Archive for the ‘Words of “wisdom” from Norm DePlume’ Category

Should Lobster eaters be allowed to marry?

God says quite clearly in the Bible that the eating of shellfish is an abomination. (Leviticus 11:10-11) It’s right in there by the part that says homosexuality is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13) If God is so clearly against it, I don’t see how we can allow the sanctity of marriage to be tarnished by those who arrogantly go against God’s will to promote their agenda.

We’re not saying that lobster eaters are bad people, of course, we love the sinner but hate the sin. We just remember a time when marriage was a beautiful union between two people who shunned shellfish, so that they could start a family and raise their children in a stable, loving environment of Happy Days, with glass milk bottles, Buddy Holly, and sock hops. A simple world where everything was black & white (but mostly white). Well, we don’t actually “remember” it so much as fantasize about it, but we’ve read about a few instances where that has happened, more or less.

We just don’t want the sinners to belittle what is already a rapidly declining state of sanctity, what with 50% divorce rates, drive through chapels, Elvis impersonator chapels in Vegas, mail order brides, arranged marriages, pet weddings, stunt weddings, reality television weddings. If we allow lobster eaters to marry, then what will we have left?

Traditionally, everybody knows that wedding dinners have consisted of choices between chicken or beef. How can we allow those who eat shellfish to tarnish the way marriage has always been? (By “always”, we are of course referring only to recent history, we all know marriage hasn’t always been this way across the board. Believe it or not, there was once a time when people were happy throughout their entire marriage. ‘Course, this was around about the same time that the average life span was only two to three decades.)

We hope you will contact your local representative and do all you can to preserve the sanctity of marriage by preventing others from sharing in that happiness. Marriage, after all, is not just about love between two people, it is about what kind of people those two people are. How will you feel about your marriage if we allow other people who are jerks (sinners) to get married, too?


Montreal is a city that is world renowned for its multiple summer festivals. From Jazz, to Carribean, to Comedy, and everything in between. This year, however, I came to visit for the longest running festival of them all, the infamous construction festival.

For those who don’t yet know, the construction festival is the one where Montreal hires a crack squad of professionals every summer, some of them from war torn countries, to come in and dismantle and rearrange various roads and bridges, while scattering orange cones all about the place in artistic displays that both bewilder and distract the city’s drivers from the tedium of actually knowing where they are going.

Every summer, Montreal commuters get to experience the thrill of driving into work, only to discover that the highway they once knew so well, has suddenly been re-arranged into a maze of cones and medians, with signs placed only at the new junctions, not before them. Apparently, Montreal engineers/artists believe that giving fore-warning of what is coming would only spoil the surprise.

Nearly every day, a variant of the following conversation will take place:

Driver: “Oh look! Another one of those construction mazes is fast approaching.”

Passenger: “Oh goodie! These are always so exciting. I wonder which way we’ll have to go to get to work today.”

Driver: “Only time will tell. So many options, and so little time.”

Passenger: “All those orange cones are just so lovely this time of year. Oh look! That little old lady just plowed right into one. Ha ha.”

Driver: “Whoops! Looks like I guessed wrong, that sign we just passed said I made the wrong turn.”

Passenger: “Oh well, I’ve always wanted to go to Repentigny. Ha ha.”

Driver: “I didn’t really feel like working today, either. Ha ha!”

Montreal drivers are well known for their jovial, laissez-faire attitude.

The true beauty of this festival lies in the artistry. This is a festival that has been going on for decades, and yet, every year they set up all their displays of construction work, and every following year, just like the “Burning Man” festival in Black Rock City, Nevada, there is nary a hint of any work that happened in the past. In fact, most years it seems like the roads have become more damaged and pot hole ridden than several sections of Afghanistan.

Of course, when the Minister of Transport tries to explain this apparent discrepancy between construction work and constructed roads, he always blames it on the “freeze/thaw” cycle. This is something that people in Scandinavian countries get a real kick out of. If you were to look at any Scandinavian country after the Quebec politician said this in a news conference, you would see large segments of their population rolling around on their smooth, pot hole free roads, laughing their heads off. “Bah-ha, Olaf! He said it again!!! Ha ha ha!” “Ha ha ha, I don’t even speak english, Sven, but I know that’s funny. Ha ha!” Honest to God, Scandinavian people will turn off “Scandinavian Idol/Big Brother/Bachelor” in order to catch a news conference from a Quebec Minister of Transport.

Unfortunately, when I arrived I had to experience a slight lull in the true majesty of the construction festival, as they were going through the annual, and I’m not even making this up, “construction holiday”. Why, you may ask, would a Province that is frozen solid for 5 months out of the year, require a construction holiday smack dab in the middle of prime constructing weather? Well, you could ask, but here in Montreal they would look at you like you were a crazy person, snort derisively, and fling a few swear words your way. (But they would be french swear words, so they wouldn’t really count.)

Lucky for me, though, I was fortunate enough to be in the area when a sizeable section of the ceiling, roughly the size of Prince Edward Island, plopped down onto the road below in one of the Montreal tunnels, crushing only a few bugs and possibly the future job prospects of the current Minister of Transport. Even luckier for me, when I say “in the area”, I only mean in the Province of Quebec, I was nowhere near the tunnel when it collapsed.

This added a whole new tinge of hilarity to the festival, as I got to witness Sam Hamad, Quebec’s current Minister of Transport, go out and do an impromptu news conference in front of the rubble of the collapsed tunnel. “The right honourable,” Mr. Hamad (all Canadian politicians enjoy the title of “right honourable”, as it reminds them of their youth, when they grew up watching commercials from “Honest Ed’s” used car lot.), did his best impression of Saddam Hussein’s, “Baghdad Bob”, who repeatedly asserted that the americans were making no advances into Iraq and they would soon crush the western invaders, as american tanks could be seen doing “doughnuts” in the parking lot behind him. Good ol’ Sam came out and said, with a straight face, “If a road in Quebec is open, it is safe.” Neglecting to mention, of course, that if a road is open in Quebec, it is just as likely unsafe, as those in charge of knowing these things clearly have better things to do than sit around all day examining boring old concrete. Who wants to do that? It’s like watching rocks rot.

Of course, all these “construction” festivities are hilarious, and it’s adorable to listen to the citizens prattle on about the never ending “construction”, as if they actually believe that the goal of the ministry of transport is to improve the roads. Any fool observing from outside can see the real goal as plain as day. Had the goal been to fix the roads, they could have completed that every third year in the month of June, and then spent the rest of the summer fishing for poutine, or sugaring off, or whatever it is that french construction workers do on their time off.

No, no, it’s clear that the true goal of the ministry of transportation is, as it always has been, to try to get Montreal drivers to slow the F#@% down. Any casual observer can see, after only a few minutes of driving on Montreal streets, that Montreal drivers tend to be, as they say in the professional journals, “batpoop insane”. They do indeed teach defensive driving in Montreal driving schools, but they follow the Republican/Homer J. Simpson’s motto of, “Sometimes the best defense is a STRONG offense.” It’s not uncommon to see a small Honda civic zipping down the right hand shoulder, then at the last possible second, veering across 3 lanes and bowling over construction cones to get to the turnoff without having to wait in line with all the other chumps. (Or, “maudit anglais”, as they say in french.)

So, come to Montreal in the summer, enjoy the sights, sounds, and the festivals. Just be sure to bring a rented car and pile on the insurance.

This is what douche bags look like:

You may recognize the one on the right, that is Nathan Kotylak. He is the boy who gained world wide notoriety for being the one stupid enough to try to light a police car on fire, and possibly blow it up, in full view of several journalists and a mob of drunken idiots with cameras.

But go back to our original picture of the pair of douche bags. This is a quintessential shot, because it reveals the true elements of douchebaggery. On the right, we see, Nathan, the alpha d-bag, whose brain is at this point so overrun by the D gene, that he is seeing great amazement and delight in something that is quite likely as simple as a flammable object. To the left, we see his compatriot, who is so overcome by the D gene that he is reduced to embracing a ‘Stifler-esque” grin while his brain has been rendered so dysfunctional that it can do nothing more than emit a “Hunh hunh” sound from his mouth while holding a camera in the direction of the source of amusement.

Neither one of these young men are capable of critical thinking at the moment, for they have succumbed to the male D gene, which is often triggered by alcohol. The D gene, or Douche bag gene, is one that scientists have recently discovered in young males. It is a gene that appears, at certain times, to inhibit blood flow to the cortex of the brain, forcing the young male to rely primarily on his most basal, primitive instincts, primarily sex and destruction. There was of course a time when the D gene served humanity well as it accelerated the proliferation of the species, but that time has long since passed and modern men have to fight against the effects of this gene in our society

Of course, the main reason our society was able to develop at all, is because we had the good fortune to evolve alongside the women, whose name is a shortened version of “Whoa man”. Primarily because they have been the ones who most often say, “Whoa, man! What you’re doing is REALLY stupid.”

And so, what we witnessed last Wednesday night was what happens when a massive gathering of young males get together and are no longer able to suppress the effects of the D gene due to the trigger effects of alcohol combined with immense peer pressure from the cheering crowds.

This was not a riot that erupted unexpectedly because a hockey team lost, nor was it anarchists who hate “the system” and want to bring it down. (There were SOME anarchists in the crowd, who were easily identifiable as being the only ones prepared enough to hide their identity.) This was not the city of Vancouver going crazy because they lost a hockey game, nor was it some deep seated angst and alienation that calls for a lot of societal soul searching to examine how lost today’s youth must be.

All this was, was a city being ill prepared for a mass onslaught of young men coming from out of town and drinking in not only copious amounts of alcohol but the lore of the fabled Riot of ’94. We’ve all seen these guys before, and they’ve been the same in every generation. Whenever you go to a house party where the parents aren’t around, there is always some douche bag who thinks it will be “awesome” to pour vodka in the fish tank or see if they can head butt through the dry wall. Usually, there are enough friends around to say, “Hey man, that’s not cool,” and it ends there. The house parties that get out of hand, are the ones where too many people don’t know the person who lives in the house, and there are not enough people to tell the douche bags that they are being douche bags.

If you can divert your attention from the guy on the truck, notice how nobody is paying attention to the naked douche bag beside the girl.

And they will be douche bags, all men have it within them, it’s just that most of us are able to suppress the urge better than those who earn the douche bag title, and usually there are enough women around to say, “Whoa man”. The good news is, the D gene is one that diminishes with age. By the time they reach 25, most men are starting to get a firm grasp on it, and by the time they reach their 30’s, most men look back on their youth and wonder what they were thinking that made “that” seem like a good idea.

This is what happened last Wednesday, the city of Vancouver decided to throw a huge party, but too many outsiders showed up and the parents put too much blind trust in the kids, even though they knew these kids had wrecked the house before.

Which is not to say anything along the lines of “boys will be boys”, and we should just let everything go because they were under the influence. Nothing of the sort, each and every one of them should be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Including our poster boy from the start of this post, young Nathan.

The thing we have to realize in order to avoid this sort of thing erupting again, is that these were not anarchists, thugs, gang members and criminals. While they did become criminals through their actions, they were not outsiders that we can be on the lookout for, they were each and every one of us. In order to prevent it from happening again, WE have to be better. We have to teach our boys how to be men, we have to stand up for what is right, we have to be ready to resist mob mentality and call bullshit when we see it, and we have to extinguish the embers before they become a wildfire.

We don’t know enough about the brave few who did make an effort to confront the douche bags, but I have an idea of some common traits from the videos I’ve seen. They all seemed to be men who were older than 25, and they all seemed to be Vancouver residents trying to defend their town. The young men who participated and cheered on the destruction may have succumbed to the D gene and the mob mentality, but they can grow out of it, and they can become better men. We have to show them how by being like the men who did what they could to put out the flames. We have to realize that in this day and age, we all live in the same town.

Vancouver has received the black eye for this, and billions of dollars of P.R. damage has been done, but it is not the citizens of Vancouver who should feel the shame. The citizens I have seen are the ones who stood up to the mob of braying D-bags in order to do what was right, who came out the next morning to clean up after all the young people had returned to the suburbs to brag about being part of history by kicking a window, and those who covered a police car with Thank You notes the following day.

If Vancouver has anything at all to feel embarrassment for, it is the city planners who planned this big party. They planned for what they hoped would happen instead of planning for the worst and hoping for the best. This is something I learned in grade school, it’s a shame they missed that day. They have repeatedly lamented the lack of hindsight which would have allowed them to plan better, but they could not have had better hindsight. They had the Olympics only a year ago, which went off without a hitch not because people were much nicer back then, but because there was an immense security presence. They also had the report from the ’94 riot  which took months to compile (Paid for with the same taxpayer dime which is paying for the damage done due to the negligence in ignoring this report.) and had handy common sense nuggets like, keep cars away from the site of a potential riot, what with burning cars being the universally accepted symbol for rioting.

I called this post “Portrait of a Douche Bag”, but I want to make clear that we are all potential douche bags, what keeps us in check is the reaction from our peers and the examples we are given when we are young. You can write this off as an unprepared city and a bunch of douche bags that you can watch out for next time, or you can make sure that you are the type of person who sets a proper example and will do the right thing when the time comes.

“Be the change that you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

– Norm DePlume

If you listened real closely on Thursday morning, you would have heard the sound of millions of livers across Canada breathing a sigh of relief, as they had a 10 month reprieve before they might once again be forced to filter alcohol every second day. The hockey playoff season had finally run its course, giving a well deserved cup to the players of Boston, and far too many burn marks and insurance claims to the city of Vancouver.

What you didn’t need to listen closely for on Thursday morning, were the 1000’s of volunteers who came out to clean up and reclaim their city from the handful of douchebags who wanted to wreck it the night before, and the hundreds more who either apathetically filmed the wreckage, or got swept up in the wanton destruction and took a few swings for themselves. The sound of pride may have been difficult to locate in Vancouver on Thursday, but the sounds of disgust, disdain, and loathing were loud and clear from the citizens and hockey fans of the once proud host of the 2010 Olympics. The only ones to take pride in their accomplishments of the night before were being tracked and rounded up by the police who were happily accepting pictures, video, and social media screenshots from the concerned citizens who were eagerly turning in those who sought to destroy their city.

When asked about the insurance claim he had filed for the looting of his “Chapters” franchise, the manager said, “Actually, there’s less to report than I thought there would be. There were a lot of overturned shelves and tables, and some broken windows, but none of the classics nor our more expensive textbooks were touched. We did, however, lose our entire stock of the “…for Dummies” series.

During an interview with reporters, Vancouver Police Chief, Jim Chu, said, In hindsight, had we known what would happen, we probably would have had more police officers deployed there. But we didn’t know that,” thus proving that he is equipped with all the crime prevention abilities of your garden variety barca lounger. He wasn’t alone, though. Mayor Gregor Robertson and city manager Penny Ballem both shared the optimism of the parents of a 17 year old son who believe their boy is “all grow’d up” and is too mature to throw a party in their house, with girls and alcohol, when they’re not there to supervise.

The media had been reminding, forecasting, and almost encouraging a re-enactment of the 1994 playoff riot for weeks, and the mayor and Jim Chu could have asked any 12 year old to point them to the several Facebook pages which had sprung up about rioting for game 7. To say you needed hindsight to see this coming shows the exact same foresight that many recipients of the Darwin award possess(ed).

When asked about the events that followed the Canucks losing the Stanley Cup finals, Roberto Luongo replied, “Actually, keep this under your hat, but I’m kind of glad it diverted their embarrassment from my performance in Boston.”

It was a bad night for Canadian hockey fans who wanted the cup back in their country, but it was a worse night for the citizens of Vancouver, who watched the burning of millions of dollars of tax money and well deserved marketing value from hosting a hugely successful Olympic spectacle. There is much talk in the city of shame and embarrassment, but it does not lie with those who are talking of it, it lies solely with those who were in the streets. It lies with those who took part in the destruction, but it weighs just as heavy on the hundreds who stood around, watching and filming, but did nothing to prevent anything.

There were a brave few who did step up, but sadly, these people were few and far between. This could have been nipped in the bud if enough spectators banded together and taunted, shamed, and ridiculed the initial instigators, rather than cheer and film as douchebags overturned their city. The only time our society has advanced, is when people banded together to stop things that were wrong.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Shame does deserve to be affixed to some, but it should not be placed on the thousands upon thousands who love both hockey and the city, who have been talking of the embarrassment they feel, who had no part nor encouragement of the events of Wednesday night, nor those who showed up bright and early to clean up their city.

The attempt to diminish the beauty and to label the entire city of Vancouver as reckless, dangerous, and destructive, is akin to labelling Cindy Crawford as ugly because of her mole. 





The only positive things to come out of the night, are that Canucks fans now know what it’s like to be a Leafs fan, and this couple finally elevated bathroom stall sex to a whole new level of romance.


– Norm DePlume

I don’t remember the first time I met my mother. Like most of you, I spent the first few years of my life making breakthrough discoveries about tiny human anatomy, the effects of gravity, what can and cannot be ingested, and which pieces of furniture in the house had sharp corners. At some point during my research, it began to dawn on me that each time I failed, each time I fell, and each time I got hurt, there was always one woman in particular who was there to pick me up and hold me, and to make me believe that everything would be alright. This woman was always there to make me understand that all the fear, pain, and misunderstanding in this huge new world, could all be vanquished with a simple kiss.

The memories that stick with me through the years are not the ones of screaming, or when she didn’t let me do what I wanted, nor when she forgot to get me something I wanted. The things I remember are things like her staying up with me through the night as I fought off a fever, or her taking my silly little piece of macaroni art and treating it like it was a Michelangelo piece that belonged in the Louvre but would instead temporarily find a home adorning the household place of honour: the fridge. I remember how she would comfort me after I got dumped and my young heart felt like it was smashed to pieces and would never be put back together again. I remember how I couldn’t sleep because I was panicking about some big test or athletic competition the next day, she would come in and help me relax by reminding me that whatever happened tomorrow would happen tomorrow, but I should sleep easy because no matter what happened in the future, I would always have her love.

That’s the greatest gift you’ve given me, mom. As mothers have done throughout human history, you have taught us all what love is. You remind us that sometimes something as simple as a kiss can make things feel better.

It is this relationship with you, mom, that has allowed me to look out in amazement and appreciation of the magnificent beauty within the many women who have come into my life. From my first love to my most recent love, from my first grade teacher to the nurse who always made me laugh in the hospital, I have been very fortunate to have so many beautiful women enter my life in some way or another. Some have been there since I was a wee child, some have come and gone, and others have only been there for a brief period of my life, but each one has amazed me in some way and reminded me that the heart is more than a pump for our blood. Without your teachings of love, I may never have noticed them or allowed them to get close, and for that, I thank you.

Now I am at an age where I can share my veneration for motherhood not just with my own mother, but with my sister in law, my cousins, and my many, many beautiful friends who are now teaching their own offspring about the meaning of love. I give my heartfelt gratitude to all the mothers out there who are constantly reminding the world that very often, it’s “the little things” that matter the most in life.

I am also now well past the age of breakfast in bed and macaroni pictures of a heart, but even though we are now living far apart, I will always know that you are right there with me to push away the darkness and remind me that the sun always rises. You’ve always told me that no matter how old I get I will always be your baby, and I am thankful to know that you will always be my mother. While I can’t be with you to celebrate this day, all I can do is try to live my life as a man that you can look at with pride and say, “Yes, I made that.”

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, I’m glad you made me.

So, my niece came up to me and started asking me questions about Easter today. It didn’t take me long to remember why it is that my sister in law never asks me to babysit for them.
“Uncle Norm, why do they call it Good Friday?”

“Well, you see, It was on a Friday that Jesus was crucified by the Romans.”
“…How is that good?”
“Hm, good question. It was pretty good for the Romans and the Jews, I suppose…No wait! I remember, it’s considered good because it was what allowed Jesus to die for our sins so that all would be forgiven.”
“Mmmmmkay, but wouldn’t the good part be when he was resurrected, not when he was nailed to a cross to starve and bleed to death?”
“Well, sure, the resurrection was good, but that pretty much goes without saying, right? Of course it’s good to be brought back to life, I mean who wouldn’t consider it good to be dead one minute and then go strolling out of your cave the next? Would be a tad redundant to call the resurrection good.”
“Okay, how about this? We call it Good Friday because Jesus was hung up to die for our sins, so you better make sure you’re good…orrr… they’ll have to nail him up again.”
“Are you making that up?”
“No, no! It’s in the Bible.”
“Oh, you know, the part between where Jesus is talking about his love and the bit where he tells you why he might send you to Hell to be tortured for eternity.”
“Mmmmmkay, but if Jesus died for our sins, how come he was resurrected?”
“Well, sure, he was dead for the long weekend, but he didn’t have to stay dead, because he’s God and all, he had things to do. It would take you or I an eternity of being dead to make up for our sins, but he’s God, he can take care of it in a jiffy. He whipped up the whole Universe in the blink of an eye, curing us of our sins would be a breeze for a guy like him.”
“My sins?? What did I do? I brush my teeth, I’m nice to my friends.”
“Oh no, dear, don’t worry, it’s not so much what you did as what Adam & Eve did. I’m sure God knows you’re a very special little girl.”
“Adam & Eve? I don’t even know them, what did they do?”
“Ate a piece of fruit they were told not to eat.”
“Jesus died for three days to protect me from people who eat fruit?”
“No, no, he died and was brought back to life to clear you of all sin, including the eating of the fruit that our great ancestors did.”
“Cool! So because he died for a little while, it doesn’t matter what I do, I’ll still get into Heaven?”
“Well, no, actually it doesn’t work that way.You still have to be a good girl, he just cleared away the old sins.”
“But I didn’t do those sins?”
“I know. Neither did I.”
“Sooo, Jesus died but didn’t stay dead, to clear away some sins for me which I didn’t have anything to do with, and I’m still on the hook for any sins I commit?”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
“What are we celebrating, again?”
“You know, the fact that Jesus sort of died for a bit so that you wouldn’t have to worry about the big fruit sin, which apparently was quite a doozy. You could swear off fruit your whole life, but you’d still have to answer for what Adam & Eve ate, if Jesus hadn’t have had that death weekend. That, and the fact that I get a day off work and you get lots of chocolate.”
“Yeah! I love chocolate! Not too keen on fruit, though. So how does the Easter Bunny come into it?”
“The rabbit? Oh, he comes into it because he’s Jesus’ favourite pet, and he’s a symbol of fertility. Jesus was all about the fertility, you know. “Live long and prosper,” is what Jesus used to say.”
“That’s Spock.”
“No, dear, Spock was a character that some writers made up, they just gave him some of Jesus’ words.”
“Mmkayyyy, but why do we bring the fertility bunny in to celebrate Jesus dying for our sins, and what’s with the chocolate eggs?”
“Oh, the eggs are because the bunny was good friends with a magical, chocolate chicken…and he hides the eggs…because… he doesn’t want the chicken to know that he’s giving you her eggs.”
“What??? Ewww.”
“No, no, it’s fine. The bunny just gives you the chicken’s chocolate eggs to remind you about spring and birth and renewal and such.”
“But we’re eating the chocolate chicken’s eggs, how is that renewal? I still don’t understand why we eat chocolate eggs that a rabbit steals and hides from a magical chocolate chicken so that we can feel thankful that Jesus temporarily died to clear away some sins that we never committed, and we still have to be good or else his death and resurrection will be meaningless.”
“…Go ask your mother.”
I had to end the conversation there, as I was rapidly sliding further and further away from credibility, and I was growing nervous she might ask me why Easter has a floating date when it is supposed to celebrate the single most significant event in the life of Jesus Christ. I’d think if there was ever a date that we should be able to nail down, it would be the one commemorating the day that he got nailed up.

15 years ago, yesterday, I was approaching the speed of sound as I skied down Whistler mountain, when the edge of my ski caught the snow in such a way that it flung my leg out with enough force to tear the muscles in my inner thigh. It was nothing more than catching an edge, a common experience among beginners and expert skiers alike, but it changed my life forever.
Life is full of irony, though, and the ironic thing about this moment is that had I been a beginner skier, yanking one leg out with enough force to tear the muscles would have caused me to fall down and tumble along in the snow leaving a yard sale of ski gear in my wake, but I would have stopped in the snow with only a very sore thigh to remind me of the event.
As it turns out, I wasn’t a beginner skier. One of the best things my father did for me was stick some skis on my feet when I was 3 years old and slide me down the hill, and I’ve been in love with the sport ever since. I had been skiing all my life when I came to Whistler 5 years earlier, and by this point I had several 100+ ski day seasons under my belt. I’m not saying this to brag, but I was a very, VERY good skier. There were very few areas that I couldn’t get down on skis, and even fewer that I wouldn’t try. (Actually, another one of life’s little ironies is that whenever people would compliment me on how good a skier I was, I would usually downplay it with a comment along the lines of, “Well, my Dad put me on skis when I was 3 & I’ve been skiing all my life, so I’d pretty much have to be quadriplegic to not be a good skier by now.”) Unfortunately, it was this expertise and well honed sense of balance which allowed me to continue along at Mach 1 while I attempted to get my errant and torn right leg back on the snow. It didn’t take long traveling at the speed that I was before I came to a point where there was a large boulder in my path.

April 21st, 1996, was quite similar to April 21st, 2011, in that the sun was out for a beautiful day on the hill, but the temperatures were drastically different. Unlike yesterday, when we had cold, winter like conditions up on the mountain, the spring of 1996 actually appeared at its designated time and it was warm and slushy up there. I tried to turn my one leg in that thick, heavy snow, but the laws of physics were against me. The force of momentum was too much for my single knee to take, and 3 out of the 4 ligaments blew out, sending me airborne towards the boulder.
The only thing protecting my skull from the force of impact with the boulder at the time was a ratty old Blackcomb staff baseball hat, but luckily I was able to get my left arm up in time to protect my head. I still have scars on that arm today to remind me how lucky I was that my skull didn’t explode like a watermelon dropped from the roof of a five story building.
The head didn’t explode, but I impacted that boulder like nobody’s business. The force of the impact caused my skull to crush the 7th cervical vertebra completely while cracking the 6th. The friend who had the misfortune to witness the event later told me that it was a sickeningly sudden stop, and she thought for sure she was going over to see my corpse. I had survived the impact, but the fun wasn’t over yet, as my mouth was now under the snow and I was in danger of suffocating.
But fortune smiled on me once again, and I was lucky enough to have a man named Les Hausch be the first one on scene. Les had clearly had some first aid training and was able to keep a level head after witnessing such a horrific crash, so rather than just rolling my head over a bit so that I could breathe, he allowed me to breathe by clearing the snow away from my mouth without moving my head, and stayed with me while my friend went to get the ski patrollers. I’m sure he thinks it was a simple move and something anybody would have done, but with vertebrae that had been reduced to powder, it was that small act which probably saved my life, and very definitely made it so that I would be able to regain as much mobility as I have. Thank you, Les, I am eternally grateful that you were the first one to find me, though I’m sorry you had to witness that crash.
Thanks to Les, the patrollers were able to stabilize me enough on hill before putting me on a helicopter which took me first down to the clinic for more stabilization before sending me down to Vancouver General Hospital. The story then continues with the usual old tale of a drug induced haze with pretty nurses, mean nurses, horrible food, annoying room mates, fascinating room mates, and a very long road to recovery, which is best summarized by a 30 second montage scene with a cheesy 80’s “inspirational” rock ballad playing in the background.
But I’m not bringing up these grim details of my life to bum anyone out or to scare you away from skiing. Quite the opposite, actually, I’m still skiing to this day, and going just as fast. (Although, I now make sure I’m always wearing a helmet.) I’m bringing up the details of that day so that I can describe why I celebrate the anniversary of that day.
When I first tell people that I celebrate the anniversary of the day that I broke my neck, they often look at me as if I just told them that I think Jelly Bean canons on Jupiter are the best way to do your taxes. It makes no sense to them.

I have to explain that I’m not celebrating the fact that I broke my neck, I’m celebrating the fact that I’m Not Dead Yet. It’s all about perspective, and I guess I’m lucky in that my perspective tends to focus on the positive more than the negative. I could sit around and mope every year that this was the day that I lost my ability to run and kick a soccer ball, or I could bask in the sun and enjoy the fact that I’m still around and able to witness all the marvelous things that are happening in our world. I can be bummed out with a spinal cord injury, or I can be happy with a spinal cord injury. Either way, I’ll still have the spinal cord injury, but it’s my choice how to deal with it.
And so, every year on April 21st I celebrate my I.N.D.Y. (I’m Not Dead Yet) Day. I used to always do something like bungee jumping, heli-skiing, or sky diving, and then go out and celebrate with friends who I’m glad aren’t dead yet, either. The past couple years have been a little more personal and introspective, and I haven’t done as much of the adrenaline events, though I may get back to that next year.

My point of sharing all of this with you is not to say, “hey, look at me,” it is to suggest that maybe you too should have an I.N.D.Y. Day. There’s no reason why you should have to go through some ordeal to realize that it’s pretty cool that you are alive. There are probably thousands of bullets you’ve dodged without even knowing it. Our lives are so very fragile and they can be snatched away before we know it, with no rhyme or reason.

The Universe itself is mind boggling in its vastness, and the vast majority of it appears to be extremely hostile to life, and yet we’ve managed to eke out an existence on a tiny planet, which in most areas, is also fairly hostile to our kind of life. And even then, in our tiny corner of our tiny planet in a huge Universe, we still spend so much of our time fighting and bickering over tiny things, often in ways that lead to humans killing humans. That just doesn’t seem right.
So, my suggestion to you, is that you pick a day, or even a few moments of the day, and just say it to yourself, and revel in the fact that, hey, “I’m Not Dead Yet.” That’s a good thing.

Many people outside of North America think that Canadians & Americans are fairly indistinguishable from each other. A fact that makes many Canadians  bristle, while reminding the Americans that there actually is a whole other country to the north, acting as a buffer between them and Santa.

One of the most distinct differences between the two nations lies in their politics. In the USA, politics is a perpetual spectacle, it is essentially part of the entertainment industry. A part of the industry where they barely take a breath after their Presidential election before those who get paid to do so begin pontificating about what will happen in the next election, and what the loser did wrong in this most recent election, etc.

In Canada, we spend more time analyzing who will win the next Stanley Cup than we do thinking about who is running our country.

And this is the crux of it, in the USA they still tell their children that some day they may become President of the country, and they mean it like it is a good thing. In Canada, we tend to regard our politicians with considerably less admiration than they do south of the 49th.

We would rather our children grow up to be leaders of successful companies, bands, schools, medical professions, or even, dare we dream, the leader of a Stanley Cup winning hockey team. Sure, we give our politicians the title of “right honourable”, but it’s a throwback to our colonial days, and now we mean it in the ironic sense. Like calling the fat guy, “slim”, or the bald guy, “curly”. 

This is the problem that Stephen Harper is facing now. He clearly does not want to lead our country anymore, and he’s doing everything he can to get booted out of office. Unfortunately for him, none of what he is doing seems to be sticking.

“I just don’t get it,” the right honourable Prime Minister said, “I’ve been doing everything I can to get the voters not to vote for me in these multiple elections that keep popping up, but I just can’t seem to drop enough in the polls. I turned a surplus into a deficit, I declared my intention to send our military into Iraq had I been in power at the time, I’ve encouraged environmentally damaging oil companies, I’ve been doing everything I can to be as much like Bush as I can. It just doesn’t add up, I was led to believe that Canadians, for the most part, hate George W. Bush.”

We pointed out that former President Bush also got re-elected when he was pulling all of his shenanigans, to which Mr. Harper replied:

“I know! That’s why I’ve been pulling out all the stops, lately. Canadians like to pride themselves on being so much smarter than ‘those dumb americans’, but apparently that isn’t as true as they’d like to believe. I’ve sent Stockwell Day out with crazy stories that we made up over a late night session involving large quantities of alcohol. In fact, I’m pretty sure he was still drunk when he said that “we need more prisons due to an increase in unreported crime”. Heck, I even tried renaming the whole dang Government of Canada as “the Harper Government”, and I’m STILL ahead of the Liberals in the polls. What does a guy have to do to fall behind Ignatieff and his Liberals? Honestly, I just don’t know what I’ve got left. Why won’t these people just let me go get a higher paying job as a corporate “consultant”???”

It was at this point that Mr. Harper collapsed into a weeping puddle on the floor, so we left the interview there.

But he did highlight the crux of the problem with his final intelligible words. In the USA, they at least maintain the facade of searching for the best candidate for the job when they go into elections. In Canada, going into an election is like going into an outhouse looking for the watch you dropped. You just hold your nose and look for the shiny object with the least amount of shit on it, and then try to get out as fast as you can, never to speak of it again.

Thankfully, unlike the never ending political season that our southern neighbours have to endure, we get our elections over and done with in less time than it takes to make it through playoff season.

-Norm DePlume, reporting

In light of recent events, Merriam-Webster has just convened an emergency session of the high council of dictology and released the following statement:

“We, the council, upon careful examination of the evidence and sober reflection upon the potential scenarios in the future should we fail to take decisive action now, have concluded that the expiry date for the term, “winning”, will henceforth be set at 12:00am(GMT), April 1st, 2011. After the aforementioned expiry date, anyone using this term, outside of the field of sportscasting and political commentary, will now fall under the definition of the word, “loser”. We leave it up to individual tastes whether or not displaying paraphenelia using the term, “winning”, should constitute usage which would define the individual as a “loser”. We realize that defining use of the word, winning, as being that of a loser could be seen as a bit ironic, but we feel it is in keeping with the spirit of Merriam-Webster to include a little irony in everyday life. Otherwise, we never would have included the letter, ‘s’, in the word, “lisp”.”

We, here at the Ragazine, were fortunate enough to catch up with Charlie Sheen on his way to participating in a cock fight. Right after we asked him why he wasn’t bringing a rooster, we asked him if he had any comment on this recent turn of events. His response was to fling the needle out of his arm, babble incoherently about missiles, dragon semen, and the Masters of the Universe, then proceeded to slap a prostitute on the buttocks before demanding that she punch him in the face. (Which, she did without any hint of hesitation.)

The clock has now been set, so get it out of your system, dear readers, for you only have a limited time before winning will make you a loser.

We here at the Ragazine have finally received word back from Mark Zuckerberg and his crew of programmers at Facebook. It turns out that users are not, repeat not, obliged to post status updates in order to maintain their account, nor does Facebook pay by the word.

This should come as a great relief to some, who have no doubt been feeling that they must log all minutae of their life on their Facebook page. We can think of no other reason why they would burden us with this useless information unless they thought it necessary. Personally, I know that I can go on to lead a happy and productive life without being kept abreast of every time you sit on the couch, eat a bowl of oatmeal, or scratch your ass. So, I hope you are now relieved to know that you are not, in fact, obliged to share these mundane details of your life with the rest of the cyber world.

But, you may say, it’s just making conversation, like if I saw you in the hallway or was in the same room with you. Well, maybe, except that despite the fact that I would still be bored with this conversation if it were live, it is not the same because you are taking the time to turn on your computer, log into Facebook, and type these mundane details out on a keyboard. It is more akin to you coming  up to me in the hallway, turning me around to face you, pulling out your wallet and showing me your i.d., all so you can tell me something riveting like, “I dressed myself today.” I would still think you forgot to don your protective headgear.

Of course, we’re not saying anybody has to agonize over composing a work of art every time they put together a status update. It’s all well and good to express some emotion, share a joke, post some interesting link, or even express how you felt about a book/tv show/ movie, etc. We’re simply presenting this information for those who seem to have been labouring under the delusion that they MUST share every inanity of their life, such as the temperature of their tea.

It’s bad enough we’re all wasting our time on Facebook, but when we have to sift through those tedious details of your life as well, it’s just an added slap in the face. It’s saying, “Hey, I may be bored, but you’re the loser who’s SO bored he’s reading about my boredom”. It’s a reminder that our day would be just as productive if we read through the phone book.

(For those of you who are 20 and under, a phone book is a big list that the telephone company puts out to keep track of all the dinosaurs who are still clinging to the 20th century technology, when the phones couldn’t play music or games, and were physically attached to the wall. In fact, back in the olden days, you would be in deep trouble if your mother caught you writing anything on the phone.)

We hope this information will be of use to you and your friends, we’d hate to think there are still people out there fretting because they haven’t posted enough Facebook status updates.

And in case you’re wondering, I just scratched my ass.

– Norm DePlume

Those of you with calendars – and possibly the lingering effects of a nasty hangover – know that, Thursday, March 17th was St. Patrick’s Day. This is the day that commemorates the glorious night when some guys in Ireland got rip roaring drunk and decided to make up stories about their buddy Patrick, or “good ol’ Paddy” as they liked to call him.

 One of these stories came about shortly after one of the guys overheard a lovely lass describing her fear of snakes to her friend. Both she and her friend were rather pleasing to the eye – especially eyes that bobbed gently in a head full of ale – so Paddy’s buddy decided to loudly remind his friends (and anyone else in the Pub) about the time that he and his good friend Patrick had chased some snakes out of town, during their fraternity days.

 Well, despite having consumed enough beer to inebriate Ted Kennedy, Paddy’s frat days had trained him well enough to pick up on when his buddy was trying to score some chicks. He wasn’t content to let it rest with having chased a few snakes out of town. No, Paddy went on to elaborate how he continued the hunt the following weekend and had chased every last snake out of Ireland.

 “Right on out into the shhheee, by Crikey!” Paddy would loudly proclaim, as he struggled to remember what Crikey had to do with anything.

 Paddy’s buddy was none too impressed with the new turn of events which excluded him from the scenario, but the ladies seemed suitably impressed with everyone having anything to do with snake elimination so he let it go.

 As is wont to happen in any Pub that is deprived of cable TV, dance floors, dart boards, and pool tables, the story spread faster than herpes in a prison. Soon, everybody in town was talking about how Paddy had freed them from the snakes. Some versions of the story even had Paddy travelling over to France to see what he could do about the frogs.

 Of course, everyone was so amazed by the story that no one bothered to ask, “What snakes?” Sure, there were indeed some snakes in the town, but the way people talked you would have thought that before Paddy came along a person couldn’t walk down to the Pub without agonizing about getting snake pooh all over his boots.

 Paddy and his buddies all ended up getting very lucky that night, but the snakes themselves were the ones who benefited the most from the unlikely story. Now the snakes were free to go about their business without the nagging worry of some drunken Irishman trying to chase them around to impress his lady friend. According to the story there were no more snakes in Ireland, so the snakes could easily go about town passing themselves off as harmless sticks, squirrels, chickens, etc.

 “Hey Paddy, isn’t that a snake?”

“Neh, iss jus’ one o’ them skinny squirrels again. Wan’ summore Bailey’s fir yir coffee?”

 Around about the same time, the Irish church was getting a little jittery about all the Italians who were being Canonized. If they didn’t act soon, all the good Sainthood’s would be gone and they’d be stuck with crappy saints like St. Mick, the patron saint of eye boogers and tax collectors. They needed a Saint, and they needed one NOW, by Crikey!

 This story about Patrick and the snakes seemed like a perfect one to jump on so they rushed through the whole Canonization process and, voila! A saint was born.

 In return, Paddy agreed to do some volunteer work for the church and the church declared an annual holiday in his name. In order to keep questions to a minimum, the church also decided to devote this holiday to the sole purpose of getting the public as drunk as humanly possible. Voila, a tradition was born.

 The Irish didn’t add the tradition of blowing things up until much later when the IRA came into being, but this tradition didn’t catch on as well in most other nations of the world.

 Actually, the Americans quite liked the idea of blowing things up, but they preferred the tradition of blowing things up in other peoples’ countries. Eventually, Canadians took to the tradition of sending over soldiers, boats, and kegs of beer to watch the Americans blow things up, but we usually showed up late. We generally specialized in the tradition of drinking ourselves stupid and then swearing we would never do that again.

 – Norm DePlume.