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Canadian Humour on the Web.
October 19, 2001.
[John] Considering all the doom and gloom happening around us lately, I thought it was high time to lighten things up a little by providing you, our avid reader, with a compendium of some of the more humorous sites I have stumbled upon on the Web. It's a chance for you to sit back and simply click and (hopefully) chuckle away. What I am going to attempt to do here is something totally out of the norm for me, if there is such a place. I am going to look at some of my bookmarks and links sent to me dealing with sites predominately concerned with humour and entertainment. I will outline each of the sites, give a Canadian relevance factor if it is there (although humour is experienced on a worldwide scale), and provide you the link so that you can see and judge for yourself. I hope you enjoy this little escape I am attempting to provide. This is not going to be just a bunch of links to jokes, but some may be... I don't really know the scope of the project as it is going to evolve which each letter I type. I may even refine some things as I go along, so enjoy the ride and smile. I will also attempt to rate each site. If you think the ratings are mostly in the higher range, you are correct. I am trying to eliminate a lot of the sites I did not like, so what I present for you should be the cream.
Canadian Humour on the Web
By John MacDonald (firstname.lastname@example.org)
OK, here we go with my first review. The first site is called "NetWits", an intriguing name in itself. This site claims that "You are now at the official website of over 170 humorists. Where we spotlight some of the brightest shining stars of Internet humor." The answer to the question, "What is a Netwit?" is; "The NetWits are a group of Internet humorists. Over 160 humor writers and cartoonists have gathered in an effort to end world grimness. It is sort of like a United Nations meeting during a nitrous oxide leak. The NetWits are now world-wide representing the United States, Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Botswana and yes, even Detroit."
Intrigued by this ingenious opening ploy? Well so was I. You will have to read, "The Myth of Women's Orgasms" by Mike Jasper, or "I AM Canadian" by Paul Croft to get an idea of the humour presented on these pages. The "submit" button on their free-subscription form reads "Humor Me!" so they are a pretty confident lot. They also have a hard copy magazine which seems reasonably priced at $19.99 for a year of monthly issues. I am assuming this is American dollars, so if you decide to go all the way with the NetWits that would convert to somewhere around C$5 000 000.
Bottom line: I like this type of humour when I have the time to indulge myself. I am still one of those people that has a hard time reading mountains of material and even books (for that matter) on my computer, and I admit to printing as much as I can for further reading in more comfortable surroundings... like my couch, bed or even bathroom. I give this site a rating of 8 out of 10.
Speaking of reading from the bathroom, most of us in North America must by now be aware of Uncle John and his popular series of Bathroom Reader books. I have been a collector of these books of potpourri for probably 15 years (nah, it can't be that long, but I think it is). I avidly collected the first five or six books before some mystifying gap in my life I may have been abducted by Elvis and his alien friends. This gap caused me to miss all of the books up to number ten. I did not know this until I was in a store one day I saw Bathroom Reader Ten and I almost dirtied my pants. Where had the other issues gone? I tried to get backorders, but everyone was sold out. I resolved to find these little gems in second-hand book stores and continued to purchase the new issues as they came out.
My sister-in-law, God bless her, beat me out and sent volume 13 to me as a gift. This issue was entitled, "Uncle John's All-Purpose Extra Strength Bathroom Reader." Since then one more has been released; "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into History", and another ("Uncle John's Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader") is due next month. I was a bit disappointed to find out that they started re-releasing the older books three at a time in a single larger volume (for example, Bathroom Readers seven, eight and nine all together). They also have some "best of" books I believe. However, these practices still do not deter me from this great read.
Now they have a Web site. It is fairly new so it is still evolving. There you get a chance to order books, subscribe to a newsletter that tells you what is up-and-coming and, of course, they will provide you some excerpts. I love the puns they use when describing and actually titling their books there is "The Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader", along with the titles I mentioned above, although the generic three-book volumes are not titled with as much wit (but the content should be the same). Their Web site, entitled the "Bathroom Readers' Institute", has both a "Throne Room" and a "Go with the Flow" section.
Personally speaking, I am not especially keen on the longer stories or articles, but I guess a lot of us out there are spending a lot of time with our knees bent waiting for relief to come. However, I eagerly take what they give me, which is often simply entertaining and informative, rather than all humour, and I love the little footnotes at the bottom of every page. It's like an almanac or encyclopedia of information, catering mostly to those five- to ten-minute interruptions we all get almost daily.
For an entertaining, informative and thought-provoking series of books, I rate them 9.5 out of 10. Their Web site is coming along and give it about 7.5 to 8 out of 10 rating right now. So, besides the fact that I am "flush" with anticipation of the next release, I encourage all of you to give the series a go. It has something for everyone.
Bathroom Readers' Institute
The Web site for "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" starts out with the following disclaimer: "This Hour has 22 Minutes is a satirical examination of daily events. Some viewers may not share this sense of humour." This well-known show is a satire put on by the CBC. I believe, but have never verified, that the title is derived from a CBC public-affairs show from the 1960s which was called "This Hour Has Seven Days". Although I must admit to not watching "This Hour Has 22 minutes" religiously, what I have seen has been very funny.
The new season began on October 12, 2001 (when this newsletter was supposed to have been sent), although at the time of writing the Web site didn't say anything about this. I think they must assume that anyone visiting the site must be a fan, which I believe is a mistake. Also, although I have a very fast Internet connection, it took a long time to download the introduction, and clicking on other items of interest only brought me back to where I began. I hope this is resolved in a hurry, as I believe the show has the potential to gather a Monty-Python-type following.
My rating is 8 out of 10 for the television series, but only 5.5 out of 10 for the supporting Web site. CBC let's get with the times.
This Hour has 22 Minutes
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
"The Onion" not to everyone's taste but, if it is, certainly an entertaining bit of writing using wit, satire and free speech to defend its contribution to the electronic medium. I got a hold of one of their paper publications years ago it is based out of the American Mid-west (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I believe) and its printed version was around long before their Web site evolved and I loved it. I tried to subscribe back then but, between the currency conversion and the air mail costs, the price was prohibitive. That's why I was very glad to learn just over a year ago that they had a Web site as well. You can subscribe to their printed newspaper through their site. If you have the money, the time and the inclination, this is definitely a site and a subscription you should consider. According to their Web site, there are two locations in Canada where it can be bought off the shelf: Magpie Magazine Gallery in Vancouver, BC (on Commercial Drive), and Atlantic News in Halifax, Nova Scotia. What?! No sense of humour in Central Canada?!
Now, here I go putting myself on the line again. Although I have not read a hard copy for years, I would rate both their Web and print versions at 9.5 out of 10. By the way, "The Onion" states that "is not intended for readers under 18 years of age." There are one or two naughty words used on the site.
Magpie Magazine Gallery
Tired of reading the same old crap about Canadian celebrities in Hollywood? Screen Trade Canada tries to take an unbiased approach towards news of Canadians involved in the American film industry. This is a half-decent site featuring Canadians in American productions, or American productions financed and filmed partially or wholly in Canada. There is a readers' poll on their site asking you to nominate your favourite Canadian celebrity to be the next Canadian of the Month. This month they feature Peter Jennings.
This is not really a humour site, but definitely an entertainment site. I don't really have enough information for an informed evaluation, but the Web site is pretty basic and rates only a 7 out of 10. The information here rates a little higher, but you have to go looking for it.
Screen Trade Canada
Founded in 1989, Canada's National Association for Speculative Fiction Professionals (SF Canada) has continued to grow. This growth is reflected in their membership increase, as well as an increase in the number of people visiting their Web site. I'm a little unsure of how I should rate this site, but I believe that more information is better than less. So, if science fiction is your passion or you merely have a passing interest, give this site a visit, have a look, and decide for yourself. Rated 7 out of 10.
Canada's National Association for Speculative Fiction Professionals
"The very silly Webloid News", as they call themselves, is exactly that. They claim to be the "award winning Canadian humor [sic] zine full of made up original wackiness in the cheesy tabloid tradition. (Imagine British Monty Python
meets the American Tabloids.)" They elaborate on many of the world's most serious engagements, rewriting them to suit their style. They even have "Weird Canadian Interest Stories" at the second link below.
I have not had much of a chance to review this site, but it looks pretty good from a satirical point of view. I give their web site 8 out of 10 for trying.
Very Silly Webloid News
Weird Canadian Interest Stories (VSWN)
Here's a site devoted to the Canadian zealot "The General Headquarters of the Campaign for Canadian World Domination". This is basically a site that dedicates itself to Canada ruling the world. How else can one interpret their mission statement, which reads in part; "Your future tyrants are General Claire and General Jenny. The Generals are Canadian chicks who are taking over the world to re-designing it to suit their aims." They then go on to tell you how they are going to accomplish this feat. Take this site with a grain of salt and you can enjoy the satire for what it is. They have a button set up so that you can get e-mail updates, archives, as well as a forum which actually has ongoing discussions slated. Interesting reading. The site is also visually pleasing and not too crowded, although it looks like some items are a little out of date.
Overall I rate this site an 8 out of 10.
Campaign for Canadian World Domination
Now here is a good, wholesome, entertaining site. It is written by an American living here in Canada (for almost a decade now) and is aimed at enlightening Americans about our way of life. I sent this link to Craig a year or so ago and he cursed me because he got stuck clicking around the site for hours and lost half a day of work. The site is entitled "An American's Guide to Canada". Right there, at the top of their home page, is a simple paragraph that says so much. It reads; "Most Americans know next to nothing about their neighbo(u)r to the north, except that Canadians play a lot of hockey, drink beer, and end sentences with 'eh?'" Who could argue any of these points?
Some of the information on the site is a little bit old and should be updated. For example, on the page about British Columbia (after correctly naming Victoria as the capital city) they go on to name three other major cities; Vancouver, Chilliwack and Prince George. I would have chosen a couple more cities, but the reference to Chilliwack is certainly puzzling. Don't get me wrong, I love Chilliwack, but one has to wonder what "informed" source considers it a "major" city!
Anyway I still like this site... a lot. It is easy to follow (you won't get lost) and I think Ms. Emily Way has demonstrated what can be done with a Web site when you have perseverance, determination and a definite resolve. The site gets an "A" for effort and 8.5 out of 10 from this reviewer.
[Craig] Ms. Way certainly seems to be a happier American living in Canada than one of our unfortunate ex-subscribers!
An American's Guide to Canada
An American's Guide to Canada: BC
Speaking of the qualities of perseverance, determination and resolve, quickly reminds me of a frequent contributor to FactsCanada.ca Ms. Cathy Bates, an expatriate living in Seoul, South Korea. Cathy also has her own Web site, entitled "Cathy's Korean Escapades", and has done an excellent job. Her writing is marvellous and she has quite a good sense of humour, therefore I decided to include her site in this list if for nothing else than to allow you another little escape from your daily toil. Her site is also easy to navigate once I get past a "runtime error" (whatever that is) that frequently is displayed when I access her site.
Another big "A" for effort here, and a rating of 9 out of 10 is in order.
Cathy's Korean Escapades
"No! Canada" is a site satirically devoted to letting Americans know that Canadians are to be watched and not trusted. This is a very simple site, yet offers quite a bit and you can read all of its pages in under thirty minutes (probably not including all the letters from the less-than-bright amongst us who didn't get it). I especially think the list of "hidden Canadians amongst us" to be quite witty.
On a scale of 1 to 10 this site rates about a 7, but also gets a B for effort. I wish they would do more. It's well worth your time to venture over at some point.
If you want to know even more about Canadians in the movies, Northern Stars is definitely for you. There is a biography section, an actors section, a direction section, and a whole lot more. You can take a survey that changes weekly and find out some things you may not have known. For instance, I did not know that "Species" star Natasha Henstridge was born in Newfoundland. A good site with a simple layout. Not an outlandish amount of information but I believe they are growing daily.
The site gets an 8 out of 10, and a big thank-you for attacking this matter.
Do you receive a lot of unwanted e-mail? Well, there are places on the Web to help you with your frustrations with this phenomenon called (much to the chagrin of Hormel Foods) "spam". I'm sure Craig will provide a few links for you to use while he is editing this newsletter, therefore I want to reserve this final spot on my list for a site sent to me by Craig. It's called Hoaxbusters, and I'm sure you can figure out the content from its name. Go there, bookmark it and, if you have the time, try and make a difference by helping to put a stop to some of the endlessly circulating crap that gets dropped into our computers' mail boxes.
[Craig] John asked me to add a couple of sites of my own, as well as two that he didn't have time to include in the original draft of this newsletter. My first isn't really a site yet, but it will be "real soon now" according to Cathie Walker, Chief Schmoozing Executive at SillyGirl.com. (Ever politically correct, Cathie's soon-to-be site will also be available at SillyDude.com, but the former title definitely describes her, and the caricature on her home page is a pretty darn close resemblance!) Right now she has a preview featuring "The Adventures of Danger Boy!" and some chat rooms. More importantly, however, she sends out a weekly newsletter "guaranteed to bring you fabulous hair, good posture and fresh breath." Besides that selling point, it's packed with some great jokes too, which will help your Friday at work along just nicely.
Cathie is based out of Victoria, British Columbia, and despite the fact that she is starting up a new site, is certainly not new to the 'Net. For the life of me, I can't find any of her biographical data right now, but (from memory) she started out sending jokes to co-workers at the University of Victoria back when the Web was all text, and it went downhill from there. She eventually quit her day job and ended up selling her site to a big American entertainment company, who then hired her to run it. They recently made the mistake of pulling the plug on her old site, but Cathie is back with a vengeance and will be showing the big guys how it's really done.
I'm not a rating kind of guy, but if SillyGirl.com is as amusing as her old site was, it will be worth your time. Subscribe to her newsletter for a taste, and you'll never leave.
SillyGirl.com and SillyDude.com
One of the sites that John asked me to include is UselessKnowledge.com. It's not exactly a Canadian site, but it's well worth mentioning because there can't possible be a bigger collection of... well... useless information anywhere on the Web. If you are a trivia buff you need this site (but only after you've bookmarked ours, OK?). Among the "factoids" served up by the "Useless Infomaster" (aka Joe Edelman) are the answers to these burning questions: "What is a booger made of?" and "What is a fart and why does it smell?" Want the answers? Go and find them for yourself.
By the way, John made a sizeable contribution to UselessKnowledge.com some time earlier this year. He responded to a challenge from Joe and provided him with a huge list of over 600 Canadian towns with interesting names. Check it out at the second link below.
Again, I won't rate this site but, as I said, it is a cornucopia of searchable trivia that you cannot ignore. Joe also sends out a weekly newsletter, and I recommend you subscribe.
Interesting Canadian Town Names (UselessKnowledge.com)
Finally there's a site that will exercise your neck muscles, something you need to do after sitting in front of the computer for hours. What amazing newfangled technology does it use to reach across the Internet to exercise your neck muscles? The answer is simple and can be summed up in one word: Stupidity. "This is True" culls bizarre-but-true stories from newspapers, stories highlighting the stupidity of some people that leaves you shaking your head (and therefore exercising your neck muscles). Humorist Randy Cassingham compiles these into a weekly newsletter, adding his own humorous, ironic or opinionated take on each article.
Actually, here's a timely warning from Randy about the more serious side of stupidity. I didn't see it (I'm not up that early if I can help it), but on October 15 he was scheduled to be interviewed on "The Early Show" on CBS television down in the States. They wanted to talk to him about his assertion that hoax e-mail "warnings" about terrorism are, in fact, a form of terrorism themselves. Here's what he has to say: "Always check out 'warnings' that you get from friends by e-mail before you pass it along; the Snopes site mentioned below is a great place to start. The government does not use e-mail as a means to send terrorism warnings to civilians, so you should assume that any 'warning' you get on-line is a hoax. And sadly, there are plenty of such hoax e-mails running around, especially since September 11. By forwarding hoaxes, you contribute to terrorism by spreading fear. Is that what you really mean to do? Please think before you forward!"
Hear! Hear! Subscribe you'll be glad you did.
This is True
Urban Legends Reference Pages on Rumours of War
\\ PREVIEW //
In our next issue I will profile Louis Riel (I'll even try and keep it short) and Farnham, Quebec, tell you about the Cuban missile crisis, and answer a question about the most expensive Canadian painting ever sold at an auction.
[John] Thanks, everyone, for bearing with this endeavour of mine. If I have provided even one of you a site which makes you smile, then my task has been successful. I will talk to you soon.
[Craig] I am to blame for our yet-again screwed-up schedule. One of these days I will stop chasing my tail.
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