Sunday, December 31, 2006

Live-blogging the Hinterland

My grandfather died on Christmas Eve, and so on the 28th I was duty-bound to attend his memorial service. Not that I would have missed it anyway, as duty is something I enjoy. I'm like the Queen that way. And in that way only, you bitches.

I left Vancouver for the wilds of the deepest, darkest Okanagan valley -- Kelowna, to be more precise -- for just that purpose. Well, that and to cement my reputation as a eulogist, which is well-deserved.

[Spoiler Alert: It ends up I couldn't deliver my eulogy; writer's block and emotion got the better of me. - MSM]

Thursday, 10:38 AM -- I left my house to take my keys to my friend Doug's place so he can make sure in my absence that Pandora doesn't waste away to... Well, let's face it, I'd have to be gone alot longer than three days for Pandora to even waste away to her ideal weight. Still, I thought she might like a bit of company now and then while I'm gone.

11:24 AM -- I arrive at the bus station. I buy my ticket, get in line behind four racy old ladies, and wait for the noon bus to leave.

12:18 PM -- Still no sign of the bus, despite 114 people waiting to crowd onto a bus that seats 55 including the driver. As clusterfucks go, this is below the Iraq War but worse than Nipplegate.

12:45 PM -- The bus arrives and I shoulder aside the half dozen people who attempted to shoulder me aside. I do allow a pair of siblings on ahead of me because the brother of the pair is cute. I figure on a ride as long as this one I at least deserve a nice view.

1 PM -- I finally eat something. I hadn't eaten sooner because I sort of expected the clusterfuck at the bus station and didn't want to be all nice about it, since there's no way I was taking an aisle seat. The bus ride goes more or less as planned from there. It's a nice sunny day, and after we pass Hope there's snow in the mountains (until about 4:30, when the sun goes down). I listen to music, read the year-end editon of Spin, and a few chapter's of Miri Rubin's fascinating book "The Hollow Crown" about England from Edward II to Richard III (c. 1300-1485). As fascinating as this book is it's better than Ambien, and I manage to catch up on an hour of sleep (only 3,245 and I'll be caught up).

6:30 PM -- I arrive in Kelowna. It's changed even since September (the last time I was here). There are Christmas lights galore and every third billboard bears a reminder that Jesus is the Reason for the Season. I remember why I left.

Friday 1 AM -- Sometime during Craig Ferguson's monologue I drift off into a restless sleep.

10 AM -- I begin anew in my deliberations to write a eulogy, the end result of which (after three long hours) is a decision to ad-lib from notes.

2 PM -- I take my mother's boyfriend's dog for a walk in the hopes that the fresh air will clear my mind. It does, and I take some spectacular pictures of winter in the hideous built environment of Kelowna. Alas, no new inspiration hits, and I half-decide to improvise my eulogy, since I seem to be coping with the whole thing rather well.

[Redundant Spoiler alert: I still can't believe I wimped out. - MSM]

4 PM -- My mother and I go to the funeral home to set up. We put pictures on boards using magnetic frames. Mine is an organised cluster like the ones I have all around my apartment. My mother puts hers up will-nilly; I have to admit that, under the circumstances, hers looks better. It's fun and whimsical, whereas mine is tighter than Martha Stewart. Then again, I have always coped with chaos by imposing rigid order.

5 PM -- My mother goes to her nail appointment. I sit there and read the new Blender, which miraculously has appeared when I needed it most. Since there's no new New Yorker this week, and I've bought all the other new magazines, I nearly had to pass time in a temple of vanity by staring at a wall. One of the women has her hot boyfriend with her. I could have used my considerable powers of bullshit to spend time staring at him (under the guise of my keen interest in the hockey season -- yeah...) but I remember that, other than construction, Kelowna hasn't changed at all, and the Homosexual Panic Defense still applies here, so change my mind.

6:30 PM -- Back at home my mother prepares to cook the life out of a roast (also known as Grandma-style), which in itself is a tribute to my grandfather, who bellieved that the best way to cook meat was well-done. After all, it says what it is right in the name: well-done. She and I and her boyfriend hang around and talk, mess around with the dogs and cats, reminisce about the great man we've lost (my grandfather) while marking the passing of his opposite number (So long Saddam!) and enjoy a cocktail or two each. It's nice to be, despite our sad loss, happy.

9 PM -- Supper's over and a perfunctory clean-up performed. We all drift off to our respective sleeping areas in a meagre effort to defeat fatigue.

Saturday 8 AM -- I am awakened by a series of wet noses and furry bodies, alas all either feline or canine. Well, only half-alas, in the same way the glass is half-full, because it has to be.

9:30 AM -- With a minimum of grief we manage to get ourselves ready, and head off for the funeral home.

9:41 AM -- We arrive at the funeral home.

9:41:10 AM -- I start crying like a bitch.

10 AM -- The memorial service begins. I have so much wet Kleenex in my pocket it feels like an octopus in there. I keep telling myself other, similarly sophomoric, things to give myself the occasional break from crying like a bitch. What I actually manage to see of the service looks beautiful.

11 AM -- The service is over, I stick my face in the ice machine to try and bring down the swelling, and the reception begins.

12:10 PM -- The reception ends, rather too abruptly for my liking, and we clean up.

12:15 PM -- Checking the schedule at the bus station, it looks like we have ninety minutes to kill. My mother's boyfriend takes us to Kelowna Flightcraft, where he works. I learn what a "winglet" looks like. It's not even remotely related to the winglets I used to cook at Red Robin. I take some more cool pictures.

2 PM -- Back at the bus station, where I and a couple of hundred strangers are cattle-prodded onto a bus that seats 48.

2:30 PM -- The bus leaves, more or less on time. It occurs to me that if we go off the road on the way home some alien archaeologists centuries from now are going to have one big head-scratcher.

3 PM -- I vow that the next time I take the bus I will put my spine in my carry on luggage, where there's more room.

4 PM -- My iPod's been playing so long it's warm to the touch. This can't be good.

5 PM -- Though I can't see it, I know from memory that the scenery outside is spectacular, a veritable Hinterland winer wonderland. I start humming along to John Mayer's song, which I have renamed "Your Body is A Hinterland", mainly to amuse myself.

6:30 PM - That spot on the top of my right foot my Dayton's like to torture finally loses nerve function permanently. My leg has now not so much fallen asleep as swallowed a bottle of Seconal. My seatmate, despite being the twink fantasy of my dreams, makes his last homophobic text message to his buddy, whose nickname seems to be "fag".

7 PM -- Having stopped now half a dozen times, each time to bring more people on the bus than have left it, I volunteer myself for the overhead bin, where at least I'll be able to stretch my legs. We've stopped at hope, where for eighteen glorious seconds I have a seat to myself. I begin texting my friends in the hopes that if I can keep my fingers along I won't die and be disposed of at the Chilliwack bus station. The Chilliwack bus station was originally designed to be Dante's tenth ring of Hell, but was later scrapped on the grounds no one would believe anything so outlandish.

7:45 PM -- We have finally reached Langley, so I get on the phone and start calling people.

8:51 PM -- The lights of the city appear. I take a breath mint and apply lip balm in preparation for loving up the tarmac.

9 PM -- Back at last!

What happened next is between me, my conscience, and the RCMP (if they even care).
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Egregious Paranoia Department - The End of Gay

Recently Joe. My. God. posted this cheery news, topped (?) by a quote from Martina Navratilova:

" 'For the sake of the animals who will die unnecessarily in these experiments and for the many gays and lesbians who stand to be deeply offended by the social implications of these tests, I ask that you please end these studies at once.' - [written] in a letter to Oregon State University just published on the PETA-affiliated site Stop Animal Testing, in response to research being done on sheep that is meant to help scientists learn how to alter the sexual preference of gay animals.

"Ostensibly meant to help sheep farmers who are burdened by the 10% of rams that prefer to mount other rams, the research has vast implications for gay society. If scientists can discover the "gay switch" or how to prenatally influence the sexual orientation of animals, the switch to human implementation will be immediate, widespread and unstoppable. The "homo vaccine" may be as simple as hormone patch worn during pregnancy. A real-world Twilight Of The Golds could mean the end of homosexuality in this century."

Well I never!

Of course, this issue has been sticking in my craw ever since allegedly gay scientist Simon LeVay started his research into this field, which first came to my attention in 1992.

I responded with the following comment:

"They've been trying to do this for decades. The same Christians who can't condone abortion for any reason will suddenly have a change of heart.

"The best hope is that the human genome is complicated enough that it could be multiple linked factors which "cause" homosexuality.

"The minute they genetically "cure" gay it'll be our responsibility to take our best dyke friend down to the IVF clinic and spunk in a cup for her. Abort the straight ones and there we go.

As for curing gay sheep, I say just keep them away from the farmers and they should be alright. ; ) "

One of my more coherent comments, if I do say so myself, probably because I've had the time to develop some eloquence about the issue. In fact, I believe the straights have been tolerating us as well as they have for the past few years because they're close to making this breakthrough.

Now, I'm not ex-Gay, I'm post-Gay. I've always been a proponent of assimilation on our terms, and isolating the gay gene won't make me run back to the ghetto. I'd consider it my responsibility to continue my missionary work among liberals and single mothers who'd like a son who calls occasionally but does not create a teenage babymama drama. Maybe a gay baby will become a trend among celebrities, like Unicef adoptions and toy dogs are now.

In a world threatened by overpopulation, with more parentless children than ever growing up in foster care, a little gay doesn't seem like a bad idea. Not to mention what it'll do to beauty, fashion, and the stage. The stage will be hit the hardest, I think; metrosexuals might look like us, but they aren't half as bendy.

The most interesting aspect of the whole struggle will be the (initially) laboured justifications offered by religious fundamentalists. You know, the ones who oppose stem cell research and all that now. It'll be an about-face worthy of "Wrong-way" Corrigan.
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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Egregious Paranoia Department - HRH Prince Harry

If you've read this blog at all it might have occurred to you that I tend to worry as a form of innoculation. I figure as long as I'm worrying about something it'll never come to pass, and a couple of sleepless nights is the least I can do to prevent some dread inevitability or other from coming about. So why not turn this worry into something entertaining and thought-provoking for my readers? Well, my reader, anyway.

Some of you may recall that the Fleet Street media in the UK has often cast aspersions on the paternity of Prince Harry; not to sell papers, mind you, but because they just care so much. Notwithstanding that the Spencer line is loaded with redheads, and that both of her boys overwhelmingly favour their Spencer progenitors (which is why they hired her in the first place - duh!), there are those who have dared to insinuate that, while the Princess of Wales is undoubtedly his mother somehow the Prince of Wales is not Harry's father. That somehow James Hewitt -- the Princess' ne'er-do-well ex-boyfriend -- is Harry's real father.

FACT: The Princess never met James Hewitt until Harry was two or three years old. Since much of their affair is on the public record and easily checked (Diana was on the shortest possible leash from Buckingham Palace and Fleet Street until just before the affair started, etc.) this ought to be enough to put the rumours to rest. Alas, the public's memory is even shorter than its attention span.

FACT: Harry, like The Princess Royal, favours the Duke of Edinburgh's side of the family rather than The Queen's. Harry's resemblance to the Duke of Edinburgh at the same age is remarkable.

FACT: The Royal Family takes these matters very seriously, since marching bunches of hotties around in front of old palaces in archaic costumes and supporting charitable causes is about all they do when they're not micromanaging the bloodline. Just to be on the safe side they allegedly had his DNA tested (and while Diana was still alive too -- nice!).

Now it seems that, despite repeated assertions by Sandhurst Academy, the Ministry of Defence, and the Palace to the contrary, Prince Harry is to serve with the British army in Iraq in keeping with his new status as a Second Lieutenant.

If Prince Harry dies in Iraq there will be blood on the hands of everyone from 10 Downing Street to the Palace responsible for putting him into harm's way in the first place. Of course, this is just how conspiracy theories are born, a fact which all involved must know well enough, given how the chattering classes have mercilessly picked apart Diana's death for nearly a decade when the cause of Diana's death was that -- wait for it -- she wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

If I'm right (and the gods know I don't want to be) then I'll be hailed as a seer, and make a tidy living selling whatever else I can spew to Star magazine a la the late Jeane Dixon for the rest of my (hopefully) long life. If I'm wrong, and Prince Harry dies in his bed, peacefully, as a very old man, being known as an occasional crackpot and sensationalist (or what we in the business like to call "a Novelist") is the least I can do to ensure the safety of Diana's legacy.
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Footnote to History - Oliver Sipple

I'm still a little peeved that the obituary of President Ford I spent two hours working on last night seems to have vanished into cyberspace, like Susan Powter, never to be seen again.

However, in doing further reading I realise now that my obituary had a couple of mistakes in it (which I would have remedied the moment I found them). Which just goes to show that often when crappy things happen they happen for good reasons. It's just too bad they always seem to happen to me and don't happen more to Matt Drudge.

Again, I should just stick to what I do and let people who are good at such things do them.

Thanks to Towleroad, I can do just that. This is the first of what I'd like to make a regular feature here at the Pop Culture Institute. It concerns the day a gay man saved the President's life, so gather round children and let me relate the story...

"[President] Ford might have died on September 22, 1975, when an attempt was made on his life by Sara Jane Moore outside the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, less than three weeks after a similar assassination attempt was made by Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme in Sacramento.

"This time Ford's life was saved by Oliver Sipple, a former Marine who lunged at Moore, deflecting the intended bullet. Sipple was instantly commended but the incident inspired curiosity about the former soldier and it was revealed by Harvey Milk that he was a gay man, a fact that was not known by either his employer or his family. The resulting attention (Harvey Milk, who wanted to show that gay men were not all child molesters and perverts, anointed him a gay hero, inspiring a widely-syndicated write-up from noted columnist Herb Caen) freaked his mother enough to cause her to disown him. At the time Sipple pleaded with reporters: "I want you to know that my mother told me today she can't walk out of her front door because of the press stories...My sexual orientation has nothing to do with saving the President's life."

"Sipple battled the "outing" in court for the next nine years, a battle that was never won. It may have cost the man his sanity. Sipple was found in his San Francisco apartment in February 1989 next to a bottle of booze. Alcoholic and obese, he had been dead for two weeks.

"Gerald Ford did not attend the funeral and instead sent family and friends a letter of condolence. He was criticized by some who said that were Sipple heterosexual he would have been treated differently. Ford told journalist Deb Price in a 2001 interview: "As far as I was concerned, I had done the right thing and the matter was ended. I didn't learn until sometime later — I can't remember when — he was gay. I don't know where anyone got the crazy idea I was prejudiced and wanted to exclude gays."

Kinda makes you think. Or, you know, not. Hey, at least it has nothing to do with Paris Hilton.

These events are dealt with in greater depth in Randy Shilts' great book "The Mayor of Castro Street". I suggest you hurry on down to your local gay bookstore and buy or order this amazing book.
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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Cold Reminder of Global Warming

It's starting to happen people.

"Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.

"As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.

"Eight years ago, as exclusively reported in The Independent on Sunday, the first uninhabited islands - in the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati - vanished beneath the waves. The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented."

But when all the islands are gone where will the plutocrats go to abuse people working for $2 a day?

[Source: The Independent (UK) via]
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Why Are There No Boxing Day Songs?

I mean, there are songs for Christmas Eve and songs for Christmas. There are songs for Hanukkah and even one for Kwanzaa (Shirley Q. Liquor's "The 12 Days of Kwanzaa"). There are songs for just about everything but none for Boxing Day.

We (well, I) here at the Pop Culture Institute are going to add the writing of a Boxing Day song to our (well, my) To-Do List.

Just don't get your hopes up; my To-Do list is about eight years long.

Oh, and happy Kwanzaa; it starts today.
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Monday, December 25, 2006

A Brand New Day

I can fight it no more.

Try as I might to be deep and intellectual I'm really neither. The fact is I have a shallow streak a mile wide (even though it never gets deeper than an inch). While I have often defended this trait of mine as an "overly-developed sense of the aesthetic" or some crap like that, truth be told there's nothing I like looking at more than a beautiful man. Unless it's two to five beautiful men in a...

Uh, but then that's a different matter altogether.

So now -- just like every second or third blog on the Net -- I'm in the celebrity gossip business, albeit with the existing pronounced self-help bent intact. (Sample advice: don't act like celebrities and you should be fine.) After all, just because I'm a sheep doesn't mean I can't be a black one.

It also liberates me from feeling the need to publish an essay whenever I post; I can just publish a paragraph or two several times a day and be done with it. I can also add more photos to the mix and maybe goose up my arts coverage (since my apartment is already brimming over with magazines and the like, and I'm rarely without the newest music and DVDs, by hook or by crook).

Also, in the case of the recent fracas between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell I hope I can add my long years of star-gazing to clarify matters of ego. (He cheated, he declared bankruptcy, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let anyone with Orlon hair get away with calling anyone -- even a slob like Rosie O'Donnell -- a slob.) Given that celebrity culture has given us a collective memory span most easily measured in nanoseconds, I thought that my singular contribution could be to stretch that out at least to a few minutes. As a life's calling I think it has equal parts nobility and futility.

In addition to pursuing celebrity culture from a Canadian and gay male vantage point I can also pursue it from a Vancouver perspective. I've often seen stars when I've been out and about, but for some reason I've never seen fit to write about these encounters. I guess I was too busy trying to be deep and intellectual, when I'd have been better off sticking to what I know: being caustic yet cautionary.

And of course: playlists! What would infotainment be without lists?
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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mid-December Playlist (excerpted): How to Have a Mary Christmas

Christmas is a very healing time for me. I love the lights, the decorations, how the darkest part of the year is suddenly alive with warmth and colour.

The music, on the other hand, sucks.

The same twelve songs, over and over, screeched or bawled or mumbled or just plain fucked up by every singer who ever lived. The best thing about Christmas music is it only lasts a couple of weeks. It's also the worst thing.

Apparently, some of our more progressive music acts feel the same way about Christmas music as I do, because in the past few years there has been a real renaissance in this genre, which I hope the playlist shows. Also, over the years I've come to like the occasional versions of those dread 12 songs.

The following are the Christmas songs I'll be listening to:

Hanukkah Song - Adam Sandler
All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth - Alvin & The Chipmunks
Christmas Don't Be Late - Alvin & The Chipmunks
Green Christmas - Barenaked Ladies
Lonely Christmas Eve - Ben Folds Five
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Bootleggers' Christmas - Calvin Hillier
I Saw Three Ships - Celtic Connection
Hard Candy Christmas - Dolly Parton
Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
Christmas Day - Green Day
Christmas Night In Harlem - Louis Armstrong
Santa Baby - Madonna
I Hate Christmas - Oscar the Grouch
Homo Christmas - Pansy Division
Christmas in the Harbour - The Punters
I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus - RuPaul
I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas - Shirley Temple
I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas - Shirley Temple
(It's Hard To Be A) Jew on Christmas - Kyle Broflovski (South Park)
Merry Fucking Christmas - Mr. Garrison (South Park)
Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis - Tom Waits
Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
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Monday, December 11, 2006

My Date With Density

All day long, all the omens were there: I left my house and practically walked on to a bus, I got into the doctor's office ahead of a rush, there was a hot guy in the chair opposite me at Blenz when I did my review. I entered the exam room in a very Zen place and walked out an official First Aid Attendant (OFA II).

Stress is not your friend, but it can be turned to your advantage. The important thing to remember is, when it stops working, turn it off. Once stress is no longer motivational it becomes detrimental, and that's where they get ya.

Also, once you stop ambushing yourself, it'll amaze you how successful you actually are.
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Friday, December 08, 2006

Does Victoria's Secret Make A Push-Up Life?

There are bad weeks and there are bad weeks. I have had both kinds. In fact, I have had all kinds of bad weeks. Some are weather bad, or work bad, or social bad. In fact, they're all at least two out of three. But the past two weeks have taken bad to levels even Dante couldn't imagine. I'm talking Ann Coulter bad.

You see, in order for me to work at Emily Carr I need to take a First Aid course. No problem there, you might think. You'd be wrong. I also have to pass the First Aid course, and Lindsay Lohan could pass a spelling test before I can pass a First Aid course. Jessica Simpson could remember the lines to a song we've all heard a bajillion times before I could pass a First Aid course. Paris Hilton could remember to wear panties...

You get the point. I may be a tiny bit stressed about passing my course.

And as if the stress of passing the course weren't enough, there's the stress of where will I live at the end of the month if I don't pass, since I'll be minus one week's wages, which believe me is all it would take to make me homeless. There's the stress of losing my job at Emily Carr, and the stress of what kind of hateful site my company will put me at as punishment for failing the test. Not that that will matter since, as I have already said, I will be homeless. Still, it'll matter for the last couple of weeks of my homefulness, which'll be stressful enough as it is without also having to face a nightly barrage of tweaker-zombies.

So of course I have to put all that aside and try to study all weekend, including the 10 hours I have to work tomorrow for free because -- surprise! -- someone at Garda fucked up. I have to be happy and positive despite the fact that this feels like my end of days.

Okay, so I have to be positive. No problem.

A year ago the idea that I had to be positive in the face of overwhelming adversity would have never occurred to me. I wouldn't have been able to put those words all in a row like that.

Now ask me: did I have a good week this past two weeks?

I sure as Hell did! Look at all these blog entries; this represents the most prolonged period of writing in my entire adult life. I retained my first-class citizenship as a Gay Canadian. I got loved up hard by Pandora every single night, had my birthday, read some awesome shit, rocked out, read poetry, wept in front of strangers, took photos, saw beautiful men, and laughed my ass off.

So why am I so focused on the bad stuff? Because I'm a tool. And what do we do with tools? We fix things. What are we going to fix first? Me. And why is that? Because I deserve fixing.

Four more words I wouldn't have been able to string together this time last year.

Here's another example: I was looking in the mirror this morning, as I generally do when I shave, and after about 30 seconds I forgot I was looking at me, because I was looking at a hot guy. Even with a cold at 6am... Damn!

Is life relaxing? Far from it. Is life good? Damn straight.

And whaddaya know, my new push-up life fits me just right. This must be my lucky day.
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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dear Santa...

I know, I know... It's been 30 years since I wrote to you last, but I don't know who else to turn to.

I'm not going to ask you for things -- I have enough things as it is, and I bought even more today. Nor am I going to ask you for anything impossible, like world peace, or a boyfriend.

All I'd like is that the 12 Tories who voted against re-opening the same-sex marriage debate NOT get those lumps of coal I ordered. Send them instead to the Liberals who voted for it. Oh, and any Bloc Quebecois or NDP who might have as well.

I'd also like you to send panties to Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. Between them and the President I've seen more Bush than Sasquatch these past few years.

The only thing I really want this year is continued success in my life and career. I want to be a better person and a better friend and a better writer. I know you can't help me with that, I'm just saying is all.

Please give my best to Mrs. Claus, promise you'll honour the elves' collective agreement, and try and ease up on the whip Christmas Eve - for Rudolph's sake. There's no reason his butt has to be as red as his nose.

Unless that's what he's into.

All the best,

michael sean morris
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Much Whack-Ado About Nothing

See, this is why I should prohibited by law from writing about politics.

This morning, at the ungawdly hour of 6am, my alarm went off, and something compelled me to turn on the TV. Now, normally I only turn my TV on to clean the screen, or else watch DVDs (or maybe Saturday Night Live), so I don't know what moved me to do so today. When I did the morning news was on Global (aka Canada's Fox).

The fifth or six snippet was about the upcoming vote to re-open the same-sex marriage debate, and even Global admitted the measure was likely to fail. The only MP mentioned specifically in the story was Hedy Fry, who is my MP, and who supports same-sex marriage up the wazoo. Alas, personality-free news reader Lyn Colliar did not use the word 'wazoo' in the story.

So I guess that means the next time there's a political story gnawing at my craw I should write about celebrities instead. That'll be the secret sign for those in the know: whenever there's a story about showbiz for ugly people (politics), he writes about politics for bimbos (showbiz).

I will be publishing the results of tonight's vote as soon as I can get the Parliamentary website to give them to me. All in the interest of broadening the scope of this blog beyond my self-absorption.

(Even I have to say: good luck with that.)
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thursday, Bloody Thursday

I have decided to break one of my cardinal rules and write about politics. Since in this case the political is personal (as is so often the case) and since if I don't my head may explode, I figure it's worth the risk of ranting.

In the last election the Tories campaigned successfully on the issue of depriving gays and lesbians of their equal rights, even though the Supreme Court has interpreted the ultra-clear wording of the Charter of Rights numerous times in favour of same-sex marriage, I believe, in every province and territory. Same-sex marriages have existed in this country for over a year and the sky has yet to fall, despite every attempt by the Religious Right to try and pull it down and blame it on us.

Nevertheless, the vote is pending.

Until today I might have said that the measure still had a chance to fail. The Liberals, though, have applied what is likely to be the fatal blow. Unwilling to risk toppling the government and send their new leader, Stephane Dion, to the polls after less than a week on the job, they're allowing a free vote on the issue, something the Tories say they're doing but are not, since Harper doesn't even let his members use the washroom without his permission.

This means that the 20% rural minority in this country will likely override the 80% urban majority. Again. Every MP north of Toronto has been bombarded by the Knights of Columbus and the Salvation Army and similar bastions of tolerance for months now. Consider that the next time you pass a Red Kettle, and instead of a handful of change drop in a lump of coal.

The vote is on Thursday night, so if you live in Alberta get ready for a party to rival any kegger Ralph Klein ever threw. If you're gay and live in Alberta, both of you better get to Vancouver right away. As for everyone else, I say, start preparing for the worst.

Canada may be the first ever country to allow same-sex marriage only to later rescind it. Oh well, that international reputation for tolerance and diversity we once had was becoming a nuisance anyway. At least Stephen Harper's overlords south of the border will be happy; this vote may be the first thing to go right for George W. Bush in months.

What remains to be seen is if existing same-sex marriages will be nullified, and what kind of slippery slope this represents. For the paranoid - like me - this could represent the first step towards the recriminalisation of homosexuality, and all its attendant horrors along the way. It almost certainly represents a push to remove sexual orientation protection from the Charter and Hate Crimes legislation, both of which met fierce opposition from the Tories in the first place.

Or it could merely lead to the hypocrisy of "civil unions"; since no heterosexual relationships will be referred to in this way, this means that, at best, gays and lesbians get to go back to being second class citizens. Just in time for the holidays. Thanks Parliament, and here I didn't get you anything.

Either way, it's a giant leap forward for the integration of church and state, since I have never heard one iota of homophobia that wasn't entirely religious in nature. I guess, though, since homophobia is the favoured ecumenical pastime, this vote does represent a giant leap forward for the only kind of diversity the Tories support.

And what a lovely silver lining it is too...
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Sunday, December 03, 2006

N-word Please!

I wonder how long it'll take the utterly benign phrase "N-word" to become a slur as incendiary as the one it was designed to replace. I suppose when someone (or more ideally, some celebrity) hurls it at someone else in anger. Because remember kids: in this culture, nothing matters until a celebrity does it.

The thing about slurs of any kind is that they are always about intent. I could call someone a humanitarian in an ugly voice and make it sound bad. Yet I completely empathize with blacks in this. I figure whitey's had hundreds of years of using this word, and now they're done. They've used up all their n-words until the end of time, and then some. If you have a problem with this, don't blame blacks; get a shovel and take it up with Strom Thurmond.

The fact that blacks use this word amongst themselves has nothing whatsoever to do with whites using it. Remember: it doesn't matter what other people do, it only matters what you do. Other people kill their spouses and rape children, too, so don't expect the right to do that either.

Now, being gay, I have a few words I don't like to hear from non-gay people (men especially). I don't need to list them here. You all know them and you've probably all used them, even if it was just once, years ago, before you knew better, and you didn't inhale, blah blah blah.

Whenever I hear a non-gay person say "That's so gay" I about lose my f-ing mind. Another one that gets me is "art-fag", which is a double whammy, since, in my opinion, there are far too few of these, but the slur implies there are too many. The problem I have with most bigotry is its inaccuracy.

Yet the other day I said (with a non-gay face) that the reason I loved watching "Greg the Bunny" so much is that I'm totally gay for puppets. A couple of the non-gay people there got a little peeved, I told them I was gay, they claimed not to know -- no harm no foul, and, thankfully, no group hug either.

Blender magazine has a monthly feature called "CD We're Totally Gay For" and I'm not about to organise protest rallies in front of their offices, because I know what I'm like when a new Madonna album drops. When Kylie's "Fever" was released Davie Street was like Twink-a-palooza. I have no problem having "gay" used as a synonym for enthusiasm; I do have a problem with it standing in for stupid.

Being a wordsmith I'm very sensitive to putting moratoria (let alone issuing fatwae - what is the plural of fatwa, anyway?) on words, ideas, or concepts. I have to admit that, while I will never utter the N-word (since I never have, why start now) I will likely type it again in my life. If the idea that I may do so really bothers you, please get it out of your system now.

Not that it's going to stop me. When I was writing a scene featuring a Kansas sheriff organising a lynch mob in my novel "Killjoy" I knew I couldn't have him saying: "Get that filthy African-American and string him up." It just didn't, as we say, scan.

The fact is, the word has been used, is being used, and will continue to be used. As an artist I am responsible for reflecting culture, so you see the bind I'm in. However, if I'm reading publicly from my work I will feel obligated to either let people know that the word is coming up or (less likely) say "N-word" instead. In whatever situation, I will always strive to do whatever gives the least offense.

I offer up the same solution to anyone who wishes to use it.
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