Top Eleven Things from Before 2011

At this time of year we’re inundated with top ten lists. Ten best albums, ten best TV shows, ten best Tuesdays, ten best best lists. I find it horribly annoying, because few of them ever differ drastically, and it seems like lazy content. How many journalists/bloggers/CFL cornerbacks do I need to tell me how good Breaking Bad is? I mean, I’d post a top ten albums of the year list, but all ten would be Bon Iver’s Bon Iver. Also, apparently I’d have to know who Adele is. And I don’t. So I’ve decided to make a list of the top things to come before 2011. Because, if you consider the entire existence of existence, 2011 was pretty pedestrian. Oh, and it’s a top eleven list. Because a top eleven is better than a top ten. You know, because it goes to eleven.

11. Shoes

Shoes are greatly underappreciated for their role in the development of contemporary society. Before shoes, people just walked around in great discomfort and cutting up their feet. It was like being Bruce Willis in Die Hard, but every day. First came sandals, but they were inherently flawed, poorly suited for winters, and, really, no one wants to see your toes.

Also, without the shoe industry, we’d have one less way to exploit the lax child labour laws in Third World countries. Only an impoverished and malnourished Third World child can manage the intricate stitching on my Nikes. Go capitalism!

10. Hockey

The best of all sports. The hard collisions of football, the athleticism of basketball, the violence of boxing, the history of baseball, the best trophy in all sports, speed like no other team sport, and Canadians are good at it. Oh, and it can be played on a frozen body of water. Suck it, Lacrosse.

And, as I wrote about last week, hockey gave me one of the best springs of my life. So there’s that.

9. Poetry

Only two arguments are required:

Does the imagination dwell the most
Upon a woman won or woman lost?
If on the lost, admit you turned aside
From a great labyrinth out of pride,
Cowardice, some silly over-subtle thought
Or anything called conscience once;
And that if memory recur, the sun’s
Under eclipse and the day blotted out.


To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

And if you need to know who wrote them, you’re fired. (Also, for the purposes of this list, experimental poetry, Jewel, Billy Corgan, and work produced in or for high school creative writing classes are not considered to be poetry. Also, anything celebrated by grad students. Because, as I’ve said previously, grad students are the worst.)

8. The Bible

As a writer, I have a lot of respect for a book that is a perpetually on the year’s best seller list. Plus, without the Bible there’s no country music, and I don’t want to live in a world that didn’t know Johnny Cash.

And there’s this: “And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.” (Songs of Solomon 7:9)

Plus, it’s just some great storytelling. It’s right up there with Dan Brown and Stuart McLean.

6. (Tie) Bacon and Cheese

If it doesn’t taste better with bacon and cheese, it’s not worth eating. If there was a way to mainline bacon and cheese I would. Lately, I’ve taken to stuffing everything with cream cheese and then wrapping it in bacon. Jalapenos, mushrooms, pork tenderloin, bacon, chicken, my 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee #9 Mario Lemieux rookie card, some girl named Sadie. As soon as I can find the proper butchering tools and skill set, I’m going to bleed a pig, stuff it with cream cheese, and then wrap it in bacon. You wait. It’ll be a thing. Meta-food.

5. Computers

“Everything is different, but the same… things are more moderner than before… bigger, and yet smaller… it’s computers…”

4. Alcohol

Booze brings people together and tears them apart, solves loneliness and makes you lonely, staves off hunger and makes you famished, breeds both confidence and insecurity, is the vehicle for the production of  incredible art and literature, but also gave us rhyming. Without alcohol there would be no dating, no divorce, no Bukowksi, no 1972, no Tilted Kilt Pubs, no beer commercials, no hangover breakfast specials, no deep fried foods, no Kentucky, no live sporting events. The list is endless. If only I could find a way to stuff Jack Daniels with cream cheese and wrap it in bacon.

3. Universal Healthcare

If this list is to include poetry and alcohol, free healthcare will need to be on it as well. At some point there will be a bar fight, a damaged liver, and the need for prescription drug abuse. And that’s just the side effects of poetry.

This will be difficult for American readers to understand, but universal healthcare is the cat’s pajamas. The bees knees. An American Eagle stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. As Canadians, sometimes we make ourselves sick or injured just to be treated without having to re-mortgage our homes. Often we get prescription drugs for free, even if we don’t need them. I’ve got a drawer full of Percocet for no other reason than that I don’t have to pay for them. I sell them to high school students who don’t yet know how to abuse the system.

In all seriousness, it should be a basic tenet of any evolved society. It’s absence is an injustice.

2. Sex

Before sex, people just walked around very grumpy and tense. There was a lot of fighting, no one ever wrote poetry, and the population had a really difficult time reproducing. Pornography was really boring. Then, one day, out of boredom, one person stuck something of theirs into something of someone else’s. Word got around quickly, and sex became the thing to do. It was the planking of it’s era. Suddenly, everyone was happier. Then, nine months later some babies were born and people got grumpy again. But still, it’s pretty good for the continuing existence of humanity and pornography. And, you know, something to do when the Habs game is over and you run out of booze, bacon, cheese, and poetry.

1. Music

Frank Zappa said it best: “Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST.”

For example: