Saturday, July 09, 2016

Scenes from the Apocalypse

Scenes from a post-apocalyptic high school reunion.

Setting: The burnt-out husk of a high school gymnasium

The year: 2031

Lady: So, what do you do?
Man: Well, I capture and sell squirrels, rats, raccoon… you name it!
Lady: Sounds interesting.
Man: Yeah, I’m thinking of branching out, maybe get into the human thighs and buttocks market.  It’s big business, particularly in Containment Zone 9.  Man, those guys in Containment Zone 9 love the stuff!

Lady1: So, you and John were sure getting along.  Just like old times?
Lady2: Oh, stop it!
Lady1: What do you think?  His wife was just sold into slavery by a roving band of marauders… he’s single!
Lady2: That’s enough, Marsha!
Lady1: Did you notice he still has 75% of his skin?

Man: So, I rode my horse in from Containment Zone 4…
Lady: Oh yeah?
Man: Yep, still has one eyeball and most of her original teeth.
Lady: So how long’d it take you to get in from Containment Zone 4?
Man: Well, she does about 20 if I’ve scrounged enough carrots and oats to feed her… probably took me around five days.
Lady: Whoa!  Pretty slick, Dave.

Man: Well I grow non-mutated strains of wheat and mill them in an old 19th-century mill that my marauding gang conquered.
Lady: Wow!  Maybe I should come check out your milling operation sometime!
Man: Hey, anytime!  Just make sure you remember the password!  Otherwise, the guards at my mill will shoot you with their crossbows!  Seriously, they will.  You need to remember the password.
Lady: Well, what is it?
Man: Periwinkle.

Man1: Say, anyone know what happened to Rick McCaffrey?
Man2: Ahh, I heard he became a warlord.
Man1: Shit, no way!
Man3: Yeah, guess he stumbled upon an abandoned army fuel depot.  Guy’s swimming in shiny stones and anti-bacterial cream over in Containment District 4.
Man2: Guess he’s too big to come to his own high school reunion, eh?

Lady: Now, correct me if I’m wrong, mister, but I heard you were married a few years ago!  Where’s the missus?
Man: Ahh, yeah, Jenny couldn’t get a pass into the Containment District for the reunion.  She has a pretty bad case of the Blight.
Lady: Oh god… oh Jesus, get away from me!

Lady1: Judy!  Judy… Nelson?
Lady2: Well, it’s Judy Henderson now.  And this is my zombie husband, Carl!  Say hello, Carl.
Man: Braaains…
Lady2, confidentially to 1: Always with the brains, am I right?

Man: You know what I haven’t seen in a while?  A non-feral cat.
Lady: I know, right?  We tried bringing one back for our daughter, but she ended up getting rabies.
Man: How many shiny stones would you trade your child for?

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Trump: The Fate of Destiny (part 1)

August, 2010

The setting sun cast an orange glow across the terraces and cloister of Mar-a-Lago.  The Palm Beach residence, built in the 1920s, was considered one of the most luxurious mansions in the world.  Its carved, Dorian stone facade, Spanish and Portuguese-inspired interior and 144 opulent rooms were set upon 20 acres of immaculately-landscaped lawns.

Walking back to his private residence at Mar-a-Lago in the early evening glow was the mansion’s owner, millionaire real estate developer Donald Trump.  He had purchased the property in 1985 and was proud to have kept it true to its original configuration.  Even if he had wanted to change it, he couldn’t: Mar-a-Lago had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the early 70s.  It was a priceless treasure, and it was Trump’s.

A few hours spent relaxing by his resort’s magnificent swimming pool had left him feeling refreshed and eager to take on the night’s guests.  As he stepped inside, a pair of servants opened two Venetian doors leading from the pool deck to the dining room.  Waiting for Trump was his beautiful wife, Melania.

“Any time for the spa?” he asked her, glancing at his watch as a third servant fastened it around his left wrist.  He rarely took it off, but never brought it to the pool.  The timepiece cost more than a Rolls Royce.

“I do not think so, darling” she consoled, knowing her husband would be disappointed.  Trump often finished his active day with a sauna and massage, but the sun was now too close to the horizon.  “The Bushes have arrived and Jon Voight will be ready for 7:30.”

“Tomorrow, then,” he smiled and gave his wife a kiss on the cheek.  “I’ll see you in the dining room then.”  Jauntily, he made his way to his private quarters to get ready.


The master bedroom done in the Spanish Colonial Revival style was in keeping with much of Mar-a-Lago’s decor.  The sash windows facing the ocean let into the room the ochre glow of a sun hidden just beyond the horizon.  Trump had changed out of the light, short-sleeved shirt he had worn poolside and was in the middle of putting on his evening wear.  Normally he would wear the black tie and white shirt expected of such an occasion, but the company was familiar enough that he felt comfortable in a blazer and shirt.

As he checked the blazer’s sleeve length against his wrist, a sudden commotion.  An unnaturally cold wind seemed to blow in all directions, rattling windows and knocking paintings off walls.  Trump instinctively shielded his eyes from a bright, overpowering light.  Startled, he turned around to the source and found himself looking at a familiar face: his.

But not his.  At 64 he himself had the distinguished features of a man entering old age with pride: the dignified chin; the bronzed, youthful skin; and the hair - as ravishing today as it was thirty years ago.  The man before him was weak, and old.  The once-proud mane was all but gone, his chin melded into what amounted to a grotesque, drooping goitre and his posture was deflated.  He was as immaculately-dressed as ever, but the juxtaposition between the tailored clothes and the defeated man wearing them was comical and pathetic.

“What in the hell?” Trump asked, stunned.  He approached his doppelganger with trepidation and examined him closely.  Every wrinkle, every liver spot - the blank, distant look in his eyes.  Suddenly, the double opened his mouth.

“You think you look as good now as you did 20 years ago?  I don’t think so.  Don’t think so.”  The voice - so familiar, but ravaged by age and... something else.  It seemed to emanate from the other side of the earth, yet came from a man not a few feet away.

“Who... who are you?” asked Trump, barely able to whisper the words.

“‘Who are you?’” repeated the elder Trump, mocking the original. “Who do you think, numb nuts?  I’m you.  I’m from the year 2028.”  The young Trump’s eyes narrowed as he searched for something in the the distance.  “That makes me 82, dum-dum.”

“Well, why are you here?  What do you want?”  Trump could not understand what was happening.

“Yeah, good question.  Mind if I sit?” asked the elder, gesturing towards the bed.  Trump nodded.  “In a few years - 2016, if you wanna know - a real slimeball is going to be the president.”  He found a perch at the side of the bed.  “This guy’s a real jagoff, lemme tell you.  Name’s Ted Cruz.”

“Never heard of the guy.”

“Well I have.  Him being president starts a chain reaction that destroys everything.  He lets loose something rotten from deep in the country’s psyche - something not good, let me tell you - that just goes to town.  Eventually there’s a war, major cities get obliterated, millions of Americans are killed, and the world plunges into a second Dark Age.  I’ll be honest: it’s ugly, even for guys like us.”  At this, the elder Trump looked wistfully out the window at the orange and purple sky darkening rapidly over the Atlantic Ocean.

“Mar-a-Lago?” asked Trump, his voice tinged with concern.

“Gone,” choked the other Trump.  “Florida, New York, Washington... There’s nothing left.  I used everything the Trump Organization had to develop a time machine so I could send myself here.”

“A time machine?  To send you here and do what, exactly?” Trump was beginning to feel more comfortable around this interloper, yet the tale he told was unsettling.  “You want me to off this Cruz guy?”

“No.  No.”  The elder Trump laughed at this display of naivete.  “Whoever the Republicans would replace him with would be just as bad.  Hell, he could be worse.  No telling what Carson could do.  Guy’s a Seventh Day Adventist.  Can’t trust ‘em.  The whole party’s crooked.  Has been for years.”  With some effort, Trump’s future self got up from the bed and took him by the shoulders.  “I need you to run for president.  Do you understand me?  I need to you become the Republican nominee for president in 2016, and then I need you to lose to Hillary Clinton.”

“Lose?  You want me to lose?  I never lose.”  The elder Trump led them out to the bedroom’s private terrace.  Above them, the night’s first stars began to appear in the navy blue sky.  Far below, the black waters of the Atlantic.

“Idiot, who do you think you’re talking to?”  Elder Trump rolled his eyes as the melancholic wind of late summer breezed past them.  “Nobody’s buying your steaks and tacky ties, your university can’t even scam morons out of their money properly, people don’t want to watch your boring, repetitive TV show anymore and you’ve declared bankruptcy more times than you’ve been married.  You lose all the time, Donald.  Now, I need you to lose one last time.”

“Clinton, eh?”  Trump mulled a thought over in his head.  “I don’t wanna go up against her.  She’s alright.  Donated to her foundation.  Had her and Bill at my wedding.  I’ve got no beef with her.”

“Then you make one up.  You do everything you need to do... Up until a point.  Then, when everyone thinks you’ve gone as far as you can go, you go even farther.  Say as many nasty, vile, cruel things as you can and watch the tenor of American politics change forever in the span of a few months.  Destroy every single unspoken rule and convention that has maintained the dignity of the presidency for over two centuries.  Watch yourself rise in the polls each time you vilify every vulnerable, maligned, put-upon group that you can think of.  Lie about everything and everyone - for no other reason than you can.  Gleefully go beyond the limits of common decency as people rabidly flock to you by the millions.”  Elder Trump took a moment to catch his breath.  “Then, you take a dive and walk home.”  He licked his lips and looked around anxiously.  “Say, you didn’t offer me a drink.”  The younger Trump looked at him, unbelieving.

“We don’t drink,” he said, incredulity coming to his voice for the first time.  “Say... how do I know you’re who you say you are, anyway?  This could be some kinda scam.”

“Our favourite actress is Joan Collins and our favourite movie is the 1970s King Kong.  We don’t like tube socks or cats.  We once ran into Johnny Unitas in an elevator, and we don’t know how to ride a bike.”

“What about the tattoo?”

“The Ghostbusters 2 logo,” he said, sheepishly unbuttoning his shirt to reveal the peace sign-giving ghost emblematic of one of cinema’s more lamentable sequels.  “Shoulda seen the movie first, I think.”

“Hmmm,” said Trump, an upturned lip signaling approval.  “I’ll be damned.  So what’s with the drinking?”

“Things change a guy, y’know?  Scotch, on the rocks.”

“I’ll have one sent for” he said, disappointed, and headed back into his room.

The elder Trump looked to the night sky, and the darkness enveloping everything from the east.  Sea and sky melded into one black whole, punctuated by thousands of bright stars coming out for the night.  Reflected in the water, they gave the elder Trump the impression he was standing at the edge of space.  He hadn’t felt this relaxed in over a decade.

The younger Trump returned to the terrace, drink in hand.  “I’ve asked those guys to keep their mouths shut about enough stuff over the years, what’s one drink gonna-” he caught himself in mid-sentence.  His double had raised himself atop the terrace railing.

“You need to do this.  The future depends on you, Donald.” With that, the elder Trump tumbled over the railing to the watery darkness far below.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mike Sees the Queen

So, the other day I went down to see the Queen at Queen’s Park. I suspect it’s a bit of a unique experience, so let me resurrect my blog go on about it at length (I am well aware that this is of interest to, at the absolute most, two people).

The Queen had a little farewell stop at Queen’s Park Tuesday morning before she left the country. I figured this was my one shot to actually get a glimpse at her, so I trekked downtown (Through not a little bit of morning rush hour traffic, I add. I have no idea how people do that every day. God bless ‘em.).

Coming up to Queen’s Park about an hour before things were set to begin, I had to figure out where to stand. There were barriers to direct people, various roads were closed off, some people needed passes, some people were gathered here, and others over there. It was all a bit of a crap shoot, trying to guess exactly where one might get a peek at her. Where would she enter? Where would she walk? Where would she leave? There was a covered plaque out front of the legislature (you know, of the Ontario heritage variety), so I figured that was as good a place as any to go as it stood to reason that someone was going to have to uncover it. Surprisingly few people made this same move.

To get a good view of the Queen, I don’t think you have to arrive particularly early. Getting up right against the barrier, with the magical chance to have – maybe!- an actual chit chat with her requires an earlier arrival than mine, however.

To pass the time, I chatted with some of the other folk waiting around. Pleasant enough people. I will readily admit that wanting to go and see the Queen is… not strange, but certainly unusual (even though it fucking shouldn’t be, goddammit), and of the varying levels of insanity/devotion to the Queen on display, I’d like to think I trended towards the normal. Certainly compared to the people with their home-made, Queen-themed outfits and such, I think I came off as relatively well-adjusted.

Eventually the Queen came out the front of the legislature, accompanied by McGuinty and the Lieutenant Governor. This came as a bit of a surprise, as nobody really knew what the hell was going on, when it was going on, and where she was or wasn’t. Unbeknownst to us, the Queen had been getting a little tour inside of the legislature the whole time. Anyway, McGuinty gave a little speech about re-dedicating Queen’s Park, and the Queen revealed the plaque, just as I had anticipated. This all happened not too far from my face, I must say.

The Queen was obliged to give the plaque a little once-over. It was a bit comical, really. I mean, obviously she doesn’t particularly care about yet another arbitrary re-dedication, but she has to make some show that the plaque matters on some level. On the other hand, she can’t quite stand there for two minutes and read the whole thing. I definitely appreciate the effort she makes in pretending to be interested, especially considering nobody in the crowd was.

At this point, she started her walkabout. Again, I should point out that I was closer to her than about 98% of everyone else there, so I felt well-positioned. To begin, a man not a few feet away from me wearing a shirt with her image sewn into it (a crazy person, in other words), shouted “Your Majesty!” a number of times. It was quite awkward, and you do feel sorry for the Queen, having to deal with such folk day in, day out.

To her credit, amazingly, she actually went over to him and took the bouquet he offered. I probably owe that guy a beer, since, while I had expected him to scare her off, he actually acted like a Queen magnet. She then went to the guy right in front of me and took his bouquet. Yes, I was literally three feet from the Queen!

(At this point I want to pause to underline how good of her it was to entertain the first crazy guy. He was rather wacky-looking in his attire and fairly off-putting, so it’s amazing she approached him. We were convinced she would actively avoid him, as we had been trying to do the whole morning.)

It’s a bit weird, measuring the success of an event by your proximity to someone of note. My previous record was 30 feet from Mick Jagger at the SARS concert. Here though, it was pretty surreal. Short of actually talking to her – which surely is a bit of a pipe dream – that’s just about as good as it gets.

Aside from one or two crazy people who seemed to have mild hysteric episodes when she came close, the crowd around me at that particular moment was eerily calm. I hate to say this, but it was essentially like being at the zoo when a silverback gorilla or something comes up to the glass: total silence, everyone gaping in awe. It makes sense, in retrospect, but I hadn’t expected that. It’s also a bit like a zoo animal (I really, really hate to make that comparison) in that you have no way to anticipate how she’s going to move, or why, or for how long. You just sorta have to go with the flow, and hope it works out your way.

I guess something inside you changes a bit when the Queen comes up. Up till that point I’d been taking a few photos, but you just feel incredibly self-conscious and almost guilty about it when she’s a few feet away. Here’s an 84-year-old woman a thousand miles from home, in the sweltering heat, with a full day still ahead of her. She doesn’t need yet another rube shoving a camera in her face.

Another thing you notice is how utterly normal and natural it feels. Like, “oh yeah, here’s the frigging Queen, right up in my grill. This is essentially exactly how I pictured it, and it doesn’t seem the least bit odd. Everything I planned for has worked out perfectly.” Although she is maybe shorter than you’d expect.

For her part, the Queen betrays very little. I noticed that she avoids eye contact, at least for the two guys in front of me whose flowers she took. She must be very careful to make any sort of connection with someone, lest she be drawn into conversation with a crazy person; or even a normal person, really. Can’t talk to them all.

Generally, she was fairly stone-faced when I was watching. At one point – in reaction to what, I couldn’t say – she had a big, brief smile. Something about that was nice, and I think the crowd noticed it too.

Dalto McG!

As she made her way along the line, Dalton McGuinty was sort of left behind to chit chat with whoever. It was pretty funny, the way in which nobody gave a stuff about him at that point (in the sense that he had to compete for the Queen for attention, that is to say). He came up to the guy in front of me who had his flowers taken (who seemed to be in shock), and had a nice little talk with him. I think he was just trying to help the guy come back to the real world; seemed very nice of him. He stuck around signing autographs and shaking hands (mine included! Wowee!!) and that was about that. Very good-natured guy. I would have thanked him for sticking to his guns on the HST, or gotten on his case about not sticking to his guns on sex ed, but something about that didn’t seem particularly appropriate at the time.

The Queen had by now made her way around, and, amazingly, it looked like there was a giant open spot behind us where she would pass by. I made my way over. After this, it was a bit strange. Like I said, the crowds at these things have no clue what’s going on, and magically the Governor General, the Queen and Harper made their way in front of me (along with their spouses). Quite where they came from, or where McGuinty went to, I have no clue.

At this point, the Queen was obliged to chit chat with the weirdoes from the Monarchist League, opposite me (Jean had her hand around the Queen, directing her to and fro). They’re sort of… fucking weirdoes, essentially. Insufferable, small-minded campus Conservatives, say. I see what they’re trying to do, but there’s something incredibly off-putting about the organization and them as individuals. There is no way that that’s an effective vehicle for supporting the Monarchy in Canada.

I tried getting Harper’s attention, shouting (respectfully!) “Mr. Prime Minister!”. My first instinct was to rag on him about any number of things, but, as with McGuinty, getting overly political in this atmosphere just didn’t feel right. Instead, I decided that I wanted to find out if it was true that he used to watch Star Trek. I did get him to look back at me, but by then he’d passed a bit too far. The atmosphere was such that I hardly noticed him till he had gone by. I mean, the fucking Prime Minister, right? “Oh, there goes the elected head of the legislature, I guess.”

I would have liked to have had words with Prince Philip, get him to say something funny. God knows what he thinks of any of this. If I was in charge, I would deploy him to mop up the bits of the crowd that the Queen didn’t get to; a sort of consolation prize.

Overall, a pretty good treat. Like I say, it was essentially as good as you could reasonably expect. One never knows when the Queen will return, or whether she’ll even come to Toronto if she does, so I’m pretty satisfied with this one.

I was pretty impressed by the lack of security. Sure, there were cops and secret service guys all over the place, but they were very unobtrusive. One certainly didn’t need to pass through any metal detectors, or anything of that nature, to get in. One wonders what it’s like seeing Obama at a similar function. I guess it’s nice knowing that when the Queen’s around, people are just there to have a nice, relaxing time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Overheard in New Mexico

Well that hardly looks dangerous at all

Lunchtime at the Los Alamos cafeteria, July 23rd, 1945; one week after the Trinity test.

J. Robert Oppenheimer: Hey, listen. Remember last week, at the test, when I yelled out “holey shmoley!” during the explosion?

Richard Feynman: Yeah, yeah. Me and a few of the guys been saying how that was a weird thing to just yell out.

Oppenheimer: Right. Well, I was thinking. Maybe, from here on out, if anyone asks you what I said, you say it was, “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.”

Feynman: What’s that?

Oppenheimer: Well, I mean, I’m just thinking how maybe “holey shmoley” doesn’t do the, uh, event justice. I mean, you know, world’s first nuclear explosion and all. Maybe if posterity were to record something a bit more… memorable, say, something from an ancient Sanskrit text, that would work best for all involved.

Feynman: Yeah, sure thing.

Oppenheimer: So, “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds” it is, right?

Feynman: Whatever you say, Bob.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's Not Me, It's You

This man doesn't even need an actual telephone to make calls

The following phone conversation, intercepted by MOSSAD, was released this afternoon:

Barack Obama: Yo Stevie! Stevie Wonder!

Stephen Harper: I’m sorry, who is this?

Obama: It’s Barack! Barack Attack!

Harper: Oh, yes, Mr. President. Thank you for calling. I must say, we are quite excited about you coming tomorrow. Rideau Hall is looking quite resplendent, and I myself will be wearing my most favourite of ties. It says “The Great One,” and there is a picture of 1980s-era Wayne Gretzky on it. We even have 10, 000 bilingual school children who will-

Obama: Ahh yeah… dude, I so don’t want to be a dick about this, but, man, I can’t make it!

Harper: Well that’s alright. I never cared for the school children anyway. But the rest-

Obama: No man, I can’t come at all. I am just, like… sooooo tired, you know?

Harper: Oh, I… I see. (Awkward pause) Are you sure something can’t be arranged?

Obama: Nah, sorry dude. We, uh, got this, uh, credit crunch, and subprime, like, housing market bubble… you know? And the wife is killing me! You know what I mean?

Harper: Ahh, yes. Wives can on occasion be problematic. Laureen has been acting out ever since I had her take my name.

Obama: Word to that!

Harper: Well, maybe I could come down to Washington tomorrow instead?

Obama: Oh man, I don’t think so…

Harper: Ahh. Or, okay… maybe next month, then?

Obama: Yeah, maybe, maybe. But I totally told Mexico I would go down there next month. Trust me, if I’d known about this, I would never have made plans with Mexico! Agh! I'm, like, pulling my hair out, you know? Feel like such a dick, man.

Harper: I... I see. (Another pause) Mr. President, we’ve already welded the manhole covers shut!

Obama: Dude, I totally know what you’re saying. This is so dickish of me, I know! I should have called yesterday, at least. This is so not fair of me, and I will own up to that, bro. IOU one fighter jet escort next tim… if you come down here. Writing that down right now so I won't forget. "Steven Harpo: one fighter jet escort."

Harper: Nah, no… I mean, I can quite understand. These things happen, right?

Obama: Oh yeah. Yeah, totally normal. (Pause) Alright, listen, I’ve gotta scoot, but I’ve got your number and you’ve got mine so feel free to drop a text to my celly whenever.

Harper: Could I perhaps telephone you sometime?

Obama: (Slight pause) Y… Yeah, dude, yeah. Kay, catch ya later! (Hangs up phone)

Harper: Bye Obama!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Feeling Is Not Mutual

Sharon, I have some very bad news for you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving it Straight

Meet Burt Barlowe, Fan 590’s drive time DJ! He’s got an attitude, and he’s not afraid to use it!

Caller: Hey Burt, I was wondering what you thought about Kaberle last night? Seems to me he ran out of steam after that hit from-
Burt: Kaberle? Kaberle? Listen to me, you mincing little queer – if you want to talk about Kaberle why don’t you go down to the bathhouse and chat with the other princesses? I hear your thousandth visit is free.

Burt Barlowe! With 22 years experience in the sports talk world, he won’t pull any punches!

Caller: How about that Stempniak trade? What the hell is Fletcher thinking?
Burt: Well Fletcher’s probably thinking about that blow job you didn’t pay him for last night, you cum-guzzling cock muncher. What’s the matter, footlong Italians too expensive at Subway this week? Get the Christ off my radio show!

Burt Barlowe! He wears sunglasses indoors so you don’t have to!

Caller: I just think it’s great Walter Gretzky got the Order of Canada. He’s an icon, and a true-
Burt: Hey, if anyone cared what you thought, you’d have your own radio show and I’d be the one masturbating to memories of handjobs I got in the 80s. Go suck your own dad’s dick. Again.

After three failed marriages and a host of unloved children spread across at least six women, Burt knows how to roll with the punches!

Caller: Speaking as an Asian-Canadian, I think the comments you made to that last caller were beyond the pale.
Burt: Listen bitch, why don’t you put down the chopsticks, crawl inside your own cunt and eat your afterbirth?

Burt’s seen it all, and to meet his alimony payments he’ll sit in a tiny booth every weekday from 3 to 6 answering your calls!

Burt: Hey, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule of wanking into your mom’s panties to call in.
Caller: What? I just wanted to know if you thought the Bombers were going to be hot this year…
Burt: You feckless little child molester. Go rape your common-law “wife’s” son.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

For Your TV-Viewing Pleasure

Last month marked the 7th anniversary of the premiere of Essex Hall, the critically-acclaimed series that followed a group of mostly handsome young men in their early 20s as they embarked upon their university careers at Western. Over the course of its record-breaking 4-year run, viewers came to know and love characters such as the sullen Andrew, the pensive Adam and the shy, meek Rory. (Whose catch-phrase “Aww, why’s it gotta be me?” became a national sensation in the summer of 2003.)

After the final episode aired in April, 2005, viewers wondering what might happen to the stalwart gang were pleased to hear that while Essex Hall had been cancelled, a series of spinoffs would take its place. Join us as we take stock of these shows, three years after they premiered.

That’s Rory!: In a bid to cut costs, Essex Hall’s London setting was retained for Rory’s spinoff. Low ratings (attributed, by producers, as viewer unwillingness to accept the Rory character in a leading role) at the program’s outset were reversed with the addition of an attractive female character to the cast. Following Rory as he pulls teeth, carves chalk and finds love, viewers are left wondering if the lovable elf will ever leave London.

Producers have indicated fan-favourite Cato may return for a slate of episodes during February sweeps, a treat sure to please longtime Essex Hall fans eager to see the riveting sexual tension between the two on display once again.

In addition to That’s Rory!, the character appears in yearly travelogues across Europe. Panned by most as “formulaic” and “boring,” Rory’s Europe nonetheless has an avid following among viewers aged 65 and older, who find the show’s bus-based format comfortably predictable.

Andy’s Antics: Many were unsure if the “morosely withdrawn” Andrew could sustain an entire show. In response, he was given a trial miniseries in which producers sent him globe-trotting in the hope that the exotic European and Australian locales would allow the character room to develop. It wasn’t until the miniseries’ final installment, featuring a guest appearance by Mike, that ratings were high enough to commission a full slate of episodes for Andy’s Antics. Bizarrely, the series is set in Windsor, and follows Andrew’s adventures as an unlikely, accidental Law school student. Critics have praised the show’s “whimsical” supporting cast, while noting the main character still suffers from the “stilted, wooden delivery” that plagued him in Essex Hall.

Mike at Large: It was thought a radical change of setting would endear the character of Mike to whole new audience while retaining those viewers who viewed him as the “emotional anchor” of Essex Hall’s cast. To this end, producers developed Road to Sandy Bay, a comedy/drama set in a remote Native community in Saskatchewan’s far north. Praised by critics as an uncompromising look into the breakdown of both the Canadian reservation system and the human soul, audiences were put off by the program’s exploration of the darker sides of isolation, sexual deprivation and alcoholism. Unable to find an audience, Road to Sandy Bay was cancelled after just one season. Undaunted and still under contract, Mike was placed in a second spinoff, Mike at Large.

Mike at Large chronicles the trials and tribulations of a man approaching 30 who is without a job, a girlfriend, or a life beyond his parents’ basement. Unsure of whether the program is a dark comedy or a drama, audiences have been slow to pick it up. Nevertheless, fans continue to enjoy Mike’s appearances in the various Essex Hall spinoffs’ 2-hour specials.

Hammer & Sweets, MDs: Virtually unheard-of in English-speaking Canada, this production by the Société Radio-Canada follows fan-favourite Nathan and 4th season addition Nick as they grow moustaches, root through bins of dismembered limbs, and – in one memorable episode – examine each other’s prostates. A unique hook in the pilot episode’s closing moments indicates via flashback from 2009 that only one of the two main characters will finish their degree.

Believed unable to garner significant audiences separately, the unlikely duo of Nathan and Nick was formed in order to take advantage of Nathan’s appeal among manly men and Nick’s among pre-teen girls. The show has been a wild success for the SRC, with talk that an English-language version is in the works.

The show has not been without its setbacks. A controversial statement made by Nathan in the show’s fifth episode regarding the Greek-Canadian community nearly led to the show’s cancellation, though this was smoothed over by the revelation that Nick did, in fact, once date a Greek girl.

A subplot introduced in Essex Hall’s final season involving Nathan’s rapid loss of hair and the atrophying of his once-proud biceps continues to rivet fans in Hammer & Sweets, MDs, even as they are repulsed by Nick’s antics with cadavers – many of them not donated to medical research.

One notable absence has been Adam Kowalsky, who refuses to this day to take part in even the two-hour TV specials occasionally broadcast over the years. His sole television appearance since Essex Hall was the baffling Kowalsky of Kensington, a non-sequential black and white documentary profiling his exploits – such as they are – variously running a soup kitchen, Cambodian immigrant drop-in centre and hot dog stand in Toronto. After a disastrous premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, the documentary sat forgotten on a shelf at the NFB for two years until it was finally picked up by TVOntario. Kowalsky of Kensington has the dubious distinction of garnering the lowest ratings for TVO’s long-running Saturday Night at the Movies, and nearly led to the cash-strapped public broadcaster’s demise.

What’s next for the cast of Essex Hall? The only way to find out is to tune in!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It All Makes Sense Now

Fig. 1

Time now to take a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of my mind! You can see here (fig. 1) the top ten or so objects of my thought processes at any given time. Let it never be said that I don't give robots their fair shake.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Western New York's Only Source of Potable Water!

"We'll tell you what the devaluation of the dollar versus the emerging euro means for your weekend at... oh, sorry, evidently we won't."

September 26th, 476:
The Action News 2 News Team first brought you word of the gradual, almost imperceptible decline of the Roman Empire over the past few centuries. We’ll bring you word on the latest barbarian sacking – and what this means for your Western civilization – at 11!

March 18th, 1836:
There was a house fire in Tonawanda today, only 3 hours after the city’s incorporation. We’ll tell you how many butter churns were destroyed – at 11!

April 14th, 1865:
Action News 2 brought you exclusive word earlier today on the president being shot in the head by a bullet. We’ll tell you if he lived or died – and what this could mean for your Union - at 11!

April 12th, 1912:
Action News 2 and our Doppler 3000 Weather Team were the first to warn you about rogue icebergs in the North Atlantic, and it seems one has claimed another victim! Find out if your loved one was aboard… at 11!

"We here at the Action 2 News Team were the first to exclusively tell you that the Erie County Fair is canceled this year due to a menacing green cloud hovering over western New York. No word yet on which - if any - of the Gambino brothers survived the disaster. Cellino & Barnes are launching a class action lawsuit against WUTV on Union road, where the cloud originated."

June 28th, 1914:
An Austrian Archduke was assassinated earlier today. We’ll tell you which one in which Baltic pseudo-state – and what this could mean for your weekend – at 11!

August 15th, 1914:
A man-made canal opened today. We’ll tell you across which isthmus and what two oceans it connects – and what this could mean for the price of your grains – at 11!

August 6th, 1945:
If you’re thinking of heading to Hiroshima for the weekend, don’t forget your sunscreen! We’ll tell you why… at 11!