Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Posts from — September 2007

Canadian immigration on the Daily Show

The Edmonton Oilers’ own Raffi Torres makes a hilarious cameo on The Daily Show in a feature about the growing numbers of Mexicans immigrating to Canada. Contrary to the opinions of the intolerant bigot they interview as part of this segment, Canada is very happy to welcome Mexicans and any other immigrants who would like to move there. Canada needs more immigrants, and most of us believe that immigration only makes our country better and stronger.
If only Raffi could have had a go at that guy… (I’m not going to mention his name or organization here). I loved how dumbfounded he was when asked to describe Canadian culture.

September 26, 2007   4 Comments

Some inspiration for a Monday morning

Yesterday, I came across this incredible “Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University professor of Computing Science. Moving and inspiring stuff. My favourite line from this is that “brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.” That’s an important reminder for all of us about how we should look at what might seem to be setbacks.

You can watch a good story about his lecture in the video below, and the whole thing online here. Good Morning America also had a nice interview with Dr. Pausch on Friday, which is worth watching.

To me, one of the amazing things about the internet is to be able to find and hear the stories of other people in the way that other traditional forms of media do not permit. Randy Pausch’s courage in the face of his battle with cancer is a lesson from which we can all learn. I wish him and his family the very best.

September 24, 2007   No Comments

Jacques Poulin comes to the USA…

One of my favourite writers in the world is Jacques Poulin. I teach his works here frequently and he is an important part of the online course here I teach every summer on three Canadian writers: Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, and Jacques Poulin.

For that reason, I was excited to see that Archipelago Books, a wonderful not-for-profit press out of Brooklyn has purchased the US rights to Poulin’s novel Spring Tides (Les Grandes Marées). I am thinking I may well teach that book next semester or in 2008/09.

The first US review I’ve seen of that new book has just come out in the New York Sun. It would be great to see Poulin start to garner the attention outside of Québec that I’ve always believed he deserves.

September 21, 2007   No Comments

I guess I did actually know what I was talking about….

At 10:58 AM today, the loonie was trading at $1.0004 US, the first time we’ve reached parity since 1976.

September 20, 2007   No Comments

James B. Douglas performance 9/25


Performed by James B. DouglasTUESDAY, SEPT. 25th, 4:00 PMMann Auditorium, Trinity Campus, University of Vermont

“the most vivid recreation of Stephen Leacock we have seen… hilariously funny… captures the essence of Leacock’s razor sharp wit”

The renowned Canadian actor James B. Douglas will be coming to the University of Vermont to perform an abbreviated version of his one-man play based on the life and work of the Canadian writer Stephen Leacock (1869-1944). Douglas has performed Sunshine and Shadows to rave reviews in Canada earlier this fall and takes the production to England in October. In his play we see the many sides of Stephen Leacock, who remains one of Canada’s best-known writers and humorists. Following the one-hour performance, Mr. Douglas will be answering questions about his play and his own thoughts on Leacock and his work.

During Stephen Leacock’s lifetime, works like Literary Lapses (1910), Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912), and Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich (1914) were international bestsellers and remain in print to this day. A famed and much-loved professor of Political Economy at McGill University, Leacock wrote over 50 books, including many collections of humorous stories, biographies of Charles Dickens and Mark Twain, treatises on Canadian history and politics, and several textbooks on economics. Since 1947, The Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humor (which also includes a $10 000 prize) has been awarded annually to the best Canadian literary work of humor.

A veteran of stage, screen and television, James B. Douglas has played over 150 major roles in Britain, Canada and the United States. Highlights include Bitos in POOR BITOS (Center Theater Group, Los Angeles), Sir Toby Belch in TWELFTH NIGHT (Old Globe Theater, San Diego), Paris in TROILUS AND CRESSIDA (Stratford Festival), Polo in A HATFUL OF RAIN (Princes Theatre, London) and especially the role of Pvt. Bamforth in THE LONG AND THE SHORT AND THE TALL (Montreal, Toronto and New York). He has also played roles in many television series and movies, including THE PSI-FACTOR, SOUL FOOD, ROAD TO AVONLEA (opposite Faye Dunaway), THE ASSOCIATES, DOC, THE HAIR CUT, CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE, MILLION DOLLAR BABIES, A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF CANADA and M.A.S.H. He has received Juno and Dora nominations and starred in the Oscar nominated film AFTER THE AXE. James is also a director/producer and dramaturge. He is the former Artistic Director of The Gryphon Theatre where he premiered WAR BRIDES – THE MUSICAL and directed his own adaptation of W.O. Mitchell’s JAKE AND THE KID.

Sponsored by the James and Mary Brigham Buckham Scholarship Fund, the Dept. of English, and the UVM Canadian Studies Program
For more info on the location of the Mann Auditorium, read the full entry below:

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September 19, 2007   No Comments

Parity is on its way

The Canadian dollar topped 99 cents today and I expect we’ll see it match the US dollar this week or next (please remember that I’m an English professor and not an economist). This is great news for Canadians travelling to the US and to Europe (the Canadian dollar is gaining in relation to the Euro as well), but not such great news for yours truly. The cost of UVM’s annual Ottawa trip has risen significantly in the last few years, as has the US dollar value of my student loans sitting back in Canada. Sigh….

Here’s the scoop from today’s Globe and Mail:

The Canadian dollar topped 99 cents (U.S.) Wednesday on the back of surging oil and gold prices, a weakening U.S. dollar and as traders bet on the increasing likelihood of parity.

The currency rose as high as 99.18 cents, before easing to 98.51 cents after a report showed inflation at an eight-month low. The last time the Canadian dollar was at parity was Nov. 25, 1976.

The surge spells good news for Canadian travellers. Not only does their dollar stretch further in the U.S., but it’s also strengthened against the euro. It has risen 8.4 per cent this year and is now trading at about 0.7 euros.
Against the U.S. dollar, the currency has jumped 1.8 per cent in the past five trading days alone. With that kind of momentum, no one’s ruling out a near-term run to parity.

September 19, 2007   No Comments

Conquering Canada, with coffee and donuts

From this weekend’s NY Times:

OAKVILLE, Ontario — Tim Hortons conquered Canada long ago. The doughnut chain boasts one outlet for every 12,700 Canadians — by comparison, one McDonald’s exists in the United States for every 21,000 Americans and one Dunkin’ Donuts for every 56,000 Americans.

A survey this summer by a group promoting Canadian historical literacy found that 40 percent of Canadians under 34 consider Tim Hortons’ miniature doughnuts, the Timbits, a national symbol.

Tim’s, as it is affectionately known, sells 78 percent of the nonsupermarket coffee and baked goods sold in Canada.

September 10, 2007   No Comments

What is a single-payer healthcare system?

This online presentation does a great job of quickly explaining what a single-payer system is like and how it would work here vastly better than the current system. Want to help? Go to the Healthcare-Now! website and sign their petition. Thanks to Dana for sending me this link.

September 7, 2007   No Comments

Hockey Night in Canada RADIO!

As part of our aim to make our office’s Trans-Canada lounge a site where students, staff, and visitors can come to access all forms of Canadian culture, we’ve had Sirius satellite radio running in our office for the last 16 months. Sirius broadcasts about six different Canadian stations, including CBC Radio One, CBC Radio3, two Radio-Canada stations, and two other stations dedicated to Canadian music.

So, you can imagine my delight today when I found out even more great Canadian content on the way!

The CBC announced the launching of HNIC Radio on Sirius Satellite Radio Friday, bringing back the show’s radio roots which started 74 years ago.

HNIC Radio will air Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET beginning Oct. 1 on channel 122, and will be available to Sirius listeners throughout North America. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

“This is a wonderful extension of the Hockey Night in Canada brand,” said Scott Moore, executive director of CBC Sports.

“Hockey Night in Canada is the most powerful sports brand in the country, and we are thrilled to partner with Sirius Satellite Radio to provide Canadians with more of what they love throughout the week.”

Seasoned sports broadcaster Jeff Marek joins HNIC Radio as host, and will work alongside rotating co-hosts Kelly Hrudey, Elliotte Friedman and Scott Morrison.

The show will feature insight and analysis, keeping fans updated on all the breaking news and issues from the world of hockey.

HNIC analysts Craig Simpson and Greg Millen will also be regular contributors on the program, while Ron MacLean, Don Cherry, Jim Hughson and Bob Cole will appear throughout the season.

Click here for the complete story

September 7, 2007   1 Comment

On the Road en français

My colleague Greg Bottoms and his class on travel narratives are currently reading On the Road, published 50 years ago this month. Despite the fact that it’s a key intertext in one of my favourite novels, Jacques Poulin’s Volkswagen Blues, On the Road is a book I’ve still never gotten around to reading. Perhaps this year I will finally have a chance.

After reading yesterday that Kerouac in fact began writing On the Road in French in 1951, I happened across this 1967 interview from Radio-Canada. Born to French-Canadian parents in Lowell, Mass, Kerouac spoke French reasonably well, as you can see from this interview, to which someone added subtitles to an excerpt and posted it on YouTube. The interview is less interesting for the content of the questions and answers than it is for seeing Kerouac shortly before his death and talking about his French-Canadian roots (that’s left out of this shorter clip on YouTube).

September 6, 2007   No Comments