Much to your and my continued bewilderment, the Ole Miss men’s basketball team recently played and won its first of four exhibition games as a part of an ongoing summer college basketball tournament being held in Canada. The Rebels won yesterday’s contest against the Redmen (?) of McGill University (??) by a score of 102-61, and will play the Concordia University (???) Stingers (lol) tonight in Montreal in a contest that will likely have a similarly lopsided outcome. Then, after that, they’ll continue to travel around Canada and play basketball for a few more days. Presumably, there is something to be gained from all of this, even if it’s just more NCAA-sanctioned practices for first-year head coach Kermit Davis to work with his squad.

This all is, admittedly, rather strange to us. We find it odd that any sort of basketball is being played in August and, until maybe a few minutes ago, you probably did not think it was played at all in Canada. But, oddities aside, all of this is perfectly great, as basketball is fun and Canada is harmless; and this harmless fun our team is having is something that you, acting quickly, can also partake in this week.

So, acting under the completely reasonable presumption that you are now en route northward to take in some Rebel hoops in Montreal and Ottawa, I — as someone who went to British Columbia a couple times as a teenager — would like to present to you some important travel tips and tricks for your Canadian basketball adventure:

  • Canada has two official languages: Weird English and Very Weird French. Weird English has certain eccentricities like saying “zed” for the letter “Z”, calling a restroom or bathroom a “washroom”, and referring to macaroni and cheese as “Kraft Dinner.” They also absolutely do the “aboot” and “hoose” and “eh” thing. It’s incredibly charming. Don’t concern yourself with brushing up on your Very Weird French before you visit though, as the Québécois are bilingual and only pretend not to be in order to upset American tourists. Do not give in to this unnecessary linguistic tyranny.
  • Canada claims to be a country that enjoys ice hockey, but no Canadian NHL franchise has won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens won in 1993. Since then, franchises from Texas, North Carolina, Florida, and California (two of them!) have won the Stanley Cup. The current Stanley Cup champion are everyone’s favorite NHL franchise, the Washington Capitals. It would be rude of you as an American to remind the Canadians you encounter that the capital of the United States currently holds the Stanley Cup.
  • Canada plays (American) football, but a version of it that serves as a perfect metaphor for the differences between our two countries: superficially, and to the untrained eye, they look like the same thing, but the differences are just different enough to matter. Tim Tebow had a long, successful career in the Canadian Football League.
  • Canada has produced a lot of famous comedians who were very popular and funny in the 1990s, including Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Martin Short, Jim Carrey, Norm Macdonald, Tom Green, and Phil Hartman (RIP). Now, try to think of anything those guys have done in the last eighteen years that made you laugh (save for Norm Macdonald going on Conan to tell weird bullshit stories). Y2K made Canada unfunny.
  • Canada makes bad whiskey.
  • Canada makes bad beer.
  • Canada also makes some really, really good beer. La Fin du Monde by Unibroue is excellent. There’s no joke here. Do yourself a favor and buy some.
  • Canadian soldiers contributed to the effort on D-Day by riding bikes around northern France. Thanks for the help, guys.
  • There are two key pillars of Canadian cuisine: poutine and Tim Horton’s. Globalization has made poutine, something that was once a regional Quebec specialty, a bit of a ubiquity on bar appetizer menus, but like a po’ boy in New Orleans or hot wings in Buffalo, one is somewhat obliged to nosh on a few plates of gravy- and cheese-covered fries while up yonder. Tim Horton’s is a marginal improvement over Dunkin’ Donuts, which is to say they sell bland donuts and coffee made from the viscous liquid that collects in the bottom of a dumpster. They also sell a thing called a “double-double” which is, unfortunately, not a double cheeseburger from In-N-Out, but rather just a cup of coffee with enough cream and sugar to send your pancreas into shock.

But do not be led astray. Canada is not so different from the United States (or “the States,” as they like to call us)! They drive on the right side of the road, they like Carly Rae Jepsen, and they agree that Niagara Falls is an unimpressive tourist trap. Also, the stereotype of Canadians being polite and humble is very true. Hell, you might even find that Canada is not that much different from Mississippi during your visit, as a time-honored tradition in Canada is arguing about what to put on a flag.

Just don’t bring up Justin Bieber. They’re really tired of that little shit too.

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