendars now for this marvelous musical production! And note: Special discount for clergy due to be married this year. Whether they know it or not.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Politics: The Art of the Implausible

Scene: A news conference in Toronto. Justin Trudeau, leader of the federal Liberal Party, is speaking:

Trudeau: Fellow Liberals, I have exciting news to share with you. Joining our party today is the beautiful and talented Amy Adams. Yes! You loved her in "American Hustle," you loved her in "Julie and Julia," and now Amy Adams--

Aide: Psst--Mr. Trudeau. It's not Amy Adams--it's Eve Adams.

Trudeau: Who?

Meanwhile, on Parliament Hill, the Prime Minister's office has drafted a new party song to be sung by loyal Conservatives at future caucus meetings:

"Don't grieve Steve!
Don't leave Steve!
And if you know
What's good for you,
You won't peeve Steve."

Party leaders were unavailable for comment, as they were busy binge-watching "House of Cards."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Man Over Baird!

The announcement today that John Baird is packing his pit bull smile and leaving politics after years of riding shotgun with Stephen Harper left his Parliamentary colleagues speechless. Which, of course, is a good thing.

But it didn't last long.  MPs on both sides of the aisle rose to give soon-to-be ex-Minister Baird an ovation. Whether this was a tribute to his years of service or just that they were glad to see him go, no one could say.

There has been much speculation over what his future plans may be. Possibilities include positions as:

- Offensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

- Complaints desk supervisor, Target stores

- Backup singer for Celine Dion

- Star of new Seth Rogen film

We wish him well. Eight to five he'll be back.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Worst Call in SuperBowl History

Okay, who called that last play--what, a half-yard away from a first down? The Seahawks throw a pass? When Marshawn Lynch could have walked in? Who called that play? Pete Carroll? The offensive coordinator, name unknown and possibly forever? Some guy who is not going to be there next season? Surely not Russell Wilson.

Meanwhile, in the Seahawks dressing room, Marshawn Lynch is tearing down walls and lockers and shower stalls, and who can blame him? Seahawks fans shake their heads, as, in the sports cliche, their team snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

But on the positive side, perhaps you won some bucks on side bets. Who collected on five to seven that Katie Perry would not have a wardrobe malfunction?