Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Mystery of the Crows Solved

All this week at work there's been this pair of crows who've been following me around, squawking and swooping at me whenever I've done my patrol up and down the front of the building. I've asked around, and they didn't seem to be bothering anyone else. Their nesting time is March and April, and anyway, I couldn't see any nest. It was getting to be quite a mystery.

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Well, today the mystery was solved when I noticed a small crow (at first I thought it was a starling) sitting on top of a low hedge. As I approached it the bird didn't move but the two crows who'd been harassing me went crazier than usual. I could tell once I was within two metres of it that this was not only a baby crow but also the cause (get it?) of their agitation.

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I went back to the desk as quickly as I could to get my camera, and when I returned I embarked on the most perilous assignment in my career as a photographer. Under heavy fire I got as close as I could to the baby bird and took four photos and three short video clips. At one point, one of the crows swooped so low I got slapped in the head by a wing. Exciting!

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The little one was utterly unafraid of me, but kept looking up at the parents, who were now in the branches less than a metre above my head and screaming at me almost nonstop. The baby made a couple of half-hearted attempts to fly, but was unable to leave the hedge. Finally, I decided to leave rather than risk getting a beak in the ear.

Besides which, I was starting to feel like Tippi Hedren in The Birds. Except that I'm not blonde and in no way am I responsible for Melanie Griffith.
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Who'd A Thunk It?

David "my private life is my own business" Hyde Pierce, famous for his role as Dr. Niles Crane on TV's Frasier has recently alluded to the fact that he's gay. This must have come as quite a surprise to that male model he's been living with for fifteen years.

Then again, maybe not.

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I tell ya, it's a world gone mad. Next you're gonna tell me Sean "my private life is my own business" Hayes, Matthew "my private life is my own business" Perry, or Ricky "my private life is my own business" Martin is gay. Not since the last time my cell phone was on vibrate have I been so shocked.

In the words of Emily Montgomery, the character played by Joan Cusack in 1997's In & Out, "Is anybody straight?" Admittedly, the line is much funnier when you run out of a tavern in the middle of the night in a wedding dress and scream it in the parking lot. Plus, it helps if you're Joan Cusack.
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Beth Ditto: Right Or Wrong

Sometimes I post about a story the minute I read it; it's the closest one gets to a scoop in these days of world-wide 24/7 media. I love seeing a story on my blog that hasn't yet made it onto any of the other blogs I normally read, especially when those stories appear later. Other times, I like to see what reaction a story is getting so I can write about it from an angle that isn't being covered. (It's a fetish of mine, this always having to be different.)

One example of the former is the story below, which I learned of about twenty minutes before I posted; an example of the latter is this one, which I first read about a couple of days ago. Since then I've gone to a couple of other blogs, read all the comments, and searched inside me for what I feel about it.

As is usual in the genre of "mouthy celebrity" stories, the opinions being stated are reductive, outrageous, and contain just enough truth to seem true while still remaining firmly specious.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketLast week, I had never heard of Beth Ditto. Now, thanks to a bout of verbal dysentery on her part it seems I know more about her than I do about my own mother. So, from her standpoint, objective #1 has been satisfied. A niche celebrity finds wider fame at the expense of a controversial minority; while it may not move more copies of her new album, it may sell magazines, and may even draw more people to her concerts, which is more lucrative from her standpoint than album sales anyway.

And what did Beth Ditto say that's so outrageous anyway? She said that gay men in the fashion industry are responsible for eating disorders by promoting stick-thin models in fashion magazines.

There are several things in play here which, in typical mouthy celebrity style, have been lumped together into one big quip grenade.

I will be the first to admit that there are some gay men who are vicious bitches when it comes to fat cells, and I have met almost all of them. But there are women in the fashion industry as well, some of whom wield major editorial control. Designers, stylists, and photographers also share some of the blame for the state of the fashion industry.

Then, of course, there are those who buy the magazines, who are paying money to be sold this bill of goods.

Now I, as a gay man, would rather be scolded by a lesbian than any straight person, which is part of the reason I'm not furious right now. Mainly though, I'm not mad because there is a grain of truth in it. Okay, maybe a pebble. Alright, there's a boulder of truth in what she says.

For my sake, I don't care what size anyone is but me.

Ever since 1991, when it began to look like my boyish figure was not going to last, I have fought a war within myself. It's clear that I blame my appearance for my lack of success, as much as (if not more than) my lack of formal education. These days even authors have to be hot, not just for jacket photos but for the numerous public appearances it takes to move even a single copy of a novel. For every Alexander McCall Smith there's half a dozen Jonathan Safran Foers, and whatever my talents as a writer, I can never hope to compete with the willowy twinkishness of Mr. Foer.

I fight back with all I've got, but all I've got isn't very much, or at least it's never enough. I've lost count of the number of times I've stood staring at the pain reliever section of the drugstore, wondering whether it would take two bottles of Advil to take this particular pain away, or whether one would do it.

So I do not buy certain magazines because I know to do so would be masochistic. I do buy men's fashion magazines, but never the gayer ones (Genre, Instinct, Out) for this very reason. Women who are neurotic about their weight, yet spend every waking minute poring over Vogue magazine and watching America's Next Top Model have far greater problems than being a size 12. They are masochists, and should be treated by psychiatry before they are treated by TrimSpa.

Nobody ever makes you feel bad about yourself without your permission. I say it to myself twenty times a day. Maybe one day, a couple of years from now, it's message will start to sink in.

Some people are thin but unhealthy, others are fat and fit. Thin people have subjected fat people (and me) to their tyranny for most of my life, and now, fat people are returning the favour. This is progress?

Whatever happened to being the best possible you, whether fat or thin?
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King of Spam Indicted

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His name isn't Hormel III, or anything cool like that either. It's Robert Alan Soloway. Apparently, he's responsible for most of what's in our Bulk folders.

He was indicted by a grand jury in Washington State on 35 counts including e-mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. Honestly, and here I figured he'd be a model citizen.

While prosecutors suggested there might be a dip in the volume of spam during his incarceration, he uses robots to send us all those lovely ads for penis enlargement via his company Newport Internet Marketing, so that's unlikely to happen any time soon.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Now Showing - Stephen Fry's "The Secret Life of a Manic-Depressive"

This is the first part of 14 - two one-hour episodes - of a marvellous programme by Stephen Fry.

Highly recommended.
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So Long Sam The Record Man

Toronto's iconic "Sam the Record Man" location at Yonge and Dundas is closing; the store has been operating in the same location for 70 years. It was then that Sam Sniderman decided to supplement the radios and record players his parents sold with a small selection of records. Within a few years they'd overwhelmed the sales floor, and the rest (well, after June 30th anyway) is history.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAs usual they're blaming file sharing for the closure, but...

I once worked at a Sam the Record Man, the location in downtown Vancouver. Management chaos is more like the real reason.

At that point, two of Sam Sniderman's kids were running the business. Jason and Lana. Jason's picture is next to "scatter-brained" in the dictionary, and Lana was a stone-cold bitch. She called the store on my first day of work, announced herself rather haughtily - by her first name only - then asked to speak to the manager. When I asked what it was in reference to, she said: "Lana Sniderman?"

Word around the company is that she'd fired people for less; at the time I thought I was lucky that she didn't fire me. Given subsequent events I'm not so sure.

I don't believe Lana and Jason ever spoke to each other, judging by the number of times they would call the store individually for the same information. The regional rep was allergic to innovation, and so on. I fought a three-month-long uphill battle to get permission to clean the years of filth and fingerprints off of our bins.

My two years at Sam the Record Man were possibly the lowest two years of my life. Even though I was working in a hip, downtown store and in a long-term relationship, the store was a cross between a slave galley and junior high and the boyfriend was a control-freak without the capacity for compassion.

I think I called in sick more than I went to work; most days when I didn't go in I barely got off the sofa. The workplace was toxic in the extreme: bullying managers, crappy pay, and I never could get breaks (not even bathroom breaks), etc. The only days I went into work at all were the days I wanted to steal CDs from the promo box.

In 2000 I was finally fired for stealing CDs from the promo box, made to pay for the stealing everyone else (including one of the managers) was doing from the stock, and I have been harassed by my former co-workers ever since, as recently as April of this year. Crime doesn't pay, kids. In fact, it follows you around forever. Nowadays I don't even take an extra packet of ketchup from Wendy's unless I'm certain to use it.

So no, I'm not sad to see the end of Sam the Record Man. I buy my DVDs and CDs now at London Drugs, HMV, Future Shop, Best Buy, or A&B Sound. Despite claims by Sam's that the Internet is ruining music sales, there are more places to buy CDs now than there were when I finally escaped from retail hell.

As usual in the case of a failed business, I suspect the real reason was to be found in the Head Office rather than on the sales floor.
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Salma "The Mammal" Hayek: Hopefully It's Twins

It seems like this photo was all over the Internet today; far be it from me not to hop on the web-wagon.

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Just in case I have any straight guys reading this blog (it could happen) I figured if I threw them a bone maybe they'd return the favour. I have always dug this little pocket Venus for sticking it to anglo Hollywood, producing her own movies and all that.

This photo adds a whole new layer of fascination, though. I swear, the breasts do nothing for me, but just look at them. I mean, really look at them. It's hard to look away, isn't it?
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"La Vie en Rose" In Theatres June 2007

It turns out my aversion to attending movies alone will have to be foregone. In amongst the shallow trench filled with dreck which is the summer movie season is this shining jewel.

Marion Cotillard's performance seems more like a seance than acting, such is her resemblance to Edith Piaf. The trailer gave me chills; I guess I should wear a sweater to the movie.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


It scarcely matters that it's only in a provincial election, and that it's the smallest province at that. It's just always good news when Tories bite the dust.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAppropriately, the dust the Tories bit in Prince Edward Island is red; the Liberals entirely reversed their fortunes. Going to the polls the Tories held 23 seats and the Liberals 4. Today it's the other way around.

The new Premier, Robert Ghiz, is already a seasoned veteran at 33; his father, Joe Ghiz, was Premier of PEI from 1986 to 1993.
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I Be Illin'

It's amazing to reread the past few days' posts; when I don't feel well, I'm really a bitch. A sad, bitter bitch though, not the fun kind.

I think, though, the end is in sight. No, not death, I mean relief.

There's a simple remedy for bloating, which I learned from Gone With The Wind of all places... A thimbleful of straight vinegar after every meal is a holistic aid in digestion.

Turns out, the three weeks or more I was on antibiotics almost two years ago played havoc with what they call my "gut flora".

I was just glad the problem wasn't "gut fauna", because the remedy for parasites is... You guessed it! Antibiotics.

Damn doctors really get you coming and going don't they?

The best of it is, today's crunches actually worked past my next meal, and the sitting crunches I did at work seemed to take as well. I'm still a little sore from the bloating the past couple of weeks, but at this rate I'll be jogging again next week.

The best part is, it's $2.39 for a year's supply. That that Pharmaceutical Companies!
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Australian Pub Bans Heterosexuals

Gay-owned and -operated Peel Hotel in Melbourne has won an injunction giving it the right to ban heterosexuals from the premises if they don't play nice.

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Despite some 2000 venues in Melbourne catering to straights, straights invaded the gay space of the Peel Hotel and made themselves some trouble, forcing the owners to go to court to resolve the issue.

Vancouver needs a few of these injunctions. Celebrities, the largest gay nightclub in the city, had a problem in the mid-90s, which came to be known as "the Biff and Candy scandal".

Despite a giant neon sign just inside the door proclaiming "This Is A Gay Establishment" on any given night, half of the patrons of Celebrities would be straight. And not the enlightened straights one frequently runs into downtown, but knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing suburban types who come downtown occasionally to enjoy themselves a faggoty floorshow.

Fights ensued, of course, because often the monkeys refused to dance. Despite Biff and Candy's dancefloor antics bordering on the gynecological, if two men so much as air-kissed near them fists would fly. After all, what's a greater display of insecurity than a man kissing a woman on the dancefloor of a gay bar? And how better to display insecurity than gay-bashing.

The straight owners, naturally, sided with Biff and Candy.

Celebrities was closed for a few years after these incidents (business fell off, some kind of "boycott", whatever), and reopened last year, again as a "gay" bar. The last time I walked past it on a Saturday night, at least half of the substantial queue out front looked like incipient Biffs and Candys, so I have my doubts. Too bad, too, because the place has a massive dancefloor.

Both the story and the photo are from Towleroad; click on the photo to get the rest of the story.
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Cindy Sheehan Giving Up...

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...and having read some of the comments the stories about her have gotten, I can only think "Why did she stay at it so long?"

It's amazing to me that a peace activist could inspire such hatred, even death threats. "Pissing on her son's grave" was one of the more enlightened quotes I read.

Now, I'm a huge supporter of the Internet, but the weasels who write stuff like that and then hide behind a screen name have corrupted the Constitution in a far worse way than a grieving woman whose son was killed for nothing. At least when Sheehan committed her "treason" (as another commenter put it) she did so with her face and her real name.

Peace be unto you, Cindy Sheehan. You've earned it.
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What Is The Collective Noun For Birthdays, Anyway?

A passel? A bevy? A mess? A shebang?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCharles II - King of England (1630)
G. K. Chesterton - English author (1874)
Beatrice Lillie - Canadian actress (1894)
Josef von Sternberg - Dietrich's discoverer (1894)
Bob Hope - comedian's comedian (1903)
Tenzing Norgay - Sherpa hero (1914)
Gene Robinson - shown right (1947)
Danny Elfman - "Simpsons" composer (1953)
Annette Bening - actor/goddess (1958)
Rupert Everett - fop/hottie (1959)
Melissa Etheridge - lesbian singer (1961)
Lisa Whelchel - "Blair Warner" (1963)

Whatever you call it, it's an embarassment of riches.

Happy Birthday y'all!
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Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Half-Birthday

Since this is the mid-point of my personal year, it's both the ideal time to look back as well as forward.

Well, I looked back. When they finally woke me up, they said it seemed a shame, because I looked so peaceful.

For all that I've done so far this year (this blog being the bulk of it) it's been a pretty boring year. A day or two a week of interesting followed by five or six days of the dreariest rut imaginable does not make for a magical life. Imagine living in East Berlin in the 70s but spending weekends in Venice; the good days don't seem to relieve the dull ones so much as mock them.

Yet most of the ways I can think of to liven things up involve other people - with their hard eyes and their instant hatred - and that's where my ambition usually crumbles. I've often wondered if I became a writer because I am a natural recluse or if these two manias of mine developed independently. Nowadays, given half a chance, I'd make Thomas Pynchon look like Paris Hilton.

Although one of my original intentions in starting this blog was to maybe reach out and help others come to terms with their self-loathing by writing about my own in some relatable way, I have been so thoroughly shouted down whenever I've tried to that I have discontinued these posts. The problem is, it's a hard subject to write about without actually doing.

So I do still write about self-loathing, I just don't publish most of what I write anymore. I'm tired of people telling me I shouldn't hate myself when I clearly still do. I know that if I can't sort out my disordered thinking somehow, I'll never get better; certainly, every time I have written about it, I've felt better afterwards, even if these efforts did leave my readers feeling a bit queasy.

Until I get this self-loathing of mine under control, the rest of my years are all going to blur together like the past six months have, and I may end up a bitter, lonely old queen. This is the one thing I do not want to be. I may enjoy being alone, but there is no enjoyment in being lonely.

Today, for my half-birthday, I looked up at a dusken sky and made a wish upon Venus. I sure hope it comes true. In the meantime, I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure it does. At least I've got that to look forward to.
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Now Showing - "Match Game"

Gene Rayburn has had enough, and he's turned the tables on Charles Nelson Reilly; turns out hosting's not as easy as it looks.

Also with Brett Somers, Eva Gabor, MacLean Stevenson, Marcia Wallace, and a celebrity I cannot identify named Bart. Alas, Marcia Wallce never yelled at him in the Mrs. Krabappel voice we've all come to know and love.

(Is it just me, or does the set look like psychedelic Dixie?)
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RIP Charles Nelson Reilly

In the 70s, when I was a little 'mo, there were two bright beams of light, and they both appeared on game shows. One was, of course, Paul Lynde. The other was Charles Nelson Reilly.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAnd now they're both gone.

I doubt that Match Game would have had half the zing it did without Charles Nelson Reilly's witty zingers and double entendres, playfully scrapping with Brett Somers the way he did.

He never bothered to come out, he said, because he never needed to. He lived openly in Beverly Hills with his partner Patrick, and just kept on with his patented schtick. In later years he turned to teaching, schooling both Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler in the art of funny.

In a career spanning fifty years he did it all: Broadway, movies, television. He acted, directed, and wrote, as well as teaching.

He will be missed.
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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Now Showing - Lucy Analyzes Charlie Brown

She really is terrible to him, but she's much more likable here than she is in the strips.
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Good Grief! Fantagraphics Strikes Again!!

One of the most ambitious projects in modern publishing has been undertaken by Fantagraphics: The Complete Peanuts, by Charles Schultz.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketEvery six months for twelve-and-a-half years a new volume, containing two years' worth of the 50 written and drawn entirely by Charles Schultz, is being released. The current volume (shown) is number 7, which I have been savouring all weekend. Then, when I'm done, I'll go back and reread them all. That's so much Peanuts I'll be lucky if I don't have diverticulitis by the time I'm done. ; )

I'll be the first to admit that Charlie Brown and his gang are not for everyone. The humour is subtle, and not every strip is funny, at least not in the laugh-inducing way. I will say, though, that reading them in this form allows their impact to build, an impact which is absent reading one strip a day in the newspaper.

"What a brilliant, truly modern, totally weird idea it was to create a comic strip about a chronically depressed child," said Time magazine, and I could scarcely have said it better myself. I have already made plain my assertion that I am Charlie Brown all grown up, from my enormous, bald pumpkin head to the casual abuse I suffer even at the hands of people who are nominally my friends.

Of course, not all of Charlie's friends are cruel to him; I've been lucky to have met my Schroeder, my Linus, even a Peppermint Patty or two (hey Seumas!). Really, it's only Lucy and Violet who are bitches to him, but when they are it is extreme. They are the kind of bullies who make it difficult for anyone else to be nice to him, and I am certainly familiar with their ilk.

Having the chance to revisit the Peanuts gang in their entirety has given me the opportunity to shed some light on the dynamics of the life I've been living, and once again (as I'm sure I will every six months for the next nine years) I offer my thanks and gratitude to Fantagraphics for making such a voyage of discovery possible.
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Emperor Pays Visit To Queen

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan have arrived in Britain; their three-day visit follows a weeklong visit of the Baltic nations (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) and Sweden.

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During their stay the royal couple will attend a conference at the Linnean Society, which devotes itself to natural history. The society is named for Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish taxonomist whose methods for classifying animals and plants is still used. A visit to the historic university town of Oxford and a state dinner at Buckingham Palace are also scheduled.

The last time the Imperial couple were in London - in 1998 - they were jeered by WWII veterans. Veterans of that conflict are still calling for an apology from Japan for its wartime atrocities.
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Now Showing - BAFTA Tribute to Billy Connolly

The other week I watched a great one-hour tribute to Billy Connolly on YouTube.

Here's the first part. The usual rules apply: after watching it, tap the YouTube icon on the screen and it should take you to the rest. It features hilarious testimony from Bob Geldof and Dame Judi Dench as well as many others, and includes a great overview of his career thus far.

I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me.
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Say It Ain't So, Ro!

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According to peerless font of celebrity information Entertainment Tonight, Rosie O'Donnell won't be coming back to The View to finish out the remaining three weeks on her contract.

Word of her early departure had been swirling around the blogosphere ever since Rosie's onscreen dustup Thursday with Bush Administration stooge Elisabeth Hasselbeck, but I guess I refused to believe the possibility that it might be true. According to ET the word came down from ABC itself.

In lighter news, Donald Trump stopped baiting Rosie long enough to castigate Elisabeth as "one of the dumber people on television". Coming from him that's, um, almost flattery.
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I Really Am A Pepper!

I used to love the Dr. Pepper ads, including their insanely catchy ear-worm of a jingle: I'm a Pepper, you're a Pepper, he's a Pepper, she's a Pepper, wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too!

Now, thanks to an online quiz I learned about from my buddy at Y | O | Y, it turns out to be true.

You Are Dr. Pepper

You're very unique and funky, yet you still have a bit of traditionalism to you.
People who like you think they have great taste... and they usually do.

Your best soda match: Root Beer

Stay away from: 7 Up

But I also like 7Up as well, so cool, so shiny, so refreshing... Oh dear, I suppose I'm destined to be unhappy.
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Sunday Funny - "Pardon My Planet"

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I was cleaning out my iPhoto folder this evening (it could happen!) when I ran across this cartoon I'd admired, by Vic Lee.
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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Photo Essay: 2007 Has Been For The Birds

This year, thus far, has proven to be a very good year. As I hope these pictures show, I've seen and done things that have enriched my life immeasurably. Some of these pictures have been published before, though some have not, and never in this configuration anyway. For my newer readers, who may have missed their earlier appearance, I hope you enjoy them.

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From this Bald Eagle I met at the Vancouver Yacht Club...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket this Rufous-sided Towhee in Bear Creek Park.

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From one of Stanley Park's famous herons...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket a Canada gosling at Horseshoe Bay.

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From this dandy little fellow, who may or may not be a Varied Thrush...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket this one I can't seem to identify at all.

2007 has been for the birds...

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...and the ladybugs...

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...and whatever this is!
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Where Am I?

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Happy Memorial Day

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To all my American friends and readers, have a safe and happy Memorial Day long weekend.
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Friday, May 25, 2007

Now Showing - "Thank God You're Here"

The premise is simple: take an actor, put them in an odd costume, then let them walk through a door into a scene about which they have no foreknowledge, where they will be forced to improvise in front of a live studio audience for 5 minutes. For them, it must be excruciating, and occasionally for us it is as well. But when it works it's hilarious.

It's an Australian show, so I have no idea who any of these people are.

(I also learned that there's no Burger King in Australia; it's called Hungry Jacks there. Too right!)
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My Greatest Challenge Yet

I know I should be blogging, but the sun is out and my neighbourhood is full of men in shorts. You should see the parade of fuzzy stems passing my window.

Come to think of it, I'm better off inside. Best to leave the ankle-biting and shin-humping to dogs, I say.

On top of that, (in case you couldn't tell by the tone of this post) this is what's officially known as "the silly season". Summertime, when the living is easy, fish are jumping, cotton is high, and all that hoo-hah, plus trying to drag news out of anyone is like trying to drag a cogent argument out of Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

The problem seems to have two solutions: a) more photo essays (because they've always proven popular, I keep taking photos, and I'm pretty good at writing them), and b) more movie and book reviews. These prove a little more difficult, because it's hard to review a thing and not be judgemental.

Why the sudden reticence with regards to being judgemental, you might ask, if you know me? To which I would answer, in the proud history of reasonable debate here at the Pop Culture Institute, "Shut up".

I like to try and do different things here, as well as trying to do things differently. I don't mind a bad review if it's accurate, but I've read alot of hatchet jobs that were just filthy with someone's opinion, and the criticism was entirely unwarranted. You know the kind I mean. "Adam Sandler's Happy Gilmore is hardly Citizen Kane." Well, duh!

So I guess it's more screenings and more "Books Wormed" for the time being. Now if only I had a book to read around here somewhere...

(turns around, trips over a pile of books, falls headlong into a larger pile, which causes a third, even larger pile to fall on him)
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Trafalgar Square Becomes Trafalgar Park

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThis weekend, at least, going down to Trafalgar Square for grass won't necessarily involve breaking the law.

As part of a promotion attempting to draw people out of the congested heart of London and into its green spaces, more than 2000 square metres of turf were laid in the iconic plaza. After two days, the turf will be reused at Bishop's Park in Hammersmith and Fulham.

I love the idea of this promotion. I have long been a supporter of intra-city tourism, not that such a thing is that easy to do in a city as small as Vancouver. But for London the idea is dead brilliant.

[S O U R C E]
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Wacky World of Widgets

Some of you may have noticed the "now you see it, now you don't" widget from that this page has been sporting, directly beneath my Links.

Well, it's supposed to list the tracks I'm listening to as I'm listening to them, and when it does it's great.

The problem is, it only seems to do it when it feels like it, and it didn't feel like it more often than it did. So I've removed it for good this time, and I don't think I'll be suckered into putting it up again. The last thing this page needs is an unreliable widget, given how unreliable our editorial policy is.

Meanwhile, the search continues for more widgets, preferably ones that actually work...
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hugh Laurie, OBE

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt's not such an awfully long way from the Cambridge Footlights to Buckingham Palace, especially if you're Hugh Laurie.

The star of TV's House, as well as A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Black Adder, not to mention Jeeves & Wooster (as well as numerous movies) has visited the Queen at home and come away with a lovely parting gift.

What gets me is why so many in the media have taken to calling him an "unlikely" sex symbol. Sure he may be a little grizzled, but that voice, those eyes...

Open wide and say "Ahhh" indeed.
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700 Reasons To Celebrate

For all that I'm attempting to be earnest here, I'd be the first to admit that a blog is bullshit.

This, for instance, is my 700th post. Or is it? Because I have always deleted posts and reposted old posts and added posts months after the fact (not to mention posts I have written then never posted) this is not the 700th time I've sat down at my desk and written something that's appeared here. Yet this is, for all intents and purposes, my 700th post.

The purpose of the Pop Culture Institute has always been to enlighten and to entertain. 'Enlightertainment' I guess you could call it if, like me, you're one of those annoying people who likes to mash together two words like some meme-crazed neologist.

But another purpose has always been to make this blog a sort of perpetual calendar of Pop Culture. The Bonnie & Clyde post appearing below as well as "Happy Birthday Joan Collins" will, in all likelihood, appear on this blog on this date next year and the year after that. I may change the text or the photo, I may even add another "On This Day" or another birthday, if I can find a format that's pleasing to me, but there you have it.

This will mean that next year I may have the luxury to write fewer posts, but more in-depth ones. I know, I know... Depth? In a blog? It's crazy to even suggest it, I know, but there you have it.

As an expression of my personality, the Pop Culture Institute functions brilliantly. It is smart right up to the point where it's expected to be smart, at which point it becomes a twit. Just when you think you can't take anymore boasting and pomposity - BAM! - there's a bit of self-loathing. Just like... Uh... Someone or other.

I've always believed that Pop Culture is the People's History. Having read more history books than I care (or dare) to count, I can tell you that history is alot of dry old facts about politicians and generals, and is of no interest to anyone other than historians. It's no wonder most people have little sense of their history.

Pop Culture, on the other hand - so shallow, so easily denigrated - has been and always will be endlessly fascinating, because it is about people. True, sometimes those people will be politicians and generals, but they're just as likely to be housewives or pop stars or criminals too.

I've come pretty far, given that it's only my 700th post. I've often contemplated giving up, but I just can't bring myself to do it. In trying to create something unique and durable (or at least as durable as alot of pixels can be) I've built something I love more than anything else I've ever done. I only hope I feel as upbeat after my 7000th post as I do right now.

Thanks for reading.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Well Whattaya Know?!

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Church Sign Generator is perhaps the greatest website ever.
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Books Wormed: "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame

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[Illustration of Toad Hall by David K. Stone (Golden Press, NY, 1968)]

I hear it often enough: "Why do you keep buying books if you haven't read all the ones you have?" Usually I shrug or change the subject, because if I gave the answer I want to - "Shut the Hell up!" - I'd have even fewer friends than I already do.

The real answer, though, is that I believe in everything in its time. Often I like to read multiple books on the same subject back to back, for the sake of immersion. Also, just because I buy a book now doesn't mean I feel like reading it now; I may feel like reading it at 2 AM 10 months from now, only then I may not have the money, and I definitely won't have anyplace to buy it. Vancouver, far from being a city that never sleeps, often goes to bed early.

Of all the books in my library, The Wind in the Willows surely holds the record for delayed gratification.

I've had it since I was at least eight years old; I've schlepped it everywhere with me over the years, through dozens of moves and over thousands of kilometres, yet in all that time I've never even thought about relinquishing it. I've read the first chapter a dozen times at least, but could never bring myself to read beyond than that.

Despite this, I read it on Saturday in one sitting. Why? Simply because its time had come.

And I loved it, of course, as I knew I someday would. Children's literature is oddly soothing (even when it is raucous) and I've been sore in need of soothing lately. Also, the book is rich in poetry, voluble in its praise of the natural world, and May-time in Vancouver is both of these things as well. As a human and an artist, I decided it was finally time to enfold the book's lessons into my life. This time, when I got to the end of the first chapter, I pushed on...

Though The Wind in the Willows is a children's book, children in 1908 were clearly extra smart compared with even adults today. Based on vocabulary alone, it would have been impossible for me to read before now, even if I were to read it at my desk with the ample resources of the Internet handy. Besides an abundance of British-isms, every interaction in the book is subtextually layered, and these layers would have been lost on me until recently.

It is also quite racy for a children's book, unaffected by a puritan urge to protect children from the truth which has infected KidLit of late. Characters smoke and drink (responsibly), firearms are discharged (though no one is killed), and there is even the suggestion of carnality (albeit of the Edwardian, heavily euphemised variety) between a certain Toad and his jailer's daughter. The Toad even gets up in drag, as fine a British tradition as drinking and smoking if ever there was one.

I find it odd that such real-life behaviours should be so frowned upon, yet anthropromorphism - a far more serious crime, really - nevertheless forms the backbone of much children's media.

Inasmuch as everything ever written by the British can be read as a parable about class, The Wind in the Willows does not disappoint. The wealthy Toad is also boastful, incautious, and fickle. Though Badger is heroic, much is made of the common way he speaks. It is Mole and Rat, both firmly middle class, who save the day.

They did, of course, save Kenneth Grahame's day. The immediate success of the book allowed him to quit his job in a bank and depart it for another bank altogether, a river bank - specifically the Thames - where he whiled away his days "messing about in boats" and listening the the wind of the willows, which to his ears, must have sounded like cheering.
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Monday, May 21, 2007

All. Up. In. That.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDamn my workaholic, overspending self! Instead of schlepping around some oil-soaked parking lot in the pouring rain I could have been eating cheese at the Pike Place Market.

Of course, Seumas was in Vancouver this weekend, so I would have had no place to stay. Then again, with me eating cheese all day, I'm sure I woulld have had to sleep on the balcony anyway.

Now, thanks to the insatiable craving for cheese their website has given me, I'm going to be a wreck.

Cheese, cheese, cheese cheese, cheese...

[S e a t t l e s t]
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Closer To Home...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket13-year-old Chris Poeung was fatally stabbed Saturday night by a 14-year-old at Main Street/Science World SkyTrain station in Vancouver after an altercation involving a girl. Mr. Poeung wasn't directly involved in the brawl, however. Police describe the event as a "school yard type fight" and a "brawl" involving about 10 kids aged 13 to 15 and another 30 or so spectators.

The assailants were arrested a short time later, only a few blocks away; they were apprehended on a bus, and have been charged with manslaughter.

Of all the SkyTrain stations, Main Street/Science World is definitely the most dangerous, at least appearance-wise. Scrawled with grafitti (and the efforts to remove it) it resembles nothing less than a slum. That it is in the shadow of the Vancity Building and the condos of Citygate makes it the perfect emblem for Vancouver's growing disparity of wealth and poverty.

There have been a rash of attacks at SkyTrain stations in Vancouver lately, several of which occurred when there were no constables on site. Even though time after time studies have shown that a disproportionate amount of the city's crime happens at or around these stations, Transit Police have proven ineffective at dealing with it.

[S O U R C E]
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Who Killed Glen Davis?

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Police in Toronto say someone targeted and killed millionaire philanthropist and nature conservationist Glen Davis on Friday - and that he had been attacked before, by a man with a baseball bat, in December 2005 - but refused to say speculate on motives in either case or to even link the two attacks.

The assault remains unsolved, but police said they will reopen the file and reinvestigate to see if the two events are linked.

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The man in this photo is "a person of interest" in the case; he is described as a white male in his late 20s. Mr. Davis was killed at around 2 PM in a parking structure near Eglinton Ave. E. and Mount Pleasant Rd. Any information regarding this case should be directed to the police department or Crimestoppers.
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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Now Showing - Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager (Episode 3)

Previously, on the Pop Culture Institute...

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So. Many. Fergies.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJust like the first time a picture of Madonna and Lourdes was captioned "Madonna and Child", those of us in the shallow trench that is celebreportage have been eagerly awaiting the first appearance together of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and Stacy Ferguson, Black-Eyed Pea.

They have more in common than their names, honestly. Uh... They're both... Female?
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Why Was Pam Booed At Cannes?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhen I first heard of this, I assumed it's because the French are leg men.

It turns out they felt she was rude. Apparently no one is allowed to be rude in France.

She showed up late for a photo call and refused to be a party to the madness of such a thing. Why, then, even bother going?

[S O U R C E]
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Friday, May 18, 2007

Musing Aloud...

I've often wondered what, if anything, conservatives are in favour of conserving.

Certainly, when it comes to cutting down trees and covering everything with pavement, they're the first ones in line. Yet one clear difference between then and now is surely that then there was more wilderness than there is now.

Similarly, conservatives seem to have little or no regard for our architectural heritage, preferring instead to mow down whole blocks of lovely character homes - which could benefit from conservation - in favour of block after block of soulless apartment buildings. As with our natural environment, the movement to preserve our built environment is spear-headed mainly by lefties.

The only thing conservatives seem to be in favour of conserving is some version of the past (ie: the good old days) that simply never existed. The 1950s, of all decades, is one most right (as in correct) thinking people should wish to see consigned to heaps of memorabilia in museums.

I understand that change brings with it fear, and that some people don't deal well with fear. Conservatism seems to be the worst way of all, because it denies the very real phenomenon that change is inevitable. Rather than accepting that, and growing from it, they seek to suppress and crush it.

The one kind of "growth" conservatives do support is the growth of the economy, and in order to do that it seems increasingly necessary to destroy, whether it's forests or worker's rights or dreams. And as for growing the economy, a willing well-paid workforce is key, and the only such pool of talent remaining appears to be immigrants.

The Bible exhorts all Christians to be "stewards of the Earth"; so how does hating on so-called minorities preserve the planet? Clearcuts cause erosion, not Muslims. Factories and cars cause pollution, not gays and lesbians. As for what causes change, look no further than free will.

I wonder what it'll take to cause conservatives to start conserving things...
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Newsflash: BC Liberals Value Money Over Wildlife

BC's Liberal Government plans to capture the estimated 16 spotted owls remaining in the wild and put them in zoos for purposes of breeding, Environment News Service is reporting.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThis is because the BC government values the destruction of old growth forest over the preservation of either habitat of wildlife stock.

But capturing birds to breed in captivity to then release them back into the wild doesn't seem to be the most reasonable plan when there'll be no more habitat for them to return to. Habitat fragmentation remains unaddressed by government policy, specifically because the Liberals altered the existing policy to disregard it.

The plan has been leaked to the media by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, which is trying to compel the Federal government to use the Species at Risk Act to preserve the owls and their habitat, which should go well. The Tories love wildlife like I love sarcasm.

I wish someone would put the BC Liberal government in captivity, although the thought of them breeding fairly turns my stomach.

[S O U R C E]
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Screened: "The Princess Comes Across" (1936)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhen first we see Carole Lombard in The Princess Comes Across, she is vamping. Hard. "My name iss Princess Olga of Sveeden," she says, staring - nay, glaring - down her nose in the iciest way possibly, sounding for all the world like Great Garbo.

And there's me, in the dark in more ways than one, thinking: "What the F?"

Lombard is a workhorse among comediennes; she keeps up the Garbo shtick throughout most of the first act, so convincingly, in fact, that once the initial shock is worn off you almost start believing her. When finally her ruse is exposed, though, it's a relief; running gags of this nature tend to be a bit tiring for the viewer. Waiting for the other shoe to drop can become stressful, which can erode the whole "comedy" thing.

It is, however, an apt metaphor for the movie as a whole, because nothing (and indeed, no one) in The Princess Comes Across is as they seem.

In addition to the ample surprises to follow (which, for an avid viewer of 30s movies such as myself, well-acquainted with all the formulae inherent therein, is reason enough to watch) there are a handsome leading man (Fred MacMurray) whose lithe frame is fitted out in all manner of yummy suits, a pair of reliable villains (Porter Hall and Douglass Dumbrille), and a veteran character actress (Alison Skipworth), with whom all and sundry may toss around barbs.

There's even an appearance by a future television legend - seen here years before the advent of the device that would bring about his most enduring fame: William Frawley, better known as Fred Mertz of I Love Lucy, is to MacMurray what Skipworth is to Lombard - a cynically wise sidekick.

Naturally, being of its era, the film is stylishly photographed, and though it's set almost entirely onboard a ship the sets are lovely.

The Princess Comes Across is, in many ways, an odd movie, one which doesn't lend itself to a single viewing perhaps. Since it eschews (indeed, thumbs its nose at) convention to a large extent, as well as trying to wring comedy out of murder, it might be uncomfortable for some to watch.

So is it a funny movie with creepy moments, or a thriller with levity? Whether it's both or neither, it is a curiosity nonetheless.
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Verka Serduchka Keeps Me Dancing

Thanks to Joe.My.God I've been grooving out to Verka Serduchka all week. I mean, "accordion techno"? What's not to love?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMs. Serduchka (actually Andriy Danylko) performed at the Eurovision Song Contest in Helsinki recently, with a glitterball-inspired performance of Dancing Lasha Tumbai. Members of the Ukrainian Parliament have been hating on Serduchka for months now, calling his performances "grotesque and vulgar". As opposed to politics, I suppose, which is all kittens and roses. Don't get me started.

The song eventually came in second, but it came first in my heart, for what it's worth.

If all the notoriety gets to be too much for Danylko/Serduchka, he/she/they can always move to Canada, where a tubby Ukrainian can become famous. Just look at Luba Goy.

In case you missed it...

Campy, yes... But I like it too.
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Now Showing - "Kingswood Country"

Yesterday, while recovering from my kidney stone, I decided that I felt like watching YouTube. Not content to watch the same old same old I made a stab in the dark, and typed in "Australian sitcom". This is what I got: Kingswood Country.

It's not terribly good, although it's apparently based on Til Death Do Us Part, the Britcom which so memorably inspired All In The Family. Well, I've seen Til Death Do Us Part and I've seen All In The Family. Kingswood Country is neither.

Then again, Australia isn't known for its sitcoms. I may do some further research and/or watching. The available clips don't exactly bristle with references, although according to Wikipedia the show was topical.

(The title seems to be a reference to Kingswood, a suburb on the western edge of Sydney, as much as a car of the same name.)
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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Kocis Murder Solved?

As reported on the Pop Culture Institute on 26 January 2007...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt looks like the murder of Bryan Charles Kocis, the owner of gay porn studio Cobra Video, may have been solved.

Two models employed by Kocis have been charged with "criminal homicide, conspiracy to commit criminal homicide, abuse of corpse, robbery, burglary, theft and two counts of arson" according to Towleroad. Kocis' body was found with a cut throat and multiple stab wounds inside his burning house.

Harlow Raymond Cuadra and Joseph Manuel Kerekes are being held at Virginia Beach Detention Center.

[S O U R C E]

Previously, on the Pop Culture Institute...

Cobra Video Owner Murdered
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Harry NOT Going To Iraq

UPDATE: The Army's chief-of-staff admitted that press reaction was one of the reasons he decided against sending Harry to Iraq. Way to go, fellow muck-rakers!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe army has finally accepted what you and I have known for months - that not only would Prince Harry be in danger in Iraq, so would everyone in proximity to him. The notion of a soldier in a war zone needing bodyguards (which was suggested) is ludicrous.

It was probably all a ploy anyway, a bit of sabre-rattling. Maybe Prince Harry even wanted to serve, but the inevitable camaraderie of Sandhurst must be tempered by the possibility that the threats received against his person would have been carried out.

[S O U R C E]

Previously, on the Pop Culture Institute...

- Britain Offering Terrorists Plum Hostage
- Egregious Paranoia Department - HRH Prince Harry
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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Le whoops!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIn a maneuver that will forevermore be known as the Duceppe Two-Step, Bloc Qubecois leader Gilles Duceppe entered the race for leader of the provincial Parti Quebecois only to withdraw less than 24 hours later.

Duceppe explained his error away as 'a mistake'. Rather like his support for sovereignty.

[S O U R C E]
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Screened: "Dancing Lady" (1933)

Few movies have come to me as highly recommended as Dancing Lady. Now, normally a rave review is enough to send me running - in the other direction. Seeing as this rave came from my film buff friend Norman I decided to give it a try. I mean, come on, it's a 30s movie. At its worst, how bad could it be?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt was, in fact, better than the best. A backstage musical in the tradition of 42nd Street (which was released the same year), Dancing Lady dazzles from the first shot to the last. Partly this is a result of the painstakingly restored print, but mainly it's due to its beautiful cast brilliantly executing incisive dialogue.

Of course, there's a love triangle. Jane Barlow (Joan Crawford) can't decide between wealthy Tod Newton (Franchot Tone) and fellow theater rat Patch Gallagher (Clark Gable). Lucky bitch. In real life, of course, Joan didn't have to decide. She married Tone and had a torrid affair with Gable. To reiterate: lucky bitch.

I always enjoy seeing these big stars on their way up, as contemporary audiences might. Often I'll see a huge star and wonder how they got so big, since once they get to the top they rest on their laurels a bit before they start their long coast down. Well, it's immediately obvious here. Crawford is beautiful in a Hilary Swank way (and can she ever dance!), Tone is dapper and charming in a blond sort of way, and Gable... Gable is in a class all his own. Not for nothing did they call him "The King".

Dancing Lady also marks the film debut of Fred Astaire, at the time already well-known from Broadway, where he danced with his sister Adele. The Three Stooges also appear, bringing the odd moment (and I do mean odd) of slapstick (and I do mean slap) to the proceedings. Blink and you might miss Eve Arden (as a blonde - I recognised her by her voice alone), May Robson, and Robert Benchley. Nelson Eddy (minus Jeannette MacDonald - thankfully) camps his way through one number, and there are throughout the film the usual bevy of scantily clad vintage lovelies, if you're into that sort of thing.

MGM was the usual purveyor of such high-gloss glamour and boy do they deliver it in this one. It's like everything in the movie has been dipped in Shinola. In fact, I hadda watch it twice, because the first time I was so blown away I couldn't remember any of the specifics, like character names.

I have a feeling Dancing Lady will be screened again and again her at the Pop Culture Institute.
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God Finally Strikes Down Jerry Falwell

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJerry Falwell (seen here praying that all gay people and the friends and family who love them would die) was found unresponsive and unconscious at his desk this morning. Some news outlets are already reporting that he's dead.

Before he discovered gay people, Reverend Falwell supported racial segregation, and in his pithy way often referred to the "Civil Wrongs" movement. He also founded the Moral Majority, which was neither.

In keeping with our policy of hating on haters, Pop Culture Institute would like to wish this paragon of evil a nice journey in Hell. God, who could not be reached for comment, has issued no statement on why it took so long.
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Monday, May 14, 2007

E'rybody Say "Awww"!

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I, for one, cannot resist a baby animal. Why would I want to?

This Canada gosling was sunning on the beach on Saturday (while I was waiting for the ferry to Nanaimo) with two siblings and Mama guarding one flank and Papa guarding the other.

Personally, I think they were all enjoying the attention.
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Sunday, May 13, 2007

"Michael Tolliver Lives"

As will often happen, while researching the previous post I made a discovery so incredible I almost couldn't finish the last post because I was so excited to write this one.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJune 1st, 2007, marks the US publication date of a new book by Armistead Maupin entitled - you guessed it - Michael Tolliver Lives. It's been nearly 20 years since Sure Of You completed the run of Tales of the City, and now finally comes word of the seventh book in this beloved series.

This from the publisher:

Michael Tolliver, the sweet-spirited Southerner in Armistead Maupin's classic "Tales of the City" series, is arguably one of the most widely loved characters in contemporary fiction. Now, almost twenty years after ending his groundbreaking saga of San Francisco life, Maupin revisits his all-too-human hero, letting the 55-year-old gardener tell his story in his own voice.

Having survived the plague that took so many of his friends and lovers, Michael has learned to embrace the random pleasures of life, the tender alliances that sustain him in the hardest of times. "Michael Tolliver Lives" follows its protagonist as he finds love with a younger man, attends to his dying fundamentalist mother in Florida, and finally reaffirms his allegiance to a wise octogenarian who was once his landlady.

While "Michael Tolliver Lives" is a stand alone novel, accessible to old and new readers alike, a reassuring number of familiar faces appear along the way. As usual, the author's mordant wit and ear for pitch-perfect dialogue serve every aspect of the story— from the bawdy to the bittersweet. "Michael Tolliver Lives" is a novel about the act of growing older joyfully and the everyday miracles that somehow make that possible.

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Screened: "Stella Dallas" (1937)

The reputation of the film Stella Dallas as a paragon of motherlove suffers, mainly because such a label both reduces and disguises what the film is really about.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPoor Stella Martin (Barbara Stanwyck), the daughter of a millhand and a drudge (an all-too-brief appearance by Marjorie Main), is an ambitious girl. Entranced by a story of lost love in the weekend photo supplements, she sets out to woo and wed its swain, Stephen Dallas, played by the handsome John Boles.

That she succeeds is a foregone conclusion. That she then transforms herself into a scheming social climber would be easily explained away if the birth of her daughter Laurel (later played as a teenager by Anne Shirley) didn't turn her overnight into the kind of woman whose own thwarted ambitions are sublimated onto her daughter. Stella doesn't seem to know who or what she is, which may also be part of the problem, although it is unaddressed in the film.

Much of this is the fault of the author, Olive Higgins Prouty, whose feminism is unfortunately nearly always smothered in the kind of melodrama that would suffocate a Victorian. Prouty was later to tout psychotherapy in another potboiler made into a tear-jerker (Now, Voyager), but it seems Stella Dallas could use a session or two on the couch as well.

After marrying and becoming Mrs. Stephen Dallas, then having her daughter, Stella can't seem to catch a break. She wants the swell life but doesn't like the swell people who come with it, and they decidedly don't like her. She talks of wanting to be refined, but makes no effort to do so, mainly because the man who loves her tells her not to change. Stella's friendship with Ed Munn (a blowhard played with great verve by Alan Hale) seems to play an equal part in her downfall, inasmuch as Munn seems to have a habit of putting Stella in awkward situations which Stella, for her part, can't or won't explain away.

When Stephen Dallas is shopping for Laurel's birthday present one day, long after he and Stella have separated, he meets his old flame (Helen Dane Morrison, played by Barbara O'Neil), which is bad enough. When it's shortly revealed that she's a widow this rapidly becomes as heart-breaking a scene as any in the film. Gradually, of course, Laurel is won over, and soon Stella is given the onerous task of driving her own beloved daughter away for her own good.

True, there is much in here about a mother's love and sacrifice, but the film's subliminal message seems to rail against social climbing and dating outside of one's class. Since Stella is referred to consistently as an excellent seamstress, it would seem that a truly feminist message would be that Stella should open a dress shop, and so gain her entree to so-called "polite society" in that way. Then again, despite her ability with a needle, much is made of the garish way Stella uses those talents.

If such a suggestion were made by Mrs. Prouty in the novel, it is not present in the film. In fact, I would be eager to read the book, if only because it might serve to flesh out the inner life of its heroine better than a film portrayal can hope to. Not that Stanwyck doesn't try, and in fact, this confusion over her identity may have been intentional.

I doubt anyone but Stanwyck could have played such emotions so naturally, but play them she does, and for all they're worth too. Several times she lets conflicting emotions loose across her face, and it's as much a testament to the clarity of DVD technology as it is to Stanwyck's abilities that we actually get to see them all.

In the film's famous final scene, a bedraggled Stella crowds her way to a window at the Dallas' townhouse, and there witnesses her daughter's marriage. Just to add insult to poor Stella's misery, it's pouring rain; then, for punctuation, she is given the bum's rush by a cop with a truncheon.

It's Mother's Day, so I'll go easier on the film than Mrs. Prouty was on the character. Love and sacrifice are excellent qualities in anyone, including a mother; martyrdom and the subsumation of a woman's identity for her children... Not so much. While there is much to be admired in this production (it's an excellent movie) it serves a modern audience best as a curio, rather than a model.
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