Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: O Canada!

Hold on there, Canada. I’ve had just about enough of the notion we Americans have taken our right-wing cooties to the border, dropped ‘em off and ruined your country.

“American-like” behavior by rowdy Canadian truckers protesting a vaccine mandate is enough to make y’all…well, sigh very deeply which in Canada is evidence of homicidal rage.

Canada, a frozen country I once flew over, isn’t perfect. So, make like a Mountie and get off your high horse.

What am I talking about? Well, for starters, Nickelback. No, sorry. I hate when people pile on Nickelback. I loved that “Savin’ Me” video if I’m being honest. I meant to say Celine Dion. OK, that’s not fair either — great pipes if a trifle underfed. Her heart can and should go on. No, the worst thing you have done to art and culture was to allow YOUR William Shatner to release a spoken word version of Elton’s “Rocket Man.” Although, to be fair, the lyrics do include “All of this science I do not understand!” which could well be the anthem of the protesting border truckers.

And another thing, Canada: Your food is weird. The national dish is poutine (pronounced “poo-TEEN”), a combination of deep-fried potatoes smothered in gravy and solid pieces of curdled milk known as “gross.” Sorry, I meant to say “curds.”

And don’t get me started on your national beer. At a Blue Jays spring training game last year, I enthusiastically ordered the Canadian national beer: Labatt. So THAT’S what happened to all the Stroh’s inventory from the ‘80s. Mystery solved.

But wait; there’s more, Canada. In the good old U.S.A., we know better than to make a national sport out of essentially shuffleboard on ice with weird brooms. Look, I don’t want to call your curling ridiculous, but, to be clear, it so is. Fun fact: We only watch curling at the Olympics so we can enjoy the fleeting image of grown men using brooms with such obvious enthusiasm. Where is this on a weekend, wonders every overworked woman in America.

And then there’s the whole “Eh” thing. It pretty much ends every sentence spoken by a Canadian in the same manner Americans use the far superior “right?” It’s pronounced “Ay” so why not spell it “Ay”? While I normally embrace linguistic quirks — my native American South is awash in them, after all — this one seems less eh and more meh. Speaking of language, pick ONE. Quit showing off. Merci you.

But, without a doubt, the very worst thing Canadians have done to us Americans is invent Hawaiian pizza. Yes. As in the universally despised addition of pineapple chunks to a perfectly tasty pie. You inflict that kind of abuse on a helpless planet and you’re all miffed because we sent a few loud-mouthed rabble-rousers to agitate your normally unflappable populace? You should’ve called it Manitoban pizza and left us out of this heresy.

Canadians like to say, “Living in Canada is like living above a meth lab.” OK, I got nothing. Because that’s honestly hilarious. Moving on…

Don’t think we Americans haven’t noticed your smug superiority about your good-looking prime minister, Justin “Joy Chunks” Trudeau.

Yes, he’s easy on the eyes but that’s because he’s spent his entire life living in a country where the biggest controversy has been boxers or briefs. (Disgraceful systemic discrimination against indigenous peoples? Shhhh. Now have some universal health insurance, eh.)

In America, even if we go into the presidency looking youthful, it doesn’t last. Barack Obama aged approximately 529 years during his first four years in office. That’s OK. A world leader with a freakishly youthful face doesn’t inspire confidence. I like my presidents to have the trusted, craggy patina of a coagulated week-old poutine. You can trust a face like that.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. She tried Tim Horton’s coffee and didn’t love it.

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Not holding my breath about Spotify and Joe Rogan mending their ways

It’s times like this that make me wish I had a music library and podcast to loudly remove from Spotify. It’s kind of amazing I don’t have a podcast since you really can’t throw a rock without hitting a podcaster these days. Go ahead, try it. See what I mean?

My lack of podcasting doesn’t quell my fascination with the ongoing Spotify kerfuffle as musicians continue to boycott the insanely popular streaming platform because they believe superstar podcaster Joe Rogan spreads vaccine misinformation. Oh. And he also says the N word sometimes. You know, not in a derogatory way but more of a just-us-cool-guys way because, he assures us, he’s not racist. Said every racist ever. But moving on…

It’s easy to keep track of who is leaving Spotify out of principle because it’s basically every artist whose poster was on my bedroom walls in high school.

I love the old rockers getting riled. The last time Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were this upset it was about four dead in O-hi-o and it was utterly brilliant.

Good on them. And Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren even. The only question I have is: Where’s Steve Miller? And why isn’t he joining his (very) old pals in the protest? Perhaps he remains preoccupied with dissecting the “pompatus of love,” his famously made-up word because it felt right at the time.

Man, I miss the ‘70s. Making up a word just made Steve Miller all the more cool. Repeatedly asked by less chill folk what the word meant, a weary Steve finally said: “It means whatever you need it to mean.”

Outasite!!!

Neil Young kicked things off with the Spotify boycott and now even a few young whippersnappers like multiplatinum life coach Brene’ Brown have bolted in solidarity.

Rogan, who has a $100 million contract with Spotify and 11 million listeners is accused of befouling the podcast pool by inviting anti-vax conspiracy theorists and certified creeps like Alex Jones on his show. Oh, and he also recommends horse paste for COVID. In other words, by all indications, Joe Rogan is full of pompatus.

I lost track of Rogan after watching him host “Fear Factor” many years ago. As host, it was his job to entice otherwise sensible folk to do decidedly weird and unpleasant things for cash money, like devouring a bowlful of fuzzy spiders or, and I’m not making this up, lying down in a casket full of rats. Pretty sure that would induce a major pompatus blowout among most sane people.

I’m sure we can all agree lying in a casket teeming with rats is a special brand of torture not unlike being forced to listen to your husband’s cousin’s niece’s boyfriend explain cryptocurrency and the blockchain at dinner. Of course, I’m kidding. Bring on the rats.

I didn’t hear much about Joe Rogan for many years other than he was some sort of MMA fanboy for hire. Oh, and he repeatedly said pro wrestling was all fake, which, let’s just say he better not say in front of every rural granny I ever knew.

Little did I know he was out there getting richer and famouser with “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.

Rogan has apologized for everything and promised to do better, saying “I’m not trying to be controversial.”

Well, that’s a big fat lie. That’s exactly what he’s doing because controversy is what keeps those 11 million listeners coming back. Controversy is the whole point of the “experience.”

Joe Rogan will survive. Much like the oft-lauded nuclear winter surviving cockroach, he will be just fine. Spotify will place a “content advisory” warning on his show. Smart. That will boost ratings even higher. Because the surest way to make people do something is to tell them not to do it.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Her email is [email protected]

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Staring at walls

Friends, have you been experiencing a decline in creativity? Are you suffering burnout from trying to deliver a creative project on a deadline year after year after year?

Not me. We’re talking about you here. But, let’s just say, hypothetically, it IS me and I no longer feel that achy breaky need to create. Where did the mojo go go? And will it ever return?

Not to worry! Because according to experts in these matters the answer is as close as the nearest blank wall! No, don’t do regrettable things with crayons on it. Just stare at it. For 15 minutes. Yes! That’s all there is to it.

Again, I have no such creative blockages but in the interest of science and because we all know I’m a GIVER, I decided to take the advice I heard on an NPR segment with an art educator and a digital anthropologist (yeah, I don’t know what that is either) who think overstimulation is the enemy of creativity.

“The mind needs time to wander to reignite the creative spark,” said art educator and author Sarah Urist Green.

Rahaf Harfoush agreed. We must just stare at a wall for 15 minutes. “No screens, no emails, no audiobooks,” she said.

Challenge accepted, Rahaf and Sarah! As someone who has read about others experiencing the heartbreak of “writer’s block,” I decided it wouldn’t hurt to stare at a wall in my dining room for 15 minutes. Here’s how it went.

1 p.m.: First up, set the timer on my phone to 15 minutes. Now, move the phone out of reach, find the right wall and commence staring. I can feel the creative juices starting to bubble up! Oops. False alarm, that was the extra bacon and cheese I put on my potato soup an hour ago. Why did I do that? I need Tums. When this is over, I will Google gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms. Again.

1:02 p.m.: This is fantastic! That was a fast 15 minutes. Wonder why the alarm didn’t sound. Oh. Only TWO MINUTES HAVE ELAPSED???? How is this possible? I’ve stared at this wall for what feels like an eternity. Deep breaths. Resume Operation Boost Creativity!

1:08 p.m.: Holy Lord. Somebody’s at the door. It’s my painter. I text him “Can’t talk now, staring at a wall.” I will explain this later. For now, he is probably miffed because I just told him, essentially, I’d rather stare at a wall than talk to him. I bet he found some more rot. It’s always rot…

1:10: I feel so bad about that text. I wasn’t supposed to have any screen time during the 15 minutes. I’ve ruined the experiment. I reset to a fresh 15 minutes, pull my chair closer to the blank wall and start over.

1:13: Sweet mother of pearl. Seriously? The dryer has stopped. I should’ve turned it off, of course, but now I really need to just pause the phone timer and give the dryer a quick restart. It’s jeans. Or I wouldn’t do it. OK, yes, I would. This exercise has made me more truthful!

1:15: Since we’re telling the truth, I hate this so much. I’m bored out of my mind. I decide to close my eyes and see if any of those weird floaters surface like lava lamps. That’s better. I wonder if that’s a problem. Some of these floating things are pretty aggressive. They all look like Patrick on Spongebob. Remember him? Maybe I will write a poem about floaters. JK. I hate poetry.

1:20: Whoa. Almost done. This is awesome! Closing my eyes helped but it may have been cheating. OK, five minutes short but I already feel more creative! My neural pathways are verdant with, uh, green stuff. Ugh. Resetting the timer…

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Coping with a Wordle obsession

The grouches on social media don’t like it when people post their Wordle scores. The sight of that grid filled with little green squares makes them crazy. As in: “People don’t care about your mediocre linguistic episodes!” Ouch.

The Wordle backlash is real and utterly predictable. Too many of us are simply not wired to smugly condemn others in our own heads like God intended. No, it’s the internet equivalent of dunking the nerd’s head in the toilet at recess. You have to make a big show of dissing something. Dumb word game. Gimme your lunch money and get off my feed.

I agree there should be some restraint. You should only post your Wordle score if it’s truly noteworthy. Like the time I guessed correctly on the first line. Yes. I. Did. Of course, this was greeted with some entirely appropriate memes declaring me a witch. Which I can neither confirm nor deny. All I know is the word “mount” popped into my skull. I typed it in, mostly because it had two vowels and a “t” in it (usually a nice start) and, “wah-lah,” it was the word of the day!

I am obsessed with Wordle. It’s a simple, elegant little puzzler typically solved –or not—in under 5 minutes. I love its refusal to overdo, over complicate, make mysterious. I love its unapologetic old-school “we don’t need no stinkin’ app” vibe. There’s just one puzzle a day. You get six chances to guess the five-letter word in the grid. You solve it or not and then must wait until the next day for the clean, fresh-start grid brimming with hope and possibilities to challenge you anew. Not to be dramatic or anything.

Wordle requires us to wait which is not something we Americans are built for. We are not a patient people. When I learned I’d have to wait TWENTY-TWO MONTHS for the new season of “Ozark” to drop, I asked to speak to the manager of Netflix. You do realize that’s the exact gestation period of an African bush elephant, right? How is it possible anything short of producing a 265-pound birth weight elephant should take so long? It’s a dozen actors on a lake near Atlanta. Figure it out, geniuses.

Then again, it’s possible I’ve overthought this.

You might wonder how such a simple, dare I say antiquated, game allows you to post your score to the internet. I mean I’m going on and on about this like it’s something John Boy and his siblings would chat about beside the potbelly stove at Ike Godsey’s store. (Ask your parents.) The ability to share is truly the only high-tech thing about this updated version of the old Jott-O paper word-guessing game you may have played with your maiden aunt while she got you all sugar high on pecan divinity and Raisinets that always seemed to have a little cat hair on them. What? Just me?

The answer is there’s a “share” button. But of course. I tried not to “share” that time I guessed right on the first try—did I mention that already?—but how could I not? If the wordle is guessed on the first try and no one sees it on Facebook, did it really happen?

Of course not. The world needed to know. Was it a fluke? Was I psychic as I’ve long suspected? Was it really necessary for me to tell everyone in the line at the grocery store about it?

The only sour note was when a Facebook pal announced she’d done the very same thing that day. Braggy cow.

The New York Times just bought Wordle. Here’s hoping they don’t make us pay like they do for every dumb recipe they publish. See link in bio? Not today, Satan.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Manchin and Sinema go on a date…

“Table for two free-thinking patriots, please,” said the genial owl-faced Senator from West by-God Virginia.

“Right away, Senator Manchin. Here’s a lovely table right here…”

“It’s OK, but it’s a little too much in the center. What about that nice two-top over on the right? We don’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves, right Kyrsten?”

“Yeah. We HATE attention, Joe” (maniacal laughter from both)

“Jeepers, Kyrsten, you sure look nice tonight. I love the colors in that, er, dress?”

“Thanks, Joe. It’s from Anthropologie. People have this, like, obsession with my clothes and, honestly, I’m so much more than that. My shoes are ah-mazing, too.”

“I hear ya. Whenever I go home, people always wanna talk about my yacht and my Maserati like those are bad things. Ha! Liberals. What’re ya gonna do? Can’t live with ‘em, can’t put a burlap sack over their heads and toss ‘em in the trunk of your car when they start whining, right?”

“You said it, Joe. I mean what part of “Just because I’m a Democrat it doesn’t mean I’m going to actually support any of the party’s core values and legislation” do they not get?”

“Exactly, Kyrsten. It’s like we have the same brain. Wait. That would mean we each have half a brain. Ha! Anyway, take this whole Build Back Better business. I mean, a child tax credit? In West Virginia, we call that by its rightful name: socialism.”

“True. It’s not like those displaced coal workers need to be having more children anyway.”

“Look, we need to just offer those poor folks our thoughts and prayers. Not free community college or universal pre-K whatever the hell that is. Universal? Does that mean like for Martians and stuff?”

“I know! Why can’t they see we’ll never get anything done if we can’t reach across the aisle and give the Republicans every single thing they want? And another thing, where is it written that it’s our job to preserve democracy?”

(Waiter: “I’m going to say the …Constitution?)

“Oh, never mind him. You know, Kyrsten, some people say you and I are the most important people in the entire country right now.”

“Feels good, Joe. Feels real good. Biden’s calling me 12 times a day and I’m thinking of blocking him. He’s all voting rights this and filibuster that and I’m like, honestly, you are sooooo needy. He’s like the worst Hinge date ever.”

“Hahahahahahaha! Next thing you know, he’ll be outside your window holding a boom box in the rain!”

“Schumer did that already. Kinda creepy.”

“Look, all I’m saying is it’s nice to finally be courted a little. And, let’s face it. Even I was surprised at how good my approval ratings are doing. I mean I represent the sixth poorest state in the country and I’m on TV every day saying how much I want to take that extra $300 from families. Why? Because they might not go back to work when you got that kinda money rolling in. And they still love me! I swear you can’t beat a state full of folks who consistently vote against their own best interests.”

“Joe, you’re living the dream! I’m not nearly as lucky as you. My approval ratings among Arizona voters are tanking. They’re already talking about primary-ing me in 2024 with a “real Democrat,” whatever THAT is.”

“Look, you will never go wrong if you just listen to your conscience and always do the right thing for all the people of your state.”

(long pause then spit-take laughter from both)

“You folks ready to order?”

“Sure. Ladies first!”

“Welllllll. I’ve been dreaming about that filet mignon all day long so….I’ll have the vegan risotto instead.”

“Same for me. But don’t tell ‘em back home. They’d never understand.”

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write to her at [email protected].