Friday, April 28, 2006

Lest We Forget

Canadians are incensed, absolutely incensed that Parliament is petulently refusing to fly the flag at half-mast. Some see this as an effort to ignore or numb the shock of the recent deaths of four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. They seem to feel that if the average Canadian is walking past Parliament and the flag is at half-mast they will suddenly come to a realization of the terrible cost of war, fall on their knees and repent of their war-mongering ways. If the flag remains up, the average Canadian will walk past Parliament, assume everything is well with the world and start whistling "God Save the Queen." Canadians from across the country are assuming that Stephen Harper (or Gordon O'Connor, whom Harper judiciously delegated responsibility over the flag flap to) wants Canadians to be completely oblivious to these deaths. Of course, in order for a Canadian to be unaware of these deaths he would have to be an illiterate television-hating hermit. As much as we might romanticize illiterate hermits in our minds, we probably do not care too much about their opinion on the vertical characteristics of the Peace Tower flag anyways.
I understand the need to remember our soldiers. I think it is important to dwell on the lives that are sacrificed in defence of clear or even vague notions of justice. I, however, do not believe that Parliament should lower the flag every time a soldier is killed. Is this a contradiction, that I respect and remember Canada's soldiers and I do not think the flags of Parliament should be lowered for them? No. I agree with many veterans who feel that special gestures towards the few somehow diminishes the sacrifice of the many. I do not think that the death of a soldier today is any more heroic than it was sixty years ago. In fact, I feel that deaths of soldiers should not be merely seen as heroic but as heroic and soberingly tragic. The day for remembering the sacrifice of soldiers is November 11.
Imagine if William Lyon Mackenzie King had lowered the flag each time a soldier was killed during World War II. The flag would be at perpetual half-mast and the national psyche would be in a constant state of mourning. Of course, a certain amount of glumness is understandable during war, but it is also important to imbue the people with a sense of hope. I am not adovcating propaganda or disguising the number of fallen, but I do believe that flying the flag proudly at full mast is a direct national defiance against the often tyrannical and, yes, even evil powers you are fighting. War is a horrible time of sadness but we must grit our teeth and fight on.
Some might argue that the tragic sacrifice of the soldiers is much more important than the death of a tragically obscure Canadian politician. Why do we lower the flag for the one-term M.P. from Kicking-Horse Pass and not Pte. Johnny Canuck killed by a roadside bomb in Kandahar? Surely the sacrifice of the soldier is much more dramatic and heroic than the boring death of a dry politician, right? Maybe, but I am inclined to side with tradition. I think it is important to remember the lives of staid politicians who dedicated their lives to the political life of the country. Politicians do not have a day where everyone remembers their deaths and this is probably a good thing, as many cynical Canadians would probably make it into a party.
November 11 is the time to remember the fallen soldiers and the victims of war. I believe that the government made the right decision by respecting the legacy of past Canadian war-dead and not trumpeting the deaths of recent ones.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How many CD's do you own?
Approximately 150 including my wife's, and then about thirty burnt cd's.

What's the latest CD that you bought?
Kardinal Offishall's latest (a mild disappointment)

What's the latest piece of music that you have listened to?
Ain't Too Proud to Beg - Ben Harper diggin' on the Temptations.

Name five CD's that have made a lasting impression on you:
1) Bob Marley - Survival
2) Buju Banton - Til Shiloh
3) U2 - Joshua Tree
4) The Roots - Do You Want More!!??!!??
5) Ben Harper - Diamonds on the Inside

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Monument

Twisted Metal
bent double
glinting dully in its fra
battered and shattered
state of decrepit portions and
Sharp angles
rise in disconc
patterns of violence.


wafts uneasily from a
bent and spent
metallic jungle of
steel beams and
iron dreams.
Silver and rust
are covered in dust
as crumpled pillars embrace
in impossible directions of
and warped pipes
and strangulated rods,
perforated beams
and mutilated bars
are riddled with
ugly dents and disturbing
and bent
in innumerable ways
in an endless maze
of horrific agony
and confusion
of abrasions
and sha

No, this noble monument
will not be described any more
for this, my friend,
this is the glory of war.

John den Boer, 2002.

- Todd and Kimberley came to my house a while back. They just wanted you to know that.

- I went to watch V for Vendetta with Phil, but they wouldn't accept my cheerios movie pass because it was a Friday.

- There is no hidden message in this blog entry.

- Groen Van Prinsterer should watch V for Vendetta.

- My infamous fingernail is still in its last throes. Now the thumbnail is succumbing to something for some reason. It must be a fungus. I feel leprous.

- C-plus Orange Burst really doesn't deliver on its promise. It tasted exactly like regular c-plus. I received absolutely no so-called "burst."

- Do you know what's ironic? A faith healer with glasses, that's what.

- I would like to add The Specials cover of Toots and the Maytals' "Pressure Drop" to my list of favourite covers if that's alright.

- I don't need to ask because this is my blog and if you don't like it you can read someone else's.

- Please stay.

- I was taught a word by one of my students. "Scrofulous" which is an adjective desribing something with scrofula (a type of tuberculosis where the neck swells up) or describing someone or something that is morally degenerate.

- In Taiwan it is the ninety-fifth year of the Republic of China.

- I have decided to correct the time on my blog.

- We miss you and love you, Linda.

- Benny Hinn is scrofulous, and he doesn't have tuberculosis.

- I have been married for almost nine months.

- Bob Marley.

- I had to mention him somehow.

- Why don't you trust me? I told you there was no hidden message and you looked anyhow. What's wrong with you?

- I hate unexpected problems with no immediately apparent solution.

- Big gulps, huh? Well, see ya later.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

CSI Miami Template

- Shot of beachfront hotels from above.
- Show people doing something of slight moral reprehensibility which might just lead to a murder but actually causes them to stumble upon a corpse.
- Show CSI members examining the body, have them find something exotic or out of place.
- Show Horatio arriving and then allow a CSI member to explain something about the body.
- Zoom in on Horatio's face, allow him to put on his sunglasses and do a cute little reversal of whatever they said. For example, if the CSI member says, "she has a rock in her hand" then Horatio can say, in his halting way, "and now. death. has her. in its. hand." Or, if the distraught friend of the deceased says something like, "we were just having fun" Horatio can put on his sunglasses and say, "well, death. decided. to. have . . . her."
- After this little witticism, play whichever Who song they play at the beginning of CSI Miami and roll the opening credits.
- Begin side plot involving some kind of slightly confusing murder case.
- Allow copious shots of the inexplicable Hummers that these government workers drive.
- Ensure that there is an extended laboratory scene replete with techno music which actually makes lab work seem cool.
- Include many opportunities for Horatio to put on and take off his sunglasses while saying things very haltingly.
- Reveal some personal drama that one of the staff members is going through and show their angst.
- Try to show a shot of the beach or at least get a scene with an alligator in the show.
- There are no fat people, people over thirty-two, or ugly children at the beach in Miami, make sure these undesirables don't appear on camera.
- Whoever committed the murder acts like a real snarky jerk to the CSI staff.
- Maybe include something of CSI Miami's meta-narrative about the psychopath who has an axe to grind with Horatio and the girl he's protecting, although it is not strictly necessary.
- Only one of these rules may be broken per episode.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Prophet

The man who called himself Moses
led his people past the promised land
and the prophet cried, "come,
eat manna from my hand!"
and he offered them dirt
although they needed bread
and he made them believe
that they were well-fed
Moses put up his arms and said
"I am. Come follow me,"
and the people followed
to the dark-shadowed valley
When people were sick
Moses left them on the path
"the righteous are never ill
it's a sign of God's wrath."
Moses sought more people
for his exclusive clan
and so he gathered the young
for they trusted this man
Moses raised up his staff
and struck the rock with rage
and cried out in a loud voice
"I am. I free you from your cage!"
Moses was pleased with the people
for they truly sought the Lord
and Moses gathered his tithe
and placed it with his hoard
He split father against son
and mother against daughter
and he declared, "You are
the clay, I am the potter."
Then Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
raised their voices and rebelled
and Moses, righteous Moses
had those men expelled
Anger stirred against him
for his ways were unjust
but Moses did not fear
his heart had turned to dust
The man who called himself Moses
sits upon a corroded throne
but he is in the path
of a rolling stone.

Monday, April 10, 2006

John's Favourite Covers

I've Got Dreams to Remember - Toots and the Maytals covering Otis Redding's classic.
Respect - Aretha Franklin steals Otis Redding's song and no one remembers who sang it first.
No Woman No Cry - The Fugees cover Bob Marley and then they do a version with Stephen Marley that is simply awesome.
Killing Me Softly - Lauryn Hill covers Roberta Flack.
Imagine - A Perfect Circle covers John Lennon's anthem for the obtusely idealistic and the result is kind of cool.
Wonderwall - Ryan Adams does a superb cover of the Oasis hit.
Proud Mary - Ike and Tina Turner redoing CCR.
Bridge Over Troubled Water - Aretha Franklin covers Simon and Garfunkel.
Wish You Were Here - Wyclef covers Pink Floyd.
High Tide or Low Tide - Jack Johnson and Ben Harper cover Bob Marley.
Strawberry Fields Forever - Ben Harper coversthe Beatles.
Police and Thieves - The Clash covers the Junior Murvin/Lee Perry classic.
Light My Fire - Aretha's sister, Erma, redoes the Doors.
Subterranean Homesick Blues - Sizzla Kalonji covers Bob Dylan.
Amazing Grace - Not really a cover, right? Wrong, because the Blind Boys of Alabama sing it to the tune of "House of the Rising Sun."
Hotel California - The Gypsy Kings cover the Eagles.
One Love/ People Get Ready - Bob Marley remakes Curtis Mayfield.
Ain't Too Proud to Beg - Ben Harper covers the Temptations.
Fortunate Son - Wyclef Jean dares to cover CCR.
Untold Stories - Sinead O'Connor, yes Sinead, covers Buju Banton and does a surprisingly good job.
Lonely People - Talib Kweli remixes the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby and it's nice. The album version is not nearly as good.
Hurt - Johnny Cash covers NIN and turns a song about drugs and self-destruction into a tribute to his wife without changing the words.
99 Red Balloons - Goldfinger outdoes Nena.
Bad Fish/ Boss DJ - Jack Johnson reinterprets Sublime.
Mama Africa - Buju Banton covers Peter Tosh.
Mrs. Robinson - Okay, they're corny, but the Lemonheads do a neat cover of Simon and Garfunkel.
I Shot the Sheriff - Eric Clapton covers Bob Marley.
Gin and Juice - This is more of a joke because I don't like either version, but a honky version of Snoop Dogg's Gin and Juice by the Gourds is funny to me.

Friday, April 07, 2006

How many books do you own?
Enough . . . but not really.

What book is your latest purchase?
*Sigh* I love books but I have not purchased one in about half a year and even then, it was a gift for my wife. "The Upside Down World of Vikram Lal" was the title, I believe. The last book that I purchased was "Papillon" which was alright, but its exaggerated, self-centred and grandiose storytelling reminded me of "A Million Little Pieces" by that notable truth-stretcher, James Frey.

What book have you most recently read?
In its entirety: Buzzing Flies, an eight page book about an annoying fly.
Right now I'm reading: A book of African History in French (struggling)
The Drama of Scripture
Mere Christianity

Name five great books with impact on you:

1) King Leopold's Ghost
2) The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
3) Les Miserables
4) Creation Regained
5) Six War Years

Who do you challenge to answer these same questions?
Suzanne, Rachel, and Christina den Boer. Karen and Clint Langelaar, Jono or Janice Barnhoorn, Becky and Rod Snoek and any other relatives out there.

Oh, and the Garth Street crew and Piet Harsevoort (nefarious cackle)

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Hummingbird don't fly away - B.B. King.

Mr. Samson was a stern old man. He was not crotchety, but he was not cheerful either. Mr. Samson was stern. He considered life to be far too serious to waste smiles on trivial matters and, as far as he was concerned, most things in life were trivial. This was the reason he was upset today and when stern old men are upset they are, by definition, crabby. He had wasted what he felt was an indulgent smile on a hummingbird of all things. Hummingbirds, he muttered to himself, are nervous little pissants and the little buggers are far too colourful to be considered anything but asinine.
He strode along the sidewalk, sternly observing the beautiful summer weather with a clinical air. The apple blossoms are fluttering to the ground, no doubt encouraged by the warm southerly breeze, he noted grimly. He stopped briefly to listen to the warbling notes of a mourning dove, merely out of scientific curiousity. Science, he reassured himself, is a serious matter.
Mr. Samson gave a polite but serious nod to a friendly, albeit overly-happy, passerby and continued on his way. Three small children, giggling and whooping, ran without any seeming purpose in a series of circles in the long grass of a large front lawn. Mr. Samson shook his head with what he thought was stern disapproval but actually appeared to be more wistful than condemnatory.
Children these days, he told himself, need more purpose and direction. They needed the sort of purpose and direction he himself had. He never went anywhere without a reason. Mr. Samson picked up his pace as he strode purposefully to . . . where? Mr. Samson faltered, what had been his purpose? He frowned deeply, unable to find the answer as his steps slowed. Why had he gone outside? He stopped completely as the answer dawned on him.
The hummingbird.

Who deh?