Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Season’s Meatings

Alexandra’s Pizza is challenging patrons to eat a 12-pound donair in 90 minutes, the Cape Breton Post is treating it as “news,” and somehow, neither of those things is the funniest part of Thursday’s article about the contest.

The funniest part, hands down, is the accompanying list of things that “weight” about 12 pounds; a list I reproduce in full below:


Alexandra’s Pizza on Charlotte Street in Sydney is challenging people to eat a 12-pound donair. Here are some things that weight [sic] about 12 pounds:

  • 1 gallon of paint
  • 1 large house cat
  • 30 hockey pucks
  • 40 D-cell batteries
  • 60 decks of cards
  • 100 golf balls
  • 120 hotdogs
  • 950 quarters
  • 1,500 dice
  • 5,000 jelly beans
  • 30,000 rain drops
  • 200,000 grains of rice
  • 1 million grains of sand
  • 8.5 million grains of sugar
  • 95 million grains of salt

I mean, at first I was wondering what it would feel like to eat a 12-pound donair, but then I read this helpful list and realized it would feel precisely half as bad as that time I ate those 40 D-cell batteries and washed them down with a gallon of paint.

Thanks, Cape Breton Post!


Ugly Canadians

Still from Netflix series, "Distrito Salvaje" (Wild District)

Still from Netflix series, “Distrito Salvaje” (Wild District)

I knew Canadian mining companies had a bad reputation around the world — in fact, I recently heard a guy on a podcast say he’d advised his teenage son to lose the Canadian flag from his backpack before traveling in South America.

And just this week, while perusing the UN Conference of Trade and Development website, I found a list of Canadian mining companies — Eco Oro, Red Eagle, Galway Gold — pursuing the Colombian government under the terms of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) for daring to protect its freshwater resources.

Little wonder, then, that a Canadian mining company features as a villain in the Colombian TV series Distrito Salvaje (Wild District) now available on Netflix. A Spanish-speaking source sent me the accompanying still and explained:

This is the scene where the mining company boss is pissed because the locals are rising up against a project because of environmental concerns. And the boss says, “Tell them they’ll have whatever they want —  jobs, healthcare … a soccer field!” Then one of the Colombian officials says, “Don’t worry, we have ways of handling these things,” and the camera subtly shifts to the hitman in the waiting room.



Friendless churches

Friends of Friendless Churches 2019 Christmas Card

Christmas card featuring Sutterby Church (painting by Martin Williamson), available from the FOFC

A friend of the Spectator sent along a link to this Guardian article about the UK’s Friends of Friendless Churches (FOFC), suggesting we could use something similar here in Nova Scotia. The FOFC is a:

…small charity that works to save places of worship across England and Wales, many of which face abandonment and ruin as a result of shrinking populations in rural areas.

The group was established in 1957 by Welsh journalist and former MP Ivor Bulmer-Thomas and its founding members included TS Eliot and John Betjeman. Its mission, the Guardian explains, is not religious, it is instead “an architectural conservation organization” focused on preserving churches as “beautiful and important” examples of the countries’ art and architecture and ensuring continued public access to them.

One of the great fears of the FoFC is that short-sighted decisions on behalf of church authorities looking to balance the books could seriously and irrevocably damage the nation’s greatest architectural legacy – removing centuries old buildings from existence or public access over the course of a single generation. Nearly half of the Grade I-listed buildings in England are churches, and around 30 are put up for sale or closed every year.

The group has about 2,000 members on whom it relies for funding — along with donations from the general public — and 56 churches under its care. It adds a few more each year, but the paper says it cannot keep up with demand. I recommend the article, I think much of it will resonate with Cape Bretoners.


Space for Rent?

Local author and educator Paul MacDougall has launched a campaign to find a new home for Ed’s Books, the secondhand bookstore (and art gallery and gathering place) on Charlotte Street in Sydney that is being bumped from its current quarters by the new NSCC Marconi Campus.

Owner Ed Gillis, who has been operating on Charlotte Street for seven years, told the CBC’s Brent Kelloway he would like to stay downtown and MacDougall added:

If Sydney was to lose this because he couldn’t find a decent place to go to, I think it’s a total shame.

In spreading the word about Ed’s plight, MacDougall tweeted a link to Ken Jessome’s 2017 profile of Gillis for the Spectator (which is really good.)

Read the story — and if you have a line a new home for a secondhand book store, speak up!



Wrapper’s delight

As the giver of many rectangular gifts over the years, I have no idea how I managed to reach my advanced age without having learned how to wrap them correctly.

My deepest thanks, then, to the British bookseller Waterstones for this life-changing instructional video:



And that’s a wrap for 2019!

Christmas and New Year’s fall on Wednesdays this year, which I’m choosing to view as a sign from the universe to take two weeks off.

I want to offer a special thanks to Sean Howard and Dolores Campbell and Rachel Haliburton and Susan Dodd and Michelle Smith and Madeline Yakimchuk and Rose Courage and Michael Milburn who have contributed so much to the Spectator this past year.

But I especially want to thank you, dear readers, for continuing to make this whole crazy endeavor possible.

I wish everyone a safe, happy and donair-free holiday season and I expect to see you all back here on 9 January 2020.

Don’t be late.