Jan 24 2014

The Tall Tale of an Alternative Burns Supper

American Quack is proud to present the following reprint of Buster Friendless’ historical and anthropological study of Scottish culinary practice in honor of Robert Burns Day. We are keenly aware that many readers are eager for a further installment on the research project of Dr. Anne B. Thermopolis and will resume this coverage in the next issue.


There were none but Scotsmen present at the event in question so we cannot claim to have a reliable account of what went on, but, according to at least one scurvy Caledonian, it began with a general malaise that settled on the city of Glasgow. A restless dissatisfaction held the entire population in its grip. Blandly and blindly, the people went through their daily routines, stopping at the chip shop for breakfast, lunch, tea, and after-last-call snacks. They ordered haddock, cod, blood sausage, haggii, scotch pies, pork pies, and pizza slices, all of them rolled in batter, deep fried, and served with thick, jaundiced, fat-soaked chips. And though their bellies were filled as usual and their unkempt Highland whiskers well-oiled in the process, something was missing. Continue reading

Nov 9 2013

Zero shopping days til Great October

Whoops, Great October whizzed right by with nary a mention. Have a great belated GO, everyone and enjoy the New New Model Red Army Choir as they lay down some lucky. h/t Jackie Hutter

(According to the comments, these are Ministry of the Interior uniforms)

There are, now, 261 shopping days to Great October.

Original Post

And what are you doing to mark the 93rd anniversary of the Great October Revolution? Readers interested in Canada’s role in the Russian Revolution and Civil War might want to peruse the on-line exhibition Canada’s Siberian Expedition, bearing in mind our participation in the seizing and holding Russia’s arctic ports of Murmansk and Archangelsk also.

Here, we offer a series of videos, beginning with Lenin in repose:

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Nov 10 2012

Remembrance Day 11-11-12

The Last Long Mile

written by Charles Hart and Shannon Four, 1918

Why the Poppy?

A writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended. Continue reading

Oct 28 2011

No Means No 2011 (and 1994)

Here, out west, it’s hunting season, and typically that means that NoMeansNO should be passing through the territory. I take a gander at the band Web site and see that, yes indeed, the best Canadian band ever set off on a countrywide peregrination just yesterday.

See them while you can, fellow sapiens, for the season will come when that wizened trio gaze out onto the vastness of the Hardcore Logo circuit and judge it no country for old men. That’ll be a sad day for Punk Rock, implacably sad like the end of the Selfish Giant (which reminds me not to pogo so much this time; this is no country for old knees).

We don't quit on a tour poster just cuz it's got a little wear and tear


Mr. Wrong chats with some Slovene hipsters

And for your further edification, here is an old short story/review I wrote about seeing the band on their Mr. Happy tour (93/94).

Apr 3 2011

The Devil You Know (TDYKn) – Chapter 1.1

Dedicated to Ian Thatcher, Trotsky scholar and my office-mate who got this story started when he said, and here I paraphrase; Nationalism is terrible, internationalism is even worse. Parochialism – that’s the thing!

Also to Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, from whose Besy (The Devils or The Possessed) I have thieved liberally.

Believe everything you hear. Nothing is too impossibly bad.


On the Morning of the First Murder

The whine of the radio followed Evil Jim as he sauntered from his van up the access ramp toward the Trans-Canada highway. He reached the highway proper and made his way along the shoulder against the flow of such traffic as there was an hour before the first sign of dawn. He wore a faded denim jacket under an armless shirt in lumberjack plaid. His right hand gripped a small paint can and thin brush, a rickety step-ladder creaked and rattled in his left. Kicking an unrecognizable dead furry thing out of his path, he set the ladder down into shallow divots in the earth just off the highway shoulder, and clambered up to the face of a road sign. “Next Exit  Moose Flats, All Services  4 Kilometers” it read. With a sure and steady hand, Evil Jim drew a slash above the 4, then a 1 above the slash. The patch over which he had painted was substantially thicker than the rest of the sign, layer upon layer of old paint, revision, correction, revision, correction. Just how far was it to Moose Flats? A mere point two five kilometers, for the moment.

Job done, Evil Jim strolled back the way he had come, chortling. That was another easy fifty the mayor owed him. He swung the open paint can to the beat of his strides, then wheeled it full-circle over his head. From somewhere in the misty past, the strange word ‘centrifugal’ came into his mind and he felt all the more pleased with himself for the recollection of it. As he approached the off-ramp Jim spied a near-mirror image of himself coming the other way – same shaggy appearance, same wiry frame and ambling cocky gait, the same implements in hand. The image saluted him with a paint brush and called, “How’s it hanging, Evil Jim?”

“Hangs straight down but it drips a little, Gator Bob.” Evil Jim’s voice remained flat with a slight ironic curl, a studied manner of speech rendered less effective by the fact that his nasal passages whistled at each sibilant, an effect of cartilage displaced by one of an uncounted number of blows to the face. Pulling the paint brush out of the can, Evil Jim flicked the excess reflective white into the off-road gloom, and then tapped the handle on the rim of the can. “It’s all good,” he concluded. “Good good good.”

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Mar 23 2011



“Geoff” is some sort of Viking affectation. Guys who spell their name with a “Geoff” think they have some sort of blanch when it comes to Yid-bashing a la carte. The whole thing – and I have yet to see this happen – invariably devolves into a total tabloid Rasta of Jamaican dick-swinging proportions. Till you tiddle in your trousers, pressed by a fear of the men’s room and preferring to be derided for a Piss-in-Boots. I think you know what I am saying (with a non-verbal wink). The hole does not bare fruit enough for me, and that is horde won booty. Know doubt.



Sorry, I was channeling a disconcert of beatnik Jazz. It has passed, though not entirely. Where was I?

Feb 7 2011

TDYKn – Chapter 1.2

Okay, before you all start calling in to complain, I know that that was a crap song. I played it so I could complain about it. I’ve been a fan of Weatherproof for years, but this latest release stinks so bad it makes me want to go home and ritualistically destroy all of their albums. We’re used to seeing bands start out full of fight and beans, only to get all soft, mellow and vague as commercial success approaches. These guys are running in the opposite direction, getting more and more strident. But it all rings false, like they’ve totally run out of their own ideas.

I hate it when bands start trumpeting the big causes like they’re the first ones to think of them. Side one, track three – Ozone Tan. Gee, I hadn’t heard about that issue. I guess the rhythm section spends its spare time monitoring greenhouse gas emissions.  And side two, track one – Disney Dream Killer. What? This multinational mega-corp isn’t run by sexless, selfless, fun-loving elves? I find that so hard to believe.

When we do finally get it through our heads that chanting Give Peace a Chance gets us nowhere. Might as well be Hare Krishna.

To top it off, they’ve got Rosa Luxemburg on both sides of the album waving a big red banner. It says Greed Kills on the front and Fight Corporate Conformity on the back. Let me tell you, fight corporate conformity all you like, it won’t even notice. It’ll just step right over you. It might break wind, but it won’t break stride.

Now I’ll shut up and play a heart-ripper of a love song, the sort of thing that takes actual guts to perform. Some are merely haunted by memories of a romance gone bad, others are visited nightly, lashed to the bed frame and thrashed without mercy. Here’s For Shame of Doing Wrong, a Richard Thompson song rendered by Yo La Tengo.

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Feb 7 2011

TDYKn – Chapter 1.3

Mayor Nathaniel Malech assumed his chair at the head of long and ostentatiously appointed hall. Mock chandeliers gave the room a warm yellowish glow. The who’s-who of Moose Flats were sprawled around the hall, chatting of this and that. He perched his posterior on the tip of his chair and cracked his knuckles. Everyone was talking. Into the hum of babelogue he said, “Committee is about to be in session. None of us is quite so stupid as all of us put together.  We will begin dumming down to the weakest link.” Scanning the room, he said, “I believe that would be you, Duncan.” Duncan Mackie gave him a lazy middle finger. Malech smiled in response, then looked at his watch.  “Dumming down in four, three, two, one – we are all stupid, and committee is now in session.”

“Ladies,” he paused to draw a weary breath, “ladies and gentlemen, four score and twenty years ago brave and strong men settled here, our forefathers. They built a modest settlement into a town, and a modest town into a great municipality – Moose Flats. I have been your mayor for eighteen years. Prior to that, my father endured the burdens of this office for an even greater tenure, and I tell you honestly and with profound gravity that our fair city has never faced a challenge more threatening in all that time than the one with which it must grapple today.

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Feb 7 2011

TDYKn – Chapter 2.1

Dead Air in the Afternoon

Believe everything you hear. Nothing is too impossibly bad.


On the morning of the first murder, Moose Flats awoke as usual, early but lazily. The town yawned, stretched its workman’s muscles, scratched itself in damp, hairy places, and lumbered into the day, half-blind and blinking but confident of encountering nothing new or unusual, let alone dangerous.

From the dried-out marshes surrounding Greyere’s Hill in the north east, to West Point, where the C.P. railroad emerged from a thicket of grain elevators to cut across the highway access road, the town sweltered in the August heat. Long before noon, tar patches on the streets were beginning to melt. Black, thick, sticky ooze crept down the creases and cracks of the asphalt, drawn by a purposeless gravity, making meaningless progress through a day dead and dull.

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Feb 7 2011

TDYKn – Chapter 2.2

Across the blistering town, nestled under the bald glower of Greyere’s Hill, sat the cozy two-level home of Dr. Speck, on what had been swampy ground ideal for hunting frogs and snakes before it had been drained, filled, leveled and planted with trees that had yet to expand into any kind of shelter. The hill itself was not part of the doctor’s allotment, but he regarded it as such and had been known to come bursting out his back door, storming up the hill and waving an ax handle to frighten off children who had gathered there to play. Kids who had already reached their defiant years returned the favour by periodically pasting his stucco with eggs. The good doctor endured this indignity only briefly before acquiring a pair of vicious mastiffs named Frankenstein and Mengele. So the kids taunted the dogs – making them meaner – and tossed their little white bombs from a greater distance, and the civil war of petty means but implacable animosity bubbled on.

As the only significant point of elevation in the municipal area, Greyere’s Hill had, in winters past, attracted tobogganners, sledders and super-slider-snowskaters from all over the district. Happy days of exploiting gravity for fun and thrills came to an abrupt end when young Ronnie Renchuk flew down the hill on an immaculately waxed crazy carpet and into a string of barbed wire that mysteriously lay concealed in a drift fifteen yards nearer to the hill’s bottom than it had been when the snow first began to fall.

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