Nathan's Laserium: The Last Living Black Polar Bear

Do you get to choose your influences? Kind of, right, but what if you’re heroes are just better than you are? I always wanted to be a lyrical meld of Rob Zombie with his “I am the Astro-Creep, a Demolition-style hell American creep” patter of like horror/carnival lines and Gord Downie with his constant barrages of likely non-sequiturs and randomalities that evoke . . . something smarter than me, anyways.  Here was my attempt, from way back in 2003, to try for that. At least I can also hide behind the excuse of time. Am I any better now? Well, maybe lyrical poetry is never going to be my forte.

 

The Last Living Black Polar Bear

 

He's the last living black polar bear

Ursis maritimus with brunette hair

An anti-albino Arctic animal anomaly

Melpomene's very own private North Pole-my-knee

Jet black get back goth smack chiller

Razor claws toothy jaws icy-cold killer

Last of his kind going out of his mind

Glacier sliding iceberg hiding glaring snowblind

 

-September 8, 2003

 

- Nathan Waddell

 

Nathan's Laserium: The Rule of the Hundredth Meridian

I have a rule, pretty much ironclad. It’s a good thing I’m not some CEO or, I dunno, like a guy who negotiates treaties. Anyone who has to speechify for a living. It’s the Hundredth Meridian Rule. No matter what I’m doing, doesn’t matter, whenever The Tragically Hip’s At The Hundredth Meridian comes on I have to sing/recite the poem at the end. You know the one:

 

If I die of vanity, promise me, promise me

If they bury me some place I don't want to be

You'll dig me up and transport me, unceremoniously

Away from the swollen city breeze, garbage bag trees

Whispers of disease and the acts of enormity

And lower me slowly and sadly and properly

Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy

 

Imagine delivering the Canadian equivalent of the state of the union address, whatever that is, and you’re the Prime Minister, and that song comes on and you have no choice but to interrupt your speech and do that poem.

But I guess it’d be ok because all of Canada would be singing along.

Damn.

You may have heard that legendary Hip frontman Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer.

Back in the 90s, The Hip were everything. It was a good time for Canadian music, at least to me and my nostalgia, but The Hip were the best and they were why we had any decent bands at all.

Any Canadians roughly my age know this already, but for you Americans and sundry other humans out there, there’s a thing called CanCon. The CRTC (our version of the FCC) has rules that radio stations and TV channels and such have to play a certain percentage of Canadian Content. CanCon. From about 1989 to 1996 or so, The Tragically Hip pretty much provided all the CanCon anybody ever needed.

 

New Orleans Is Sinking

Boots or Hearts

Little Bones

Three Pistols

Fiddler’s Green

Courage

Locked in the Trunk of a Car

At The Hundredth Meridian

Grace, Too

Scared

Nautical Disaster

 

The list goes on and on. An unbelievable body of work, all brilliantly united by Downie’s haunting voice and inscrutable lyrics that evoke the rougher edges of being Canadian when they even made any kind of sense at all. Some of my favorite lines:

 

Sled dogs after dinner

Close their eyes on the howling wastes

Kurt Cobain reincarnated

Sighs and licks his face

(Don’t Wake Daddy)

 

Everyone's got their breaking point

With me it's spiders, with you it's me

(Thugs)

 

This sounds like an eulogy, doesn’t it? It’s not. Those motherfuckers are going out on tour this summer, one last time. Fuck cancer. I’ll do my best to go- one huge oversight in my concert list is The Hip. I was always working or traveling, it seemed, when they came around. And there was always going to be next year, right?

Damn.

- Nathan Waddell

 

Nathan's Laserium: Good Movie!

I went and saw Captain America: Civil War. So did you! We liked it! Good movie, right?

Ahh.

So good.

Kind of makes you wanna, like, write about it or something. Like about maybe how, um, you know, something a little deeper, a little more insightful than “That airport fight scene was so awesome!!!”

Oh, I know! Point out the differences and the similarities between the movie and the comic.

Mm. Nah. Been done. Comics and movies are different. This is known. Who cares.

We could talk about, like, the political landscape and how Civil War speaks to the way in which people who are on the same side are griping and sniping and fighting each other.

Oh, you read that already? Twice? Oh, NPR and Vice both did something along those lines. Ok.

Well, like, that airport fight was pretty awesome. Especially when SPOILER! Shutthefuckupawready! Why everybody gotta spoil shit alla time anyway.

Black Panther was cool, right? I hear he’s getting a movie.

I love Black Widow. She kicks so much ass. She’s still not getting a movie. Come on, Marvel. At least we have Agent Carter.

Oh wait.

Alright. Well, I don’t know what to write. What’s the point, even. We all saw it. Most of us loved it. Most of us will see the next one.

Guess I’ll just stand by my tweet I wrote after I saw it, kind of says all I need to say:

Good Movie!

- Nathan Waddell

Nathan's Laserium: The Bears and I

Maybe you know that I like bears a little bit. Seen two so far this year! A black and a grizzly. In fact grizzly bears are the far more common ursid for me to see where I work. I'm lucky to get to see them quite often in the spring and summer. Two were poking around today, actually, though I was stuck on the stupid shovel and couldn't go racing to see them. I'm sure I'll get another chance.

A few years back I found a book in my Grandma's basement. She was an elementary school librarian and a true bibliophile so she always had tons of books. Mostly our tastes were in, what do you call those Venn diagrams where they don't actually really touch at all? Separate spheres. And, by the way, I'm referring to her in the past tense but she is alive and well. It's her library that is no longer with us as she has moved into a home. Anyway.

So Yeah, I found a book that caught my eye. It was old, but it was called The Bears And I, by Robert Franklin Leslie. Thus I had to pick it up. So glad I did. What an amazing little book.

It's a true story, published in 1968 though I believe the events it describes occurred maybe in the 40s.

The author, an American university student, spent his summers prospecting for gold in British Columbia to pay for his schooling. One day an ancient and rheumatic old bear shuffled out of the woods towards Leslie, almost on her belly, and huffed and puffed at him while glancing up at the tree where she had banished her three (triplets!) cubs. To all appearances she was bequeathing her progeny to him so she could go and die. His prose is much more elegant than mine.

Seriously this book is amazing. Hard to believe, even.  It it's filled with so much intricate detail that it is harder to believe that he made it up.

He named the cubs Rusty, Dusty and Scratch. Each of them has a unique personality which he describes in loving detail.  Anthropomorphized? Maybe, but I think animals are very capable of developing idiosyncratic characteristics. It's one of science's blind spots that this isn't better recognized.

Alright so he has these three bear cubs. What the heck is he gonna do with them? To his credit he doesn't try to train them and turn them into some sort of circus performer/sideshow curiosities. He instead does his best to train them to be bears. He has way more wood craft than you or I so he kind of pulls it off. The best parts of the books are his adventures just wandering around training the cubs in bearology. "Eat grubs and worms, little cubs. Not me!" And so forth.

Little spoiler- it's not the happiest ending, which is probably not at all surprising. Humans and bears really shouldn't ever mix. Still a fascinating, incredible story, well worth a read should you ever be able to find a copy.

It's no longer in print. It's not on google books, I just checked. It might be in your grandma's basement! You will have to check used bookstores, if you have any, and maybe the library still has a copy. Apparently Disney did a very loose adaptation of it back in the 70s, which I haven't seen.

- Nathan Waddell

 

Nathan's Laserium: The Mother Superior

Happy Mother’s Day! Which is not today I know. Nor are most of you mothers either I know that too. To be honest it’s mostly just an excuse to bring you this silly little rhyme from many years ago that otherwise wouldn’t ever seem topical or relevant. Revelant, perhaps in the parlance of this poem. What can I say, I’ve been busy. I am working on a story however, hopefully it will be ready soon, but at the moment it isn’t quite cooked.

 

 

The Mother Superior is constantly vigilant

In making sure all of her nuns are all digilant

She doesn't put up with making up words

Her convent is full of grammatical nerds

So imagine the irony when she nailed up a sign

That stated her new Nunnery Rule Number Nine:

"From this point hereforeward I will severiously punish

Any of you nuns who are caught acting unnunnish!"

 

 

Notes: Severious is a word I coined when I was hitch-hiking across Canada and needed a new way to describe the excruciating pain I was often in when hiking with my backpack for untold miles, as in "I am in severious pain." You know, both severe and serious.

Digilant is a word I just made up to rhyme with vigilant. Since diligent just didn't really cut it.

And I don't know who made up the word poo but they deserve a Poollitzer.

Posted 24th July 2003

 

- Nathan Waddell