Thursday, October 22, 2009

54°40’ or Fight (*)

Subtitled: “Hey Canada, just become our 51st through 55th states already!”

Frankly, Canada gets roped in as America's punching bag all too often. I actually like Canadians. Well, most of them. Don't get me started on French Canadians. It could get ugly. But honesty, I can't think of a single Canadian that I have met that I haven't liked. Try saying that about Americans. I most certainly can't. And yet, I have been known to make more than my fair share of Canadian jokes. And I'm not stopping now. I suppose I would equate Canadian jokes with eating an entire bag of candy corn (or a full tray of Peeps, but more on that in another post). It is surprisingly easy to do, and once you start, it is really hard to stop. And you feel really bad about it later. And yet, when faced with another bag of candy corn (or another aspect of Canada rife with joke potential), the cycle starts all over again. And, for those of you expressing outraged indignation that you would never eat a whole bag of candy corn because they taste disgusting, just substitute in whatever it is that is your own food nemesis. Let he who is not next to an empty bag of pork rinds cast the first stone. No offense.

So, ripping open that bag of comfort food that is Canadian Jokes, here goes:

Canada often gets called our 51st state. Well, that's not entirely fair. First of all, there are at least five territories of the U.S. that are much closer to becoming states than Canada. Puerto Rico springs quickly to mind. There is a lot of resistance there to becoming a state, but maybe the whole Canada thing is getting in the way. No one likes to be just the bridesmaid. Maybe if we called Puerto Rico our 51st state, that would finally push them over the edge. You never know - they must be holding out for something. It definitely wasn’t their own state quarter. When the state quarter bill was introduced, there was originally a clause that 2009 would be held out to issue state quarters for any new states, but Puerto Rico didn't jump at the chance, even though they had 10 years to rally. Perhaps they had no idea how immensely popular the state quarter program would be. Think about it - they could have vastly increased their mind share among the under-12 coin-collecting crowd. But it turns out that Washington D.C.(**) was able to twist the rules to get their state quarter, and, last I checked, they are still a non-voting district and still not a state. Thanks to D.C., start checking your pockets for a Puerto Rico Quarter, too.

Further, Canada is huge. They would have to be more than just one state. They currently have 13 divisions - 10 Provinces (Canadian for state) and 3 Territories (Canadian for not-quite-a-state). First, no way do they get 13 states. But I do want to pull a page from their playbook - their territories are not relegated to really small swathes of land. They are huge, but mostly sparsely populated wilderness and oil fields. Hmmm… Where does the U.S. have a huge swath of land that is sparsely populated wilderness and oil fields. That’s right, Alaska. If through merging with Canada, we can figure out some way to turn Alaska back into a territory, I will spot Canada one more state. Think of it this way - do you remember when we had the Vice Presidential Candidate (or heaven forbid, Presidential Candidate) from American Samoa or Guam? That's right. We didn't. So, turn Alaska into a territory and one nasty problem is quickly averted.

We still need some names for these Provinces-turned-States. I know that they all already have names, but they need American names. Let's face it. The only hope for us ever finding them on the map is to rename them. And even then the odds are not quite in the favor of the typical American. Perhaps we need a public service campaign from Miss Teen South Carolina 2007 to help. She loves maps.

Superwash (nee British Columbia and Alberta)

This name is just cool. And from my limited experience, I understand that British Columbia is really just Washington with more rain and people who are a little more polite and not quite so pretentious about their coffee culture. I know Starbucks is in the process of taking over the world, but putting BC and Alberta in a position of authority over them may help soften their world-domination plans a touch and humanize them a bit more. Oh, your company is headquartered in Washington? Well, I'm from Superwash. Your biggest drink is a Venti? Pah! We're rocking the Trenti up here.

Other than a few minor changes (like renaming the CN Tower to the Super Space Needle), no one would really notice the difference. Some more astute observers will realize that the CN Tower is in Toronto and not the newly named Superwash. That’s just lame. Seattle clearly fires the opening round in the “big tower building war” by building the Space Needle, and Canada responds by...building a bigger tower on the other side of the country?!? That needs to be fixed. Obviously the Super Space Needle needs to be unbolted and shipped cross-country and placed ominously just across the border with Washington so it can further knock the Washingtonians down a peg.

Plus “Superwash”, this has the added advantage of being a modern name. We really need to stop naming places in pretentious dead languages. Would New Scotland really been so bad, as opposed to throwing the Latin Nova Scotia in our faces? Also, we need to be careful when we blindly pick a place name in a foreign language, like was done with Nebraska or Missouri. Sure it sounds cool and exotic, but you're still stuck living in Nebraska or Missouri, and how do you know that the name doesn't translate into something like "Flat Water" or "Big Canoe Town".

Norther Dakota (nee Saskatchewan and Manitoba)

Because, come on, we need to shift the debate from "why exactly do we need two Dakotas?" to "why, oh dear God why, do we need THREE Dakotas???" I could also be easily swayed to rename this province Bigfoot. Saskatchewan is just a more pretentious way of saying Bigfoot. And I think Manitoba means the same thing. Or maybe not, but it should.

And, just to be clear, North Dakota stays named "North Dakota". It's not getting renamed "Central Dakota" or anything like that. That would just be mean to expect the 17 people living in North Dakota to have to learn a new name for their state. Plus, if you make those guys angry enough, they just might stuff you into a wood chipper. Not pretty.

Nueva Escocia (nee Nova Scotia and New Brunswick)

Latin is a dead language. Spanish, however, is thriving. I lost track of the expected date, but at some point, Hispanics will be more populous than Caucasians in the United States. It's only proper that we share the naming rights across the languages. Plus, it's time to pay back some debts. We made a huge land grab for the Southwest during a war with Mexico and then totally dissed them on the names. "Hey, thanks for the huge chunk of highland desert. Sorry we stole it away from you. Oh, and by the way, we're going to stuff it in your face by naming it New Mexico. Suck it!" Not cool. Oh, and New Brunswick gets lumped in to this new state as well.

Ed (nee Prince Edward Island)

Prince Edward Island is tiny. It is about 2000 square miles, which puts it between Delaware and Rhode Island in tininess. Do you remember having to color and label maps ad nauseam when you were going through Elementary School? Where the hell were you supposed to put the text "Rhode Island"? It just never fit. Plus, if you didn't plan well, when you started writing "Connecticut", you had already overwritten all of Rhode Island and the Cape Cod portion of Massachusetts. Eventually, most of us learned to write "Conn." and leave it at that. But, now while we're renaming these places, let's actually try to fix that problem outright. Ed will fit nicely in that tiny region of the map. Done. No abbreviations needed. Frankly, if I could have figured out how to name one of these new states "Bob", I would have. Because naming stuff "Bob" is funny. But Ed is almost just as funny.

New Morocco (nee Newfoundland and Labrador)

Some of the more geographically astute out there may have caught that Quebec and Ontario haven't been dealt with. Let's be honest. They would never go along with this plan anyway. They have been fighting for secession for years. And yet, they seem wildly unsuccessful in accomplishing it. We'd be doing them a favor. We'd just annex the rest of Canada out from under them. The beautiful part is, they would still try to secede from Canada, even though all that would be left of Canada would be themselves. And they still wouldn't be able to pull if off.

Why do all the New's have to be based on where the ship just left from, anyway? Settlers seemed to be pretty excited to leave Old York (and Old Amsterdam before that), Old Jersey (and still excited to leave New Jersey, by the way), Old Hampshire, and the list goes on. Why turn around and name the new place you're going to New Same-As-Before. Sure, name it "New", but make it even better. Who cares that you’re a bunch of fishers and furriers moved over from England that have nothing in common with Morocco. Live large!

So, if you take a look at a map, I have left Newfoundland and Labrador stranded way out there, isolated from the rest of the newly constituted US, with Quebec as it's closest neighbor. Everything else is contiguous now (except for Hawaii - and plans for a bridge are forthcoming.) Even Alaska, which I have ignominiously proposed to demote back to a Territory. Contiguous except for poor Newfoundland and Labrador. And you know that militant Quebec is going to try to do something. So, to inspire French Resistance, who better than Morocco. Now the Resistance against the French-Canadians will be based in New Morocco. Done.

So, write your Congressman and let him know that you support this plan. Because if the U.S. ever stands to medal in Curling in the Winter Olympics, we are going to need to join up with our brothers to the North.

(*) It’s an awesome title, but I just couldn’t work a discussion of this into the text. There was a fight brewing over the Oregon Territory, which could have ended up with most of British Columbia being a part of the U.S. Canadian land possibly becoming part of the U.S. is not a unique situation. Take, for example, Prince Edward Island, which was heavily courted by the U.S. during the 1860's.

(**) I don't have any affiliations with any publications or media outlets, but in the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I was born in Washington, D.C., so they will always get kid-glove treatment here. If only Dan Brown could have been so kind.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

M. Night Shyamalan Movies Ruined in 5 Words or Less.

The Sixth Sense - Bruce Willis is dead
Unbreakable - Samuel Jackson is a super-villain
Signs - Water kills aliens
The Village - It is modern day
The Happening - Plants make people kill

Some might argue that this doesn't actually ruin the movies. M. Night ruined them himself. All I am doing is saving you 90 minutes. You are welcome.