Newcomers to the city of Edmonton inevitably have questions regarding our perpetual rivals to the south, or what has come to be known as the Battle of Alberta. They don’t ask me – I purposely sport a fanny-pack and 20 pounds of camera gear when I wander about the city so that tourists don’t talk to me – but they’ll ask somebody. The answer they’ll probably get is “hockey”, which is blatantly misleading and 100% wrong.
Edmonton and Calgary have held a semi-snarly relationship for much longer than the history of professional hockey in either city. Far from a rivalry of mere convenience (we are the only two major cities in the province), the Battle of Alberta extends to fundamental belief systems, to political preferential treatment, to bigotry, inclusion, and of course… money.
Which is truly the greater city? As a lifelong resident of Edmonton, my honest answer is that I don’t care. Both cities are gorgeous: they have the Stampede, we have the continent’s most impressive Fringe Theatre Festival. They have proximity to the magnificent mountains, we have an exquisite river valley. They are the economic home-base of the province, we have a gigantic mall.
But enough of the niceness. Let’s see how this got ugly.
The Battle of Alberta extends for centuries before there was even an Alberta over which to battle. The Blackfoot Confederacy was the political union among the Blackfoot tribes who moseyed about southern Alberta and Montana, killing buffalo and living a northern version of the indigenous lifestyle of the American Indian. Up in the boreal forest that covered the northern half of the as-yet-undesignated province, the Cree and their allies (known as the Iron Confederacy, making the history of this region sound like a bad-ass Native version of Game of Thrones) lived a subarctic lifestyle, which involved trapping and fur-trading. Read more…
Not being particularly fond of organized religion, I nevertheless try to approach such topics with tact and compassion. So long as you’re not trying to bomb me, regulate my sex life or tell me how much bacon I’m allowed to cram into my eat-hole, I won’t attack your beliefs. But when it comes to Scientology, something about the organization clumps my britches. I’ve written before about the church’s vicious corporal punishment and member imprisonment, but I was already a little skeeved by this church, even before that. Something about the entire thing just ain’t right.
That’s not to say that the church’s lower-ranked adherents aren’t finding solace and comfort in whatever weirdness they are taught (and I’m not singling out Scientology with that word – if you look deeply enough, there’s weirdness in all religions). But for a church so damn young they have seen more than their fair share of scandals, lawsuits, and outright criminal activity.
This is no religious persecution either. The Church of Scientology has gone to ridiculous lengths to strike back against critics and vocal opponents, so much so as to suggest a staggering insecurity regarding the foundation of their beliefs. Maybe they just want to keep the tax credit, I don’t know. But there’s no excuse for the way they tormented Paulette Cooper.
In 1968, Paulette had recently scored a Masters degree in psychology, and she kicked off her freelance writing career by penning an investigative look into L. Ron Hubbard’s newfangled scientology religion. Paulette sifted through a lot of Dianetic dirt, and made herself some mighty powerful enemies in the process. How powerful? Once her book, The Scandal of Scientology was released in 1971, some of the higher-ups in the organization made it their mission to destroy her.
Not to quash the sales of her book, mind you… they wanted Paulette’s life on a flambéed skewer. Read more…
People believe in some strange things. Some of these beliefs evolve into organized religions, others turn into cults, and the ones that don’t catch enough fan buzz get pigeon-holed into superstition. Had Jesus broken a mirror or walked under a ladder right before his betrayal and crucifixion, then these precautions would have been nestled into Christian preachers’ collective ammo cache, instead of haunting the footsteps of the superstitious among us.
But what about the triskaidekaphobics? Is it logical to fear the number thirteen? Do they turn down hotel rooms that end in ‘13’? Do they count their French fries to make sure the suspicious-looking shrew at Wendy’s didn’t slip them a multiple of thirteen along with their Double-Baconator? Have most of them placed themselves into a medically-induced coma until December 31 so they could avoid dealing with 2013?
Did they never bet money on a Kurt Warner-led team?
Where did all this madness come from? Is thirteen really a bad-luck number?
The answer to the second question is either “No” or “Are you seriously asking that?” or “Mmfffkkk-off, I’m busy.”, depending on how many pints of McNally’s Extra Strong Ale I’ve consumed. The answer to the former is a little more interesting.
Ancient Persians believed that each of the twelve Zodiac constellations would take a turn ruling the earth for a thousand years, after which everything would fall to shit: geese would battle cows in the street, babies would shoot laser-boomerangs out their eyeballs and toasters would spontaneously explode. To this day, Persians leave their house on the thirteenth day of the Persian calendar, just in case. Read more…