Monday, December 31, 2007

Year! Year!: Looking Back At 2007

As I sit here - hollow-eyed and slump-shouldered - I can scarcely believe that the seemingly impossible task I set myself on August 5th has actually been realized: 1,008 posts published in 148 days.

PhotobucketTo be honest, there were many times in those intervening months when it felt like either this blog would live or I would, but that certainly one of us wouldn't make it; since I'm the one doing all the work, I just naturally assumed this would be my obituary. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Now, here it is, the last day of 2007, post number 2007, and I have exactly 2007 brain cells left, just enough to write the next three posts before becoming a born-again Christian and joining the Republican Party (which will be the only options left open to me with my diminished brain power).

What a year it's been! I started out writing whiny, masochistic essays about all the things that were wrong with me; as there's only so many ways to do that, and finding my favourite subject matter rapidly depleted, I decided to branch out. I'm pleased to say that, while not every way I branched out was equally successful, the only way I could be more pleased with my work is if I had a million readers.

Oh well, there's always next year; that, in fact, has been my motto around here, and will continue to be. On days when I could only publish twelve (and not the fourteen or fifteen I wanted to) I would tell myself "save it for next year" until the tremors and sobbing stopped.

Throughout February and March the recognizable form of the Pop Culture Institute appeared, and by April that form was pretty solid. May saw my first extended coverage - of the Queen's visit to Jamestown - of which I am still inordinately proud; and who can forget Seattle Pride? In the period from May to August I experimented, innovated, and dreamed. Everything from August forward has been a test of both my endurance and abilities; looking back, I can only say that I'm proud of what I've accomplished, and grateful that I survived it.

Which leads me to the subject of my next set of goals... Mr. Barr has managed to extract a New Year's Resolution out of me, and that is to publish three videos a week at YouTube. In order to do this I will need to facilitate a paradigm shift of how I do things here: gone are the twelve hour desk-chaining sessions, the desolation of trying to squeeze a few more sentences out of a brain that moments ago ceased being able to form coherent words, and a third thing. I... Can't... Remem... Ber? Oh yeah, lack of sleep.

Now it's time to bring it all together - news and current events, profiles, arts coverage, and opinion (not to mention a healthy dollop of video) - into an exciting new venture: PCI 2.0.
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

RIP Benazir Bhutto


I hate to say I told you so... Oh, who am I kidding? I fucking love to say I told you so.

I told you so! I told you so! I told you so!

As a leader, Benazir Bhutto had her faults; as a martyr all those faults just magically fall away....

Initially I was mad at her for jeopardising herself as an example of leadership to Muslim women around the world by returning to Pakistan from the relative safety of New York and London; now I see that she has given Muslim women something more important than leadership: a symbol.

It is better to die than to live oppressed.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Queen's Christmas Message (2007)

Growing up, this was my favourite part of Christmas Day; the presents had been opened, dinner was cooking, and the mountain of shredded wrapping paper had been cleared away when, glutted with candy, I put down my Princess Diana picture books and everything stopped so I could watch the Queen's Message.

I was strict too; if anyone talked during it I'd shush them and everything, and not even a soft one either. Come to think of it, this may have been the reason the TV was banished from the living room.

I didn't make anyone stand when God Save The Queen was playing, though, but my great-grandfather and my grandfather would join me anyway, being Army men. My father was Air Force, and so didn't stand for anything; in fact, I think he must have been allergic to the display of respect, since he never did it himself.

As the song ended they would salute - in the Canadian way, of course - but I always used to salute the British way, which they were okay with, but which used to piss my father off so bad it was worth the smack he'd give me, out of the blue, about two weeks later.

Christmas really is a season of memories, isn't it?
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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Douchebag of the Year: The Republican Party

In a year of exceptional doucebaggery, a year in which asshattery truly flourished, it has proven difficult to choose one individual who stood head and shoulders above the others long enough to allow a clear shot at taking said head clean off.

PhotobucketThe short list includes (in no particular order) many of our favourite douchebags, both long-term and newly anointed, such as Rudy Giuliani, Vladimir Putin, George W. Bush, Stephen Harper, Karl Rove, Ted "Totally Heterosexual" Haggard, Mitt Romney, Jerry Falwell, Mike Huckabee, Sam Sullivan, Rupert Murdoch, Alberto Gonzales, Mel Gibson, Larry "Wide Stance" Craig, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, James Holsinger, Pervez Musharraf, and Dick Cheney; each of them, in their own way, added to the general douchebagginess of 2007 in some unique and special way.

The one (some would say lowest) common denominator the majority of these fine upstanding citizens possess is membership in the Republican Party, making their group win not only feasible but a veritable fait accompli. (I love using French - or Liberty, as many of them would call it - around these loathsome toads.)

From where I'm sitting the Republican Party is the fount from whence most of the hatred and intolerance in the world gushes; keeping in mind that a douchebag is both a symbol of oppression and a useless item which causes more harm than good, I can think of no more deserving winner for this singular honour.
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

1969: A Year In Review

1969 - the year I was born - has always held a great fascination for me; since we are shaped by the times we live in (and, in my case, by the media created in those times) it's always been a year I've regarded as special - and not just because it's the year I was born either, although in personal terms that does make 1969 the most special of them all.

The year began, as it ended, with the US embroiled in an unjust foreign war declared on the basis of specious intelligence; thank goodness people today have evolved beyond all that. Not that I was aware of it. I wasn't even aware of Sesame Street, the show that would have the greatest impact on my young psyche, which made its debut 18 days before I made mine.

1969 was the year evil media baron Rupert Murdoch began making his inroads into British media, with his purchase of News of the World, yet also the year the media's saviour was born, namely me; of course, in those days blogs, the Internet, and even the concept of pop culture were all just glimmers in various eyes, awaiting the One who would whip them all into a frenzy affectionately known as the Pop Culture Institute.

The New York Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, President Lyndon Baines Johnson left office prior to the inauguration of Richard Milhous Nixon, and martial law was declared in Spain as The Beatles gave their final public performance (on the roof of Apple Records) which was included in their film Let It Be; the event later paid homage to in the U2 video Where The Streets Have No Name. And that was just in January!

February saw Yasser Arafat appointed head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, an oil slick fouled the harbour of Santa Barbara, California, and FLQ bombs fouled the Montreal Stock Exchange. In March Concorde made its initial test flight, Sirhan Sirhan confessed to killing Robert F. Kennedy while a week later James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King Jr., NASA launched Apollo 9 to test the lunar module (later returning safely to the Earth), Golda Meir became the first female Prime Minister of Israel, and either Nixon or Kissinger hatched the brilliant plan to bomb the shit out of Cambodia.

In April the Harrier jet entered service in the RAF, 300 members of the Students for a Democratic Society seized the administration building at Harvard, and Charles de Gaulle stepped down as President of France; things got really interesting in May, when the Soviets landed Venera 5 on the surface of Venus where NASA's Apollo 10 flew within 15,400 m of the Moon as John Lennon and Yoko Ono were conducting a Bed-In at Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

While still in bed in Montreal in June John Lennon recorded Give Peace a Chance (the first solo single by a Beatle), whereas an hour away in Ottawa the finishing touches were being put on Canada's National Arts Centre; at the end of that month, the event that would most profoundly effect the way I live occurred at the Stonewall riots.

In July Charles, Prince of Wales, was invested with his title beneath a vast perspex pavilion at Caernarfon, French was elevated to official language status in Canada, the first American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, Ted Kennedy drove Mary Jo Kopechne to her doom at Chappaquiddick, Gloria Diaz became the first Filipina Miss Universe, and the Apollo 11 mission went to the moon and back.

In August Sharon Tate and her friends were murdered by Charles Manson and his "family", a suitably ironic prelude to the peace, love, and harmony promoted at the Woodstock Festival.

In September Libya's King Idris was ousted by Muammar al-Gaddafi, information about the My Lai Massacre was suppressed by a co-operative (or, if you prefer, collusive) media, and the Chicago Eight trial began; October saw the opening of the Beijing Subway, Willard S. Boyle and George Smith invented the CCD at Bell Laboratories (precipitating the digital age whose fruits we currently enjoy), Willy Brandt became Chancellor of West Germany, the first message was sent over ARPANET (which would later become the Internet, the greatest invention in the history of mankind), and Wal-Mart (among the worst inventions in human history) was incorporated.

November - as has already been discussed - saw the arrival of both me and Sesame Street; additionally, Seymour Hersh broke the story of My Lai, Apollo 12 went to the moon, the UK's BBC1 and ITV began broadcasting in colour, the US Senate voted against the appointment of Clement Haynsworth to the Supreme Court, and John Lennon returned his MBE in protest of British support for the Vietnam War.

The year ended with the murders of Black Panther Party members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in their sleep by the Chicago police department, the fiasco at Altamont, and the Piazza Fontana bombing in Italy, all recently discussed on the Pop Culture Institute.

Among those born in this year: Christy Turlington, "Brian Warner", Jason Bateman, Dave Grohl, Jennifer Aniston, Chastity Bono, Paul Rudd, Renée Zellweger, Cate Blanchett, Steffi Graf, Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez, Elliott Smith, Edward Norton, Christian Slater, Matthew Perry, Jack Black, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Gwen Stefani, Brett Favre, Trey Parker, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Matthew McConaughey, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jay-Z, Martha Byrne, and Jay Kay.

Among those who died include Violet and Daisy Hilton, Jan Palach, Boris Karloff, Thelma Ritter, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Osbert Sitwell, Judy Garland, Brian Jones, Rocky Marciano, and Jack Kerouac.
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Mini-Milestone: 1969

For the most part, I have rendered this blog with the utmost enthusiasm; there have been days, though, that have tested the limits of my endurance, whether emotional or intellectual or even physical. There have even been days, like yesterday and today, which came close to being all three. Over the past two years I have any number of times (and for any number of reasons) come thisclose to deleting the whole shebang; my cursor has even lingered near (though never over) the DELETE BLOG button. The longer I work at it, the more I put into it, the less appealing this option becomes; anyway, I soon get over myself, and the feeling passes.

What might seem to be a phoenix-like response of mine - rather than cleansing or rejuvenating - is actually profoundly self-defeating; the wholesale destruction of manuscripts, friendships, and even aspirations, invariably takes away more than it gives in return, and I have never not come to regret any such rash action on my part. This is why I haven't resorted to such a drastic step now with regards to the Pop Culture Institute, and also why I never will; in amongst all my clumsy attempts at evolution it seems that I just might have, however accidentally or unintentionally, evolved beyond the need to destroy. Each of these dalliances with deletion has served as a defiant affirmation, not only of the work I do here but also my ability to do it.

It's telling that the most important romantic relationship I've ever had has been with this blog; I've worried over it, been elated by it, and even occasionally even loathed it. Unlike the men with whom I've been romantic, though, this blog has let me worry over it, been in its own way elated by me, and never let my loathing become reciprocal. Despite my commitment to it, whenever I've needed space it's been offered without question, and upon my inevitable return it's greeted me with open... Er... Peripherals?

I've decided to start taking it a little bit easier, so as not to burn myself out. This blog was originally intended as a kind of workout for my writing; rather than a couple of leisurely hours of stretching a day, though, it's become something of an endurance test, like trying to compete in the decathlon while wearing anvils instead of shoes. The imposition of such strict discipline on a person who is essentially lazy may be necessary to help him realize his dream of someday not having to be a security guard, but it's really played Hell on my psyche. When a masochist says something hurts, it really hurts, and the last two days have been very painful indeed.

In the end, it's your warm words (as much as my love of the work) which invariably end up bringing me back. Mr. Gagne, of course, has been the best friend I (or it) could ask for, and is solely responsible for much of the look of this blog, being the one to teach me HTML, the literary equivalent of calculus; Mr. Davey, too, has helped me to shape its attitude with his own. Being added to the blogroll of Y|O|Y in March gave me my first shred of credibility, in that a total stranger liked my work enough to recommend it to others. Daniel, Eddie, and Javier have all taken to it enthusiastically in recent months, and offer input and insight (rather than adding insult to injury) for which I am deeply grateful; they are a brilliant foreboding of readers yet to arrive. Finally, there are the dozens of people who've crossed this path and, whether they've left their mark on this blog or not have left their mark on me, whether by bruises or lipstick traces...


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Thursday, December 20, 2007

¡Feliz Cumpleaños! Infanta Elena, Duques de Lugo

PhotobucketDivorce can be a very uplifting time - the elation of kicking his cheating ass to the curb, for instance, I always find very invigorating - but too often people focus on the negative aspects of it; my humble suggestion, Your Royal Highness, is to do your utmost to find the good in your current situation, heal, and then move on.

It doesn't matter what your parents think, and as for the impact divorce will have on your children, believe me when I tell you that a miserable marriage is way worse than a single mother any day. Believe me... I know whereof I speak. Believe me. (Or did I say that already?)

I'll get you started on your quest for the silver lining; consider it a birthday present... In the olden days a Princess - even a royal Princess - who couldn't play nice either got shunted off to a nunnery or else they locked her up in a drafty castle until she died of consumption; thank your lucky stars you live in 2007.

Now you try...
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Song Of The Year: "You Know I'm No Good" by Amy Winehouse

Musically, 2007 has been a great year for Amy Winehouse; personally...? Not so much.

Nevertheless, ever since the moment I heard it You Know I'm No Good has not left my iPod; I've already posted it, as we say, on the other side (namely, at Self-Loathario) so I thought why not post it here too, as part of my big year-end celebration? And since there's no one here but me and the cat, and she didn't say anything, that's what I did.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hottie Of The Year: Jake Gyllenhaal


Born on this day in 1980 - obviously a very good year - Jake Gyllenhaal is not only Hottie of the Year for this year, but last year, next year, any old year he wants really.

(Any suggestions for female Hottie of the Year should be left as comments here as quickly as possible; a winner will be announced before in one week. Unless, of course, I get no input - in which case I'll be forced to choose one on my own, and that may not go well.)
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Dirrty" by Christina Aguilera

Way, way, WAY back in the olden days - I'm talking ten years ago now - Britney Spears was the perky little all-American girl everyone loved and Christina Aguilera was an over-the-top skank who seemed well on her way to dying with a needle in her arm and a dick in her mouth...

My, how times have changed; now it's Britney who's on suicide watch, weaning her kids on Mountain Dew, and generally doing her utmost to win White Trash Mother of the Year while Christina's found herself a nice Jewish boy, got married, and found herself in a family way - and in that order! So retro!

To celebrate both her birthday and her burgeoning waistline, here's a reminder of Mrs. Bratman's past, present, and future hotness...

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Public Service Announcement

Which of us has not borne this terrible stigma at one time or another in our life?

Watch this video and learn how to protect yourself; until there's a cure, this is our best line of defense.
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Sunday, December 09, 2007

1888: A Year In Review

Of all the years I have reviewed so far for the feature A Year in Review, 1888 is probably the one which holds the most fascination for me. The height of the late Victorian period is an age which is rich in the kinds of characters and events especially favoured for coverage by the Pop Culture Institute; many of their lives and works (for good or ill) resonate with us still.

From the diminutive Queen who towered over the era to which she gave her name to the five humble streetwalkers - Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly - who found themselves butchered by Jack the Ripper; and from Annie Besant who organized a strike by match girls in London to Susan B. Anthony and her agitating for women's rights in Washington, DC, it was a time when women (in the West, at least, and whether they agreed with the tenets of feminism or not) were about to embark upon their arduous journey to equality. Brazil, on the other hand, was just getting around to abolishing slavery.

The year in which the National Geographic Society was formed was first and foremost an age of science and exploration; while Thomas Edison was scratching his head over how to invent sound film, Louis Le Prince was filming his motion picture Roundhay Garden Scene - all 2 seconds of it; for his soundtrack he could have used Handel's Israel in Egypt, which was the first classical music recorded - in the style of the day - on a wax cylinder.

George Eastman meanwhile had patented his new Kodak camera, complete with a new innovation - roll film - which would revolutionize photography, overnight making everyone the potential subject of a portrait; for the budding landscape artist, perhaps a photo of the newly opened Washington Monument would suffice. Or, should you find yourself on the other side of the world, you might catch an early glimpse of a remarkable dolphin named Pelorus Jack in New Zealand's Cook Strait.

Today, whenever inordinate amounts of snow fall on Manhattan, it's bound to be compared to the Great Blizzard of '88, which killed 400 along the Eastern Seaboard in March; references to Vincent van Gogh's missing ear (which he gave to a prostitute named Rachel for safe-keeping) also date from December of this year.

Known as the Year of Three Emperors, Germany's Wilhelm I, Friedrich III, and Wilhelm II all shared the throne in 1888; in presidential politics Grover Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College to Benjamin Harrison during a hotly disputed election. That other American pastime - baseball - added to its own body of lore with the publication of Casey at the Bat.

Knute Rockne, Anita Loos, Max Steiner, Irving Berlin, Jim Thorpe Raymond Chandler, T. E. Lawrence, T. S. Eliot, Eugene O'Neill, Robert Moses and Fernando Pessoa were among those born; poets Edward Lear and Matthew Arnold were among those who died.

The last surviving documented person born in 1888 was Adelina Domingues who died at the age of 114 in August 2002; no word on whether or not she used Mum deodorant, the first commercially available product to combat body odour, which was invented in Philadelphia the year she was born.
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1888: Abso-tively, Posi-lutely The Penultimate Mini-Milestone

Well, another mini-milestone has arrived, and thank goodness it's almost the last one; what started out as a clever idea quickly grew tiresome, like a Steven Seagal movie, or having children. The very last mini-milestone will occur at post number 1969 probably just before Christmas.

There isn't much to say in this one except the usual: how grateful I am to my readers and for what little input I manage to drag out of them. Efforts to build a community around this site are ongoing, and as such will be forthcoming in fits and starts whenever I can manage to wrestle a little energy from my ageing carcass and something resembling cogent thought from my overworked brain.

In the meantime, please enjoy, comment, make suggestions, and tell your friends.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

I Can't Seem To Help Myself

Gradually I am coming to understand why I keep fucking this up; as a happy accident, as I am coming to understand what I'm doing wrong, I am also coming to understand how to fix it. All of which amounts to a lot of coming and a lot of understanding, even for me.

Naturally, I've done it again, embedded a video and locked myself out of the blog. And since every time previously the only way to fix it was to write some stupid explanation afterwards, renouncing the blogosphere forever as the murderer of dreams, etc. etc. that's what I'm doing now, to whit:

Everything hates me; boo-fucking hoo.

That oughta do it. What I'm really doing, though, I haven't the faintest idea. The morally neutral and non-sentient circuitry of my computer isn't responding to my histrionics even in the remotest way, but is simply doing an end run around some minor glitch in its code which my posting this would seem to encourage.

Please be patient; a bigger problem is brewing on the home front. I renamed my Music folder, and now iTunes can't find anything to play; I renamed the folder (back to Music), but it still can't seem to find it. Unless... I also renamed my external hard drive; if I change its name back... Yes! There's my iTunes! I did something right!

(Honestly, I shouldn't even be allowed to own a computer.)

Here then, is to the Pop Culture Institute: Long May She Snark!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

It's Doing It Again

Once again Blogspot has forgotten how to play nice with my computer; it hangs when I try to blog using Firefox, and crashes when I use Safari.  I reinstalled Firefox and restarted, which is all I had to do to fix the problem last time, only this time the solution is proving more elusive.

Same story...  Yada yada can't publish anything new yada yada kick the fucking thing down the alley yada yada total shit yada yada step on their necks.

Honestly, it's all getting very dull.


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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Beyond The Comfort Zone

It was months ago when I discovered where my comfort zone was as a writer, and on that day I could have easily hunkered down in that sweet spot and written from there for the rest of my life. But no... Comfort's not good enough for me; I have to work from a place where it sometimes takes five hours of reading and 10+ rewrites to produce a single 100-word post.

Having spent the greater part of five hours committing literary seppuku in order to write both the DiMaggio and Mishima posts below as if by cesarean section, I can safely say that I am officially out of control. The worst of it is, I'm still not pleased with either one; in both cases I feel I've failed to knock them out of the park. Typically, though, it's the pieces I'm less than pleased with that get the most praise from readers - wherein I can virtually predict how much acclaim something will earn by how chuffed with myself I am for having written it - which is the only reason I would ever publish anything with which I was less than utterly satisfied.

Every year it's the same thing; the run-up to my birthday elicits such a panoply of conflicting impulses I scarcely know what to do except hang on for dear life until it passes. What it generally comes down to is, on the one hand, a kind of exasperation that I could be this old and still not established in my career and, on the other hand, a kind of relief that I'm not in the same position, only ten years older. This quandary typically manifests itself in one of two ways: either as writer's block, or a condition I like to call 'writer's frenzy' which, as you might expect, is the opposite.

At least this blog makes me feel like I'm actually doing something about that nebulous beast I'm fond of calling my career; to whit, I've just received an early birthday present - a request to reprint a very popular piece I recently published entitled RIP Norman Mailer. This singular honour, as much as the two new blogrolls to which I've been added, tells me that I must be on my way. That the request came from someone with those three magic letters after his name - P, H, and D - is either icing on the lily or gilding the cake; I can't decide which right now, what with all the frenzy.

As for that comfort zone of mine... It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. Once, while engaging in a mental tug-of-war with a fellow commenter at Joe.My.God, I was referred to by my opponent as a "brain shark"; whether he meant it as a compliment or not is irrelevant, because I took it as such. My brain, like a shark, cannot stop moving or it will die.

Really, it's as simple as that.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

BAFTA Pays Tribute To Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly isn't a comedian, nor is he an actor; he's nothing less than a philosopher who chooses to express himself through stand up comedy, folk music, and/or the inhabitation of disparate (not to mention occasionally desperate) characters.

Here he is, squirming in the hot seat at a tribute to him and his career at BAFTA, hosted by Mr. Genial himself, Michael Parkinson. In attendance are his good lady wife, Pamela Stephenson, colleagues from the ridiculous (Eddie Izzard) to the sublime (Dame Judi Dench), and providing the rebuttal no less than Saint Bob himself.

As usual, I'm showing the first part only; if you wish to watch on, simply click on the screen and start searching!
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Friday, November 23, 2007

Now Showing: "The Last Duet on Earth"

During my frequent nocturnal intoxicated ramblings throughout the Web, I often come across crazy-ass shit; witness, Exhibit A - the above video. From the immense imagination of Graham Annable of Oregon, it's The Last Duet on Earth.

Seriously, though, what's not to love? From its pertinent social message to its surprise twist ending, I enjoyed every frame; plus, zombies and banjo music somehow just seem to go hand in hand, don't they?
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Glitch Is Back

Whatever the problem is, it wasn't with the U2 video (as related in the post below) but resides within Blogspot itself; the post published below seems to have awakened the problem.

Therefore, I must regretfully announce that publication of the Pop Culture Institute will be halted, effective immediately until such time as Blogspot gets it shit together.


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Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday

Earlier today, as some of you may know, I posted a video of U2's classic Sunday, Bloody Sunday; this being the anniversary of the day in question, I thought it would be a nice way to commemorate the occasion. Boy was I wrong.

The Anglo-Irish War had nothing on the bullshit that video put me though. (I am, of course, exaggerating; posting the video had no death toll, although it came close.)

As usual, of course, Mr. Gagne saved the day when I was ready to delete the whole fucking thing and start over. Not only did he manage to calm me down (without a Taser - take note VPD) but he also managed to fix the problem faster than James Herriot could fix a spaniel.

Still, when you think about how many hundreds of videos I've posted on here, this is the first one that's given me trouble, a perspective Mr. Gagne was only too willing to shoe-horn in between my numerous interruptions and bouts of operatic melodrama. In other words, just another day at the office for the Pop Culture Institute.

Having spent six hours grappling with the problem has left me without the energy to publish any more today. I'm taking the evening off and I'll be back here tomorrow as usual.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


It couldn't have come at a better time; the people of Britain - still reeling from the devastation of World War II, facing a winter of severe cold and the privation brought on by rationing - lined the streets to see their beautiful future Queen married to a handsome naval officer.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt was sixty years ago today Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth married the newly-created Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at a ceremony in Westminster Abbey (which, thankfully, had been spared the recent ravages of the Luftwaffe).

Following their marriage the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh took as their London residence Clarence House, and set about the task at hand: begetting the son and heir. One week shy of their first anniversary, in November 1948, hundreds of guns across the country and around the Commonwealth boomed their appropriate greetings for the new Prince Charles.

Earlier this year the Royal Mint released a special double portrait £5 coin - only the fifth time in history they've done so - in honour of the royal milestone; only last week, in the lead-up to today's anniversary celebration, Buckingham Palace released some 60 fun facts about the blessed event of six decades ago. And finally, last evening The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall hosted an intimate dinner party for the Queen, her consort, and 25 very special guests in Clarence House; the home which has always held so many dear memories for them now holding even more.

Today's occasion - the celebration of their diamond anniversary - was remarkably low-key, at Her Majesty's behest; there were no parades or street parties, no fireworks or pageants. Just a church service, the opening of a new pedestrian walkway, and the unveiling of a plaque. Highlighting yet again that theirs , though a love match of the highest order, always was and always will be a working relationship.
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Monday, November 19, 2007

Check Out Spain's Hottest Ringtone

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMore than half a million people in Spain and Latin America have downloaded a ringtone of an actor playing King Juan Carlos telling Hugo Chávez to shut up; mugs and t-shirts are also available, and websites (as is their wont) have been springing up as well.

Diplomats have been labouring mightily to defuse the potential rift between Spain and Venezuela, while the public, it seems, can't get enough. The incident has put the King's already-high approval rating even higher, coming as it did hot on the heels of a nationalist visit to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

It hasn't been all good news for the Royal Family, though, as late last week it was announced that His Majesty's oldest child Infanta Elena and her husband Jaime de Marichalar, Duke of Lugo would henceforth be living apart.

(Muchos gracias to my Spanish-Canadian correspondent, Javier Mainar, for the heads-up on the story; sorry I couldn't find the link to the ringtone. If you can, let me know; I'd love to get it for mine. ~ MSM)

[S O U R C E]
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Sunday, November 18, 2007

1777: A Year in Review

Unlike previous Years in Review, 1777 actually has some pretty important stuff going on, including of course, the American Revolution.

I was startled to learn, though, that 1777 was also the year that Vermont declared its independence, functioning as a separate country until 1791. So that makes California, Texas, and Vermont that were all republics before states; the mind boggles...

Meanwhile, the first pueblo in sunny Alta California - San Jose - was founded.

1777 is also the year the last native speaker of Cornish, Dolly Pentreath, died.

The second edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was published, and it's still probably more accurate than Wikipedia; also, the Irish developed a code for duelling, called the code duello, appropriately enough.

Okay, so 1777 is pretty much all about the American Revolution; the real point is, thanks to the research I did for this point, my head is now satiated with the names of many obscure people I had never heard of before today. Good times...
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Mini-milestone: 1777

Lately, I tend to view these milestone posts rather as one might a box of chocolates; over the previous 15 days (since the last mini-milestone - 111 posts in 15 days, whew!) I've managed to collect an interesting assortment of blog-related occurrences, each of which has added some unique flavour or texture to the overall experience.

One was the discovery (quite by accident) that I have been added to yet another blogroll; I thank you for that Bear Schmear: Tales From the Blogoqueer, who generally leaves comments at Joe.My.God as "richeyrich". I haven't had a great deal of time to peruse his site, but I'm definitely getting caught up on my workload here, so I may have a spare hour or two to do just that next week.

My various experiments with viral marketing have proven highly successful on two separate occasions: first, a link left in the comments at Joe.My.God to one of my earlier posts - Oscar Night Bum Fight - was briefly my most popular entry page, due entirely to traffic from Haloscan; a second attempt was equally successful, linking to one of my better recent pieces, RIP Norman Mailer. All told, I have Joe.My.God to thank for at least half of my traffic whenever I am able to comment extensively over there.

The majority of my traffic still comes from the American Northeast, which suits me just fine, although European traffic is up recently, due to my more-extensive-than-usual coverage of royal news (thank you House of Bourbon!). I still don't have the quantity of comments I'd like, but my hits (and more importantly, reads) are trending upwards very nicely. I am still on the lookout for a UK blog from which I can hope to entice a few more readers.

Phase Two of the viral marketing campaign is about to begin, with my own reintroduction into Vancouver's spoken word/open mike circuit; simply informing people about the blog and/or sending them links which I felt were pertinent to them seems to be driving a considerable amount of new traffic to the site. Likewise, there is now a Pop Culture Institute group on Facebook - open to all, naturally - and I've recently begun adding content to that as well, in the hopes that it will eventually serve as portal to and from the blog.

Otherwise, what feels like the glacial pace of progress is gradually moving various other ideas forward; additionally, I've begun reprinting articles from Pop Culture Institute at Self-Loathario, whenever I feel they'd be more appropriate over there.

All told there are 43 days left in the year, during which time I plan to publish 231 posts - which is just a smidge over 5 per day and, like Jake Gyllenhaal, utterly do-able. The next mini-milestone is at 1888; see you there when I see you there!

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Duke & Duchess of Lugo To Separate

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketInfanta Elena - eldest daughter of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain - married since 1995 to Jaime de Marichalar, announced that she and her banker husband are separating. Her Royal Highness moved out of their home, taking their two children Felipe and Victoria with her.

Known as the Duke and Duchess of Lugo (to which title de Marichalar was elevated prior to his royal marriage), it's been reported that the Duke will retain his title, even if they should divorce. So far, the Zarzuela Palace has quashed rumours that their separation would lead to divorce.

[S O U R C E]
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jack Danyells Speaks Out On Writers Strike

In addition to being beautiful, YouTuber extraordinaire Jack Danyells is also smart, which believe you me is a powerful combination when it comes to entertainment. For anyone with a beauty/brains fetish, this will seem like porn. I know it provokes more than my thoughts.

Here our intrepid hottie proposes bringing the writers' strike to YouTube, striking a blow for us New Media types everywhere. You heard me, Mainstream Media, it's on! There's a new MSM in town.

I'm with you Jack! I've got your back! Do I ever...

(Unfortunately, I've been unable to make a video reply as I've just locked out my YouTube stagehands. ~ MSM)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cartoonists In Hot Ink?

The Bourbon-anza continues, as Spain's Royal Family continues to hog the headlines.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe cartoon at left depicts the Prince and Princess of Asturias (the future King and Queen of Spain) "begetting the son and heir". The caption reads as follows:

Felipe: Te das cuenta? Si te quedas prenada, esto va a ser lo mas parecido a trabajar que he hecho en mi vida?"

Translation: "Do you realise, if you get pregnant this will be the closest thing I've done to work in my whole life."

Those responsible, Guillermo Torres (the cartoonist) and Manel Fontdevila (who wrote the caption), "vilified the crown in the most gratuitous and unnecessary way", according to the judge who fined them each € 3,000 yesterday for their efforts; the cartoon originally appeared in El Jueves (The Thursday) on July 18th of this year, and the issue was hastily withdrawn two days later due to a near universal outrage. It refers to a government scheme to reward Spaniards financially for having more children.

Aside from the usual slur that royals do no work (I'd like to see you feign interest while unveiling yet another plaque), most commentators in Spain seemed shocked that the royal couple were doing it "doggie-style", which apparently has no Hispanic transliteration, although I refuse to believe it's never been done there. I pawed my way through half a dozen blogs with my tragic Spanish, and it was often the only phrase I understood.

The royal couple married in May 2004 and currently have two children, Infanta Leonor (born in 2005), and Infanta Sofia (born in April of this year).

[S O U R C E]
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Monday, November 12, 2007

Megan Mullally Talks With Jay Leno (2001)

One week into the Writer's Strike and I am wicked jonesing for my chat shows; since most of them are the same old recycled small-talk over and over again, YouTube does the trick.

Birthday gal Megan Mullally, though... She really gives good interview; too bad her own show - cleverly titled The Megan Mullally Show - was unable to find itself an audience, running a mere 71 episodes in 2006-7.

If you happen to be in Manhattan, Mullally's new show Young Frankenstein just opened at the Hilton Theatre; the show is unaffected by the current strike/lockout of stagehands currently plaguing Broadway.
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Spanish King To Chavez: "Shut Up"

What a headline grabber King Juan Carlos of Spain is becoming! The normally mild-mannered monarch is turning into the Duke of Edinburgh right before our very eyes.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketLast week he rode into battle against Islam like a modern-day Ferdinand III of Castile by visiting Ceuta and Mellilla - two long-held Spanish enclaves in Morocco - with his good lady Queen in tow, setting off an political firestorm in the process (a no-no for a constitutional monarch). Now he's furthering the cause of international diplomacy by asking Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez "¿Por qué no te callas?" (Why don't you shut up? - in a tone reserved for children) for his constant interruptions of Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, igniting a controversy at the normally staid Ibero-American Summit.

I mean, before all this went down, who even knew there was such a thing?

Chávez responded with questions of his own about the King's knowledge of or involvement in an attempted coup against his leadership in 2002, during which Manuel Viturro (the Spanish ambassador at the time) appeared in public with Pedro Carmona, his would-be overthrower; then he called Zapatero's predecessor José María Aznar a 'fascist', just for good measure.

I guess this means later this week it's off to Hollywood for Britney's weekly intervention, a guest spot on Dancing With the Stars, and possibly a charity bullfight for PETA.

Mr. King, and touché!

[S O U R C E]
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Prince Harry No Longer A Chelsy Supporter

Well, if this isn't a black fly in his Chardonnay I don't know what is.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt seems Prince Harry's Zimbabwean girlfriend Chelsy Davy has dumped him after he missed her 22nd birthday to go to the Rugby World Cup Final in Paris; apparently our Chelsy is well fed up with his boozing and coozing.

It's out of the frying pan into the fire for Prince Harry, who's already been raked over the coals this week for allegedly blasting protected hen harriers out of the skies over Sandringham. Although no charges are likely to be laid (since the event likely never took place) for a couple of days there it looked like his goose was cooked.

Speaking as a major apologist for the Royal Family, I doubt the event happened, even though Harry and his brother William are a little too fond of the hunting for my (and, no doubt, their mother's) liking. Obviously a selective cull is a sound part of wildlife management; but when it takes forty aristos on horseback in red coats and a pack of dogs to get one fox I'm afraid I have to draw the line, no matter how historic or photogenic it may be.

Such is the untenable situation the royals occupy in their own country that if I were to say that Prince Harry killed and ate a Martian prostitute there would be people willing to believe it; no matter how preposterous a suggestion, the chattering classes tend to hate whatever they can't understand, starting with royalty.

A n y w a y... What was I talking about?

Oh yeah! So, he's single girls - have at 'im. If you like sporty ginger blokes who aren't all clingy and will one day inherit a grand title, he's yours for the taking.
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Controversy: When Is Nancy Cartwright's Birthday?

With all that's going on in the world, this is what sticks in my craw?

It was my genuine intention to mark the birthday of one of the world's most talented voice actors (the voice of Bart Simpson, for the love of freak!) and here I've ended up in this morass.

Mmm... More ass...

Go on and Google "Nancy Cartwright birthday" sometime; in fact, I just did it for you. According to the Internet Movie Database it's October 25th. Same with and Wikipedia. Same goes for the Pop Culture Institute. According to Yahoo TV, and of course Wikipedia (her page and the notable birthdays page) though, it's today. Yet not three weeks ago her page stated it was October 25th. This definitely highlights the numerous shortcomings of Wikipedia, upon which much of this blog is based.

Well, I've been moving this blog away from its Wikipedia dependence for that very reason; it's getting to the point where I wouldn't believe them if they said 9-11 was in September.

Will no one rid me of this meddlesome online encyclopedia?

(D'oh! Now I've gone and done it. I'm going to go have a cow.)

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Under House Arrest

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The state of emergency in Pakistan has deepened; the beleaguered government of General Pervez Musharraf has put its only credible opposition under house arrest. Naturally, it's said to be for her own protection; the stunning turnaround may be the nearest thing to a feminist utterance ever made by a Muslim government. I wonder when they start painting the target on her roof.

Let me be the first one to call "bullshit" on the misogynist dictator and his cabal of bullies.

[S O U R C E]

UPDATE: "The detention order has been withdrawn," said Aamir Ali Ahmed, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad today (November 9th - the day after the house arrest was ordered). You're welcome Mrs. Bhutto; anything else you need just let me know. You don't have to take that shit.
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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One Wonders: Will ENDA be the End?

So my buddy, Joe Solomonese over at the Human Rights Campaign is telling me that I should feel happy today; that my rights as a gay man have been advanced. I have to disagree. Yesterday the House of Representatives has passed an Employment Non Discrimination Act that does not include transgender persons.

It's destined to fail in the Senate and Bush has said he will veto it if it makes it to his desk. So I have to ask myself: Was it was OK to offer the transgendered up on the altar of public condemnation? The answer, of course, is that it wasn't, and further, a steep price is going to be paid for this empty show of support.

I'm not worried for myself about the weakness of the bill. As a Washington resident, I already enjoy stronger protections than ENDA offers due to 20 years of work on the part of our local civil rights activists.

My mind wanders, however, to imaginary scenarios all over the US. Small towns, big towns, small companies and large, where transgender people are left wondering how they could have been left out in the cold. Still not good enough. Still not protected. I guess I'm too much of a feeler to experience any happiness when people with whom I have a connection are betrayed.

Is there some transgender teen in Boston standing on the railing of a bridge right now? Was this the last straw for someone in Iowa who has now utterly given up on ever living the life that their deepest inner self knows it the right one? My heart aches for the transgendered everywhere, but today especially for those in the US, who got a bucket of cold water poured down their spines yesterday.

Warning: pagan religious content - stop reading if your religious sensibilities are easily offended

Brìd, my Goddess, this is my blog-prayer today. You who stoke the forges in the hearts of stars where all stuff of planets and parliaments are first made; You who temper the connections between words to make them strong enough to hold the contents of our hearts and minds, hear me: Make your stars shine a little brighter for the transgendered today. Guard them from hurtful words and send them comfort. Lift up their hearts today, Brìd, and give strength to all who stand up for them.
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Recording Artist Sues Fans

A recording artist I am hesitant to name, since to use his name might mean infringing upon his precious copyright and therefore get sued, is suing some of his fan sites on the Internet for using his likeness, lyrics and such.

The artist - who is a short black man, fond of purple, and hails from Minneapolis - will therefore never be featured on the Pop Culture Institute in perpetuity. Since his given name is also a title frequently used by male royalty, I can only hope I won't be sued for using it in that context.

[S O U R C E]
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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Plaintive Plaintiff: Part Two

Court sucks. It's the worst place in the world. It's filled with cops and lawyers and criminals - three of my least favourite kinds of people. Throw in a couple of Bible-bashers and I think I would have grabbed a gun from one of the sheriffs and done myself in.

So, there's bad news and worse news. The bad news is that after waiting there for three hours, today's trial was adjourned - for the second time! The worse news is, now I have to go back there in six months to sit and wait and surround myself with cops and lawyers and criminals.

Always on the lookout for a silver lining: a) at least the process will be less scary next time, since today was the first time I've ever been inside a court house, b) there were a surprising number of hot guys there, even among the cops and lawyers and criminals, and c) I didn't get murdered or maimed.
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Vatican III: Cage Match

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSaudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Pope Benedict XVI are meeting for the first time today to discuss matters of vital import to each party - like how to divvy up the entire world between their respective desert cults.

This should go well...

[S O U R C E]
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The Plaintive Plaintiff

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With a flair for the dramatic that is my birthright as a first-class whoopsie, I am writing what may be my last blog post ever, since by this time tomorrow I may be dead or worse - horribly maimed.

But wait... I guess I should back up and tell the whole story.

On June 29th, 2006, I was out for a walk at about 7 in the evening, taking pictures of clouds (as I am wont to do). I was about halfway across the Granville Bridge on the west side of it when I heard someone yelling; looking around I saw a man running towards me from the south. As he approached I could hear him say that he wanted my camera, only not in such nice words.

When he was close enough to me to stop running he made several aggressive gestures, like he wanted to take my camera from me. Checking for traffic I made to cross the eight-lane bridge, assuming he wouldn't follow me. He did.

I was perched on the median waiting for a final car to pass when he struck me, knocking my glasses off. Having done that, he didn't try to take my camera, but crossed the road back to where he came from; rather than walking south along the bridge (where he'd come from) he continued walking north, into downtown.

I gathered up my glasses and my wits (in that order) and once I'd made it onto the east sidewalk followed him at a safe distance. I called 9-1-1 and was still talking to them seven minutes later when police intercepted him. Following an aggressive altercation with police he was finally taken down. I filed a police report and pressed charges, as I'd been brought up to do, still shaking from the shock.

The case was originally set to go to court on May 23rd of this year, but at the last minute was postponed; it was rescheduled for today, November 6th. So far I have received no 11th-hour reprieve which means that I, for the first time in my life, get to go to court tomorrow. I'm trying to keep a positive spin on it, for the sake of my sanity if nothing else, but with each passing minute the dread I feel grows. I doubt I'll get any sleep tonight.

Ever since that day I have lived in fear of this one. I'm afraid that somehow my address will be revealed, or that I'll be followed out of the courthouse and home either by him (if he's acquitted) or by his friends, and either assaulted or killed. After all, if a person is so psychotic that they'd assault a total stranger for taking pictures, there's no telling what he'd do to someone who sent him to jail. I have a restraining order, for what that's worth, but it only covers him and not his friends or family members.

In speaking with the office of the Attorney-General I tried to drop the charges, but wasn't allowed to. So now I guess I have to do what I have to do.

I only hope this is another case of my fondness for the worst-case scenario, compounded with considerable ignorance as to the workings of the judicial system, not to mention that flair for the dramatic I mentioned earlier. He has all the rights in this case, after all, and I have none.

With any luck, this won't be good-bye, then, but merely see you later.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Ceuta, Melilla Royal Visit Invites Ire

For the first time in his 32-year reign, Spain's King Juan Carlos is visiting the last two remaining Spanish enclaves in Africa - the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. His visit is the first by a Spanish Head of State there in 80 years, although the Spanish Prime Minister visited last year.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHis Majesty arrived in Ceuta today via helicopter, accompanied by Queen Sofia; the royal visit is expected to last two days, and will continue on to Melilla tomorrow. Flag-waving crowds numbering in the tens of thousands surrounded the royal couple upon their arrival, although there were about a thousand protestors as well.

The Moroccan government has already recalled its ambassador in protest, and convened a special session of its parliament to deal with the situation. Fortunately, Morocco enjoys good relations with the West, and says it will seek a diplomatic solution to the impasse.

Morocco has been agitating for the two cities to be returned to its sovereignty, a move opposed by the majority of their citizens (Ceutians? Melillites?); al-Qaeda has also targeted the two as areas which "must be reclaimed" for Islam, which probably accounts for the visit. The cities have been Spanish possessions for centuries, since long before Morocco even existed, and enjoy a privileged status they wouldn't have under Moroccan rule, namely EU membership.

Spain is among Morocco's biggest trading partners (after France), and there are half a million Moroccans living in Spain; so why in these troubled times the Zapatero government - a Socialist one at that - would want to risk the terror attacks and other reprisals that are sure to follow is anybody's guess. Perhaps to lure jihadists resident in Spain out of hiding?

[S O U R C E]
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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hollywood Writers On Strike; Hollywood Barely Notices

Now imagine if the special effects guys went on strike... There'd be chaos!

Yes, it seems that a threatened strike by the Writer's Guild of America has materialized, complete with the idiotic posturing and unbelievable give-and-take which is a staple of many of the cheesy screenplays by its members which now won't be getting made. It all boils down to a squabble over DVD royalties, which fat-cat producers and studio executives alike cling to like studio executives and fat-cat producers alike cling to their tiny silver spoons (whose contents, naturally, they pay for with all those clung-to royalties).

Still, for those of us in new media, this could be a boon. In fact, I am rushing my blog sitcom into pre-production from pre-pre-production where it's been languishing for months as I've struggled to keep up with a self-imposed editorial quota designed to ensure me no meaningful life away from this computer. Now that I have a show to write, star in, and film in addition posts to research, write, and publish I should be dead by spring.

The last writer's strike, some of you may remember, was at the turn of the century; it was marked by a rise in the proliferation of reality television like Survivor, for which those responsible should be shot at dawn. Make no mistake - reality television is written, it's just not scripted, and therein is a semantic hairsplitting worthy of Bill Clinton (depending, of course, on what your definition of "is" is).

Rest assured, at the Pop Culture Institute there will be no labour action; as these things go, you couldn't pick a better scab than me!

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Today's Sermon: Catholicism by Kathy Griffin

I can scarcely believe it myself, but this is the first time in almost 1700 posts that I have shown Kathy Griffin. You, dear reader, can rest assured that I have taken myself in hand and punished myself for this oversight.

Here then, appropriately enough for a Sunday, is one lapsed Catholic's take on the foibles of her co-religionists.
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Friday, November 02, 2007

Best Wishes Your Majesty & Your Royal Highness

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPrincess Galyani Vadhana, elder sister of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) and one of that kingdom's greatest humanitarians, has been in Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital since June, where she is being treated for abdominal cancer and, more recently, a cerebral embolism.

The King himself has been a patient there since October 13th, having experienced weakness due to a blood flow disorder, the Royal Household Bureau has stated.

The King - who last year celebrated 60 years on the throne - is reportedly making progress in his recovery, as is the Princess. Since being in hospital both the King and the Princess have received throngs of well-wishers - between 4,000 and 5,000 per day are reportedly visiting the hospital - as well as letters from Elizabeth II, Japan's Emperor Akihito, and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

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1666: A Year in Review

The year 1666 was supposed to be the year the Earth ended, seeing as the Mark of the Beast - 666 - is right there in it.

Instead, it was called the Annus Mirabilis, or Year of Miracles, by its contemporaries, the name also being the title of a poem by John Dryden which was published the following year. Despite the utter destruction of London (hot on the heels, as it were, of a terrible plague in 1665), the year was fairly peaceful for the times, with only minor skirmishes between the English and Dutch navies.

Not only did the burning of London reduce the severity of successive plagues (at least, bubonically speaking), it cleared the way for the rebuilding of the muddy, thatched hovels of the medieval City with many a Baroque splendour; furthermore, in Oxford and Cambridge, a flowering of scientific and mathematical knowledge poured forth. Many of Sir Isaac Newton's greatest discoveries date from this year, not to mention the foundation of Sweden's Lund University and the French Academy of Sciences.

Those who died that year include the Dutch landscape artist Frans Hals and the builder of the Taj Mahal Shah Jahan, who was buried in his splendid creation next to his beloved Mumtaz Mahal.
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Mini-Milestone: 1666

Coming, as this does, hot on the heels of yesterday's state of the blog address, the challenge is to say something here that won't duplicate what I said previously. Which should be easy enough to do, given that I always seem to have something to say, not to mention seeming to have an opinion on everything (which is a little trick I do with mirrors), and a horror of repeating myself. The real challenge today, though, is in saying anything at all because I'm so damn tired.

In honour of this mini-milestone, then, I closed the boring old poll, mainly because I finally thought of a replacement, which I'll leave up until it bores me or I think of yet another (or, miracle of miracles, someone out there suggests another one). Four people voted in the old one, and the winner was current events. So I'll be writing more current events which, in addition to the earlier suggestion of "more sex" oughta put me right out of my comfort zone where, ironically, I'm most comfortable.

A n y w a y... I've often spoken about how the intent of this blog has changed since I began it, but I've been more reticent when it comes to talking about how I've changed during the same period. Approaching 1700 blog posts (which, even if the average one consisted of 100 words, is, by my calculator, a shitload of words) I have suddenly come to realize that I am not the same person on this end of them that I was on the other. 170,000 words is 3-4 novels' worth; not, maybe, a huge achievement for Vikram Seth, but from my point of view I feel like Shakespeare.

Even though writing a blog is a different discipline than writing a novel the act of putting this many words in one place has had a transformative effect on me; I no longer feel like a failing novelist but a successful writer, publisher, and (in the last month) editor as well. The ensuing sense of confidence is beginning to spill over into the rest of my personality, which previously could not be described as confident even by an imagination greater than my own. More on that in the days and weeks ahead...

The Canada Council - in its wisdom - won't give a writer any grant until that writer has published three books (or the equivalent), an asinine rule if ever there was one, seemingly designed to support those writers whose work has already found its niche in the marketplace, while suppressing new work - in contravention of its own mandate. I've always said that I would never take a grant from the Canada Council, loath as I am to align myself with any elite; however, people change, and even though the Canada Council's politics and perspective are anathema to me, the idea of free money with which I might buy a laptop, travel to New York City - oh, and support the furtherance of Canadian culture and ideas, blah blah blah - is an appealing one.

The task ahead - now that I've written the equivalent of my first three books - is to begin the arduous process of applying for one of those elusive, lucrative grants which, once I'm awarded one, will free me up to take this bad boy to the next level: self-sufficiency. Not only do I want this blog to pay for me and the lavish lifestyle to which I intend to become accustomed, but for my contributors (present and future) and theirs as well.

The humanitarian aims I first stated on January 26th, 2006 - the day this blog was founded - remain in place; using pop culture as a lens with which all human endeavour can be observed, educating through entertainment (ie: Edutainment), and the bringing together of disaparate cultures in a defense against corporate globalization are and will always be the reasons why I sit in that chair every day and spool out the things I do.

Thanks again for reading,


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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Burning Issue: Translink

Yet another Vancouver bus driver has been assaulted - this time by twin Santa Clauses!

A Translink driver working Hallowe'en night saw two girls dressed as Santa, so she pulled over to give them candy; for her trouble she was dragged off the bus and assaulted. Unable to continue, her passengers transferred to another bus. When the driver returned to her ride she found that it had been torched, with extensive damage to the driver's seat and dashboard area.

Total cost to repair the bus: $100,000.

Stories like this make me so mad I scarcely know what to say or do. I try always to be compassionate, but at the same time that well is almost always dry, while there's usually a fresh pile of ass kickings just a-piling up on my desk next to me. On second thought, I'd better move those.

Another problem exists in the media too; they'll report on this side of the story but there won't be any follow-up, which leaves people like me hanging. I want to know why they would do such things - even though at best I'm sure we'd get a sullen "I d'no" and a shrug from the teenagers in question. I want to know that these two bitches have to work two jobs for ten years just to pay the deductible for the damage they've caused. I want to know why they've been so badly parented that they could even conceive of such a thing. I need closure, dammnit!

Of course, there were no CCTV cameras near the incident, and since the assailants were in costume it isn't likely that they'll ever be caught; the only hope is that someone saw and has the guts to report them.

[S O U R C E]
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A State Of The Blog Address

It's official! October was the most productive month yet at the Pop Culture Institute. 247 posts easily beats the previous record held by March, in which I made 214; this puts my stated goal of attaining 2,008 posts by New Year's Day 2008 a likelihood.

It's also the month the royal we became a literal we as I welcomed a new contributor in Seumas Gagne, whose three posts alone have generated nearly as much traffic as my 244; there was a while there when, if one were to Google "Dumbledore Unrequited", his article came up first, which means Mr. Gagne is well-connected to the zeitgeist. It also means that I must be some kind of super genius for retaining him; once I figure out how to make this puppy pay for itself he will be making out like a bandit.

There is still much to do, which is always the way with me; never content to rest on my laurels (which, besides everything else, are pointy) I am always looking at new places to make improvements. The recently added ClustrMap (located to your right, beneath the links) came from Library Muscle Guy, and gives me something else to obsess over, so thanks for that Tank.

I have just about gotten over my lack of comments - mainly because I look at some of the comment threads at sites like Joe.My.God and think I wouldn't care to play host to the name calling and didacticism I see over there; and that's one of the good sites. I've stumbled across some blogs where the comment rolls qualify as hate crimes, and not just on YouTube either.

I have even gotten over the relatively low number of page hits we get, since I am able to see now that they are trending upwards in the preferred manner (ie: gradually). It looks like quite a few people subscribe to me via Google news reader (which blog friend Y|O|Y pointed out to me the other day - thanks for the heads up!). Viral marketing via HaloScan on several sites also appears to be generating results, as is a similar effort via YouTube.

Another suggestion from Y|O|Y is that I ramp up the sexual content to draw in readers; how exactly to increase sexual content when I am essentially a functional celibate eludes me. Plus there's the other matter of how to fit it in (!) which I will be discussing with my team over the next few weeks. Not to worry; I have a few ideas up my sleeve, and even more up my pant leg.

So now the thing that sticks in my craw is how to increase my authority at Technorati - it's been stuck at 7 since I joined, and there are no indications on their website (that I can find) how to increase it. Suggestions, anyone?
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Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The British media, bound as it is by some of the toughest anti-libel rules in all of the the civilized world, has been unable to print the name of the Queen's relative who has recently found himself being blackmailed; all they could say is that the victim is the Queen's relative and not someone on the Civil List.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketNaturally, my hopes were pinned on the Earl of Wessex at first, on account of what a ponce he's always been. When I heard though, that the relative was close to the Queen but carried out no official duties I found myself with a real head-scratcher. The Queen's close family is vast, and since they're English they all seem a little bit gay.

So I pondered and I pondered and I pondered some more, and gotten all the way down Her Majesty's family tree as far as the Earl of Harewood, when I figured I'd better investigate further before I burst a blood vessel in my eye; after about three minutes I hit Google for the answer, and had my answer in three seconds.

Good old Google; it knows all, it tells all.

David Armstrong-Jones, the only son of Princess Margaret (now known as Viscount Linley), is the victim; since there's been no hint of a scandal - let alone no hint of gay - about him ever, this was quite a shock. More shocking still: the two blackmailers aren't some oiks from down the pub either, but described as socialites. Well, they're social climbers at least, which is near enough the same thing these days.

Now the fact that a British upper-class twit does cocaine ought to be no shock to anyone (and, since they've been educated at public school, neither should they be any strangers to man-on-man fellatio), but I'm having trouble integrating this knowledge. Admittedly, he is a furniture designer, which is more of a gray area than an outright gay area, but still...

I'm tempted to believe the story is false; whether or not it is, blackmail is a serious crime, and Ian Strachan and Sean McGuigan should consider themselves lucky their heads are not up on pikes outside the Tower of London today.

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