Thursday, April 10, 2008

How to Tell Someone Is a Canadian

Deep down inside, everyone wants the people around them to be just like them. That's why in every high school cafeteria in America, the chess club sits with the chess club, the basketball team sits with the basketball team, the band kids sit together, etc.

But unfortunately, we live in a complex, non-uniform society. There are those among us that may look like us that are not like us. Certain detection systems have been developed to identify these "seemingly like us" folks. For example, some individuals have the ability to sense homosexuality in those who do not advertise the fact. This radar-like system has been dubbed "gay-dar." And recently, The Onion, America's Finest News Source, ran an essay from a guy who talked about his "blackdar."

To this body of work, I'd like to add another radar-like detection: identifying someone who is a Canadian. I call my system Canad-Eh-darTM.

To illustrate how this works, let's look at the lovely and talented Miss Kathleen Edwards. There are many ways to tell that she is Canadian cause she doesn't make any effort to hide it. But let's pretend you didn't know anything about her.* We'll examine the lyrics to one of her songs, "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory," as a way to see the Canad-Eh-dar in action.

Edwards is cool. She gave the finger to this hippie who wouldn't give her directions.

Blazing a trail to the southern cities from the streets of our hometown
Basement bars we played from the heart in the company of our friends

Nothing special here. She doesn't say which country's southern cities she's referring to. I assume Canada has basement bars just like the US.

If I write down these memories that I have saved away
Photographs of the years that have passed inside my little brain
You're cool and cred like Fogerty

OK, here's our first real clue. "Cred" sounds like Canada-type slang for "credible." She refers to John Fogerty of CCR by just his last name, whereas Americans are ignorant and would've called him, "you know, that guy from CCR."

I'm Elvis Presley in the 70's

Aha! As you'll see, Edwards sets up a series of observations where "your" wonderfulness is contrasted with "my" lack of coolness. To make this point, she points to '70s-era Elvis as uncool. No American would ever say that. Elvis was cool in all five of the decades he walked this earth. (If I had to rank them, I'd say '50s, '60s, '70s, '40s, '30s.) I mean, when was this picture taken?

That's right, the '70s.

You're Chateauneuf, I'm Yellow Label

I don't know what Chateauneuf is and I don't have the interest in searching for it, but it sounds French. I know Canada has a bunch of French people and that's good enough for me. I don't get the Yellow Label reference, and I'm somewhat familar with cheap alcohol, so I'm guessing it's a Canadish form of cheap wine.

You're the buffet, I'm just the table
I'm a Ford Tempo, you're a Maserati

Nothing special here....they have buffets, tables and Ford Tempos in both countries. Maserati is a geography-neutral reference to an insanely expensive car.

You're the Great One, I'm Marty McSorley

Now here's the kicker. This reference probably went way over your head if you're American, but the "Great One" is the nickname of Wayne Gretzky, who played hockey, the national sport of Canada. Likewise, Marty McSorley also played hockey, except he played the position of "thug," a role more about beating people up than actually playing hockey.

Hey Americans: this is what Wayne Gretzky looks like. Don't feel bad, I had to Google him.

You're the Concorde, I'm economy
I make the dough, but you get the glory

Big fish, small pond and some cover songs we sang along the way
We used to midnight run to The Vesta Lunch
Cheese burgers and chocolate shakes.

Never heard of the Vesta Lunch. Sounds like a Canadese burger joint. If she were American, she would have name-dropped Mickey D's.

Once I got drunk with Jeff
I told him I was in love with you
But I love you like a brother so at least half of it was true

I would guess that Canadians can get drunk and say embarrassing things just like us.

You're cool and cred like Fogerty
I'm Elvis Presley in the 70's
You're Chateauneuf, I'm Yellow Label
You're the buffet, I'm just the table
I'm a Dodge Sparkle, you're a Lamborghini

Ever heard of a Dodge Sparkle? Me neither. I see it as one of two options: it's either a car that was sold only in Canada, or it's Canadian slang for a different model. Either way: it sets off the Canad-Eh-dar.

You're the Great One, I'm Marty McSorley
You're the Concorde, I'm economy
I make the dough, but you get the glory

If I write down these memories that I have saved away
Photographs of the years that have passed inside my little brain
I'm sure it's been said in the finer print You make me look legitimate
Heavy rotation on the CBC
Whatever in hell that really means

You should be convinced by now, but you see that acronym "CBC"? Turns out, that stands for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation! That's right, the national TV (or radio, or both, whatever, it's definitely not from here). And their website ends in ".ca," not ".com," which tells you that it's from a foreign country.

You're cool and cred like Fogerty
I'm Elvis Presley in the 70's
You're the Concorde, I'm economy
I make the dough, but you get the glory

There you go. Canada-Eh-dar proves the Canadaness of Kathleen Edwards and other Canadians. Feel free to use these time-tested techniques next time you're wondering about that guy at work who says "sorry" like "SORE-y" and other potential Canadians.

Lovely. Talented. Foul-mouthed. And proven Canadian.

By the way, this guy explains the wine thing. And you know where he's from? Winnipeg, which is *part of Canada*. Coincidence?



* If you really don't know anything about Kathleen Edwards, read up on her blog, buy her new CD, or while you're at it, buy one or both of her two previous records. Lyrics by Kathleen Edwards. Copyright 2008, SOCAN Potty Mouth Productions Inc. Used without permission but I don't think she'll mind.

I toured Graceland in 2004 and took this picture of the Elvis portrait by the stairs. Whaddya you got, Canada? Anne Murray's house?!?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

She also puts ketchup on her Hot dogs.

Greg C said...

Chateauneuf isn't exclusively a Canadian reference. The Beastie Boys sang, err, rapped about it awhile ago in "Body Movin'."

Paul Darling said...

I think she's singing "I'm a dodge fargo" not dodge sparkle. It's a tricky line but I'm sure thats how she sang it when I saw her on Leno.

Anonymous said...

Vesta Lunch is a Toronto late-night eatery. Another giveaway!

Jim said...

"Fargo" is a Dodge truck sold in Canada. "Sparkle" is what your eyes do when you look at Kathleen

Tombo said...

Yellow Label could also be Yellowtail, which comes in large bottle, is cheap, and sucks. (And she didn't want to get sued by 'em)

John Wroe said...

Yes, the Vesta Lunch is on Dupont Street. And Kath, like me, is very Canadian.

The Chateau Neuf de Pape is a pretty high end French wine. Wolf Blass Yellow Label is a pretty decent Australian wine.

Wayne and Marty ... well, every Canadian gets it.

And since I listen to the CBC a lot ... I can say she does get heavy rotation.

John

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Two words: Kraft Dinner

jchampagne said...

I totally heard "Dodge Sparkle" as well :P