Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Canada Day!

I have always kind of liked Canada. I know they would bristle (politely, of course) at the comparison, but they always seemed to be an awesome companion to the good ole' USA, without all of the violence and slavery but also without the costly burdens of being a superpower. It’s nice to not have prohibitively expensive health care, but that’s one of the many benefits of not having to pay the massive amounts of money for the military required to defend itself during the cold war for five decades. Not that anyone is keeping track, of course.

Anyway, while I’m loathe to reduce an entire nation of people rich in culture and history to a few well-heeled stereotypes, I am also mindful that in something like four days the entirety of America is going to be reduced to grilling three-pound hamburgers, slapping up Chinese-made red-white-and-blue bunting on the stair railings just in time to throw it away the next day, and shooting colored gunpowder into the air because why the hell not. So if Canada’s had no problem securing itself against the Red Menace under the generous NATO umbrella, they can put up with some ham-fisted stereotypes.

So here's a brief and incomplete list of awesome things about Canada:
  • Hockey: Surely Canada’s single greatest contribution to mankind, it’s like basketball only with sticks and pucks and sanctioned fistfights. Sure, someone can go on and on about how it’s a majestic sport and that the level of athleticism required to win is amazing, but everyone knows that we watch hockey because at any given moment someone is going to get whacked in the face with a hockey stick and there is going to be blood and teeth on the ice. Anyone claiming to watch hockey for any other reason is probably sober.
  • Beer: Ok, full disclosure; I don't really drink beer. Not my thing. But I can certainly appreciate that Canada has just about the best situation for beer brewing possible; crystal-clear water, an abundance of British Columbian hops, and a centuries-old vested interesting in finding something to do between October and May. 
  • Tim Hortons: OK, so Tim Hortons isn’t all that much different than any other chain coffee shop, and yet there is something alarmingly alluring about the place. Maybe it’s the wide variety of baked goods available, or their admittedly addictive coffee, or the college-dorm kitchen they use to toast pauper sandwiches. But it is good and it’s cheap and it is a necessary stop for anyone north of the Rio Grande.
  • How Proud They Are Of Maple Syrup: I mean, I guess maple syrup is OK, but it is really symbol-of-the-nation awesome? I suppose that they would argue that it is, but every time I have maple syrup I basically don’t want to eat anything ever again, although that may just be the pancakes talking.*
  • Barenaked Ladies: The band, not the other equally awesome thing. And they are awesome not only from inherent musical ability, but also to counter the continuing atrocity that is Rush. **
Sure, there's lots to love about Canada outside of (apparently) food, music, and ice hockey. But a nation that has somehow fashioned its culture around these three things can't be measured as anything less than an unmitigated success.

*Shut up, pancakes.
**You thought I was going to say Nickelback, didn't you? Ha, joke's on you, you progressive rock Randroid!

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