Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Euphemizing With The Stars

At the urging of some friends, I finally relented and watched an episode of Dancing With The Stars. The show is hosted by the somewhat smug Tom Bergeron (who has nothing on Justin Timberlake and Neil Patrick Harris for smugness — they are the sultans of smug). Tom’s co-host is a woman named Brooke. Last night she was wearing a rather revealing dress. More on that later.

There were twelve dance teams made up each of one professional dancer and one "star". Now I don't doubt that these participants are celebrated in some form or another of endeavor. But it just seemed curious that of the twelve "stars" I had only heard of half of them  — Gladys Knight, Martina Navratilova, Sherri Shepherd, Donald Driver, Jaleel White, and Melissa Gilbert. I'm a football fan so I knew who Donald Driver was. My wife is no sports lover, so that brought her list of recognizable "stars" down to five.

Wikipedia lists the "stars" and their occupations. It's no surprise that I had never heard of the Disney Channel star, the Telenovela star, and the television hostess. And it's certainly no mystery that I had no clue as to who the "classical crossover singer" was. I don't even know what a classical crossover singer is. Is it someone who hums Chopin's Polonaise in G minor while driving a Dodge Journey? If she sings opera, then why don't they just call her an opera singer? Perhaps her style of singing is something new in pop culture. I’m mighty proud to say that I know nothing of pop culture.

Some of the dancing was pretty good, and some of it reminded me of the way I move after downing a couple of bottles of hooch at a Minikin hoedown. The judges weren’t too harsh however and generally gave scores of seven or eight (out of ten). By the way, if you ever want to know how the middle judge (Len) scored, just take the score of either of the two other judges (since they always score the same) and subtract one. You will come up with Len’s score 99% of the time.

I noticed that viewers could go to the Dancing With The Stars Twitter page and tweet while watching the show (a common practice these days known as mulit-tasking. Most young people can Skype, tweet, text, watch TV, listen to music, play video games, and (if they knew what it was) could probably also hum Chopin’s Polonaise in G minor all at the same time). I was reading a few of the Twitter posts and wanted to go on there myself and tweet, "Check out the bus wheels on Brooke!"

For those of you who are not aware of it, “bus wheels” is a new Canadian euphemism for breasts. It originated with the Wildrose party of Alberta. More specifically, it originated with an image of party leader Danielle Smith on her campaign bus. Here is a picture of the bus:

Considering the publicity that Ms. Smith has acquired from this inadvertent stunt, we should soon see other party leaders doing something similar. Ontario's Dalton McGuinty could shed some of his stuffy image by having a picture of himself on the back of a bus strategically placed over the tailpipe. Not that it's something that hasn't been seen before:

I think the first guy might be happier with his "tailpipe".

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tai Chi, My Chi, High Chi, Schmai Chi

Warning! The hands that are typing these words are registered with the Ontario Provincial Police as deadly weapons. If my keyboard could speak, it would be saying, “Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch...”

I’ve always had an interest in martial arts ever since I saw the ads for Hai Karate after shave. I remember my dad brought some home one day, and I was interested in reading the advertised self-defense instructions. I eagerly opened the folded pamphlet but was disappointed to see that it was just a joke. You were to tell the women who would allegedly attack you to “watch out sister". Hai Karate or no Hai Karate, I never had much problem with having to fight off the women.

Just an aside while we’re on the topic of after shave. My brothers and I have this ongoing joke where we rib each other about our cologne choices. It started with a friend of my oldest brother referring to Jade East as Jade Beast. Not long after that, the same brother and my twin referred to their respective colognes as Ginstink (Ginseng) and Muskrat Oil (Musk Oil). Thereafter, various fragrances became Old Mice (Old Spice), Steps-In (Stetson), P.U.b (Pub), Skin Eraser (Skin Bracer), and Royal Goat-Been-Hangin’ (Royal Copenhagen). Currently I use Brutal (Brut) and Aqua Smellva (Aqua Velva).

My practice of martial arts took me through several belts in Kenpo karate. Our instruction was done primarily through repetition of the sensei’s moves. We would just ape what he did to some phantom opponent. Incidentally, I believe we may have had a move called "striking the phantom ape". Luckily, I never had to use my skills. However, I’m sure several air molecules felt the wrath and fury of my fists and feet during karate class. I was confident in my ability to handle the situation if I ever found myself in a back street tussle with a ghost.

And now, as a relatively older gent, I see that my years of martial arts training have mellowed me. I no longer feel the need to fight women. Besides, I’ve seen those five-foot-two, ninety-pound chicks with attitudes on TV and in movies these days. They can pound the living fertilizer out of an NFL defensive tackle while wearing high heels, and without even messing up a strand of hair (just to clarify, I meant the woman’s hair. And also, it’s the woman who is wearing the high heels).

Today I am a Tai Chi practitioner. Wikipedia states that the name Tai Chi literally translates to Supreme Ultimate Fist. I don’t doubt this for a Minikin minute. Our lead instructor is an eighty-something woman who stands about five-foot-nothing. Now I have all the training I need should I ever find myself in a slow-motion back street tussle with an elderly woman.

The style I’m practicing is a modified version of the Yang style. We have moves like “grasp sparrow’s tail” and “carry tiger to mountain”. However, with the slow-mo aspect of this practice, I find it improbable that I will ever gain enough speed to grasp any bird’s tail and that I will unlikely have the ability to catch a tiger let alone garner the strength to carry him to a mountain. “Go back to ward off monkey” is another one of our moves. This one would be handy if I ever find myself in a slow-motion back street tussle with an elderly monkey.

Other moves include "retreat to ride tiger" and "draw bow to shoot tiger". I’m not sure what the founding fathers of Tai Chi had against tigers, but these must have been some awfully tame and toothless felines that they perfected these moves on.

Tai Chi is an ancient martial art that has been credited with having benefits to heal everything from arthritis to world hunger. I personally find it to be beneficial as fodder for a blog post.

There are several forms of tai chi. These include the styles of Chen, Yang, Wu, Sun, and Fun.

Actually, there is no Fun style tai chi. But I’d like to develop it. The whole point would be to have fun. The entire class would be just a room full of people doing slow motion pseudo-martial arts moves in whatever fashion they desire!

So if anyone out there wants to do Fun style tai chi, just go to YouTube, watch some tai chi videos and do the moves slowly. Have a good time. Do it with the hands raised above your head if you like for high chi. Do it any way you like and call it my chi. You could even do your moves in a circle and then cross through the diameter of that circle and call your practice pi chi. And above all, never have any delusions that you can carry a tiger to a mountain or fight off a two hundred pound street thug.

However, you might be able to ward off an elderly marmoset.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

You Say Turbine, I Say Turban

Before Rush Limbaugh made his apology to Ms. Fluke, I had been working on a draft for my next blog post (which would be this blog post, not the next one, since this is the next one after the last one which had already been published, which would make this next. Follow?)

Therefore, I would like to apologize to Mr. Limbaugh now for something I wrote before but am publishing now. So, now that that's all cleared up, here now is the poem I wrote before:

A pig-headed loudmouth named Rush
Has some people wishing he'd hush.
But I say, why the fuss? Let him work.
Keep in mind that the words from this jerk
Have the value of something you'd flush.

It may look to my readers that there is a disturbing trend here. In fact, three of the last four blog posts have had mention of something toilet related. Believe me, it was not planned. Sometimes that's just the way it pans out. This reminds me of a previous series of entries two years ago: my inadvertent chewing gum trilogy.

You Say Mobile, I Say Mobile

I did not grow up in Antler River. Nor did I grow up in Minikin. I grew up in Windsor, Ontario.

Windsor is directly across the river from Detroit (pronounced De-troit, not De-troy-it), Michigan and is thus like a suburb of that exquisite and astonishingly gorgeous city.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not being derisive about Detroit. No, it is not gorgeous, but it really is a fine city. If crime and squalor is your thing, then it's fine. No, seriously, it really is a nice place —  if you like hubcaps on the side of the road and derelict buildings. Honestly, I should stop with this and say that I sincerely like Detroit. This is a humor blog after all and I have to poke fun at something. (C'mon Detroit. Lighten' up. Go Pistons, Red Wings, Lions, Tigers, Bears Oh My!)

Anyway, Windsor is tremendously affected by U.S. media and culture. In fact, Windsorians, I mean Windsorers, uh Windsorites (hey, I think that's it!) speak almost exactly like Detroitonians, I mean Detroiters (I do believe I'm finally getting the hang of this).

For example, most Ontarians (got it on the first try!) would pronounce pasta with a short, sharp a as in apple. Windsorites on the other hand generally pronounce it with a soft, breathy a as in father. "I think I'd like to have some paahsta for dinner", we would say.

Likewise, we'd pronounce Mazda or garage, in that oh-so-refined sounding way. On the other side of the coin, I've actually heard someone from Antler River pronounce Sinatra with that short, sharp a. "Sin-at-ra"

I'm reminded here of the Gershwing tune "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" where you'll find the lines,
You like tomato, I like tomahto
You like potato, I like potahto...

POTAHTO??? What kind of cheap rhyme is that? No one says potahto. Even the crème de la crème of the English upper crust wouldn't say it that way. "Would you kindly pahss the mahshed potahtoes."

But back here in Ontario, another odd regional difference (odd considering Windsor is only a 2-hour drive from Antler River) is how words with i-(consonant)-e are pronounced. For example, in Windsor the word mobile is mo-bull (with stress on the first syllable). Other Ontarians will say mo-bahyl (emphasis on the last syllable and pronounced like mile).

Other similar words are fragile (fraj-ill and fraj-aisle), and my favorite turbine (which I pronounce like the Sikh headgear, not tur-bahyn). Some people argue with me and say that these two words should be pronounced differently to avoid confusion. But if I said wind turbine (pronounced my way) would people really think I meant a device for determining the direction and speed of air movement that happens to look like a piece of clothing? Who ever heard of such a thing?

Some will say miss-aisle for missile (miss-uhl) but that's mostly Brits. What do they know about English?

Since we're on the subject, here are a few more words and phrases which need to be cleared up:

The word kilometer I pronounce kill-o-mee-ter not kill-om-uh-ter (another one for the Brits, although they do not say cen-tim-it-er for centimeter (or do they?)).

Short-lived I pronounce with a long i and rhyme with port thrived (OK, you find something to rhyme with it).

Cyclical — sahy-kli-kul instead of sick-li-kuhl (I don't want a pickle. Just want to ride on my motorsickle).

Vicious circle, rather than vicious cycle (although as a kid, I once had a bicycle that I swore was trying to kill me).

Don't get me wrong. Say things in whatever manner you wish. Remember, even though you may see profound prose and masterful writing here, I'm not the final word on how words and phrases should be expressed.

Oh, and by the way, the toilet paper roll should be installed with the paper hanging over.