Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Happy Hump Day

Uh, I'm gay, so don't take this the wrong way or nothin', but...

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...Courteney Cox is so smokin' hot she's got me seeing double!


Welcome to what I hope will become a couple of new features for the Pop Culture Institute.

The first, as per the title, is our weekly celebration of everything Wednesday: Hump Day, or as it's known in French-speaking countries Mercredi Gras. Because of an odd glitch in my schedule, I have three hours extra free time every Wednesday afternoon. So I thought I'd devote that time exclusively to the Pop Culture Institute. This means more posts, more original content, including audio and video. Besides which, don't we all deserve a holiday every single week?

Then there's the Gratuitous Brunette. Based on my own theory that a picture of a beautiful person is like a multivitamin for the soul, from now on whenever I need to be perked up, I'm throwing in a Gratuitous Brunette. So as to be fair, some of the brunettes will be female. As you know, Valentine's Day is fast approaching. I'm going to need a lot of something to see me through it, and Gratuitous Brunettes are less fattening than chocolate.

Further to this aim (and our third new feature in one) is the 3-D Celebrity, which is just as cool as it sounds, but may require instructions. Lean in as close as you need to your monitor to make the two pictures into three, then just let your eyes relax. I find it works best if you're groggy, so just before bed or just after waking up works best. The pictures on either side should fade out and the middle picture should float up off the screen. If you can make it work it's like they're right there man.

[Warning: The dosage of monitor radiation required to create a 3-D Celebrity exceeds Federal Government standards, even in Third World countries. Seriously, it's like drying your ass with a microwave. Also, you may also need to be high.]
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Harry Potter and the Adult Career

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Hm. It looks like Harry Potter is becoming Hairy Potter. Oh yes.

Daniel Radcliffe, no dummy, is naturally eager to distance himself from Harry Potter. Presumably, that's why he's starring in Peter Shaffer's "Equus" on the London stage. I mean, why else would you?

(If you ask me, if he really wanted to distance himself he and Hugh Grant should do a film about Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud. Not that I've given it any thought or anything, you know, just... Putting it out there.)

He did do a great spot on Ricky Gervais' "Extras", though, hitting on Dame Diana Rigg while wearing a Boy Scout's uniform. You should be able to find that on YouTube, which is where I found it. Now that "Extras" is out on DVD I'll probably be adding that to the collection.

Not that this post is any serious kind of dissection of what goes into making an actor's career. I just like a spot of G-rated porn every now and then, especially if the guy is a) famous, and.. Well, there is no b), and even the a) is negotiable.

Radcliffe has definitely triumphed over the villain from the previous volume, "Harry Potter and the Onset of Puberty". Hopefully it gives him courage when he faces his next foe, entitled "Harry Potter and the Three Remaining Movies".
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R.I.P. Gump Worsley

I had to dig deep into my virtual hockey card collection for this one, and it's not even the one I wanted. Oh well...

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As you can probably tell from the title of this post, Lorne "Gump" Worsley died.

The Hall of Fame goalie spent 21 seasons in the NHL beginning with the New York Rangers. He belonged to the Montreal Canadiens, the winningest team in hockey, during their last great winning streak in the 60s and 70s. In his five years with Montreal the team won four Stanley Cups. He later moved to Minnesota, where he ended his career. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980.

He was 77.
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Mutant Abilities

I remember it was after X-Men came out, a bunch of friends and I were sitting around one night, discussing our own mutant abilities. One of them can learn a language well enough to fool a fluent speaker in a month, stuff like that. It went around the group, and it didn't take more than a couple of minutes for me to realise a) I was surrounded by freaks, and b) I had them all outfreaked. Most of them had one, and a couple had two, but I have three - count 'em - three mutant abilities.

As usually happens in these kinds of stories, all eyes came to rest on me, for I alone had yet to contribute. I'd hoped to let it pass, but this group was having none of that. I demurred that I wasn't sure that anything freaky about me was suitably mutant. I mean, I have perfect matching pitch, which apparently is quite rare. I could sing, right now, the opening verse of "Grapefruit Moon" on key and I haven't heard that song in months. It's freaky, just not Marvel Comics freaky.

I also repel gay men; I live in fear that the Vatican might catch wind of this and kidnap me to develop some sort of secret weapon. The nicest gay man you know could meet me for less than ten seconds and afterwards describe me using only the most hateful words imaginable. I've also tested this, but the straight woman whose nice gay friend was the guinea pig won't tell me what he said, so I guess it must have been pretty bad.

Then there's the trivia thing. You see, my brain seems to function as a trivia particle accelerator. I can identify who you're talking about usually with one oblique clue. I discovered it one day when my grandmother was having tea with one of her friends. In order to let them talk, I was reading on the terrace, when my grandmother called me into the house. She asked me, "We're trying to think of that woman, what's her name, she danced?"

Immediately I answered: "Dame Margot Fonteyn." The look on her friend's face was indescribable, but I'd seen the one on my grandmother's face hundreds of times. No doubt they'd been bragging about who had the better grandson and I'd just helped her win. My friend Peter later dubbed this: "What's Her Name, She Danced" and if I hadn't stopped him I'm sure he would have developed it into a game show or some such atrocity.

But neither of these skills-slash-super powers can even come close to my ability to conjure. This I also discovered by accident, since in those days there was no Sky High. I'd be wandering around somewhere talking with a friend about actors and singers we liked, when I would bemoan that such and such wasn't around much anymore. I mean, they could have been has-beens for years and suddenly there they are.

It was immediately prior to the release of "American Beauty" and I'd been going on about Annette Bening, and why hadn't I seen her for so long. Within a week there she was in all her glory on "Entertainment Tonight" just like she'd never gone anywhere. One time I was complaining that there were no more Doris Day types around anymore. The next night I watched "Pleasantville" and who should appear but Reese Witherspoon.

Understand, I try not to use any of these powers lightly. I certainly don't need to repel gay men, I need to attract them, but can't find a way to reverse the polarity. The trivia thing is fun at a party, until someone screams witch and then I have to outrun an angry mob, etc. etc.; it gets old. And as for conjuring, well, there are too many celebrities as it is. If anything, I should try to learn how to reverse the polarity of this ability, and send a few hangers-on packing (they know who they are).

All in all, I'd rather be a shape-shifter. Failing that, I'd like the ability to finish essays as well as I start them. Or that language thing: I always thought that was really cool.
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An Imaginary Conversation

"Good morning, thank you for calling Rainbow's End. My name is Kathy, how may I help you?"

"Uh, yeah... My name's [redacted] and I, uh... I called my coworker a faggot."

"Okay. I just need to ask you a few questions. Would that be alright?"

"Uh, yeah. Sure."

"Now, you say you called your coworker a faggot?"


"Is he gay?"


"Would you have called him this if you knew he was straight?"


"I see. And was this just the once, sir?"

"Uh, him, yeah, I guess."

"Would you say you throw that word around --"

"A lot. A LOT. Yeah, a lot."

"I see. And are you aware that insulting people isn't a very nice thing to do?"


"This coworker, did he ever insult you?"

"Not really."

"Now, what do you mean by that?"

"Well, he never called me names or anything."


"It was more the way he acted around me."

"Like how?"

"Like, he was usually a little cold, kinda snooty-like. Sometimes he could be a little snide when we had a [redacted] together."

"I see. And did he ever hear you using the word faggot?"

"Yeah, I guess a few times."

"I'm assuming you're unable to make the connection."

"No, I can hear you fine."

"The connection between your cavalier use of a hateful word and his attitude towards you."

"You think that's why the little bitch hates me? Fuck, that's so gay."


"What? Oh shit."


"Oh dude, you're not one too?"

"Sir, I told you my name when I answered your call."

"Yeah, but you said Kathy. I thought you were joking."

"Do I sound like I'm joking?"

"God, I wish."

"Normally sir the wait-list for this facility is eighteen months, but seeing as how you're an [redacted] I can get you in by the end of the week."
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Monday, January 29, 2007

A Mystery Finch

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I don't usually publish my birding photography because it's seldom clear enough for my liking. So yes, this image is a bit soft, but I believe of a species I have never seen.

Oh, Lynette...?
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Another Eureka Moment?

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Yes, and no. I have successfully created a thumbnail a different way than I have been. But I have yet to guess a more accurate column width.

[UPDATE: Yes, in fact I did figure out a suitable column width, and employed it three times in a row. The ramifications of this single event are impossible to predict. I mean, if I can be taught anyone can be taught, even the Pope. Seumas Gagne deserves the Congressional Medal of Honour for the patience he showed over the five months it took me to absorb this simple lesson without once smacking me with a tire iron. - MSM]
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Sunday, January 28, 2007

When Every Night Is Saturday Night

I am valiantly making my way through the first season of "Saturday Night Live". This I am doing partly aided by "Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live" by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller, which provides enough of a glimpse backstage to account for (and more importantly, explain) whatever odd or incongruous thing might be happening in front of the cameras.

Normally valiant is not an adverb I would use to describe anything I do, let alone watch television, but here I think it's apt. As much as the purists would disagree, it's been pretty hard going. For all the accolades that would eventually accrue to the Not Ready For Prime Time Players they're not quite ready for them yet. Still, it's nice to see people who would later come to feel entitled to their fans - more specifically Chase and Belushi - here still working so hard to earn them.

Ahead lay four more seasons of considerably better material. Chevy Chase, of course, left after the first season and took his ego with him, leaving a spot just big enough to hold Bill Murray's talent. But for the most part, leaving SNL was a mixed bag for the cast: for some it led to a peculiar kind of famous obscurity (Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman), for others lousier and lousier movies (Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase), and even early death (John Belushi, Gilda Radner).

It took a decade and a half for Jane Curtin to dispel the curse and finally be ready for prime time with a star turn in "Third Rock From The Sun", probably because she alone refused to believe her own hype. She has mostly refused to speak about (and thus capitalise on) the cultural moment that was SNL, and hasn't participated in any televised reunions. By all accounts she alone didn't attend the bacchanalian round of parties which surrounded the show and so didn't suffer like the rest from having smoke blown up her ass. When it came time for her to step back into another ensemble she was able to without hesitation. To this day Mary Albright remains one of the best drawn sitcom characters, and a personal favourite of mine.

I just finished watching the episode starring Ron Nessen. Who is Ron Nessen, you ask? Why, none other than press secretary to President Gerald Ford. Now, imagine any of the stooges who've held the same position within the current Administration doing a thing like that. If the show has one failing now it's in how slick it's gotten; in Season One it's still raw.

Still, there's the ethical dilemna: how can one watch a show meant for 11:30 Saturday night be watched at two in the afternoon on a Tuesday without causing serious damage to the viewer? I mean, I'm afraid of opening a rift in the time-space continuum, or at least I'm afraid I won't be able to close it if I do.
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Photo Essay: BC Place

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Department of Good Christians: Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"Archbishop Desmond Tutu blasted the African Anglican Church on Friday over its rift with the Episcopal branch and its positions on gay clergy. The African Anglicans are reportedly refusing to sit at a table with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori at a global Anglican meeting in Tanzania next month.

"Said Tutu: "I am deeply disturbed that in the face of some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrate on 'what do I do in bed with whom'. For one to penalise someone for their sexual orientation is the same as penalising someone for something they can do nothing about, like ethnicity or race. I cannot imagine persecuting a minority group which is already being persecuted. The God I worship would not consider that [gay clergy] to be a priority concern."

"Tutu added that "churches should instead be thinking about poverty, HIV/AIDS and conflict resolution."

[SOURCE: Towleroad]
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Friday, January 26, 2007

Cobra Video Owner Murdered

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting "The charred remains of Bryan Charles Kocis were identified by Pennsylvania authorities earlier today and a formal murder investigation has begun. An autopsy revealed that he was stabbed to death. They believe that his house was intentionally set on fire to cover up the murder and his remains had to be identified by dental records, several PA newspapers are reporting.

"No formal suspects have been named, but Citizen's Voice is reporting that police have questioned three California men he was involved in a "business dispute" with, one of which presumably is Sean Lockhart.

"Kocis, 44, was best known for his complicated ongoing legal battle with Lockhart, better known as gay porn star Brent Corrigan, 21. Jason Curious is reporting that the two were seen hugging at Krave in Las Vegas earlier this month and that they had finally reached a settlement to their legal dispute that would have involved them working together again.

"Kocis, a convicted child molester, was the owner of Cobra Video, a popular bareback twink studio; he directed and produced all their films. Cobra and Kocis were thrust in the spotlight in 2005 when Lockhart/Corrigan announced that he was underage when he filmed Every Poolboy's Dream a year earlier. When I interviewed him, Lockhart told me Kocis gave him a car for filming Poolboy, and speculated that Kocis has made well over $1 million from it.

"Copies of the movie were promptly pulled off shelves after Lockhart's disclosure. Lockhart later alleged that he was romantically involved with Kocis at the time of the filming and that Kocis was well aware that he was underage. Kocis claimed claimed to have proof on file showing Lockhart was legal at time the time of shooting.

"Kocis responded by suing Lockhart for trademark violation for use of the name "Brent Corrigan", contract violation and a few other charges, much to the chagrin of Lockhart who often railed against Kocis and Cobra on his blog and to the press, and even held a web cam fundraiser to pay for his mounting legal fees. To avoid a legal entanglement with Kocis, Falcon Studios called Lockhart "Fox Ryder" in Velvet Mafia. Cobra continued to release movies featuring Lockhart as recently as August 2006, when they released Take It Like A Bitch Boy and Fuck, Me Raw, which featured Corrigan on the cover with a drop of cum poorly photoshopped to appear if it was dripping out of his ass.

"Although Kocis never faced child pornography charges for producing Every Poolboy's Dream, he was charged with it in 2002, when police found a videotape of Kocis having sex with a 15 year old boy. He pled guilty to sexual abuse of a child and was sentenced to one year probation."

[SOURCE: Gay Porn Blog]
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

BC Place: Money Walks and Bullshit Talks

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That means the Home Show is on, leaky roof and all. Gee, you'd think with a thousand contractors on hand one of them would know what to do about a thing like that.

Still, it's nice to look out my window of a morning and see the Dome again, though this story (as is usually the case with stories such as these) is still far from over.
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A World Gone Mad

The best part of my job? There's no water cooler.

The worst part of my job? Yup, there's no water cooler.

All that talk you're only supposed to do around the water cooler can happen anywhere.

It happened today. I'm trying to do my job and all of a sudden out it comes:

"Whattaya think about this Isiah Washington?" This from my coworker, a very gentle but very large black man.

I suppose I could have answered: "Who?"

Only I'm a little too smart for my own good; no one who's ever met me would ever think I wouldn't know who Isiah Washington is, even before his scandal broke. Since plausible denialbility is out the window, I know I can either tread lightly or else I can barge through.

I decide to drop a gay bomb and dash. "I know, huh, a black guy said 'faggot'. Next thing you're gonna tell me Michael Richards uses the n-word."

It took him a moment to start laughing and by the time he stopped I'd gotten clean away.
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It's On!

Thus begins the most frenzied month of back-stabbing and self-aggrandizement in Hollywood since... Well, since last month.

It's the Oscars, or what Robin Williams (likely via Bruce Vilanch) once called "the grand-daddy of all chachkas". Some have also called it the gay Super Bowl, which is another misnomer. The real gay Super Bowl is the regular Super Bowl watched only by gay men, complete with bitchery and minus the homoerotic subtext.

Needless to say, don't be fooled into thinking the nominees (let alone the winners) are selected based on the merits of their performances. Not that there aren't some fine performances here, but these nominees are the end results of millions of dollars of PR. The winners themselves represent the laboured machinations of white guilt on the part of literally hundreds of limousine liberals. This explains why 3-6 Mafia won Best Song last year over Dolly Parton.

Personally, I think the fact that Sharon Stone could get all the way through "Basic Instinct 2" with a straight face is more a testament to her acting ability than Meryl Streep's chewing of scenery. Not to mention Sharon's doctor, who is a dab hand with a Botox needle.

Plus, Ellen's gonna rock!

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Leonardo DiCaprio - BLOOD DIAMOND
Ryan Gosling - HALF NELSON
Peter O'Toole - VENUS

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Jackie Earle Haley - LITTLE CHILDREN
Djimon Hounsou - BLOOD DIAMOND
Eddie Murphy - DREAMGIRLS
Mark Wahlberg - THE DEPARTED

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Penélope Cruz - VOLVER
Helen Mirren - THE QUEEN

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Adriana Barraza - BABEL
Cate Blanchett - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Jennifer Hudson - DREAMGIRLS
Rinko Kikuchi - BABEL

Best animated feature film of the year


Achievement in art direction


Achievement in cinematography


Achievement in costume design


Achievement in directing


Best documentary feature


Best documentary short subject


Achievement in film editing


Best foreign language film of the year


Achievement in makeup


Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)


Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

"Love You I Do" - DREAMGIRLS
"Our Town" - CARS
"Patience" - DREAMGIRLS

Best motion picture of the year


Best animated short film


Best live action short film


Achievement in sound editing


Achievement in sound mixing


Achievement in visual effects


Adapted screenplay


Original screenplay

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I was going to entitle this collection "Up Against It", but given the gallows tone of the previous post decided I'd better not. Then I thought I might give it a smartass title, like "All's Wall That Ends Wall", but even I get tired of smartass once in awhile, so again I made the grown-up choice.

* * *

The textures of our built environment in all their variety fascinate me, and feature as one of the strongest motifs in my portfolio. Sometimes photography feels to me like the archaeology of the moment, and sometimes I'm just trying to make sense of the bewilderment of patterns which is life in my little corner of the Earth.

If any of these interests you, feel free to contact me and I'll be glad to send you a copy. Coincidentally, any of these would make an excellent wallpaper for your computer.
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Arbeit Macht Frei

For as much as I grumble about my job, it really has given me more than I've given it. Not that I haven't worked - I have a workaholic's loathing for laziness and the people who practice it - it's just that kind of job.

Sometimes it gives me time to read, and so I've read. Due to the numerous inevitable interruptions my job entails I've had to read in nibbles rather than gulps, which must be why the books I've read at work have made such indelible impressions upon me. I've also learned to select reading material for work that has short sections or scenes to make this even easier, which in turn has taught me that working more efficiently is a way to work harder and less simultaneously.

Sometimes it's given me the kind of vantage point that other photographers would die for, or else access to the hidden places where the workings of the modern world are kept. Places like boiler rooms for instance, or rooftops. I feel about a boiler room the way Leonardo must have felt about La Gioconda, and I feel about a rooftop the way he must have felt about the soldiers and labourers who posed for him. (Okay, that may be stretching things a bit; a gorgeous muscular Florentine is always preferable to a rooftop. But, put the two together and you'll be closer to Heaven in more ways than one.)

My job has also given me the opportunity to do my own work in the middle of the night, when the world is silent and Internet traffic virtually nil. It's given me the money to purchase the bones of a collection - books, music, DVDs - suitable to a place called the Pop Culture Institute. Whether I've needed isolation or companionship it's given me these things as well. It's given me exercise and relaxation, feedback and contemplation, time to write and material to write about.

The stresses of evil co-workers, stupid or needy members of the public, and sixteen hour days have in time all fallen away, to the point where now when I encounter any of these things they no longer bother me, since I know that even a couple of days hence the stress they're causing me in the moment will be forgotten. Even the cold shoulders caused by feline neglect have faded, now that I can afford to buy the good food.

I realise the title I gave this post is a reminder of Nazi atrocities (it appears wrought in iron over the gates of Auschwitz) and therefore some people will oppose my using it out of principle. But there were days when I felt like the heartless company I work for was determined to work me to death, and I used this slogan (powered by extra-strength gallow's humour) to cheer myself up. The queer in me enjoys the irony of reclaiming the sentiment; like the swastika is a thousand year old emblem of power destroyed by the Nazis, so possibly was the real message of these words: Work Shall Set You Free.

As indeed it shall. Some day, with much work, I'll be free of my job, free to work full time at my career. Not luck, but work. The people I've worked with - for the most part sluggish and complaisant, working to rule - will still be stuck in their same dead end jobs or else some other dead end jobs while I'll be following my dreams to wherever they take me.
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Monday, January 22, 2007

When Life is Too Good

I've never wanted to be one of those people who is only creative when life sucks, because I really don't fancy going out and getting hit by a car just so I can blog. No, life is pretty good, and I'm doing everything in my power not to let stabillity become boring.

Work is proceeding again on "The Barington Encounter", a novel in progress which one day will be excerpted here. Yesterday I used up one of my last Christmas presents from my mother, and HSBC gift card, to buy the second season of "Chappelle's Show" and the first season of "Saturday Night Live" on DVD, came home and laughed my freakin' ass off. That's a pretty good way to spend an evening.

Also, I bought new headphones. If there's been a crisis in my life the last couple of weeks it's that the recent cold snap ruined my iPod headphones, which rendered my iPod unlistenable. I'd come to look forward to some tunes on my walks to and from work, and without them, well, it didn't really make much difference, except that when I want something I want it and I couldn't have it in this case. I suppose even a bad thing like this becomes a lesson in patience and forbearance (not to mention a restraint on my seemingly massive entitlement complex). I mean, there are children in Darfur who, in addition to not owning iPods (or the computers to load them or the CDs to supply them) are also being ethnically cleansed.

Also, not making New Year's resolutions really helps. Instead, I decided to make life resolutions, the main one of which is to celebrate what I have, not yearn for what I don't. While it's not always possible, it's at least probable, which is the next best thing (and not in a crappy Madonna movie kind of way).

So while it's currently rainy and grey outside, at least it's not as cold as last week. I may have no boyfriend but the love I have to give a man accrues to me instead. I'm 98% blessed, which is better than most people.

Plus, I just got a blog entry out of it, which makes me 99% blessed.
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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ask and Ye Shall Believe

Well, any notion that I'm typing away in the dark at words that no one else will ever see have been firmly dispelled. Not only do I have readers I have strangers for readers. Strangers I have things in common with, even, which opens up a whole new realm of possibilities with regards to what I can or ought to write about. I've also learned that I need to spend a few more minutes checking my facts before I post (sorry Matt Drudge, I called you fat and you're not).

I learned that Big Ass Belle is not only on a self-improvement kick but a sensitive writer with a difficult job to do. Her post about visiting the shaken baby should be mandatory reading for all expectant parents. Without meaning any disrespect (which is hard for anyone as snarky as me) can I say that I was shaken by reading this post. I learned that Evil Ganome is just about as curmudgeonly as me (except that he's had a dozen more years than I have to perfect it, and it shows). I learned that "Don" thinks I'm cute and that I can't access his profile to return the smile. I also learned that JoeMyGod (apart from being its own wonderful thing) is a breeding ground for alot of other wonderful things.

All of which makes me begin to reverberate in expectation over the coming weeks and months. I mean, once I actually figure out how to work this thing the possibilities are endless. Which, when it comes to possibilities, is just how I like them.
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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Political Hack Made Environment Minister

Here it comes, another post about politics. Those with weak stomachs are encouraged to skip it.

Less than one week into his new job, new Environment Minister John Baird is already embroiled in a scandal concerning his last job as President of the Treasury Board. In that job he killed a transit project in Ottawa for obviously political reasons.

Great. First we have a ninny who gets easily dazed by camera flash, and now we get some slavering toady in the job of safeguarding the environment (by like, oh, I dunno, adding more public transit). Yeah, he should be able to find nonpartisan solutions to the problems facing the environment. As long as the solutions don't interfere with the aims and ambitions of the Tory's donors.

Hug a tree today; they're going to need it.
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Water Water Everywhere

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The World's Largest Air-Supported Dome

"The late evening sun casts its long shadows over the roof of BC Place Stadium, in Vancouver."

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BC Place: Up In The Air?

There is a movement afoot in the province's highest offices to demolish BC's iconic BC Place Stadium sometime after it hosts the world in 2010. (There's some kind of event going on here then, I guess.)

Naturally we here at the Pop Culture Institute will always favour restoration to rebuilding. For the city to lose one of its icons, not to mention one of its places in the record books -- World's Largest Air-Supported Dome -- at a time when we are poising (yet again) to take our place among world-class cities would seem, at its very heart, disloyal to Vancouver's brand. Although it would increase the value of several of my better photographs, it would decrease my spirit not being able to see my old friend again except in them.

Given the general capitalist ugliness that accompanies any expenditure out of the public purse, I'd also hate to give Premier Campbell's cronies and developer donors another slurp at our trough. (Just so you don't think I'm biased, the unions are just as bad: more building = more jobs = more $$$ in union dues.) Either way, most of our money ends up offshore.

My fear is that the recent damage to the famous roof will hasten the demise of the entire structure, a sentiment being cautiously echoed in the local press. So far the bias (even in the Sun) seems neutral; rather than, 'Oh well, she's had a good run' the Sun seems to want to see one of its own recover from its injuries better than ever. (Perhaps the recent devastation in Stanley Park has softened all our hearts toward what is after all our tangible heritage as Vancouverites, even the heartless villains of the fascist press.)

Today, the Vancouver Olympic Committee, which is organising our little shindig, released the following statement:

"BC Place has a highly experienced team of professionals and we have
every confidence in the ability of their engineers to rectify the situation.
It's a terrific facility that has a rich history of hosting some of BC's most
memorable moments and we look forward to hosting our Ceremonies in BC Place
for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Guy Lodge
Vice President - Services and Overlay

That seems to me to be a positive reference, resume-wise, for BC Place.

Not that this story is over by any means; expect more news and commentary on this issue as the drama unfolds...

[Postscript: Should the stadium go, the title World's Largest Air-Supported Dome would go to the current runner-up: Paris Hilton's skull. And nobody wants to see that happen. -- MSM ; ) ]
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Friday, January 05, 2007

Before The Fall

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Here's a picture of BC Place Stadium, the world's largest air supported dome, before wind and sleet had their way with her.
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Overcoming Poverday

It never fails. Month after month, the day before the first paycheque of the month I'm sipping cold ketchup soup by candlelight, forced to talk to myself because I had to hock the cat to buy the ketchup.

I call it Poverday, and like any regular occurrence, be it a holiday or a weather pattern, certain rituals have emerged, as though organically. Every Christmas, right after dinner, someone puts a hand into the waistband of his pants. No one knows why, and it doesn't do anything except make him look like Napoleon masturbating; still it's like it needs to be done for it to be Christmas. Also some little kid gets tricked into pulling a finger. Every year, someone in West Texas gets on the news to describe what the tornado looked like; the fact that it looked exactly like the hundreds of others you've heard described in your lifetime is immaterial. Every year thousands of kids hear the story for the first time and mark it with a necessary rite of passage of their own: either they shout "Cool!" and their parents start to worry, or they become emotional and that's the day they decide to move away from a place known as Tornado Alley (and their parents really start to worry).

Poverday's rituals actually begin on Pay Day. Coins are collected for the poor. The fact that this is Canada assures that the poor will be very well-looked after; Canadians carry more coins than pirates. Foodstuffs are gathered, like Mr. Noodles and... Well, really just Mr. Noodles. Still, they are put away as insurance against famine, which in North America really just means 'the absence of a glut'. In the general celebration of Pay Day there is always the grim realisation that one day next month will be another day exactly like yesterday, and a silent vow is made: Never Again.

Lately, I've been taking that vow more and more seriously, and coasting into Poverday well-fed and fancy free. I mean let's face it, none of us is really poor, and we're only broke because the bill of goods Madison Avenue keeps selling us is designed to stay out of our price range. Also, if there's something in my life I don't like (ie: always being broke) whose job is it to make sure I'm not broke? Obviously not some social worker assigned to me by Revenue Canada. My Pay Day now (both of them, and twice a year three) is entirely about preventing the full horror of past Poverdays from being realised. It's like, instead of lighting candles every Hanukkah, you spent eight nights consecrating olive oil and fortifying your house against the Maccabbees.

"Charity begins at home" is the universal message of Poverday, and without getting too Ayn Rand about it, a pretty valuable sentiment at all times of the month. Not to be greedy, but just to try and apply your generosity where you can see it do the good it does. Certainly, if I have extra and my friend is in need, I give. If a friend asks to borrow money, and I have it, I give my friend money. Yet I'm utterly hesitant when it comes to giving money to strangers, via agencies, with paid staff. Hey, that's just me.

When I was on welfare my single goal in life was to get off welfare. It may not have looked like it sometimes (I often disguise ambition with indolence - it's a writer thing) but it was all I thought about every minute of every day. Now I use Poverday to reflect on that time in my life when I was really deprived. Not that I was then either. In those days I would use Poverday (always a Tuesday in BC) to commemorate the time Poverday forced me to leave Vancouver, driving my life off the rails for a decade, and to remind myself that survival is an effort. It doesn't just happen.

The evolution of Poverday from a masochistic wallow in broke-motherfucker-hood to empowering festival of self-sufficiency wasn't easy, but like most hard things was entirely enjoyable. By looking back at where I've been, I've come to appreciate where I am. Within five years I've gone from one $530 paycheque a month to two $750 paycheques a month, not to mention whatever fortune I'm able to pluck from the universe via my art. I pay all my bills on time, make a snappy dresser, and pretty much do what I want to do.

I believe I invented Poverday because the festive feeling I used to get from holidays I now get from self-improvement, and I wanted something that would combine -- or rather re-combine -- the two. It's an approach I've applied to existing holidays as well: Christmas is about inner peace (since without it there is no outer peace), All Hallow's Eve is about reconciling ancestral memory with mortality, my birthday a brainstorming session for the year ahead, and Easter is about celebrating how fucking beautiful the world is at Eastertime.

Yesterday was Poverday. As I drifted off to sleep last night I had eleven dollars to my name; the month before it was three. I call that progress, and that's what Poverday is all about.

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Postscript: This is my 50th post; in this way too am I rich. Keeping this blog this year I have relearned a lesson I had forgotten: that I write because I love to write, and that I love to write when I write what I want. Here's to 50, 000 more!
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Leave My Queen Alone, For Christ's Sake

Just in case you're suffering under the delusion that the US is all a bunch of rabid Christers and the UK is somehow immune to evangelical fundamentalism, try this on for size. A Christian group in Britain is lobbying the Queen to repeal all gay-positive legislation, including same-sex marriage.

"The plea to the Queen is being made by the Christian Concern for Our Nation, an offshoot of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, a group which lists more than 2,000 barristers and solicitors among its members. The petition warns the Queen the rules are a ‘serious affront’ to the Gospel. It reads: ‘The regulations purport to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, but have the consequence of discriminating heavily against Christians of all backgrounds and denominations who hold firm to the very Faith which you pledged to uphold in your coronation oath.’"

Now, I fail to see how giving rights to gays takes away rights from Christians, but I can easily comprehend how repealing gay rights when Christians ask gives special rights to Christians. If you have an imagination at all, it makes you wonder which group these bigots will be coming after next. In addition to being bullying, of course, which I imagine is just what Jesus would have done.

Here at the Pop Culture Institute we are opposed to special rights for anyone; in the case of gays, equal rights do not constitute special rights. This is a distinction which is patently clear to me, yet, obviously, beyond the grasp of thousands of British laywers.

And hitting her in her coronation oath is just a low blow, knowing how seriously she takes it. Before she promised to uphold the Gospel, though, she promised to "govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and the other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs". There may be a tiny little conflict of interest there, since she's sworn to uphold the Gospel yet must also, in theory, govern a Muslim country like Pakistan.

All I'm saying is, just maybe that oath is a tiny bit out of date.

The Queen is Queen of everybody, not just some tiny special interest group, no matter what it might look like to you on the outside. Also, the Queen has no actual power but is the personification of power invested by the people in Parliament. Duh! Again, you'd think lawyers would know this. Somehow, though, the reading of Scripture seems to render otherwise intelligent people babbling idiots.

Britain is a pluralistic, ecumenical, secular society. End of story. Obviously anyone can petition the Queen or the Prime Minister or their MP in such a society. Just don't be too surprised when you bring forth ideas that are twenty years out of date and they're not met with the same enthusiasm you feel for them. If you're not sure whether you should make a case of this nature, next time replace the word "gay" with "black" or "Muslim" and read through it again. You should feel lucky that, of the three, gay response will be the most muted. At least for now.

There are over 1500 references to poverty in the Bible (mostly in the New Testament) and one vaguely worded reference to homosexuality in the Old Testament. I would have thought a group called Christian Concern for our Nation would be more interested in following the word of Christ. Call me crazy, but if they're really concerned for their nation there's plenty to be done without harassing an identifiable segment of the population, along with their friends and family, starting with "judge not lest ye be judged."

[source: Towleroad (news item), Royal Family website (oath)]
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