Saturday, March 31, 2007

It Just Occurred To Me...

In my workaholism-induced stupor I stumbled awake, and then through my usual morning routine: checking my mail, updating my blog, making my way through my usual infotainment sites (fortunately it's Saturday) when I eventually get to Joe.My.God. As usual, there are some good posts there: a ramble up the West Side of Manhattan with pix (wish it was me), a couple of hot guys (ditto), a little politics, a sprinkling of bigotry, a lesbian rabbi - the whole schmear. The comments, of course, are half the fun, so I left a couple - lighthearted, informative (I hope)... I always try to play nice when I'm at Joe.My.God.

Most startling, though, was a post about Nutella that, at the time I found it, had an eye-popping 90 comments on it. With great trepidation I opened the comments section. I found myself thinking I'd rather have opened an actual jar of Nutella than this can of worms. What I did get, though, was a lightning bolt.

I've always found something irksome about Joe, but could never quite put my finger on it. Oh, I like him well enough, and it is interesting to have a ramble through someone else's point-of-view, especially when it's a) so different from your own, and b) so well-expressed. Plus, any bear who references Monica Geller is okay in my book. That's when it occurred to me what it is I find irksome about Joe.

If he likes something, he's unable to understand why others don't love it as much as he does, and the same goes for something he dislikes. It's a point made by Matt Sanchez on his blog (which seems to have been removed), but I never twigged to it until now, probably because Sanchez has next to no credibility. I guess there's something needy in my personality that makes me want to be liked to such an extent that I always try to understand the viewpoint of others, especially if said others are nice to me.

I think intolerance is a standard reaction to intolerance, and as much of that as gay men face, leather men and drag queens (in other words, our sexual and gender outlaws) likely face more. I understand why we ghetto-ize, even when I don't do it myself. (Like I even could.) A blog is a wonderful thing for bringing together people of similar affinities. I've never read far back into the misty past of Joe.My.God, but I suspect if I did I'd find that these tendencies of his - to be intractable, narrow-minded, etc. - were probably more marked one, two, or three thousand posts ago. Either that or he's always been an opinionated blowhard, and he always will be - not that I have any problem with a blowhard. ; )

Writing about Joe is a two-headed monster. It's good, in that anytime I post about him I get comments (and email) up the wazoo, most of it good or at least neutral. It's bad, in that, if I say anything critical (even constructively) I'm likely to be set upon and bottomed by hordes of angry bears who are pissed off that I've said anything worse than woof about the man who, for them, is less Joe than he is My God.

For the record, I like Nutella. It's marmite and vegemite I can't abide. Still, if I knew a friend who liked them was coming over, they'd find them in my fridge. Similarly, rather than merely reacting to some quality of a stranger's that I dislike, I do try to understand him if at all possible. I can only hope that Vancouver's gay men understand this about me, and continue in their concerted efforts to leave me alone, or at least be nice if they disagree.

Remember, the nicer you are, the harder I'll work to understand your point of view.
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Vancouver Views 5 - False Creek

The first in the series with genuine narration. Yes, that's my voice. Sorry about that.

"Vancouver Views" has proven itself to be internationally popular, so much so that it has earned me a spot on someone else's blogroll: Y|O|Y (aka Why Oh Why). This is the first accolade (except for your lovely comments, of course) which I have earned from my work here at the Pop Culture Institute. Unfortunately, Gavin's blog is not setup to allow each posting its own html page, so I can't permalink directly there. Perhaps if I can get his permission to cut and paste the body of the text into this post...

This represents a huge step forward for me, as well as a karma boost for all concerned, since it is just a nice thing to do for someone. It feels as though there ought to be some kind of ceremony to accompany it: a flourish of trumpets, the pinning of some ribbon and a hunk of metal to a lapel, kneeling in front of a Queen. That sort of thing.

All I can offer is my humble thanks, a bit of publicity for he who has bestowed it, and then it's back to work for me. 1 down, only about 50 million more blogrolls to go. No matter how successful my enterprise is here, Y|O|Y will always be my first.
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Friday, March 30, 2007

Stanley Park Sojourn

In retrospect, I should have noticed the signs: irritability, apathy, listlessness. If I spend too much time around humans I turn into a real grouch. When, through some glaring oversight by my company, I was given an actual day off, and when, by some even more glaring oversight by the area's Nature gods, the day was clear and dry, I took myself to Stanley Park and spent some time with the animals.

I didn't feel up to trekking through the woods to survey the devastation caused by our recent winter storms, so I took a leisurely stroll around the Lagoon instead. It gave me a chance to catch up with a few of my animal friends who live there. I will return to the park for a deeper foray later, though, and post my findings here.

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I wasn't ten metres inside the park when I met this little fellow. He was bold at first, but when I didn't have food off he went. Still, he gave me this singular image. Alas, his back was to the sun, so it isn't ideal, though that's just me being picky. The black squirrel is predominant, the gray more rare, the red the rarest of all. I saw no reds on this day, not even glimpsed. This was one of about four grays I saw, and dozens of blacks.

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Having learned my lesson I found someone who had food (I don't feed wild animals) and as they gave out food I snapped pictures. This guy stayed around awhile. I sat on a rock, very still, so he'd forget I was there. As usual, I didn't have my tripod, which makes photographing these fidgety little beasts a challenge. Plus it helps to overexpose to photograph a black animal, which can wash out the background. Still, I think I did alright.

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I did encounter the raccoon, but by the time I noticed him he'd already sussed me out and by the time the camera was out he was gone into the underbrush. That he was even out in the day points to his having rabies, so I always approach him with caution. I sat down again (this time on a fallen log) and called and called, but he never returned. Instead, I snapped this little guy. They have the funniest call; it sounds like someone blowing a raspberry. In fact, that's what I thought it was at first - some damn kid scaring away all my friends.

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The winter's devastation has created a plethora of ground feeding. There were hundreds of these little guys hopping around. As usual, they're also fidgety little buggers, but this one landed in the light. Fujifilm's genius technology did the rest. This is a male; the females were all immensely fat and ready to lay their eggs. They tended to stay in the underbrush to feed or let their mates bring them food. Sound familiar?

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Squirrels (even the gray ones) are relatively common in the park, but chipmunks aren't. This little devil was teasing a Pekinese when I took this picture, playing peekaboo then running away as the dog strained against the end of his lead. Hilarious. They must have done this for twenty minutes. I could have watched it for two hours.

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Around the time I was sitting with the black squirrel I noticed the lagoon's resident swans across the water; after I left the chipmunk I headed straight there. I got a couple of pictures of him feeding in the rushes, watched as he sailed dangerously close to a wading heron, then sailed off again huffily, faster than a jogger. This is that moment.

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And this is that heron. Despite the storms, very few herons' nests were damaged. It's almost like (shock!) they know something we don't. This one was drinking; I took a few pictures between sips, but when I went to take video of him feeding he flew off. The park was filled with herons that day (as it is most days). I have many wonderful pictures of them; one day I'll get one on video.

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Most of the ducks in Stanley Park are mallards. This was the only pair of wood ducks I saw this day. Wood ducks are my favourite duck (closely followed by the merganser). I was focused on the male (surprise, surprise) but was pleased when I got this shot of the both of them, with the female not too blurry in the foreground.

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At one point I knew the names of over 100 species of common birds, including this one. Knowledge not used will fade, I'm sad to admit, which means I should brush up on my bird books. There are a few pairs of these in Stanley Park, especially in the area where I was. The females are brown where the males are blue, and are nearly as lovely. I also saw Canada geese, chickadees, wrens, starlings, seagulls, Arctic terns, and pigeons on that wonderful day in the park.

I've been a twitcher since I was about 8 years old, but I've fallen out of it lately. This visit (and the snazzy camera that helped me capture these moments) have awakened that interest in me. The next nice day I have off I'm going to Burns Bog, which (for the time being, anyway) is one of Canada's largest remaining wetland areas.

Development is encroaching, though, and the BC Liberal government can't seem to sell off our natural heritage fast enough, so I figure I better get down there while it's still there. Nothing beats a picture of a bird in a semi-wild setting; there's nothing sadder than to see a red-wing blackbird on a mailbox.
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Goodnight Seattle! We Love You!

A year ago, a trip to the DVD store was a treasure hunt. What would I find? How cool would it be? Would it be?

Last night's trip to the DVD store was fraught with the opposite peril... How do I decide? Do I really need to pay rent?
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Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, as running the Pop Culture Institute out of a shopping cart simply isn't feasible. One good thing - at least these days it's not possible to make a bad choice. There's so much good out there even the bad stuff's at least obscure.

To whit: I decided to return to an old favourite, "Frasier", and the first season at that. The thing about a long-running series is that the early seasons don't linger in syndication, so I haven't seen some of these episodes in many years. Even more shocking, some of them I've never seen at all. Bad dilettante! Bad!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhat a pleasure it is to see those old familiar characters before network focus grous got to them and softened all their edges off. Frasier and Niles gayer than gay, Daphne kookier than kook, Roz... Well, you get the point. It's also a treat to see Moose, who plays Eddie, all spry and emotive. In the last few seasons of "Frasier" - to give you an idea how long the show was on - Eddie was played by Moose in closeups and Moose's son in the action sequences.

Moose died on June 22nd, 2006, but will live forever in our hearts, or at least in our DVD players.
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When Schedules Attack

Saturday and Sunday I have such a terrible schedule I'm almost tempted to get in a cat sitter.

Since most blogs go silent at weekends, I always try to do more on those days, to build my readership with Saturday and Sunday supplements, like the newspapers. This weekend, though, will probably be alot of YouTube, news digests (3 or more links in a single post) and who knows? There may be a surprise or two in there for you kids as well.

The longer I do this, the easier and faster it gets. Just keep in mind that when I'm hungry and/or tired I tend to run my mouth; well-rested or not, the rule of thumb is, if I write anything here that offends you, state your reasons calmly in a comment and I just might prove myself to be reasonable. Hey! It could happen.
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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jizz Successfully Deployed

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBritish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (shown) has some pretty hot DNA there; so hot it leapt from the hotness of him right into his wife. Wait, this was supposed to be about someone (a woman, presumably) getting pregnant, but suddenly all I can think about is that ambitious load of spunk. I think I cum, I think I cum...

I don't like embarassment comedy, so I'm unfamiliar with Mr. Cohen's work, but dayam if he's not hot. Or did I say that already?
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Tuskegee Airmen Honoured

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Sixty years after serving their country with honour, returning to their racist nation without parades or accolades, the surviving Tuskegee Airmen were finally honoured by the Executive and Legislative branches with a Congressional Medal.

[S O U R C E]
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Now Showing: Amy Sedaris on "The Late Show"

I love her. Not sure what was in the water over there at Sedaris HQ when they were growing up, but I gotta drink me a bucket of it.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

(A)Musings: Bill Clinton

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("If she makes me her Vice President we'll never be able to take the same plane, and I'll get to spend 200 nights a year in an undisclosed location... Dang!)
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Department of Good Christians: Patti LaBelle

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Jennifer Hudson? Who dat? Miss Thing better sit and have a chat with a genuine Christian before running her mouth again.

45 years Patti's been on our side, which puts her right up there with Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Midler, and Cher in my estimation.

Keep on keeping on Lady Marmalade. The rest of these two-a-penny "divas" are just trying to come up in your glowing light.
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A Blogger's Conundrum

I'm never certain if I should send people whom I've profiled on here the link to my site, or just let my readers find me organically. What, if any, is the consensus of opinion among my readers?

Most bloggers, of course, are utter whores. How I envy them. They market the heck out of themselves, and seem to have the readership to prove it. Ah, but what of their souls?

I'm convinced most people could live a nice, tidy life without one. I see evidence of it everywhere, especially in the blogosphere.

There's no brown-noser better than me, mainly because I'm utterly sincere whenever I do it. I didn't just write what I wrote about Alison Bechdel because her publisher sent me a free copy and I'm eager to keep that gravy train pulling up to my station; I bought it with my own damn money because I like her work.

This is the contradiction that rules my life: I'm half Auntie Mame and half anti-social. Lately, the anti-social half is winning. Of course, that could just be marijuana withdrawal.

Some days (days like today) it feels like it'll be easier getting the troops out of Iraq than getting the THC out of my blood. Detox, bless it, seems like a breeze compared to building (not to mention keeping) a readership.

Maybe, just maybe, the day will come when Auntie Mame returns, and kicks anti-social to the curb. In the meantime it's back to work.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Required Reading: Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home"

This story from Gawker reminded me of the tour-de-force artistic achievement that is "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic", a book which should be required reading in schools for its lucid presentation of the effects of homophobia, both external and internal varieties. That it presents its powerful themes in such an accessible medium is enough to make an old cynic like me weep that maybe there's hope for humans as a species yet.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe book came out early in the autumn publishing cycle last year, and received raves from all and sundry (I mean, even People). In the interest of keeping it in the public eye a little longer, I've decided to use any excuse I can find to feature it here.

Also, I've lately been feeling that the lesbian content of my life is not being accurately reflected in the lesbian content of my blog. So it's win-win really.

Bechdel is also the mastermind behind the byzantine, long-lived comic "Dykes To Watch Out For" of course, which is visually dazzling, loaded with detail, and alive with topicality - practically a pop culture trifecta. I certainly have learned a lot from it, especially when it comes to lesbian transphobia and that eternal mystery (at least to me) known as female sexuality.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI, as a mere male, must admit hasn't always been easy for me to follow the plot. (Wait! Who's Sparrow again?) I find, though, that I'm able to take each strip on it's own terms, and failing that, there's also her nifty website and blog to bring me up to speed.

Being a writer I can't help but be moved by Bechdel's desire to be ethical in telling a story that is not only hers, and the angst she feels over the impact the book has had on her mother. Hopefully, when the time comes to spill the beans on myself I'll be as compassionate as she is here. Bechdel's own words on the subject appear inSlate, and are well worth the read.
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Merci Beaucoup (et Sacre Merde)

Tonight in Quebec a Liberal minority government was elected, with the balance of power held by the federalist Action Democratique du Quebec.

It's not really a reason to celebrate with abandon, because the ADQ are basically Tories, but it does send the separatists into third place provincially and postpone our national nightmare for another couple of years anyway. Jean Charest, the incumbent "Liberal" premier, was a Tory federally, so he should at least be able to play ball with the ADQ. And as for Andre Boisclair, why not go drown yourself in an eightball you pretty-boy piece of shit? Chalice...

Okay. I'm better now.

[S O U R C E]
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Monday, March 26, 2007

National Heinous Day

It seems like it was just National Heinous Day last week. You know what? I think it was just last week.

Leave it to the heinous to be so heinous they can't even contain their heinosity to a single day but force it upon us whenever the mood strikes. A single day I could handle. This is like having Valentine's Day every week.

Partly it's because I'm looking for work, and nothing eats a soul like job hunting. I also didn't sleep well last night, which never makes Daddy happy, and on top of it all about 9 pm it occurred to me that all I had to eat today was a can of root beer. Every other terrible thing that happened today can be traced to any one of these causes.

The silver lining is that the day after Heinous Day is usually pretty good, mainly because it's no longer Heinous Day. I think the next time it's Heinous Day I'll just live in hope of the better day to come. Oh yeah, and not leave the house.
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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Falling In Love Again

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A couple of weeks ago I was walking past Chapters, doing my level best not to go in and spend all of my rent money, when a familiar face beckoned to me from a shelf inside. It was the face above, a face known to a few of you no doubt, which was at one time one of the most familiar faces in the world, and for a good reason.

The fact that the large, lush book it accompanied was remaindered at $14.99 made the sale even before I'd gotten to the front door. Retail therapy, even to the extent I practice it, is still cheaper than psychiatry. At least, that's what I usually tell myself as I find myself in a queue clutching some new treasure. I doubt there's any collection of ephemera anywhere as loved as the one held here at the Pop Culture Institute.

When I was a young homo I was drawn irrevocably to the movies, to the gods and goddesses the medium created back in the day before telephoto lenses could show us every zit on their asses, when the movie studios enforced their oligarchy with liberal helpings of mythmaking and the stars themselves played along, because when you get right down to it, it's nice to be admired.

The book, published in England, is lavish and contains glimpses into Marlene Dietrich's life which were unfamiliar even to me. I kept it beside my bed, and so every day for a week this is how I dragged myself into full consciousness. A couple of evenings that week I took out one of her movies and was then lulled back into unconsciousness by the voice and the face that made her a legend.

In the relentless pursuit of the new, there's something very gratifying about rediscovering something (or someone) I'd once spent countless hours studying. Besides which, what a smart rebuke it was to my own arrogance; I, who thought I knew all there was to know about her, brought up short by the unknowable enigma of the immortal Dietrich.
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Happy 400th Post!

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It scarcely seems possible, but the accelerated pace at which I've been posting means there's another one of these milestones every couple of weeks or so.

The greatest challenge in these posts is finding a suitable image to accompany it. Too obscure and I run the risk of alienating readers, too obvious and I run the risk of being myself. I love the obscure, though I tend to be the obvious; which is just another one of those adorable contradictions that comprises me, I guess.

I ran across this charming piece of grafitti in the course of my day job, took it's picture knowing that my 400th post was fast approaching, but never thought of it in those terms until this afternoon when I went in search of something, anything suitable to depict 400 posts.

Today's lesson, then, is: Seek and ye shall find.

300th post (10 MAR 07)

200th post (23 FEB 07)

100th post (03 FEB 07)
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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Maude: The Drinking Game

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI don't as a rule drink, and anyone who's ever seen me drunk will tell you why. But that's no reason why you boozers out there shouldn't enjoy the hilarious antics of Tuckahoe's pre-eminent liberal loudmouth for yourself.

To that end I have invented Maude: The Drinking Game. The rules are very simple. Whenever Maude threatens someone's heart (I'll cut your heart out Walter!) take a shot of your favourite libation. Whenever she disses a Republican (Do you know what it's like to spend an hour under the hairdryer reading about Henry Kissinger's love life?) take a shot. And whenever she says "God'll get you for that!" chug from the bottle until the laughter stops.

I dare you to walk away from a single episode.
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Shocking Report: Lesbians Play Sports

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPenn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland (shown here demonstrating the size of her cojones) has resigned her post amid allegations that she discriminated against lesbians in sports.

Right now I can't think of anything to say about this story that isn't some derivation of "Is she retarded?", so I'd better leave the commentary to the experts.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Now Showing - "Pretty Brown" by David Campbell

It's always cool when a friend has something for me to feature on here. David is a wonderfully warm and funny poet-songwriter, whom I've had the pleasure to see and hear many times. Whenever I see him he's always so wonderfully supportive of me, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to return the favour.
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What The Hell?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSorry to get all Kelly on you, but... Rick Mercer's gay!?!

I've been spending so much time in my tinfoil hat behind a Ouija board trying to make Jake Gyllenhaal pounce on Andy Samberg that I somehow missed the coming out of one of Canada's funniest, most influential men.

Plus, he's from Newfoundland, and he's H-O-T-T. (Or is that redundant?)

It's Friday, I'm ten posts away from #400, and now I find out this total hunk of funny likes cock. If this day gets any better I may...

I don't know what I'll do. The last time I had a day this good I was eight. I don't think I can remember that far back.
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Blog Fodder: Comment Te Dire Bonjour

Yesterday, I left a comment on Joe.My.God. in response to a post entitled "The Junior Voguer", of a little kid dancing his heart out. The video had garnered some pretty typically hateful comments on YouTube, which seemed to leave a few of Joe's readers stymied. (What is this 'homo-phobia' of which you speak?) It read, in part:

Welcome to YouTube and the Fred Phelps Nation. Set one foot outside of Chelsea and it's "Welcome to the rest of the world".

My comment received the following response from a fellow reader:

Michael Sean: If that sentence expresses your worldview, I agree it's probably an excellent idea for all concerned that you never step one foot outside of Chelsea.


As usual I blame myself. All I'm trying to do through my work is foster a greater understanding of the world and of my place in it. Obviously, I failed to do that in this case. I visited his blog, and he seems like a pretty nice guy. A bit naive for his age, but if naivete is the greater part of idealism, and he's managed to keep a scrap, I say good for him. I'd had mine beaten out of me by the time I was 10, and, alas, it's a non-renewable resource.

Of course, had he bothered to visit my blog he'd have seen that I've never even set one foot into Chelsea, and that if I tried to go there I'd probably be chased away by a roving band of twinks, simply for being a troll. Still, I'd like to thank him for the opportunity to post something here that isn't about a) foreign royalty, b) hot guys, or c) a bunch of other people I'll never meet.

And Joe, if you ever read this, thanks you for not banning me from your Comments section (at least not yet). You and I don't always see eye-to-eye (I mean, why would we? Why would we want to?) It seems to me that differences of opinion are what make us interesting to each other, and I'm honoured that you allow me to keep throwing in my two cents' worth.

[Instant Update: The original post I wrote just disappeared into cyberspace. This one has been re-created from memory; I haven't had lunch yet, so I wasn't altogether successful. It's just as well, as the original contained intemperance, a quality within myself I am constantly striving to overcome. It was also wordy, which is another burden I must learn to eschew. Plus so many layered references it was like a strudel made by Dennis Miller. It was pretty cool though, I'll have to admit. Whomever is responsible for such things (ie The Internet Fairy) was obviously on my side this afternoon.]
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I (Heart) Lily Tomlin

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When I first saw Lily Tomlin in David O. Russell's "Flirting With Disaster" I was blown away that someone would cast her as a burned out old hippie in New Mexico married to Alan Alda and running a meth lab in the basement. I mean, it's so surreal, how could you not love that?

I have yet to see "I (Heart) Hucakabees", but only because it's not ten years old yet. That's about how long it takes me to get around to seeing these things. I think, though, I'll go out on payday and pick it up. If only because news of tension on the set has suddenly exploded all over the Internet, and at YouTube especially, and because I wanted to see it anyway, and now I have a reason. These two scenes are suddenly fraught with subtext, which may be what the director was going for all along.

I've always loved Lily Tomlin, mainly because she seems to be so commonsensical and calm, in a world ruled by temperament. David O. Russell, on the other hand, comes off as an asshat. In the old days, news of tension on this set and that set were transmitted by whispers. So and so knows the cousin of the hairdresser, and told me... Like that. Nowadays, everyone has a Panaflex built into their Blackberry, and as a result we are all of us expected to be ready for our closeup at a moment's notice; except that none of these people is exactly Cecil B. deMille.

I know well the effects of bullying, and they show in Miss Tomlin's behaviour, especially in the scene in the car. A person can only take so much before they lash out, and here Lily has had enough. I won't embed them here, because I don't condone this kind of behaviour (even - or especially - when it's me), but I will link to them, for as long as they're up.

In the first one (and I don't know if this scene came earlier than the other - it's just my guess) Lily is still quite calm. In the second is where she really loses it. I mean, she's lashing out at Dustin Hoffman, which is a bit like kicking a puppy: you don't do it unless you're really pissed off, and maybe not even then.

The comments at YouTube are pretty predictable. "The fucking Jew hag had it coming to her" is typical for the troglodytes who frequent the comments section. Apparently, a grown man shouting "Act like a grownup" while having a temper tantrum is alright, though. Still, I gotta love the 'Tube, and I still (heart) Lily Tomlin.
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Thursday, March 22, 2007

MAUDE: The Story Thus Far

Oh my Gawd, how much do I love Maude?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSo much, in fact, that I'm rationing it. 2-4 episodes a day is all I'm watching.

Not just because of Bea Arthur either, although she is pretty awesome. Bill Macy, who plays Walter, is a surprisingly nimble actor. He frequently underplays, so it's easy to miss him in the general hullabaloo. Plus, the show isn't called "Walter". But whenever he shouts "Maude!" it's enough to shut even her up.

Conrad Bain, as well. In many ways he's better known for playing Philip Drummond on "Diff-rent Strokes", as an affable, avuncular type. But in "Maude" he's an exquisite Republican foil to the mouthy liberal matron, and when they fight it's classic.

Of course, the appeal of watching Season One of anything is watching the actors inhabit their characters. Maude, though, is pitch perfect from the first minute of the first show.

I used to watch the show all the time, but it's been little seen in syndication lately, so I'd forgotten more than I've remembered. Like all the one-liners; one after another, zing zing zing, each one perfectly delivered.

I just wish there was a commentary track. I'd love to get Bea's impressions on the themes, references, and those eye-popping jaw-dropping early 70s clothes.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

RIP Calvert DeForest

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe actor, probably best known as Larry 'Bud' Melman, has uttered his last 'So long suckers!' He died in hospital after a long illness.

[S O U R C E]
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Queen To Visit Jamestown

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBuckingham Palace has made it official; Her Majesty The Queen and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh will visit Jamestown, Virginia, as part of that city's 400th anniversary May 3rd and 4th. She also attended the 350th anniversary.

During her week-long visit to the United States the Queen will also attend the Kentucky Derby and visit the White House.

[S O U R C E]
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Happy Birthday Rosie O'Donnell

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketRosie, seen here looking slightly at a loss for words now that there's a gag order on her feud with The Donald, turns 45 today.

I've always loved Rosie, and I saw her first on "Star Search". At the time I can remember thinking "Look at the big dyke" and "What a loudmouth". Fortunately, I love loudmouthed dykes and the rest, as they say, is pop culture.

And good on you for coming out (yet again), this time with depression. Mary Poppins she ain't, but given her army of loyal fans (in which I am a Major) and given the help she offers, it'll take more than a philandering plutocrat to Trump this ace.
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Vancouver Police Department In Action... this case, laying the smackdown on an apparently sober firefighter.

I say, kudos to the photographer. I've gotten the evil eye from cops just for taking pictures of grafitti. Anytime a cop comes within twenty paces of me I stop what I'm doing and stare at the sidewalk until they've passed. It seems that any movement enrages them.

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Thatcher: The Movie

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Yes, that's right. A film is being made about the former Prime Minister and the events surrounding the Falklands War.

No word yet if the film will be made by venerable horror producer Hammer, or if it will star Peter Cushing as the Iron Lady.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Patriarchy In The UK

I first blogged about this issue on 2 January, and it seems that it's all coming to fruition tomorrow. Further to the last post, this is what we're up against. Maybe the bullies no longer smash our faces into the lockers or call us "faggot" in front of the teachers and get away with it anymore, but such behaviour is right beneath the surface of many so-called professional people, some of whom might be your coworkers and are likely your elected officials.

I'll be interested to see what the protest is like, and what (if any) the counter protest will be.

Stay tuned...
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Larry: The Other Kramer

I don't know where Larry Kramer goes for those decade-long stretches when he's out of the public eye, but I'd like to go there myself. Because whenever he comes back he comes out swinging, armed to the teeth with bitchery, and hits his intended target dead on. In the early 80s it was gay men, whom he excoriated with his novel "Faggots".

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI've always regretted that gay men haven't had their own Malcolm X. As much as I admire our Dr. Kings, after literally decades of activism we are scarcely further on from where we were in the 70s. Oh sure, we have hate crimes protection (which police refuse to enforce) and human rights protection, which is similarly imperilled every time the electorate votes. More often than not, constitutions are being amended to exclude us.

No one has benefited from the generosity and tolerance of heterosexuals like me, since I cannot now nor have I ever been able to count on anything like community from my own kind. Forced into a missionary position, er, role among the straights I do what I can, not to blather on about why I deserve to be treated as an equal but by demonstrating same again and again.

"Who taught you to hate yourself?" These are the immortal words of Malcolm X; they were incendiary enough in the 60s when Malcolm X spoke them to blacks. But their brilliance is that they are infinitely relatable. In the case of gay men we know well enough, and it's time fingers were pointed.

[S O U R C E]
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Right On Maude!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt's 12:01 AM and I'm standing at the half-empty New Release shelf when two HMV employees emerge from whatever's behind those doors marked 'Employees Only'.

"Can I help you?" the female one asks.

"Maude." It's the only word I can get out. Having said it I try another one. "Please."

She turns to her coworker, who's so gay I wouldn't dream of talking to him myself. She says: "They're at the bottom of this stuff. Could you go grab him one off the shelf back there?" He nods but says nothing, so I thank her.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWe make small talk for something like 78.32 seconds, when her coworker returns and hands me my prize. "Thank you," I say, smiling and looking him straight in the eye. Nothing.

But I'm so excited I don't even care. I rush to the till, then rush out of the store, slowing only when I pass the security guard at the door, lest he think I'm making some kind of mad dash. I am, of course, but don't care to have it interrupted by a flying tackle.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI think HMV's policy of staying open until 1 AM on New Release day (Tuesday) rocks, and I will kiss their ass for it, as much as I will for their selection (vast), prices (competitive), and female/straight guy staff (friendly and knowledgeable). While waiting for "Maude" I was browsing their British TV section and suddenly I knew where all my spare money for the rest of the year was going.

But not until I've watched 22 digitally remastered episodes from Season One of... (drumroll)... Maude!
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Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Message From Her Majesty The Queen

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Today’s Commonwealth is home to nearly a third of the world’s population. Its almost two billion citizens come from so many faiths, races, cultures and traditions.

I think that one of the reasons for the success of this organisation is that it draws not only on certain shared values, but also from the principles and practices of everyday life, which can be observed day after day in the cities, towns and villages of our 53 member countries.

Over thousands of years, the very basis of community life has been the pooling together by individuals of their resources and skills. Rather than having to be good at everything, people were able to practise their own skill or craft. The lesson of community life is that to flourish we must help each other. To do this, there has to be a sense of fairness, a real understanding of others’ needs and aspirations, and a willingness to contribute.

Despite its size and scale, the Commonwealth to me is still at heart a collection of villages. In close-knit communities like these, there are beliefs and values that we share and cherish. We know that helping others will lead to greater security and prosperity for ourselves.

Because we feel this way, our governments and peoples aim to work even more closely together. And as individuals, we find that taking part in Commonwealth activities can be inspirational and personally rewarding.

In today’s difficult and sometimes divided world, I believe that it is more important than ever to keep trying to respect and understand each other better. Each and every one of us has hopes, needs, and priorities. Each of us is an individual, with ties of emotion and bonds of obligation – to culture, religion, community, country and beyond. In short, each of us is special.

The more we see others in this way, the more we can understand them and their points of view. In what we think and say and do, let us as individuals actively seek out the views of others; let us make the best use of what our beliefs and history teach us; let us have open minds and hearts; and let us, like the Commonwealth, find our diversity a cause for celebration and a source of strength and unity.

This is a thought worth bearing in mind as we gather on Commonwealth Day: we are a thriving community; we value our past; we make the most of our present; and we are working together to build our future. By respecting difference and promoting understanding, that future will be a better one for us all.
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Overheard At Sandhurst

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("Promise me you'll kick it before Gran does.")
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Meet George McWhirter, Vancouver's Poet Laureate

A surprisingly sensitive story from the mouth of the fascist press.

[S O U R C E]
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Department of Motivation: Saving the World's Endangered Languages

(MSM sez: My friend Doug is talking about starting a highly specialised blog about languages and linguistics. He even has a way cool name for it. It will rock. He could start a blog about procrastination, which is the only thing he knows more about than languages and linguistics. (Talk about the Pothead calling the kettle black.) We all have our challenges; if we're lucky the universe gives us friends to help compensate for them. Certainly he's kicked my ass more than once. Who am I not to return the favour? In the interest of the future happiness of everyone on the planet, I'm going to badger him into doing just that by providing extensive coverage of an issue that is dear to me: the preservation of linguistic diversity. This oughta get him.)

From: The New York Times
Date: March 18, 2007
Title: Chinese Village Struggles to Save Dying Language


SANJIAZI, China — Seated cross-legged in her farmhouse on the kang, a brick sleeping platform warmed by a fire below, Meng Shujing lifted her chin and sang a lullaby in Manchu, softly but clearly.

After several verses, Ms. Meng, a 82-year-old widow, stopped, her eyes shining.

“Baby, please fall asleep quickly,” she said, translating a few lines of the song into Chinese. “Once you fall asleep, Mama can go to work. I need to set the fire, cook and feed the pigs.”

“If you sing like this, a baby gets sleepy right away,” she said.

She also knows that most experts believe the day is approaching when no child will doze off to the sound of the song’s comforting words.

Ms. Meng is one of 18 residents of this isolated village in northeastern China, all over 80 years old, who, according to Chinese linguists and historians, are the last native speakers of Manchu.

Descendants of seminomadic tribesmen who conquered China in the 17th century, they are the last living link to a language that for more than two and a half centuries was the official voice of the Qing dynasty, the final imperial house to rule from Beijing and one of the richest and most powerful empires the world has known.

With the passing of these villagers, Manchu will also die, experts say. All that will be left will be millions of documents and files — about 60 tons of Manchu-language documents are in the provincial archive in Harbin alone — along with inscriptions on monuments and important buildings in China, unintelligible to all but a handful of specialists.

“I think it is inevitable,” said Zhao Jinchun, an ethnic Manchu born in Sanjiazi who taught at the village primary school for more than two decades before becoming a government official in Qiqihar, a city about 30 miles to the south. “It is just a matter of time. The Manchu language will face the same fate as some other ethnic minority languages in China and be overwhelmed by the Chinese language and culture.”

(While most experts agree that Manchu is doomed, Xibo, a closely related language, is likely to survive a little longer. Xibo is spoken by about 30,000 descendants of members of an ethnic group allied to the Manchus who in the 1700s were sent to the newly conquered western region of Xinjiang. But it, too, is under relentless pressure from Chinese.)

[S O U R C E
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Sunday Funny

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Okay, so it's three years old. It's timeless. It's classic. It's timeless.

(Oh wait, I said that already. That's 'cause it's really timeless. Yeah.)
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Water Found On Mars

The Republican Party is said to be eager to find new ways to soil it, squander it, and sell it at an exorbitant profit.

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[S O U R C E]
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The Adrienne Clarkson's Canadian Light Infantry?

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Former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson has been named Colonel-in-Chief of Canada's famous fighting squadron The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, to replace the ailing Countess Mountbatten. Ms. Clarkson is the first Canadian and first non-Royal to hold the post.
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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Careful! It's A Trap!

According to the fascist press, the Prime Minister is about to take the Conservative Party to the centre.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBut there is nothing centrist about Stephen Harper or the Tories. Remember, this is the same Stephen Harper who admitted an admiration for the religious right in the United States, who takes his orders directly from the White House, who won't be happy until the entire country is run the way Alberta is run, despite the fact that the very word 'Alberta' is a joke in the rest of the country, and that good, decent Albertans know and resent people like Ralph Klein and Stephen Harper for making it so.

Stephen Harper doesn't want to take the Tories to the centre; he wants to drag all Canadians to the right, to drum up support to abandon human rights and shred our cherished Constitution. The laundry list of atrocities this troglodyte is responsible for is long and getting longer. The worst of it is, it's a matter for the public record, yet support for him is at an all-time high. If Canadian voters give him a majority mandate, I guess it's because they're at an all-time high of their own.

[S O U R C E]
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All Up In MySpace

Well, I finally succumbed and signed up for a MySpace account last week after reading in place after place where it might help to drive traffic to my blog. I was skeptical (I can't help it, I was born that way) but most of the blogs I follow also have MySpace accounts, so I decided to blindly follow the pack. I figured Hell, who gets more action than sheep?

It's too early to tell if it's working, but one thing is clear, it's certainly increased my email. Mostly I've been getting "friend" requests - from women too stupid to see the word GAY all over the thing. "I'd like you to bust my pussy" one of them said. I don't know what it said after that, as I'm still cleaning vomit off my new LCD monitor. Ladies, I can't help it - I was born that way!

If there's one thing I don't need, it's more emails offering me "more pussy than I'll know what to do with". For the record 1 is more pussy than I'll know what to do with, and all I'll do with it is take pictures of it to lure straight guys too horny to not need the real thing to get excited.

I suspect there are people who spend a good part of every day scanning MySpace for new members to harass. Er, contact. That's fine. I did accept one friend request from a cute guy in LA. He's not my type, but I figure "I'm already shallow, I might as well accept it".

At this point, everything is just blog fodder, at least until someone famous does something stupid enough for me to mock. Any second now, I know it...
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Friday, March 16, 2007

I Feel Dirty (And Not In The Good Way)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketNote the cleverly photoshopped tear. This was necessary because tears are the hallmark of compassion, something this dinosaur never had.

In this the Republican party has preserved the legacy of Reagan. In every other way I hope the current political climate brings about their massive, irrevocable oblivion. Everybody repeat after me: impeach Cheney, impeach Cheney, impeach Cheney...
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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

On Sale March 20th: Maude!

Yes, that's right! The trailblazing sitcom starring the incomparable Bea Arthur is finally coming out on DVD.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhen I was a kid this show was considered racy, but I was allowed to watch it; afterwards, if I had any questions, my grandmother would offer to answer them. I never did really, except I once wanted to know why they had to have Adrienne Barbeau's boobies flopping around all over the place; that one made my grandfather laugh.

I know what I'll be watching next week.
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Stardust Now Just Plain Dust

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[Development is the only gamble that doesn't favour the house.]

This from the New York Times...
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Richard Jeni's Death Officially A Suicide

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[The full story...]
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Cat Head Theatre - Hamlet

This is one of my all time favourite YouTube videos. It has been viewed over 1.6 million times, and once appeared on "Good Morning America".
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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

War: Atrocity Begins At Home

In Canada, during the Great War (as WWI was known prior to WWII) it was common for the female relatives of men serving King and country on the battlefields of Europe to hand white feathers to young men they saw on the street. The white feathers symbolised cowardice. Whether the men were unfit for, exempt from, or opposed to war mattered little to these judgemental bitches.

Thankfully we live in an era in which things like that don't happen anymore.

Now we have decorated former combat troops being assaulted, most likely because they served. Of course, we don't know for certain (except second-hand) what his attackers' motives were; it could even be jealousy. Nobody knows what history there might be between these men, especially living as they do in such a small town, except the men themselves.

I was raised in a military family. I have seen the military up close. I am not unconditional in my support of the troops.

But neither do I condone this sort of behaviour. As if this poor young man hasn't suffered enough (even though it was his choice) he now has to worry that anytime he goes to the bar he might get a conk on the head and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Plus, only douchebags gang up on a guy four against one.

Whatever these unnamed men (who, since they're in their 20s, should not only not be offered the protection of anonymity, they should have their names and faces put up on billboards) were trying to prove, they failed to do so. Personally, I think his attackers should be sent to Afghanistan.

This is yet more proof that people should stay the Hell out of bars and away from alcohol. Also, rural Ontario is gross, war is bad, and don't hit people.

There. That should stir up some controversy.

[story via Seumas]
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Monday, March 12, 2007

Trouble In Japan's Imperial Household?

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Empress Michiko was the first commoner to marry into Japan's Imperial Household.

Following her marriage, the then-Crown Princess was ruthlessly tormented by Empress Nagako, something which is largely unreported in Japan. When Michiko's own son took a bride, the Empress was reported to have said that she wouldn't be as hard on her new daughter-in-law as her mother-in-law had been on her.

Alas, Crown Princess Masako has not had such an easy time of it, even with her lofty ally. The "failure" to produce a male heir, culminating in last year's debate over whether or not little Aiko should one day be Empress-regnant, has meant that Masako is now rarely seen in public; it seems life in the fishbowl may have gotten to the Empress as well.

That, and a new book about Masako subtitled "Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne", seem determined to make for a very unhappy Kokyo palace indeed.

[S O U R C E]
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A Blanket Apology

To the gay male community of Vancouver:

I'm sorry I called you all shallow bitches for ignoring me all these years. 'Grotesque', 'repulsive, 'disgusting' and all those other names guys at PumpJack have called me, you're right, and then some.

Meanwhile, the quest goes on for a new official portrait to replace the one you see at the top left-hand corner of this page. As you can tell, I've just had a chance to go through the first batch of nearly 100, and none of them are even a little bit suitable, on account of my extreme hideosity.

Well, at least there's a bright side; this should help put an end to all the endless whining I do about being single...
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Sarah Silverman Pisses Off Christians

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI don't know what she said or who's pissed off; really, it doesn't matter. All this means is she's doing her job.

These days Christian outrage is about as commonplace as... Well, as itself, since there isn't anything more commonplace than Christian outrage.

Anyway, I found the story on Defamer, so here it is.
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RIP Richard Jeni

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI first saw Richard Jeni as the host of "An Evening at the Improv", the original "comedian in front of a brick wall" show, and often he was funnier than any of the guests.

His work did occasionally stray into the homophobic, which we must remember was still acceptable in the 80s and early 90s, but he was never as nasty about that as Sam Kinison or Eddie Murphy.

Now, it seems, he's committed suicide.

Details are sketchy at this early date as to what might have prompted this drastic action, but his profile has dimmed since he appeared in "The Mask" in 1994, save for a high-profile turn in "The Aristocrats" a couple of years ago.

Here's the story from "Entertainment Weekly".
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Sunday, March 11, 2007

'Vagina' Unsuitable In Upstate New York

[H U H ?]
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Saturday, March 10, 2007

What Am I Doing Here?

No, it's not just the title of a song by Blue Rodeo, nor is it merely a product of boilerplate existential angst. It's a legitimate query, asked over brunch no less, so you know how seriously I'm taking it. What's at stake might seem minor now, but I'd rather have a little sense of the path I'll be taking before I invest several years' worth of time and energy into taking it.

Bloggers must read other blogs to decide what they want to become, in the same way children model on adults until they develop the qualities they prefer and that best suit them, so that's what I've been doing. Some of the blogs I regularly read (Towleroad is a good example) are trying to emulate the best news sites, albeit with a twist (ie: an entirely gay focus). Some are sheer entertainment (Lady Bunny is the best of these). The rest fall somewhere between these two, with greater or lesser success, and most are little more than an online diary (which can be just as revelatory or transcendent as the greatest works of art).

Naturally, providing information and entertainment are two of my earliest stated aims. My zeal to please will often lead me to be outrageous when I should be compassionate, and vice versa. Being a centrist doesn't mean I can't also be a reactionary, and my desire to be everything to everyone may end up making me nothing to no one.

I suppose it's a risk I'm willing to take, since most people don't find out what they really meant to others until they're being eulogised, at which point it doesn't matter. I am, as are most people, complex, subject to moods, and entirely a product of my past. That I can't change the past pisses me off; that I can change the present so that years from now I'm looking back on a more pleasant past is what keeps me going.

Part of this process of inquiry is designed to add efficiency to my ambition; if I disguise it as a tendency to kiss my readers' ass, that is my prerogative. Mostly, though, I am serious when I say that when I decide to do a thing I want to do it better than it's ever been done before. Otherwise, why bother?

After each new milestone like the recent one I go back to the beginning and reread the whole thing, every single word. I enjoy a brief moment in which I feel proud of myself for having done what others have done every two seconds for the past two years - that is, to start a blog. Then, before I start to get an ego about it (or worse, complacent) I set about how I can do it better, reach more people, and use this as a vehicle to achieve my own life's goals.

In some cases, I have already identified my niches. I may discover others, or tire of the ones I've got, but the time for change is now, at the start of the learning curve, rather than later, when the brand is well-established.

That means I've decided to stay in Vancouver. Not only is Vancouver underserved by things such as this, none of the ones I've read even bother to put Vancouver into its correct world context, which I am willing to do. Also, there's no other city in the world where I would be so ignored by so many people so much of the time that I would be able to sublimate myself to the degree necessary to make this undertaking successful.
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Congratulations Kenneth J. Harvey

The Newfoundland author recently won $15,000 from the Writers' Trust for his book "Inside".

This award is a marvellous vindication for Mr. Harvey's work. While other Newfoundland authors like Michael Crummey, Lisa Moore, and Michael Winter seem to scoop up most of the critical glory (not to mention hogging the limelight that glory gives off), Kenneth J. Harvey has been quietly and diligently surveying his corner of the CanLit landscape for the past 20 years.

"Inside" is a thrilling book, which I finished reading in about three sittings just after it came out in last fall's publishing cycle. It tells the story of a Donald Marshall-like man, wrongly imprisoned for years, and his struggle to cope with life (both his new one and the old one that got him there).

[S O U R C E]
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Meet Disney's Newest Princess

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And her name's Maddy!

And the story's set in New Orleans!

Oh yeah, and she's black!

[S O U R C E]
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Congratulations Anna Lo!

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Recently elected to serve South Belfast in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the first ethnically Chinese person elected to any such office in Europe.

[S O U R C E]
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Three Candles by Marc Chagall

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And three candles as well for the Pop Culture Institute! This is my 300th post. As for how I feel about that, ask me a couple thousand posts from now.

In case you missed it....

200th post (23 FEB 07)

100th post (03 FEB 07)
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RIP Harriet Nahanee

[In Memoriam]
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Follow-Up: Olympic Flag Stolen

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCredit for stealing the Olympic flag from in front of Vancouver's City Hall was claimed today by the Native Warrior Society. They did it, they said, to honour the memory of their elder Harriet Nahanee, who died shortly after being detained in the recent Eagleridge Bluffs fiasco that also saw warrior Eco-granny Betty Krawczyk sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Reaction to the theft was typically patronising. I say, let the Premier who is without criminal record cast the first stone.

[Reaction from the fascist media...]
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Jeff Wall Showing At MoMA

[Check it out...]

After my recent visit to the Fred Herzog show at the Vancouver Art Gallery I wandered into the gift shop, mainly because the two guys working there were so hot I wanted to get a closer look.

On the way in, though, I spotted a small book entitled "Unfinished Business: Photographing Vancouver Streets, 1955 to 1985". Since street photography is one of the motifs most recurrent in my work, I figured: "Why not pick it up?" So I did. Funny, when it comes to spending money I rarely need more encouragement than that.

The book was produced for a show at Presentation House in North Vancouver in 2003, a show which in a lot of ways created a debate about the past (and therefore the future) of Vancouver's streetscape, skyline, and other public spaces. It contains the expected amount of artspeak, so the reading was heavygoing in spots, but generally lucid. (All I need to do is see the word semiotics and my eyes lose all focus. See? There they go.)

Jeff Wall was one of the contributors to that show, and the one whose work impressed me the most. I also find his writing on the subject the clearest, though alas not entirely jargon-free. (Again, just a pet peeve of mine.) The book (as well as his work) is nevertheless a valuable addition to the city's emerging self-awareness. Hopefully, as this self-awareness creates a world-class city out of Vancouver, Jeff Wall will be here to ease our emergence with his insights.

(That is, if we can get him back from New York.)

[More about Jeff Wall...]
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Friday, March 09, 2007

Republican Confesses Hypocrisy

He just doesn't apologise for it. Or admit it, either.

Good old Newt Gingrich, guardian of morality. Dumps wife #1 when she has cancer, then cheats on wife #2 while getting all bent out of shape over the President and Monica Lewinsky.

It's time the Republicans changed their mascot from an elephant to a pig, I think.
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Scenes From A Recent Sunrise

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This is a milestone picture; it's the 10,000th picture taken with my Fuji since I bought it last April 12th. Appropriately it's of a sunrise more vibrant than any sunset. Vancouver has a few such sunrises every year, but these are the best pictures I've gotten of the phenomenon yet. I feel as though the sun has yet to rise on my career, but given the timing of this omen I'd say the best is yet to come.

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I don't often frame vertically, and I don't know that I like the result here because of that. Though as a study of City Hall its at least interesting.

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The city and the sunrise and a tiny piece of Broadway.

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The same shot with a more traditional pose for Broadway.

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Sunrise reflected in the windows of Vancouver General Hospital.
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