It Happened to Me

Suddenly, all those body-cavity searches I’ve been getting at the airport make sense

My two-year-old nephew Aidan is a genius at identifying the various engines and train cars from the television show Thomas the Tank Engine, but sometimes misidentifies people from their photographs. Recently, he saw a picture of financial bigwig Sherry Cooper (Executive Vice President of the BMO Financial Group and Chief Economist for BMO Nesbitt Burns) and exclaimed “Yoya!”. “Yoya” is the way he pronounces “Lola”, which is the Filipino word for “Grandma”. Ms. Cooper and Mom look nothing alike, but they have very similar hairdos.

Last week, Aidan’s nanny Marvie was reading the paper when he walked up to her, pointed to a picture and yelled “Joey!”. Thanks to the accordion, my appearance in the paper is hardly an unexpected event. Marvie turned over the paper, expecting to see a photo of me playing the accordion at a club or on the street but instead saw a photo of Uday Hussein.


Photo: Uday Hussein.

I think he automatically associates facial hair with me. Of any family members in Canada, immediate and extended, only Dad and I are capable of growing a decent beard, and Dad prefers to keep clean-shaven.

For the record, I have never assisted an Iraqi dictator, I have never tortured any Iraqis, and I look like this:

Photo: Joey deVilla.

It Happened to Me

In love and war, it’s the declaration that counts

On the evening of Christmas Day, after my sister and brother-in-law had taken their kids home and I’d finished helping Mom clean up the dining room and kitchen, I left my parents’ house in the ‘burbs and returned downtown to attend a gathering at Deenster’s and Chris’ place. Among the attendees was my friend (and former OpenCola coworker) Kate, and I was telling her about The Redhead’s upcoming visit.

Me: The night she visits, we’re going to Kalendar and then go catch a movie.

Kate: Which one?

Me: I think we’ll go see Big Fish. We’re both interested in seeing it, and it looks promising.

Kate: Tim Burton’s usually a pretty good bet. Dinner and a movie, wow!

Me: Maybe even a cocktail at Lobby afterwards. At any rate, it’ll be a proper date. Even though nobody seems to actually date anymore, I’m still a big fan. I remember reading an article about how “hanging out” or “hooking up” has replaced dating, but I like dating better.

Kate: So do I.

Rich: So what makes a date a date, say rather than going out with a bunch of friends?

Kate: You have to call it a date.

Me: Yeah, I think you actually have to say “I would like to go out with you on a date.”

Rich: So it’s the declaration that makes it a date?

Kate: Yes. It’s like the military. You have to declare a war, otherwise it’s just a police action.


Tonight’s menu item is not for the squeamish

Family tradition is for us to have a Christmas gathering for the extended family a couple of days after Christmas, and this year is no exception. It’ll be all aunts, uncles, cousins and close family friends at my parents’ place tonight, gathered for dinner, followed by a gift exchange and then…the jam-and-karaoke session. Mom and cousin Anna will take turns on the piano, uncle Jorge will break out his acoustic guitar and amp, cousin Kara will bring her flute, brother-in-law Richard and sister Eileen will try the new Yamaha keyboard I got them for Christmas and I’ll be playing you-know-what. That will probably be followed by karaoke. True to Asian stereotype, Mom has not one, but two karaoke devices, both capable of displaying lyrics on a video monitor.

(Also true to Asian strereotype, I have a karaoke machine in my house; I inherited mom’s old karaoke box. It’s so old that it takes eight-track cassettes.)

Of course, the point of this posting is to announce that tonight’s main course is one of my favoutire dishes, lengua. That’s beef tongue in mushroom sauce. Mmm…tongue…

It Happened to Me

Not likely to be made a made-for-TV holiday special anytime soon

In response to my last posting, a reader asked if I had “some wacky story in the spirit of your blog” in which the True Spirit of Christmas is featured.

My answer: Yes.

It will never be turned into a Family Channel special or one of those cloying-yet-charming ads by the Mormons, but if someone ever comes up with a show called A Very Extreme Christmas, it might fit in.

(Yup, it’s a repeat from last year and I pointed to it recently, but the blog’s picked up a whole new readership over the past month, due in part to this cute redhead.)


Merry Christmas, and I mean it in the nice sense of the phrase

This is from last year (with a little polishing up), but it’s worth repeating.

While I do believe that some traditions should be put to rest, I also believe that a lot of tradition-bashers are poor-impulse-control cases. Having abandones any actual tradition or culture of their own, they fill the void with a couple of Utne Reader platitudes, a mild revulsion for anything even vaguely Judeo-Christian, even if it aligns with their beliefs, a pro-pot slant and a half-formed belief in eye-for-eye karmic payback.

Standing for almost nothing, they tend to fall for just about anything.

Chris Baldwin’s summed it up pretty handily — and perhaps unintentionally — in a Bruno comic from last year:

Photo: Bruno whining (what else is new?) about Christmas.

To borrow the line about Klansmen and Martin Luther King Day: C’mon, Bruno, how hardcore a secularist must you be to not want a day off?

Of course, those of us who celebrate Christmas would argue the exact opposite: here we took a beautiful Christian holdiay and destroyed it through corportization and “We’re white, we’re straight, we’re sorry!” guilt.

(There’s a Randroid who would take another tack and say “here we took a beautiful commerical holiday and destroyed it in usual religious fashion.” Haven’t we developed some kind of Ayn Rand repellent yet?)

In the end, I believe that intent counts.

I’m certain there is no malice, no implicit “convert or die” message and no forcing of one’s beliefs on others when someone wishes someone else a Happy Chanukah, Eid, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Tet or even Festivus, the actions of certain vicious zealots notwithstanding. Balanced minds do not see any implied Hitler overtones at Oktoberfest nor Hirohito/Tojo insinuations at the sushi house, and neither do they see the Crusades in Christmas.

When people say “Merry Christmas”, most of them are really saying “Happy Holidays, and I’m celebrating them Christmas-style. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine. Come by for drinks.”

That what I’m really saying, anyways.

No matter what you believe, enjoy the break from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life. Be nice to each other. Hug someone you love.

Merry Christmas, everyone.



Racism/Sexism/Homophobia is a nasty three-headed rottweiler that’s been beaten with a rubber hose and hasn’t been fed for days, which is why one always gets bitten when approaching it. This is why more critical accounts of the origins of Kwanzaa are hard to come by: there doesn’t seem to be a way to publish one without being accused of hanging with the pillowcases-as-hats crowd.

In this post, I wrote:

My own feeling is that although Kwanzaa’s roots are pretty dubious, but I’m still looking for a non-drooling-right source to corroborate the evidence gathered against it.

Kathy “Relapsed Catholic” Shaidle, who wrote a controversial Kwanzaa poem, came through for me, providing me with two articles that don’t come from what I refer to as the “drooling right”.

(I find FrontPage too “drooling right”, just as I find IndyMedia too “loopy left”. My own political leanings are along the lines of Eric S. Raymond, who wrote: “Liberals, by and large, are fools” and “Conservatives, by and large, are villains”.)

The first is The Truth About Kwanzaa, written by an African-American woman.

If the Christian focus of the previous link bothers you — although I’ll bet that a Buddhist one wouldn’t — there’s a Telegraph editorial that expresses some doubt about its authenticity, along with some remarking on how you can’t say “Merry Christmas” anymore.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I do it again: here’s Tony Pierce (who’s a black hipster from L.A.) on Kwanzaa. I also found this Dartmouth Review piece.

Thanks, Kathy, for the links!

If you want to discuss Kwanzaa further, feel free to make a comment. I’ll be on and off the computer all this week.


Carnival of the Canucks: Errata and additions

In this post, I reported — in reference to the YULBloggers — that YUL is the airport code for Montreal’s Mirabel airport. Aaron informs me that YUL is actually the code for Pierre Elliott Trudeau (formerly Dorval) airport, and YMX is the code for Mirabel.

As you may have guessed, I never fly to Montreal — I either drive or take the train.

I managed to forget to add one link, so here it is. Striding Cloud makes the same observation that I did while watching The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: the “Riders of Rohan vs. the Elephants” battle scene feels like an homage (or, if you’re more cynical, a rip-off) of the “Snowspeeders vs. the Imperial Walkers” battle scene from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I was half-expecting Eowyn to yell out “Use your tow cables and go for their legs!” The Legolas bits in that battle were pure Luke Skywalker — so much that George Lucas should be in tears, exclaiming “Finally someone steals an idea from me!“.

However, I couldn’t figure out the sense of deja vu that I got when he slid down the elephant’s trunk in his classic “Sk8r Elf” style until I read Striding Cloud’s post: it’s the same thing Fred Flintstone does in the title sequence for The Flintstones! If only Legolas screamed “Yabba-Dabba-Doo!” while doing it…

In this post, I made a reference to “Boston’s Deepest Blogger”. The problem is, I originally didn’t link to the right blog. The error has been corrected, but let me state for the record that Jay “Makeoutcity” McCarthy is Boston’s Deepest Blogger.

The title of Boston’s Cutest Blogger goes to The Redhead, of course.

Once again, my thanks to David “Ranting and Roaring” Janes for organizing the Carnival, and to all the Canadian bloggers for providing me with such rich linking material.

It would appear that the Carnival has a logo:

Photo: Carnival of the Canucks logo.

David’s also provided a schedule for the next few Carnivals:

Send them links!