These are the official rankings of the eight Ivy League colleges, based on the number of books by Crad Kilodney found in their libraries.  Online catalogue searches were done on Aug. 27, 2010.

Rank…………(Books)

1. Princeton (10)

2. Yale (4)

3. Pennsylvania (2)

4 – 5.

     Harvard (1)

     Brown (1)

Failed…………Zero

Columbia

Cornell

Dartmouth

 

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    These are the official rankings of Canadian universities, based on the number of books by Crad Kilodney found in their libraries.  Online catalogue searches were done on June 17, 2010.  Books that appeared as indirect holdings through a library network relationship were only counted for the library that actually owned the book.

Rank……………(books)

1. Univ. of Toronto (34)

2. McGill Univ. (24)

3. McMaster Univ. (20)

4. Dalhousie Univ. (19)

5. York Univ. (16)

6. Univ. of Western Ontario (15)

7. Queen’s Univ. (11)

8. Univ. of Waterloo (10)

9. Univ. of Calgary (9)

10. Univ. of Alberta (7)

11. Univ. of Victoria (6)

12. Univ. of Ottawa (5)

13.-15.

        Simon Fraser Univ. (4)

        Lakehead Univ. (4)

        Univ. of New Brunswick (4)

16.-18.

        Univ. of British Columbia (3)

        Univ. of Saskatchewan (3)

        Carleton Univ. (3)

19.-23.

        Athabasca Univ. (2)

        Univ. of Winnipeg (2)

        Univ. of Sudbury (2)

        Univ. of Windsor (2)

        Concordia Univ. (2)

24.-33.

        Univ. of Lethbridge (1)

        Univ. of Regina (1)

        Univ. of Guelph (1)

        Nipissing Univ. (1)

        Trent Univ. (1)

        Univ. de Sherbrooke (1)

        Mount Allison Univ. (1)

        Cape Breton Univ. (1)

        St. Francis Xavier Univ. (1)

        Memorial Univ. of Newfoundland (1)

Failed……….(Zero)

Univ. of Northern British Columbia

Mount Royal Univ.

Brandon Univ.

Univ. of Manitoba

Brock Univ.

Laurentian Univ.

Ryerson Univ.

Wilfrid Laurier Univ.

Bishop’s Univ.

Univ. Laval

Univ. de Montreal

Univ. du Quebec

Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal

Univ. of Moncton

Univ. of Prince Edward Island

Acadia Univ.

Mt. Saint Vincent Univ.

Saint Mary’s Univ.

 

    In January I presented a list of ten nominees for the title of 2009 Canadian Dickhead of the Year.  Readers were invited to pick their favorite three, with First Choice, Second Choice, and Third Choice being weighted three, two, and one point(s) respectively.   

    The voting is over, and here are the final standings (winner at the top, of course) in order of total points:

1. Keith Barton………………………33

2. Mahmoud Yadegari…………….29

3. Daniel Jacques Chartrand…..25

4. Dr. Moustafa Adams……………23

5. Prof. Ayelet Shachar……………19

6. William Blair……………………..18

7. Erik Millett………………………..17

8. Christine Papakyriakou………16

9. Crystal McPherson………………11

10. Brittney Simpson………………. 1

    To those who voted, thank you for participating.

    New Writings will be on Standby until Fall 2010, when a brilliant new literary series will be launched.

    E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

    Voting is now open for the 2009 Canadian Dickhead of the Year!  You don’t have to be Canadian to vote.  Everyone in the world is invited to vote, so spread the word!

    I have collected for your consideration ten worthy candidates who made the news during 2009.  They’re all exceptional dickheads, but only one gets to be named the Canadian Dickhead of the Year.  You decide.

    Here they are, in alphabetical order:

1. Dr. Moustafa Adams

    This Edmonton doctor, an Egyptian-born Muslim, is suing Air Canada for $162,000, alleging racial profiling after a dispute with a flight attendant during a flight from Edmonton to Cairo, via London.  At Heathrow Airport he was interrogated by police for 45 minutes.  On the return trip, Air Canada made him sign a document promising not to create a disturbance.  Adams claims he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of Air Canada’s treatment.  As well, he claims he has suffered guilt, shame, degradation, mental anguish, fear, flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, and a phobia for flying.  (Source: Edmonton Sun, September 20, 2009)

2. Keith Barton

    This 73-year-old Minto, New Brunswick, man smashed six dogs in the head with a hammer to “euthanize” them.  Five of the dogs died.  Barton had been charged with failing to provide properly for the dogs under the provincial SPCA Act.  Testifying in his own defence, he said he feared what might happen to his dogs if they were taken away by the SPCA, so he decided to euthanize them himself.  He said he believed he had the right to do this.  (Source: Fredericton Daily Gleaner, January 8, 2009)

3. William Blair

    Toronto Chief of Police William Blair allowed thousands of Tamil protesters to block downtown Toronto streets, as well as the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway, on numerous occasions from April 27th to May 16th.  The protesters were demonstrating their support for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.  (Toronto has the largest population of Tamils outside of Sri Lanka.)  Not one protester was charged with blocking any roadway.  Instead, hundreds of police officers were occupied for extended periods watching (and protecting) the protesters and directing traffic, thereby compromising the safety of the rest of the city.  When Blair was hired in 2005, he said his main concern was to combat racism.  That year he became the first Toronto Chief of Police to march in the Gay Pride Parade.  More recently, he held a recruitment day in the gay ghetto to encourage gays and trannies to become police officers.  (Sources: cnews.canoe.ca and Toronto Star, April 27 to May 16, 2009)

4. Daniel Jacques Chartrand

    This 39-year-old caregiver left an elderly man with Parkinson’s Disease lying in his own urine and feces while he spent the sick man’s money.  Approximately a million dollars was spent on luxury cars over a period of two years.  The elderly man was discovered emaciated and lying on the floor.  He eventually died in a nursing home.  A judge called Chartrand’s callousness “despicable” but was constrained to give him a light sentence because of precedents and because Chartrand was schizophrenic.  (Source: Ottawa Sun, August 11, 2009)

5. Crystal McPherson

    This Winnipeg crack addict tried to set a house on fire because she didn’t like the quality of drugs she was getting.  Asked why she set the fire, Crystal McPherson told police: “Because they are a bunch of fucking crackheads and they ripped me off.”  The 37-year-old addict threw a pop bottle filled with gasoline on the porch of the house, starting a small fire.  A resident was able to put it out.  (Source: Winnipeg Sun, March 27, 2009)

6. Erik Millett

    The Principal of Belleisle Elementary School in Springfield, Newfoundland, dropped the singing of “O Canada” from the school’s morning routine.  Principal Erik Millett made the decision for the sake of “cultural diversity.”  He said he did not want to force children to sing “O Canada” if it went against their beliefs.  He also said that the anthem was a distraction to students.  Few people have objected to the new policy, according to Millett.  (Sources: Saint John Telegraph-Journal, January 23, and cbc.ca, January 28, 2009)

7. Christine Papakyriakou

    This 52-year-old accountant from Hamilton embezzled over $7 million from her employer, Andres Wines, to feed her gambling addiction.  Now she is suing two Niagara casinos and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. for $10 million for giving her perks designed to keep her gambling.  Papakyriakou also gambled extensively in Las Vegas and Aruba and on the Internet.  (Source: Hamilton Spectator, April 25, 2009)

8. Prof. Ayelet Shachar

    This University of Toronto legal scholar says that people born in prosperous countries should be forced to pay a tax for their citizenship.  In her book, The Birthright Lottery, Prof. Shachar says it is sheer luck if we are born in a nice country — not something we actually deserve — and she likens it to European feudalism, where land passed untaxed from one generation to the next.  She says that the benefits of being born in the right place are like an inheritance and should be taxed.  The money would, of course, be doled out to people in the Third World, who were not born so lucky.  For Americans, the “birthright privilege levy” would be about $1,000; for Canadians, a little less.  (Source: Toronto Star, May 2, 2009)

9. Brittney Simpson

    This 19-year-old woman from Kitchener, Ontario, assaulted an Olympic torch bearer in the town of Guelph.  Simpson was one of a large group of protesters known as the Olympics Resistance Network, who carried signs with the slogan “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land.”  The torch bearer was knocked down, but the flame did not go out.  Simpson was charged with assault.  The Olympic Torch Run has been harassed by the Olympics Resistance Network and aboriginal protesters on several occasions.  (Source: Canadian Press, December 28, 2009)

10. Mahmoud Yadegari

    This 38-year-old Iranian immigrant, now a Canadian citizen, has been charged with attempting to ship pressure transducers to Iran for use in uranium enrichment for nuclear weapons.  Mahmoud Yadegari purchased the devices from a Boston-area company and falsified the paperwork in order to export the items without a permit.  The company tipped off U.S. agents, who in turn tipped off the RCMP.  (Source: Toronto Star, April 18, 2009)

HOW TO VOTE

1. Vote by e-mail only.  The address is crad166@yahoo.com.  

2. Pick your THREE favorite candidates, and tell me your FIRST CHOICE, SECOND CHOICE, and THIRD CHOICE.  They will be weighted 3 points (First), 2 points (Second), and 1 point (Third).  The winner will be based on total aggregate points.

3.  Votes will be accepted until May 31, 2010.  Everyone is eligible to vote — not just Canadians.

4.  Your personal comments are welcome, but they must come by e-mail.  Don’t post them in the “Comments” box.  I will publish the best comments.

5.  The winners (top three) will be announced in June.

    The previous Canadian Dickhead of the Year ran in 2003.  You can view it at www.cradkilodney.net.   

    Got a news item for me for next year’s Dickhead Contest?  E-mail it to me.  The Dickhead candidate must be Canadian, he or she must be named, and the news source must be indicated.

    Copyright@ 2010 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

Cryptogram Poem

January 4, 2010

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FLX WS K JRRF, PSAXOMLRQA FLNBX

XBKX ZLFXOMOG XBMRQNB XBO XMOOA…

L XRQJBOG SRQM ZKJO, KYG ZKM KJMRAA XBO FKVO

K MKMO WLMG ZFOT.

L APOFFOG XBO ZMKNMKYX WMOOHO.

SRQM FLDA KMO ARZX, SRQM OSOA K TRMFG

LY TBLJB L TRQFG ZRMOCOM GTOFF.

XKVO YRX XBLA GMOKP ZMRP PO.

KFF ARMMRTA YRT ZRMNRXXOY,

SRQ BKCO JFKLPOG PS BOKMX, KYG XLFF L GLO

LX ABKFF WOFRYN XR XBOO.

    Copyright@ 2010 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

 

    Our world tour of exotic cities is almost at an end.  I’m sure you’ll agree it’s been great fun and extremely enlightening.  Don’t complain that you’re maxed out on all your credit cards after all this globetrotting.  You’ve still got that Christmas bonus to spend, don’t you?  And we’ve got one more place left to visit: Vinh, Vietnam.

    Vinh is an enchantress among cities, but without the Circean evil that turns men into swine (as in Ottawa, for example).  Vinh is eager for tourism after being overlooked for so many years.  They want to catch up.  And seven out of ten travelers agree: a vacation in Vinh is more delightful than a root canal.

    Vinh is located on Vietnam’s “Gold Coast,” so named because of the anthills containing gold.  In fact, Vinh is the Anthill Capital of the World.  It is home to the Asian tiger ant (Solenopsis mendacis), the same variety that attacked Joan Collins in Empire of the Ants.  Early Spanish explorers noticed the grains of gold in the anthills and took them as a sign that they were close to the Golden Grail, also known as El Dorado.  But they got lost in the Forest of Blinh and were eaten by the monster Smatma.  After this disaster, King Charles II forbade all further exploration in the area, so the French were able to move in uncontested.

    There are no good travel deals to Vinh, unfortunately, because there isn’t a whole lot of tourism yet.  (The round trip from Toronto cost me about $3,700, and Air Canada’s nuts were stale.)  But once you get there, you can load up on counterfeit designer goods that you can resell back home.

    The best hotel in town is the Ramada Vinh, which is surprisingly affordable for all its luxury, with an average room rate of about $150 per night.  In the lobby, gilded domes frescoed with sweeping clouds and hanging gardens frame chandeliers of 24-karat gold and  crystal.  The marble floors are polished to mirror perfection.  A broad arch opens to a garden with a pool.  Goldfish cruise lazily in a rock-rimmed pond.  In the suites, painted cherubs smile down on a massive raised bed, and a 60-channel projection TV screen drops from the ceiling.  The bathrooms of Italian marble and French onyx are stocked with Egyptian-cotton towels, robes, and slippers.  Press a button, and the red satin drapes part, giving a view of the rolling hills and a new housing development.  A masseuse is available 24 hours a day, and she will massage you with her well-oiled naked body.

    General Manager Freddie Ho greeted me personally.  He said he was my biggest fan in all of Vietnam, although my books are officially banned.  I said I was surprised to find such opulence in a  Communist country.  “This is the new Vietnam,” he explained.  “It’s Communist in theory, but it’s becoming more capitalist in practice.  Just get the tourists in and get them to spend their money.  And Ramada wants a piece of the action.”

    Freddie was too busy to show me around town, so he put me in the able hands of his good friend Dan Van Nguyen.  Dan was evasive about his occupation, saying only that he was well-connected and did things for people.  “Sort of a fixer,” he said.  “I help people with their problems and needs.”  He offered to fix me up with hookers, but I declined.

    The first thing every visitor wants to see is the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh, which is in the village of Kim Lien, about 14 kms northwest of Vinh.  There you will find multicolored dancing fountains surrounding Ho’s statue.  He is holding two children by the hand, and a cocker spaniel sits beside his feet.  The gift shop sells every sort of Ho souvenir, and all the employees are amputees, so if you’re a liberal, you just load up with all you can carry.

    On the outskirts of the Forest of Blinh, where nobody goes for obvious reasons, you will find the villages of the Dogon people.  The Dogon are ethnically unrelated to the Vietnamese, and nobody knows their true origins.  They are a pacifist people who have an ingenious method of preventing fighting.  All their dwellings have such low roofs that you can’t stand up straight.  The idea is that if somebody gets mad at somebody else and tries to stand up, he can’t, so there’s no way they can fight without looking stupid.  Predictably, all the Dogon have a stooped posture.  They worship the ant, and they leave scraps of food at a giant anthill for “protection.”  They also practice a dance on hot coals as a puberty rite.  Boys and girls must dance on the hot coals to become adults.  It’s part of a religious belief system, so you can’t criticize it.

    Quyet Mountain is on the outskirts of Vinh.  It’s the home base of the Vinh Paragliding Club.  Paragliders launch themselves from the summit and glide over the Lam River, which skirts the city.  The Lam has a lot of crocodiles, and the paragliders compete to see who can traverse the river the most times without falling in.  You should check out some of this action on YouTube.

    There is a muscular exuberance in the Lam’s rapids, danger in its floods.  But on most days the river welcomes the adventurer with lyric grace — except in typhoons, when everything up to the size of a water buffalo is swept away and killed.

    Go east to the coast about 10 kms and enjoy the pristine white beach at Cua Lo.  Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart were seen there recently, and according to observers, they were getting pretty romantic.  It’s easy to understand why.  Cua Lo is a romantic dream, with its blue water, palm trees, and strolling troubadours singing Vietnamese love songs and playing the mandolin, while flocks of pink flamingoes circle overhead in search of fiddler crabs, their favorite food.

    Speaking of food, try the seafood at Em Ghet Anh, a popular seaside restaurant.  Their specialty is boiled moray eel served on a bed of seaweed.

    Downtown Vinh is an artful example of East German social realist architecture, with its gray, cube-shaped public buildings flanking its wide streets.  Luxury Soviet-made limos blend in with smoky little Trabants and a few odd rickshaws.  Smartly dressed traffic cops keep everything moving efficiently as they blow their whistles and bark repeatedly “Mu cac tao!…Mu cac tao!…”

    At the top of Quang Trung Street you will find Vinh’s most famous landmark, “Uncle Vinnie” — a 60-foot-high neon ant.  He’s the city’s unofficial mascot.  (What else would you expect in the Anthill Capital of the World?)  The Vinh High School athletic teams are called the Tiger Ants and they wear a logo like Uncle Vinnie.  The cheerleaders do this cute little “Ant Dance,” and if you’re sitting in the right place, you can see the cracks of their asses.

    While on that subject, there is a strip club on Le Mao Street called Thang Nguc Lon, which is always busy, although it is pretty tame by Western standards.  They feature a lot of B-list American strippers who have gotten too old or too fat to work in good clubs in the U.S.  SaRenna Lee headlined there for a month, and the audience loved her.  They thought she had the biggest tits in the world.  But what do the Vietnamese know about big tits?  Their women are all flat-chested.

    That could change, however.  Two enterprising brothers, Sy Ba Tran and Van Quyen Tran, have gone into business as breast implant specialists.  The former auto mechanics don’t have medical degrees, and even in Vietnam they wouldn’t normally be allowed to do any sort of medical work, but Dan Van Nguyen said this was something he was able to “fix.”  The brothers only accept out-of-town patients, by the way, so nobody in Vinh ever gets to see the results of their handiwork.

    The Buddhist monastery is a minor attraction.  The monks are renowned for their extremely long toenails, which are supposed to demonstrate inner peace.  You can make a donation and light a candle and sit with them while they chant, but these guys never bathe, and all that incense isn’t enough to conceal the fact, so pretty soon you want to get up and leave.  However, the Jonas Brothers spent a whole day in there and said it was the most spiritually uplifting experience of their lives.

    Vinh is the home of the Vietnam Museum of Human Rights, but blacks and Jews are not allowed in.  The museum has a big display devoted to Jane Fonda.  What Jane Fonda has to do with human rights is beyond me, but the Vietnamese love her and worked her in somehow.

    The best attraction if you’re looking for something really edgy is the Vinh Arena, which stages matches of an extremely violent form of martial arts cage fighting.  The contestants wear spikes and fight with sticks.  Dan Van Nguyen told me there’s always blood, and they average three or four deaths a year.  He also said that World Wrestling Entertainment had been to Vinh to check it out and were interested in doing some kind of business deal, and he was trying to help them with that. 

    For shopping, you have a lot of street vendors and little shops selling counterfeit goods, which I referred to earlier.  Dan said the authorities don’t mind because the designers and brands are exploiters of Third World labor, so it’s okay to rip them off.  The People’s Committee that administers Vinh calls this “social justice.”  And they collect big licensing fees from the vendors, so it’s a lot of revenue. 

    If you want more sophisticated shopping, you want to go to the Roman Mall, which is designed to look like ancient Rome.  There is a daily royal procession led by a centurion.  Moving sidewalks from the street whisk shoppers into the mall.  But to get out, they must pass through a door that will not open unless they are laden with a certain minimum weight of merchandise.  (So put a brick in your counterfeit Gucci bag before you go in!  Oh, and another thing: don’t use your credit cards, or you will get a rude surprise in a month or so.  Use the local currency.)

    The Ramada Vinh has a very nice French restaurant.  Head Chef Thi Hai Dinh serves up an elegant kea parrot Michels.  Here’s the recipe:

    Season one large kea parrot with salt, pepper, garlic, and sage.  Place in casserole with three ounces of palm oil, two cups of  chopped kale, and two cups of chopped rhubarb.  Put in oven at 350 degrees and baste frequently.  After 20 minutes, transfer to stove top, add six ounces of malt vinegar, cover pot, and simmer for 10 minutes.  Then add one cup of water, once ounce of anchovy paste, and a cup of finely chopped pickled beets.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5 more minutes.  Serve with rice.  (Heston Blumenthal does this with gold leaf on top, but I think that spoils it.)

    Dan and I had a late evening drink with Freddie Ho, and we talked about the “new” Vietnam.  Freddie said the Vietnamese people were no longer anti-American.  In fact, hundreds of them sent cards of condolence to Jennifer Aniston after the death of her dog, Norman.

    Freddie surprised me by producing two of my books, Junior Brain Tumors In Action and Malignant Humors, which he asked me to inscribe personally.  (You can try searching for these books, as well as my others, at www.abebooks.com, but I have no control over prices on the collector’s market.)

    I asked Freddie and Dan if Vinh had a “sister city,” and they said no.  I offered to find one if Dan could fix it with the People’s Committee.  “Easy as one, two, three!” said Dan with a big smile.  So I found a suitable city the next day.

    I’m happy to report that Vinh’s sister city is Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.  Mayor John Ruttan liked the idea because Nanaimo didn’t have a sister city and deserved one.  And although he knew nothing about Vinh, he said, “We’re ‘Left Coast,’ as they say, and I guess the Veet-namese are, too, seeing as how they’re Communists, ha, ha!  And if there are any more of those boat people who want to come over, tell ’em we have a real nice harbour where they can tie their yachts.”  The Mayor and his wife will be visiting Vinh sometime in 2010 (and this is a heads-up to Air Canada to make sure their nuts are fresh this time!).  Mrs. Ruttan is keen to pick up a few Gucci knock-offs.

    Recommended vaccinations: retroperitoneal fibrosis, Camurah-Engelmann Disease, parrot fever.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

    Close your eyes and sit back.  Allow yourself to be borne aloft by fairies.  (The flight crew is gay.)  You’re floating now, as if in a dream, traveling across time and space.  Soon you will land in the Shangri-la of Africa.  The fairies are setting you down gently.  Now you can open your eyes.  A big sign reads: “Welcome to Maiduguri, Nigeria.”

    This is a land where the past meets the present.  Both get drunk and stagger out, looking for the future.  The imperfect is found dead by the side of the road, and the subjunctive gets accused.  A dangling participle and sentence fragment are held as evidence.  A conjunction is held to parse the sentence, and the subjunctive is represented by the future perfect and the conditional, but the active voice is exclamatory and demands an interjection.  Eventually, an adverbial clause is arrived at, the solecism is ruled ungrammatical, and the subject is thrown into a parenthesis until the dative, ablative, and gerundive cases shall be resurrected from their graves and illiterates playing video games shall perish in hell.

    Look for the bright yellow school bus marked “Ritz-Carlton Maiduguri.”  It will whisk you away at a good twenty miles an hour along the airport road, allowing you to take in the color and fragrance of the endless fields of rafflesia on either side.  You’ll recognize the hotel by its lime-green exterior and faux Corinthian columns.  We’re expected.  General Manager Francois Cnockaert is waiting to greet us personally.  The man is ageless.  He has a portrait in his attic that ages for him while he remains young.  I told you this was Shangri-la, didn’t I?

    Nigeria has been made wealthy by its vast oil resources, so you will not find the sort of nasty, horrible things that exist in the “not nice” countries of the Third World.  And it’s not just your ordinary crude oil; it’s Nigerian Sweet Crude.  Ask any refiner.  A tanker full of Nigerian Sweet Crude is worth killing my sister for.  (Come to think of it, a gallon or two would suffice.)  And Maiduguri has its own refinery, so that gasoline can be made fresh on the spot.  It is, in fact, the only refinery of halal gasoline in the world.  An imam stands beside the pipeline chanting “Allah…Allah…Allah…” all day long as the gasoline flows through.

    Francois was frantically busy with a crowd of visitors attending the Shadfly Festival (more on that in a moment) and promised to meet up with me later.  In the meantime, he introduced me to my host who would show me around — Prof. Hani (“Call me Hank”) Rabe, Head of the Canadian Studies Dept. at the Maiduguri branch of the University of Nigeria.

    “You are my hero,” Hank confessed with a blush.  “I have several of your books.  I have told my class that you are the greatest Canadian writer of all time.”  The Canadian Studies Dept. was made possible by an administrative error on the part of the Canadian International Development Agency.  They sent a large sum of money to the wrong account to pay for a hockey rink.  The university simply kept it, and CIDA never caught their mistake.  So Hank got his longed-for Canadian Studies Dept., of which he is the only faculty member.  There is one course, and four students are enrolled, although two rarely show up.

    “The Maiduguri region was the home of an ancient civilization called the Snake People,” Hank told me, as we rode along in his classic ’72 Plymouth Duster, whose Slant-6 engine still purrs smoothly after all these years.  “Almost nothing is known about them, except that they must have been very advanced.”  Why is that? I ask.  “The fact that they left nothing behind means that they cleaned up after themselves.  That proves how advanced they were, you see.”

    “I get it.”

    Although the Snake People are considered extinct, there is, in fact, one of them alive today — Shirley Brown, City Councillor of Bristol, England.  One of my neighbors, Ghrugnanasampa Thavakugathasalingam of 61 Town Centre Court, Scarborough, has called the Snake People “a bunch of ugly nigger monkeys.”  But, hey, look who’s talking!

    The Ngadda River, which flows through Maiduguri, lends a special charm to the city, owing to its pristine nature.  And every November the shadflies come out of the river to fill the air by the millions for several weeks.  It’s one of nature’s great spectacles, and it provides the occasion for the world’s only Shadfly Festival.  Although harmless, the shadflies can be frightening to those experiencing them for the first time. Local people show off their courage by allowing themselves to be covered with them from head to foot.  The shadfly is celebrated with good humor and creativity, and the festival adds a boost to the economy.  The Shadfly Queen is crowned to cap it off.  The current Queen is Basaratu Mojisola Bakare-Giles, a nude volleyball player who has been linked romantically with Tiger Woods.  The shadfly phenomenon also occurs in North Bay, Ontario, in June and July.  No one knows why these insects come out when they do, but they’re only around for a short time, so everyone tries to enjoy them.  All shadflies belong to the order Ephemeroptera.  They are mentioned in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, as well as The Book of Mormon.

    Another insect of importance to Maiduguri is the wasp.  The city boasts the world’s only wasp apiary, where scientists have used the “royal jelly” of the queen wasp to make an anti-aging skin cream (not yet available in North America).  The 1960 movie The Wasp Woman offers a dramatic look at the possibilities held out by wasp “royal jelly.”  (Omarosa recently ordered a huge shipment by courier, so let’s keep an eye on her!)

    Also of importance to Maiduguri are the famous Nigerian green sheep, also known as Gewad Greens, or just “Gewads.”  The green color is a genetic trait and not related to what they eat.  The sheep are raised on a ranch owned by the benevolent society Boko Haram, which sells wool caps and sweaters to tourists and to stores in many countries.  They also sponsor a fashion school famous for its daring lingerie and swimwear. 

    Get up early for a day trip to Lake Chad, which is shared by Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon.  Lake Chad is home to the African carp (Carpio terribilus), a huge, aggressive fish known to jump out of the water and attack people — even pursuing them onto land in some cases!  It is a favorite among experienced fishermen, who like to stuff this inedible fish for display.  (Eminem landed a 100-pounder after a two-hour battle!)

    The only good beach at Lake Chad is known as Koos Beach, which is a topless beach on the Nigerian side.  Fergie likes it a lot.  Elsewhere, the lake is bordered by marshes and desert shrublands, which are the habitat of several rare species of gerbils, including the horned gerbil, the cyclops gerbil, and the elephant gerbil, whose rough, crinkled skin makes it an ideal pet for Kanapathipillai Suvannavisayagamoorthy of 35 Valleywoods Road, North York, who has two retarded children and a mother who never bathes (see “Dung People of Sri Lanka,” Canadian Wonder Magazine For Children, July, 2002).

    Lake Chad, by the way, was first explored by the Vikings, and fragments of their settlement can be seen on the south side of the lake, just across the Chad border, on the Lake Road, about 100 meters from Nianaiebi’s Lemonade Stand, which is owned by Nianaiebi Diorra, boyfriend of Kayla Kleevage.  Kayla has become a very popular performer in Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic since she became too old for American club audiences. 

    There’s “old” shopping and “new” shopping in Maiduguri.  The old shopping is found in the city’s central plaza, which is bordered on all sides by quaint little shops and outdoor stalls, most with no names.  There are a few noteworthy ones.  There’s a store where traditional Muslim women go to buy their unmentionables.  There’s a shop that sells all sorts of live birds, lizards, and snakes (some poisonous).  There’s an herbal shop run by Madame Folashade Ahiata Price, whose specialty is poisonous plants.  (The CIA has relied on her expertise in bumping people off in such a way that nobody can prove it was murder.)  And there is a large shop that sells ammunition in bulk.  There are dozens of barrels full of bullets of all calibres and types.  You take a scoop and fill a bag, just like a bulk candy shop.  Every round is guaranteed to fire or you can return it for a replacement.

    I mustn’t forget the Walking Stone in the middle of the plaza.  This is a plain stone spire about fifteen feet high, with a plot of grass and a little fence around it.  You will find people walking slowly around this stone any hour of the day or night, and in any weather — and always counter-clockwise.  They could be “walking the stone” for a variety of reasons — to express their piety, atone for sins, search for inner peace, or contemplate a problem; or they could just be lunatics or bums with nothing better to do.  One merchant warned me, however, that a tourist — especially a Westerner — must never walk the stone, or people will think he’s poking fun at them.  One tourist not only walked the stone but walked it clockwise and was beaten to within an inch of his life for such insolence!

   The “new” shopping is located in the Maiduguri Mall, on the outskirts of town.  It’s modern, air-conditioned, and full of happy, prosperous Nigerian consumers.  The flagship store is Mighty Maidi, a department store.  All the sales clerks are young Muslim women, but not like any you’ve ever seen.  They wear a kerchief over their hair, which is normal for Muslim women, but from the neck down they’re dressed like sluts — big tits pushing out of their bras, micro-skirts, black fishnet stockings, and high heels.  (You’ll find this throughout the mall, in fact.)  You’ll be in there browsing for a long time, and you won’t leave without buying something.  These babes know how to be persuasive. 

    The mannequins in the clothing stores are dressed the same way, but since they’re not real, they don’t have to wear a kerchief.  They’re molded with absurdly huge tits and asses.  There’s even a store that just sells life-size foam rubber sex dolls, with tits as big as you want and any combination of features, and with fuckable, washable holes.

    I bought a ton of pipe tobacco at Big M Smoke Shop, and it was so stupidly cheap I couldn’t believe it.  Almost everyone in Maiduguri smokes, by the way, and there are no laws whatever regarding smoking.  And tobacco taxes are minimal.  (If that doesn’t qualify as Shangri-la, I don’t know what does!)

    The Maiduguri Mall is 50%-owned by Mack-Cali Realty.  The other 50% is owned by a Nigerian syndicate known as Manuke Khara.

    Hank Rabe and I had dinner at the Old Sawmill, the most elegant restaurant in town.  It used to be a slaughterhouse, and some of the old fixtures were left in during the conversion to give it a funky atmosphere.  Head Chef Abdoulkadir Ali Musse serves up a mighty fine monkey stew.  Here’s the recipe:

    Hack off arms, legs, and head of monkey, and rip out internal organs.  Trim remaining meat away from bones and chop into one-inch pieces.  Season with black pepper and brown in a skillet with palm oil and a splash of rum.  Transfer to stew pot, add three cups of fish stock, a chopped turnip, a cup of chopped celery, a dozen radishes, two chopped sweet potatoes, a half cup of corn starch, a tablespoon of basil, a tablespoon of marjoram, a tablespoon of sea salt, two or three chopped cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of dry mustard, an ounce of Angostura bitters, and a half cup of mayonnaise.  Simmer over a low-to-moderate heat for 1 1/2 hours.  Jessica Simpson and her date, soccer player Giovanni Tegano, who plays for Juventus, appeared to love it.  They sat at the table next to us.

    Later we went to Neek Hallak, the most popular nightclub.  There we caught a wonderful performance by musician Mbuke Jumgwuthka, the world’s foremost player of the kuntigi, a small, single-stringed lute made out of a sardine can covered with goatskin.  I recognized Madonna and her boyfriend, Jesus Luz, in the audience.  (She was disguised with a wig, but I still picked her out.)  They were clearly enthralled.

    Hank and I went back to the Ritz-Carlton for a nightcap with Manager Francois Cnockaert, who gave me the straight dope on Nigerian e-mails.  The Maiduguri branch of the Bank of Nigeria is the one that has all those secret bank accounts that people who e-mail you want you to help them move out of the country.  However, the money is all in the local currency, the naira, not U.S. dollars, and if you offer to help the frantic person who is praying to God for your benevolent assistance, you will be asked to pay for the rental of the cargo plane needed to transport all those banknotes to Switzerland. 

    Francois had a copy of one of my books, Blood-Sucking Monkeys From North Tonawanda, and asked me to autograph it, which I was happy to do.  (You can try searching for this collector’s item, as well as my other books, at www.abebooks.com, but I have no control over prices on the collector’s market.)

    Francois had heard that I was an expert at arranging “sister city” relationships and asked if I could find a sister city for Maiduguri.  He was close to the Mayor, who couldn’t speak English, and was acting on his behalf.  I told him I would do it before I left.  And I did.

    Be pleased to inform Her Majesty that Slough (rhymes with “cow”), Berkshire, England, is now the sister city of Maiduguri, Nigeria.  The Chief Executive of Slough Council, Ruth Bagley, is “thrilled beyond belief” and calls the new relationship the best thing to happen to Slough during her tenure.  She plans to visit Maiduguri sometime in 2010 and is very keen to get her hands on some of that wasp jelly anti-aging cream.

    Recommended vaccinations: Chikungunya virus, Rosai-Dorfman Disease, epidermolytic hyperkeratosis.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com