Can You Spot All Eight TrumpTicks On This Muffin? CDC Creeps Out Internet With Horrific Viral Post!


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have tweeted a photo of a muffin that has ruined muffins for everybody.

Trumpticks, with their tiny minds and even twinier hwands, can totally spoil your day should you accidentally ingest some of their toxic ideas, which have been described as “completely indigestible”.

The merest nibble on a half-baked Trumptick can cause Alzheimer’s-like confusion, inability to deal with progress and a compulsion to spew out any old dumb, offensive nonsense the second it occurs to you.  Advanced symptoms include pulling weird faces while standing in front of a lectern, shrinkage of the brain to pin size, and lopsided hair that takes on a repellent, orangey sheen.  Pretty soon you’re running to your kids’ school with guns for all the teachers, compulsively pressing elevator buttons and phoning out for Korean barbecue with “the nuclear option”.

If you see a Trumptick that’s latched onto you, DO NOT SQUEEZE ITS HEAD, which is empty anyway, and kind of a gross out.  Take a big pair of tweezers and pull slowly while chanting, “This is how to make America great again”.  It’s a lot easier than you think.

Once you’ve done that, just call Nancy Pelosi.  She can’t help, but, you know.

She’d appreciate the attention.


SlowPainful Shortbread

I couldn’t face the fact that the previous post was nearly 3,000 words including the recipe.  So here it is, as a separate post.

Never, I mean never, forget how good I am to you.  Deal?  Deal.

SlowPainful Shortbread

The ingredients are below, UNDER “Method”.  That’s because I “go on a bit” about the ingredients, so if you’re a beginner, you’ll still be able to make the shortbread and understand what you’re doing. I’m rarely this kind or helpful, so take advantage and don’t push your luck.


  1.  Make sure that you have one of the oven racks at about the middle of the oven.
  2. Turn on your oven to 325F.  Do this NOW before you do anything else and it will be pre-heated by the time you’ve mixed the dough.  (DO NOT turn on the oven higher than required with the idea this will speed things up.  That’s not how ovens work and anyway, please follow the directions!  OMG!  I’m irritated already!)
  3. Add the butter, sugar and vanilla extract (if using) to a bowl.  How big a bowl?  A big-enough bowl!
    Use a big metal salad fork (or your mixer if you must) to squish the soft butter and sugar together, then vigorously mix and whip the butter and sugar for about two minutes, till the butter is fluffy and paler than when you started.
  4. Add the flour to the bowl and use the fork to mix it with the butter and sugar.  Mix it well so there are no dry bits of flour remaining. It will be quite soft and squishy.
  5. With your hand, gather the dough together into a ball and squish it against the bowl with the heel of your hand.  Fold it over and do this again.  Do this about four times, but no more.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball. If you want to be REALLY good, put the dough in the fridge for about 15 minutes to let it rest before continuing.  But you won’t will you?
  7. Either take the dough from the fridge and continue or just continue: Find a baking sheet (no need to grease it), place the ball in the center and use your hand to gradually squish it flat into a disc about 8 inches in diameter, it will be about 1/4 thick or maybe a little thinner.
  8. Use the fork and stab it all over the dough to make tiny holes (this will help it cook evenly in the centre).
  9. Take a knife and drag it vertically across the dough to make a line that divides the dough in two from top to bottom.  Now do the same horizontally.  Now do the same for each quarter, making 8 wedges.
  10. Use the the fork and press the tines flat all around the edge of the dough to make a simple “petticoat” decoration or just say “fuck it” and go on to the next step.
  11. Put the baking sheet of dough in the oven and set your timer to 15 minutes.
  12. At fifteen minutes, check the shortbread.  It should just be barely golden around the edges.  If it still looks raw let it go one or two minutes more, but no more.
  13. Obviously if it’s dark brown around the edges because you ignored me about turning the oven up higher, take it out and have a maudlin narcissistic breakdown as you cry about what a failure you are and how nothing ever goes right for you.  If you’re doing this for sympathy from someone in the room, this is when you allow them a few moments to “there, there” you.  You’d better have someone in the room, though, cause you WON’T get any sympathy from me. I TOLD YOU SO and  I AM IMPLACABLE. Once you’re done crying, proceed to 14.
  14. Remove the shortbread from the oven and let it cool in the pan for a while, OR, just shove crumbling, still-cooking, moist bits of hot shortbread into your mouth and burn your tongue, thus ruining the whole enterprise because of your greedy impatience.
  15. But waiting is worth it and will produce a crispier shortbread.
  16. Take a bow!  For the full SlowPainful ambience, serve with Earl Grey tea, preferably No-Name Earl Grey tea from No-Frills.  (Or, continue crying and eating the not-cool shortbread as you gasp and sniffle.  A well-executed narcissistic breakdown can fill up an entire empty day!)


One stick of salted butter (or 1/2 c. ), softened. (or unsalted but then add a good pinch of salt to the ingredients).
Measurements of volume are confusing and inaccurate, but that’s what we use.  The amount of butter is half a cup by volume but by weight it’s 1/4 pound.

If you’re a beginner cook, do one of the following:  1. buy one stick of butter and use that; 2. squish some soft butter into a 1/2 c. measuring cup; 3. cut a pound of butter lengthwise into two, then cut the halves again the same way, then use one of the resulting sticks; 4. buy a half-pound and cut it into two and use one of the resulting sticks; 6. If your pound or half-pound of butter has guidelines on the wrapper indicating cups, follow those and cut off the right amount; 5. if you have a scale, weigh out a quarter-pound of butter = 4 oz. / 125g if you’re a communist and use metric. Sheesh.  Are you always this high-maintenance?)

(If you forget to take the butter out of the fridge so it softens, and like me you don’t have a microwave:  This is my patented method — grate the hard butter on the large holes of a box grater into the mixing bowl.  Genius!)

1/4 c. white sugar
/ or soft light brown sugar, in Canada called “cassonade” in French, in which case I have to say “Packed” brown sugar, it’s the tradition.)

1 c. white flour
(all-purpose or if you’re feeling experimental use Monarch “cake and pastry flour” which is made from softer wheat, but don’t come crying to me. Don’t scoop up the flour using the measuring cup, you’ll pack it in and get too much.  Spoon the flour into the cup, level it off.  This way you’ll be accurately inaccurate.)

A cap-full of vanilla extract
OMFG NOT the “artificial”!  PURE VANILLA EXTRACT! The real shit, please, it’s honestly better to leave it out if you don’t have.  If you have aspirations or even pretensions, which are just aspirations that have smoked a spliff and gotten ahead of themselves, you can invest in a vanilla bean — slit the bean lengthwise and use the tip of a knife to scrape out the unpromising looking black sludge of seeds and add that to the mixing bowl.
Your shortbread will be flecked with those tiny flecks of black that absolutely scream “high-end” so loud they can hear it in Des Moines, and will taste wonderful, too.

(TIP: Place the used vanilla bean in your bag of sugar to flavor the sugar.  Be sure to post a pic of this on Instagram, sweetie.)

Alternatives to vanilla:
first alternative is : nothing at all, your shortbread will still taste yummy

Try the following once you’ve made the recipe with or without vanilla.  Add these to the butter and sugar in the bowl BEFORE you mix up the dough.  The amount of liquid if any should be very small, no more than, well, the cap of vanilla, right? Call it 1/4 teaspoon :

  • a little lemon zest grated on the tiny holes of your box grater plus a tiny squish of lemon juice. Don’t go all gung-ho with the grater and end up with the bitter white pith! Just the zest.  (If you want to make yourself and/or a five-year-old child laugh, by the way, try saying “white pith” several times, slowly and with a serious expression.  Go on, try it.)
  • or use an orange / tangerine / lime
  • If you like ginger, buy some root ginger, peel a chunk and cut off a piece about the size of a quarter. Grate this ginger into the dough, using the smallest holes on your box grater. This will also produce a bit of  “ginger juice”.  Discard the fibrous bits that will be left in your hand after grating.  You will have ginger shortbread and it is “different, eh?”
  • experiment with a tiny bit of ground spices: cardamom is divine, I’ve even used garam masala (!).  But if you like the spice, go for it.  Personally I despise cinnamon, but there’s no accounting for taste.


“Breakfast In The Raw at Dixie’s Trailer Park” and Other Dreams of Fame

I CANNOT stop rewriting my book.

But I’m forcing myself to do so by means of torture, i.e. using Word 2016 to format the print version.

Oh, by the popped-out pomegranates of the Blessed Mary Magdalene, it is a dog’s breakfast of user unfriendliness that is just made for tormenting an obsessive type like me.

Do I really have to create another “style” just because I want one word in italics?  Yep, it seems that way as I watch my insignificant edit ripple through 270-odd pages like the typographic equivalent of a school of barracuda to gobble up the formatting I’ve just spent four hours painstakingly nailing to the monitor.

Meanwhile, because being my own Fiverr hire and formatting my unsold book doesn’t sustain my fantasy lifestyle, the cupboards are bare and I’m virtually eating the cardboard containers that held the one remaining item with any pretense to sustaining life: Almond milk, a vegan junk food that has the mouth-feel of calamine lotion and tastes like the original Palmolive toilet soap they provide in cheap seaside B&B’s, but absolutely guaranteed free of peanuts, gluten, soy and, of course, protein.

Will we not at some point be running out of things for foods not to contain, even if they never contained them if the first place?  To remind you of a simpler, more dangerous era, compare the label I recently spotted on a packet of dates:

“Pitted Dates 454 grams. Caution: May contain pits”. 

That at least makes its own kind of fucked-up sense, assuming as it does that somewhere there exist intrepid, responsibility-taking grown-ups positively reveling in the riskless risk that attacking a packet of badly pitted dates entails. Eat, drink, be merry, and practice your Heimlich!

At any rate, failing that final date with a pit, I expect my denatured, flesh-less, de-proteined flesh will be hanging off my ribs betimes like avant-garde Japanese couture.

The almond milk is courtesy of the roommate’s trip to the “Food Access Program” as my millennial friend has taught me to say in lieu of “food bank”.  I’ve added this to my PC, snowflakey vocabulary, while at the same time remaining skeptical that I’ll be bumping into Heather Reisman, Drake or Atom Egoyan any time soon while rummaging through the bins of sardines embalmed in tomato sauce and expired industrial pancake mix, despite the huggy new non-judgmental rebranding.  It’s still where you go when you’re P-P-P-P-P-POOR.

Monday morning found me listlessly frying hot dogs in an old formerly non-stick pan and melting cheese on them as the apparently new vernal treat of April ice-hurricanes raged outside. Thanks, fossil-fuel guzzlers! I ate the hot dogs naked, cause I’m trying to cut down on the simple carbs before I start ballooning in a way only Oprah could understand, but without the billions of dollars and the acolytes with soothing creams that takes the edge off, a teeny bit, for her.

(By “naked” I meant no buns for the hot dogs.  I haven’t seen myself naked since 2003, which was interesting in a documentary, dispassionate kind of way, but in the end, feh.)

Then the thought of more Word 2016 sent me into another downward spiral and I made a batch of shortbread* which I realized I’m doing on almost a daily basis. Is there twelve-step for the sablé-compromised? I say that I’m doing this for the household, then scarf the whole damn thing.

Only remedy that can blot out the shame?  Another naked cheese-dog, the boneless, skinless, meatless chicken breast of the self-straitened.  Cookbook idea: “Dinner In The Raw at Dixie’s Trailer Park”.

I spent the rest of the morning in between cheese-dogs, for this was breakfast you understand, “screaming” via “help chat” to India where the registrar for this domain was being very coy-wallah about when they would actually do something for the payment I sent.

Maybe it would be today, sir! Maybe tomorrow, sir, tee hee! (draws veil across face).  Please sir wait longer please!

Well, when you put it like that!  Little vixen!

Looking closely in the mirror I note that, under the ratty three-day growth of beard (can’t afford disposable razors) I’m starting to resemble one of the countless iterations of the “Scream” paintings by Edvard Munch, who, like me, found the one vaguely unique creative effort that fell within his limited capabilities and milked that sucker for every throw cushion and cheap lithograph he could squeeze from its sour teats.  He probably did “Scream” impersonations at kids’ birthday parties until the bookings kinda just dried up. Who cares, because — “Scream” coffee mugs!

Now, listen up, because I’m going to rejig the launch date for my paperback.  If James Comey can get a big build up, so can I.  My marketing goal for the extra month: I would like Donald Trump to call me a “slimebucket” on Twitter, so I just twatted him
(?past tense) re his latest lightbulb over head moment about gettin’ with the Malaysia program and assassinating drug dealers. Fits in nicely with the already-in-place American program of random mass shootings!

“America sinks to the level of an autocratic regime!” I snipped, sounding about as bloodthirsty as Jane Hathaway on “The Beverly Hillbillies”, but the problem is Trump will likely respond, “You say that like it’s a bad thing — ?” and invite me over to pinch some Miss World butt and try out his new coffee-pod machine.

And I can’t resist him when he’s all abashed and withdrawn, so obviously feeling the born leader’s wounded pride that comes from so desperately wanting to push that button, being absolutely entitled to push that button, having, god only knows, any number of reasons to push that button, and yet time after time just having his twiny hwand unceremoniously slapped away. Everyone from the cleaning lady to Mike Pence to the high-school kids on tour, everyone just hovering, watching him like an eagle, in co-ordinated shifts, twenty-four-seven.

Around three P.M. his blood sugar gets a teensy bit low and that’s when he drops the Big Guy in Charge persona, shows his soft, hypoglycemic, vulnerable side. “Just one widdle push?” he whispers, that twiny hwand flutters towards the suitcase, then everyone rushing up to him and SLAP!  No wonder he gets pouty sometimes.

I suspect the problem about him not calling me a slimbucket, yet, is that he hasn’t really entrusted me with anything that I could utterly betray.  So I hope we can boy-bond over this drug thing. I mean, if that presidential nose hasn’t seen a few spoonfuls of the best Colombian shit, I don’t know what the American Dream is coming to. Seriously?

Next in today’s headlines, and knock me over with a wrecking ball, Donald’s been philandering, too, which gives you a big ratings boost when you’re a Republican. Dems just don’t have the same kind of handle on sleazy adultery.

I mean, Bill Clinton? A blowjob! It’s like the moment in that Austin Powers flick when Dr Evil demands ten thousand dollars’ ransom, or when you get three wishes from Satan and your first one is “I’d like all the greeters at Walmart to be paid minimum wage.”

Is “blowjob” what you think Sean Connery was doing with Pussy Galore? You’re PRESIDENT, dude! You could be plowing Whitney or Streisand or Michael Jackson and you get a blowjob from an intern who, honestly, looks like the girl in biology class with the box of Kleenex on her desk and who can’t even wash your shirt effectively — in other words, it might as well be Hillary! Your so-called sleazy adultery virtually qualifies as approved marital relations sanctified by the bonds of holy wedlock! Pathetic!

Or when was the last time you thought about who’s shtupping Liz Warren? Picture the secret assignation: Off they go incognito to an erotic work up at Red Lobster, and after prying the meat out of each other’s shells and sucking on the legs for an hour,  they’re so hot and bothered they jump in the hybrid Prius and head to his pad, where they watch something racy on Netflix starring Brooke Shields, feed the cats and play some strip Scrabble over decaf. Finally no-nonsense Liz drags him to the bedroom, where she lies back on the futon, legs to the four winds, yammers non-stop about bank deregulation and the disappearance of the middle class, and at the crucial moment screams, “Yeah, baby! Relieve my troubled asssssss-ets!!” so loudly her prescription reading glasses fall right off.  “On Golden Pond” meets “Network” !

But poor Donald, eh?  We know how hard it must be to schedule some nookie with Melania, who, as a trophy wife, has to spend the better part of the morning Photoshopping her face.  Then she’s surely over-extended with that bullying crusade, after someone pointed out to her that standing up at a school assembly in a Paco Rabanne jump suit and telling them, “Just do what I do and have your bodyguard take care of it,” is a bit thin, as far as advice goes, and not necessarily relatable.

So as she works it out in flesh-colored Crayolas on newspaper stock, there’s Donald, stuck in that Oval Office with nothing to do! Nothing! The In tray is empty, man, and it’s only Wednesday! America’s doing great, thanks to him, and it’s like he’s success’d himself out of a job! No wonder he’s cranky and over-reacts!

Anyway.  The new launch date is JUNE 1st.  JUNE, not May.  Now I’m going to figure out who to send my paperback to who could give me a rave.

I know, I know.  You wish you were me, but you’re not.  I know EXACTLY how you feel.


 For the actual shortbread recipe, click here.


I have a perfectly good excuse +PLUS+ I SOOOOO Don’t Dig Dug-Up Ford

dugupI admit that “perfectly good excuse” thing sounds a little defensive, and it didn’t work with Miss Smedley, either, but it’s been AGES since I’ve posted something.

This blog, the tainted well from which I drew the idea and some of the content for my book — the set of cranky, anti-social triplets named Pee Dee Ef, Epub and Paperback currently clawing its way out of my man-womb — has been sorely neglected as I bear down, deep-breathe and scream for an epidural in the form of heaving great cartloads of e-money jabbed into my aching bank account. And I was rather looking forward to a little break just to have a good guy-cry and let the mental stretch marks heal…

Acolyte on duty — !  I require a full-body-to-body application of your finest replenishing cream with colloidal factors and vitamin e, and don’t forget the light touch and upward, circular motion this time!  {You know, and can I just say, seriously. Millennials! Pretty as sin, but self-absorbed — !}

Unluckily for both me and him, the nightmare Dug-Up Ford is he, who thicks man’s blood with cold — who you might mistake for the exhumed, reanimated corpse of a gratefully forgotten two-bit demagogue of a former “Mayor” of Toronto, but who is actually the Dug-Up Ford who’s now become the leader of the Conservative Party in Ontario — having pulled on for his full-body fat suit, in the manner of Hannibal Lecter, the suppurating flesh-envelope of that thankfully dead ex-Mayor brother of his, Rob — (should have whacked that bleached, beached whale a few more times with the edge of my shovel, make note for next time) — has replenished my tanks of gall and bile with premium fuel, and I will not spare you the full force of my smug, elitist, downtown Toronto gay sensibilities as I labor for Dug-Up to follow his sibling into the political grave he so richly deserves. Stay tuned for THAT one.

If all else fails, I’ll call up Maggie Atwood, who just barely escaped being fired as a cultural icon by Robbie Baby Bobby Booby, getting tattooed all up her arms and then forced to run the proposed Front Street Ferris Wheel in a pair of dungarees, and we’ll throw her collected works at him — in hardcover, mind you — until enough sharp corners have caught him in the temple that he keels over, or at least learns some respect.

In any case, I recommend Scarberia General Hospital reinforce the floor in the furthest corner of one of their public wards, prepare two of their largest beds, then push them side by side ready to receive der Führer des Ontariolumpenproletariats. The prognosis is poor.

There’s no need to find out what his “platform” will be. Cut the waste, stop the gravy (yeah, check out your belt notch, Dug-Up, and get back to us on THAT one), and did I mention cut the waste.

The complete, hard-core conservative playbook which is in fact the only two ideas they ever have:  Lower taxes, tough on crime.  It’s their little-black-dress-with-string-of-pearls of policy: Goes absolutely everywhere, darling, and they always feel pretty when they throw it on.

Good ol’ regular, middle-aged-to-elderly heterosexual white guys, str8-tards, in a word, from Don Trump to Dug-Up Lump, wherever they may lurk, in suits or sweatpants, bespoke Ferragamo or Payless trainers, all share the same reductionist philosophy and the same resentment of their betters.

Yeah, you heard me, betters, because five kajillion Dug-Up Fords do not supply genetic material of sufficient quality or quantity to replace one little fingernail of one Margaret Atwood.

Ms Atwood has a legacy, a body of work, an international reputation. They study her work in universities, for chrissake; write Ph.D. theses about her novels and poetry. Margaret Atwood, through a lifetime dedicated to literature, to a life of the mind, to wrestling with big ideas and creating big tales that enlighten and engage and entertain a receptive worldwide audience, did much of the heavy lifting over the course of five decades to put Canada on the cultural, indeed any, map.

But with one good, disingenuous awww, shucks Margaret Who, a Dug-Up Ford tells us that, sure, those effete Toronto elites get that high-falutin’ stuff, but not good, decent, down-to-the-salty-earth regular hockey-playin’ guys!

And yet you Trumps and Lumps, despite your postures of  humility and down-home folksiness, have to angle your heads to get them through a doorway, so highly do you not-so-secretly esteem yourselves. And so you are impatient: with rules, with the rule of law in particular, and with restrictions and with consultations. It’s your show, isn’t it, baby?

Why do you guys even run for public office, when you so patently despise the word “public” in any form? The reason for the rule of law, the rule of anything, is that we’re all in this together. And it’s your job as a leader to have a vision for your country or province or city, to understand all our concerns and to realize that vision through decisions that are in the public interest, not in the interests of you or your bank account, or the interests of the person who paid for your election, or of the lobbyists who lobby you as mayor but also as owner of a business. That’s called conflict of interest.

That contempt for the public good is what your disgusting, disgraceful, pushin’-up-daisies crack-addled brother displayed when he elaborately and disdainfully took himself out of the city for Pride, thus making it OK to disrespect and marginalize the LGBT community.  It’s not all about you, your people, your company or your fucking ego.

You know what I hate most about Don, and Dug-Up and all their ilk?  People like them make it cool to be stupid.  And I hate that so many people in the Greater Toronto Area are suddenly going to be so fucking cool.


Otherwise, I have been laboring like a raft-full of Roethke’s on Ritalin prepping the e-book for EPUB format and whatever the Kindle version is called.  Oi ve voy! says I, which is Dutch for “more tedious than tulips!

The formatting task is exquisitely demanding, though e-books have no pages and, while I must deploy Word 2016 styles with the precision and consistency of a 21st-century Gutenberg or the conversion program will spit out my book like a two-year-old with a mouthful of puréed spinach, e-reader-readers can blithely toss out my painstaking layout and design for purple text on black, basically redesigning my book.

Then one cold white night I got cold feet about Amazon and Barnes & Noble and my one go at fame, so I took out all the “fucks” and replaced them with “frigs” and “fuddle-duddles” (expecting a call from Justin’s lawyer as I assume Pierre held the copyright in perpetuity on that one) and just made the ideas more dirty; plus I keep re-writing everything and making it “better”, which I will have to force myself to stop doing or I will be found six months from now at my computer mummified in a brittle exoskeleton of dust, Peak Freen biscuit crumbs and cheap native cigarette smoke.

As a by-product of creating the book I’ve also discovered my own distinctive style of creating digital imagery and illustration from boring old AP photos and selfies, which has produced some humdingers.  Please note that “humdinger” can fall on either side of the positive/negative divide. (Titanic survivor: “That was one humdinger of a trip, eh?”) Few of these images will be in the paperback version, and for sure not in color, so, hellooooo — collector’s item.

Fun fact of the day: 

On this day, in 1781, English astronomer William Herschel discovered Uranus.

And I say, join the crowd, Bill.  Join the crowd.

Yuk, yuk.


Bell Canada Introduces New Mental Health Program for Canadians Who Choose Bell Canada

Bell Canada today announced the launch of “Talk To The Hold Button!”, a new mental

health initiative to support customers who have been driven insane by its price-gouging, entitled attitude, bored, outsourced employees and devious billing practices.

“We recognize that many people who were previously happy, calm and full of self-esteem are quickly reduced to haggard, listless complainers once they’ve had to deal with us,” said company spokesperson and part-time excess data counsellor Lloyd Spackle.

“And that’s even before they go to small claims court to contest the four-figure roaming charges!

“We want you to know that we totally expect your business and will promise anything that keeps you hopeful and coming back, if only to try and understand why a $50 Bell Mobility plan costs $328 plus tax.

“So go ahead and “Talk To The Hold Button!” Just because we’re not going to listen doesn’t mean you can’t get it off your chest!”

Increasing numbers of consumers are exhibiting what psychiatrists are slowly identifying as a whole spectrum of “Bell-ogenic” mental health concerns, such as “Bell’s Palsy”.

Intrigued, we visited BP sufferer Mildred Anderson at CAMH, where we attempted to interview her through the tiny, barred window of her padded cell. However, we were shocked when she responded inappropriately with what seemed to be random security credentials.

“Ten-digit phone number! M4X 1K3! ‘Anderson’ with an A! I already told you! Star hash-tag zero six hash-tag! ‘Gone With The Wind’! No, I don’t have the original packaging! Phone number! I was speaking with Karen! Postal code! Blue! Mother’s maiden name! I already told you! Oh God!” she screamed before collapsing on the floor.

“She was on hold for forty-eight minutes,” explained Head Nurse Susan Blanchard, spraying aerosol Valium into the cell.

“Then the twelve people she spoke to over the next hour asked her for the exact same information, put her on hold again, then passed her on to another one. Luckily, one of the more senior employees stopped laughing for a second, heard Ms Anderson hyperventilating, then left a handwritten note on the lunchroom bulletin board saying someone on the morning shift should probably call 9-1-1 if they had a moment, but only if Ms Anderson could fax them four pieces of photo ID.”

As our investigation ramped up, we became aware of the existence of a shadowy network of “Bellaholic’s Anonymous” support groups, where grieving customers who’ve simply given up on limited “unlimited” data plans and returned to landline phones can try to obtain “closure”.

We managed to infiltrate a meeting of one of these highly secretive groups, held in a mid-town Toronto church basement, by posing as former iPhone X owners.

“We admitted we were powerless and that Bell Canada had become unmanageable,” the group intoned.

“This meeting is now open for sharing,” said the group leader for the evening, Harry M. “Yes, Steve!”

“I’m angry!” said a young man with red, puffy eyes.  “I’ve been awake for three days drinking coffee and trying to understand how a loving Creator could make beautiful, perfect babies, then allow Bell Canada to exist! It just doesn’t seem to make sense!”

“Hi, I’m Betty and I’m a former Bell user,” said the next person to share. “Eighteen months this Wednesday by the grace of God! I spent ten dollars a month for five years to rent a twenty-dollar modem, then they charged me fifty dollars and barred me for life because I didn’t wrap it up and Purolater it back to them with a nice thank-you card!”

Betty’s lips were trembling. “Am I a bad person?”

“I spent thousands of my tax dollars so Bell could do research, then they charge me hundred and fifty a month for TV!” said an elderly woman who self-identified as “Sally Y”. Sally’s arms were covered with crude tattoos and her hair was pulled back into the taut ponytail known as the “Ontario Works facelift”.

“They sent me to Penetanguishene for six months, eh, cause I hacked into American Netflix with an Android box. Jesus Christ, all I did was watch a couplea ‘Golden Girls’ re-runs!”

“Hi, I’m, like, Tiffany, and I’m three days Bell clean!” said a girl of around sixteen, to encouraging smiles and murmurs from the group. “But then I signed up with Virgin, is that, ummm, like, a relapse?”

Following up with Lloyd Spackle by phone, we asked whether Bell wasn’t being a little heavy-handed and even a teensy bit criminal, considering it was sustained for decades with public money but now seems determined to restrict, mislead, even terrorize its customers.

“You don’t seem to be in our system,” he explained.

“Can I have your ten-digit phone number followed by the pound key?”

“Talk To The Hold Button!”™

fake bell