Monday, July 30, 2007

Now Showing: Podge & Rodge Download Porn

Much thanks to Mr. Bankert for his insights into the Irish zeitgeist, and for putting me onto Podge & Rodge, a pair of ginger puppet brothers who rock my world.
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RIP Ingmar Bergman

Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman has died. He was 89.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI'd like to say he died following a really long, albeit beautifully photographed, illness. But that would be disrespectful.

The truth is, Bergman was a serious artist, far more serious than my sitcom-addled brain can even comprehend. Turning Swedish melancholy into art, Bergman dared to talk about those things that make people most nervous, namely sex and death.

Though many will try, we shall not see his like again.
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VH1's "I Hate My 30s" featuring Kelly

It looks like everybody's favourite shoe queen Kelly and her creator, new media sensation Liam Kyle Sullivan, are getting their shot at the big time.

Well, bigger than YouTube anyway.

(Waitaminnit... Is VH1 bigger than YouTube?)
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She's At It Again

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhile I sit here fiddling away at this hot mess, J. K. Rowling is already hard at work, writing not one but two novels.

What? Only two? Get back to work ya lazy cow!

Of course, when you write 745 page novels that people read in two days, you need to write alot. Here's a hint luv: make the next one boring, give yourself a bit of a rest. You don't want to end up with a Repetitive Stress Novel.

Meanwhile, I'm, uh, reading two novels at the same time. That's good too, right?
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Sunday, July 29, 2007

"Gingers For Justice" - Catherine Tate

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As so often happens when I am perusing the Interweb, I'll get a glimpse of a headline, a tantalising hint at most, and when I try to chase it down it's gone, lost in a sea of pop up windows and other HTML atrocities.

The latest occurrence happened just moments ago.

It seems redheads in the UK are claiming that they face discrimination. I find that information hopelessly sad, as I do most tales of bigotry. I can only hope that, like most of the information on the World Wide Net, it's inaccurate.

If you British redheads really do feel that way, then you should definitely come to visit me at the Pop Culture Institute. Now, I can't afford to house or hire you, but you will definitely not encounter any prejudice against your kind here. Quite the opposite.

Redheads represent the apotheosis of rarity in the human species. Or something like that. If we don't act now, within a couple of generations oranges will be the only fruit, if you know what I mean.

So any of you Prince Harry or Ron Weasley types out there (and you ersatz Catherine Tates and Duchess of Yorks too) can rest assured that nothing's gonna harm you, not while I'm around...

Just remember to bring your freckles.
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The Next Royal Wedding...

...won't be royal at all!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThat's because when the Princess Royal married Mark Phillips in 1973 she refused any title for her husband beyond the one he'd already earned - namely Captain. It's my understanding that one was offered but that Anne refused it, because she wanted her children to grow up normal.

Now, normal is a relative term here, but by all accounts Peter and Zara did grow up as normally as one can living at Gatcombe Park, spending Christmas at Sandringham and summers at Balmoral. Certainly their names have remained untainted by scandal; in fact, I've never posted about either of them here before.

Not that I wouldn't have, mind you, given the evident pulchritude of Mr. Phillips and the accomplishments of his sister, who is an acclaimed equestrian.

Peter Phillips, eldest child and only son of the Princess Royal, will be marrying his girlfriend Autumn Kelly, and good news for us here in the colonies, the lucky girl is Canadian. I've been anticipating this announcement for some time, and would like to thank Mr. Gagne for being Seumas-on-the-spot and sending me the link the instant it hit the Internet.

Fear not! I will be posting updates as this event unfolds.

[S O U R C E]
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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Have A Knife Day

According to a source as unimpeachable as, Robert John Bardo - who shot and killed actress Rebecca Schaeffer on July 18th, 1989 - was himself assaulted in prison today.

Mr. Bardo received 11 wounds in a stabbing incident, was treated at UCDavis Medical Center and then returned to Mule Creek State Prison, where he is currently serving life without parole for his crime.

[S O U R C E]
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Friday, July 27, 2007

Mein Brouhaha?

There is a movement afoot in Germany to republish Mein Kampf as a historical text. Written by Adolf Hitler while he was in prison for his role in the Beer-Hall Putsch and published to much acclaim in 1925, the book has been out of print there since 1945. In order to buy the book in Germany today the buyer must present academic credentials.

Or else buy it online.

That's all expected to change in 2015, when the current copyright holder (the German state of Bavaria) loses control over that copyright. Jewish groups in Germany, however, are concerned its publication might offend Holocaust survivors.

The book is currently in print around the world and is offered for sale in, among other places, Israel.

[S O U R C E]
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

RIP Tammy Faye

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThat she used her final appearance on Larry King Live just last week to praise the gays for sticking by her was the final political act of the former Tamara Faye LaValley, known around the world as Tammy Faye Bakker.

Consistently excoriated by evangelicals for embracing and being embraced by gay men in particular, Tammy Faye went to her peace secure in the knowledge that the cancer which ravaged her body had left her mind unclouded by judgement.

As to the hundreds of millions of dollars separated from millions of poor suckers by the PTL Club with her assistance, well, that's between her and her Creator now.
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Friday, July 20, 2007

Vancouver On Strike

The indolent entitlement junkies who provide our city services and their fascist overlords have reached an impasse; therefore, there will be no city services in Vancouver until further notice.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThey weren't supposed to go on strike until Monday, but someone in management got cranky in the vicinity of an open microphone, so CUPE had a hissy fit and went on strike today instead. Real mature.

It's a good thing it's been raining for five days, because when the sun comes out and starts to shine on those overflowing dumpsters it's not going to be pretty. I doubt even our tourism board could put a positive spin on a rat bite.

I, for one, am going to enjoy documenting the effects of this strike almost as much as I enjoy taking pictures of rutted roads and the homeless, which I will publish in 2010 as "The Real Cost of the Olympics". Because I am what the French call "un disturbeur du merde".

I will, however, stop short of publishing the addresses of those responsible on both sides of this dispute and suggesting their yards as a suitable alternative resting place for your trash. That would be irresponsible, not to mention potentially actionable.
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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pop Culture: A Deeper Meaning

When I first embarked upon this enterprise you are reading I did so with no provisions, no charts, and no sense of a destination. Armed only with a vague sense of purpose (enlightertainment!) and an abiding love for the ephemeral things of our world's pop culture I set out in search of something that would give meaning and purpose to my life, something that would challenge me, stun and amaze my friends and enemies alike, and eventually settle me into some kind of role as a humanitarian.

975 official blog postings, 1 spin-off blog, and nearly 20 months later not only am I no closer to finding my destination, I still have no idea why I left in the first place. It may be that having no direct sense of purpose is what keeps me interested; perhaps if I discovered it I'd quit. Or maybe that's just an excuse.

In the past couple of weeks my readers may have noticed the number of postings has trailed off. Certainly the number of comments I've received, while never exactly a rushing torrent, has dwindled from a trickle to whatever it is that's less than a trickle. Condensation?

I take the full responsibility for that, since if my posts were interesting I'd be getting comments, regardless. So while my posts are interesting to me, they obviously do nothing for anyone else. Nor are they, often, connected to what most people think about as pop culture. This is not a criticism of any person or persons specifically (you know who you are). It may be because it's summer, or it may be for some unknown reason, I don't know.

What I do know is, I spend alot of time alone, and when you spend alot of time alone your Self looms very large in your awareness of the world. Whereas I understand intellectually that I am but one of more than 6 billion humans on Earth, I cannot understand on a day-to-day basis why I have not managed to attract a cult of personality around me like some other bloggers I will not name.

Mainly, I guess, because despite my raging egomania, I can see the downside in feeding that, and so have actively eschewed such devotion. In addition to my many gifts as a person I have developed an even greater number of faults to chase people away by the most efficient means possible.

The Pop Culture Institute is about to begin a very interesting time; between August 5th and New Year's Day I plan to publish as many posts as I have done in the first 20 months I've been up and running. This is a massive effort, especially considering that much more of this new content will be original than is currently the case.

Once again, it seems my ambition is about to get the better of me.

What most compels me to discuss and examine pop culture is how it shows us to each other. All of it, the good and the bad, all rolled into a yowling, amusing, outrageous mess. I can learn as much about Japan from a biography of Hirohito as I can from a single episode of The Fuccons. That is the gift I'd like to share with the world. That and an encyclopedic knowledge of people and events which borders on the freakish.

Growing up, we moved around alot, and I have pretty much always been self-loathing, so I've never really felt like I had any friends. To a certain extent I still feel that way today. Even when I intellectually know that there are people who love me (and always have been) I still spend the preponderance of my time alone. Partly this is by design.

But on a recent day-off I called every number in my phone looking for someone to spend an hour with me, and not one person was available. I sent emails, wrote to everyone I know on Facebook - the same. It's difficult not to take that personally, yet I didn't. Instead, I spent the evening in front of YouTube, doing isometric exercises and catching up on old episodes of Open All Hours.

Those characters on TV, sad as it is, they seem more like my friends than my actual friends do. I'm absolutely certain that I am not alone in this feeling, even though I know nobody else but me would ever risk looking lame by admitting it. It makes me feel utterly disloyal in saying so, and since one of the things I pride myself on is my loyalty, it's also a good self-loathing dose of betrayal as well.

The point was driven home by an email I got from Matthew, who for more than a decade was the singular object of my worship. Matthew was everything I was not: popular, attractive, outgoing, and could score cock in a convent. I happened to make an innocent comment about how unlucky in love I've been and I got back a very sharp reply. It's been three days now since I last heard from him.

I don't see why it's wrong for me to want to be liked, or why it's such a terrible thing to want more than anything to find someone to be affectionate with, yet to be utterly incapable of attracting that very thing to me. But the simple fact is, I am alone in that way that we are all, ultimately, alone. It is incumbent upon me to not dwell on that, but to make the most of it.

Mine is a life designed for the sharing of knowledge and insight, and that begins at the core of my being. If it isn't clear that this is also the purpose of this blog, as the nexus of my life's work, then I have failed myself at the outset.

Fortunately, failure is just success that has yet to be identified. As such, it's just one of many successes awaiting me down the months and years to come...
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Are Blog Posts Getting More Scarce?

It may seem like that round here, but it's simply not the case.

Because I am hoping to hit my 1000th post on August 5th, and because I am dangerously close to that number now, and because it's the middle of the summer when there is no news, and because my company recently decided it would be hilarious to make me work 27 hours in two days there have been fewer posts on here than the accepted quota (five per day).

Well, it's my weekend now, which means I can actually get caught up on everything I haven't done for the last couple of days. Not just blogging but also housework and other writing.

As well, after August 5th I will really have my work cut out for me, since my aim is to hit 2008 posts on New Year's Day.
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Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Welcome Addition to the Collection

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The publishers of People magazine are very good at repurposing and repackaging their product. In this case, they've taken all 42 cover stories they published on Princess Diana and bound them in a very handsome special edition.

Because the tenth anniversary of her death is a mere six weeks away, the same publicity juggernaut that hounded her in life is again gearing up for an onslaught. The only difference is, this time around I'm part of the juggernaut.

I don't think anyone will ever suitably explain who or what this woman was, but from a personal perspective all I can say is, I loved her like a member of my family. Yet aside from a few seconds twenty years ago never saw her in person.

That kind of appeal is rare. True, it's a kind of mania to love a total stranger, and the mass hysteria that surrounded her death is proof both of her power and the power of the media.

I am aware of her faults. I have them myself. In her I saw a kindred spirit. Because she was bullied, for a time she turned into a bully. For a time she also bullied herself. Then, it seems, she learned to transcend it.

Even if that was the only lesson I ever learned from Diana, Princess of Wales, that would be reason enough to love her. My personal legacy to Diana is to love myself unconditionally, as I hope she came to do before her untimely death.
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Twitching the Kingfisher

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It was Mr. Barr's sharp eye that caught sight of this marvellous little creature, prey and all. I scrambled for my camera, turned and started shooting, only hoping that I'd be able to get a picture of both the bird and the fish in its mouth that was usuable. Voila!

I got off about five frames before the fish and the bird were history, and this one was the best.

This sighting was another first for me. I'd heard tell there were Kingfishers around, and over the years I'd seen glimpses of things that might have been Kingfishers but which could have just as easily been hallucinations.
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Friday, July 13, 2007

Good Friday the Thirteenth

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI don't really have anything to say here, it's just that the last time it was Friday the 13th I missed putting up this photo of Mr. Rogers with King Friday XIII.

This show always reminds me of my grandparents' house. When I was age appropriate to watch it we didn't have cable, but they did. Whenever I was over there I got to watch this plus The Electric Company, which was always a solid hour.
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Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Poetry" by Pablo Neruda

And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

[Reprinted on the occasion of his 103rd birthday...]
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Now Showing: Bill Cosby's "Himself"

Before The Cosby Show gave his soul diabetes, Bill Cosby was an esteemed comedian and monologist. Here he talks about dentists, in a routine that used to make me helpless with laughter.

Dr. Cosby turns 70 today.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Don't Do The Hate Crime If You Can't Pay The Hate Fine

In what is surely a victory for victims of hate everywhere, the Canadian Human Rights Commission has fined an Ottawa man $4000 for using the Internet to spread hatred.

The commission was shown how Bobby James Wilkinson created and maintained a website for the Canadian Nazi Party, and on that website called for attacks on a number of groups, including Blacks, Jews, Asians, homosexuals, Arabs and Latin Americans.

He even went so far as to call for "genocide" where such groups were concerned.

[S O U R C E]
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Is The Queen A Diva?

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A new BBC documentary purports to show the normally good-natured Queen in a snit after being asked to remove her crown for an official portrait by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. "I've had enough of this," the Queen has been reported as saying.

While we here at the Pop Culture Institute normally hesitate to take sides in such matters, it should be pointed out that the Queen has been the Queen longer than Annie Leibovitz has been a photographer, and leave it at that.
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RIP Lady Bird Johnson

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Former First Lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson died today at her home in Austin, Texas. She was 94.

LBJ always said she was the "brains" behind him, but she was also undoubtedly the heart as well. When the President went about enacting his Great Society reforms, it was she who pushed for their cultural element. In a similar effort she also set about beautifying the highways and byways of the United States, by extensively planting wildflowers and native trees alongside interstates and within Washington, DC itself.

This lovely lady, herself so devoted to improving lives through the beauty of our natural environment, will be sorely missed.

[Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum]
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Congratulations Your Highness

On July 11th, 1957 Prince Karīm al-Hussaynī became His Highness Aga Khan IV, leader of the world's Ismaili Muslims.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketA powerful voice for moderate Islam, His Highness has used his Imamate to advocate in favour of eradicating global poverty, the education of women, and in support of religious pluralism in the approximately 2 dozen countries where Ismailis live, including Canada. He also awards a prize for Islamic architecture awarded every three years since 1977 which is the richest prize for architecture in the world.

In 2005 His Highness was awarded the Order of Canada by Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Current Wallpaper: The Lee Building billboard

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Amazing to think, isn't it, that this billboard is the hottest political issue in Vancouver. Not homelessness, the rampant use of crystal meth, or the fact that for a decade a man systematically stalked and killed dozens of hookers and he may yet go free.

This billboard was an especial enemy of one Anne Roberts, who served one term on Vancouver's City Council before voters got tired of her shrill, whiny voice. She's gone, but the billboard's still here. But for how long?

The date for its removal has come and gone many times now, each one considered the death knell. A court ruling on June 17th of this year gave the owners of the building 18 months to remove the sign, which earns the building and its tenants $8000 per year, most of which goes toward upkeep of this cherished century-old landmark.
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We're Number One! We're Number One!

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According to the United Nations, the use of marijuana in Canada is four times that of any other nation in the industrialised world. Yet despite this we have low crime, a sky-high economy, and in general rock it till the break of dawn. How is this possible?

O Cannabis, we stand on guard... for... weed!
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Monday, July 09, 2007

Proof That Civil Union = Bullshit

UPS is just one of 150 companies in New Jersey which isn't paying spousal benefits to gay couples, even with their separate but supposedly equal civil union. No word on whether or not they pay married benefits to straights living common-law.

Thanks to Joe.My.God for arousing my ire around this issue. Previously I'd been a bit wishy-washy on the subject, doing that thing I do where I try to see the merits in all sides of an issue.

Every so often, though, one must take a stance, and in this case, there's only one side to this issue that has any merit whatsoever. Clearly, only equal is equal; separate is not equal. Civil union is second-class citizenship, and this only proves it.
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Queen, Duke Won't Testify

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIn an absolutely shocking turn of events it has been revealed that neither the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh will be called to testify at the inquest into the death of Princess Diana.

Also not called to testify: the seatbelt Diana wasn't wearing the night she died.

[S O U R C E]
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What I Learned Today

1) The Premier of Alberta is Ed Stelmach.

2) I don't care who the Premier of Alberta is.

3) Despite not caring, I will never forget the name Ed Stelmach.
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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Is Cindy Sheehan Unretiring?

As previously reported on the Pop Culture Institute, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan is quitting the peace movement for good. This will be her last weekend on the five-acre plot of land she bought in Crawford, Texas, near the President's ranch.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSo where does a woman who's tired of malice and libel go for relief?

Ms. Sheehan is going into politics.

Specifically, to run as an independent in California's 8th Congressional District, against the most powerful woman in the US government, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Sheehan doesn't think the Democrats have done enough to stop the war, which, since they haven't done anything to stop the war, would be a fair assessment.

At the very least, Sheehan's candidacy may raise a few important issues, such as how so many Democrats were tricked into supporting the war in the first place by Republican speciosity.

It remains to be seen if Sheehan's indignation will be righteous enough to translate into votes or if, as far as the grassroots is concerned, running for office will merely be seen as jumping the shark.

In the meantime, stay tuned...
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Today's Sermon Is By J. Barrett Lee

I was supposed to publish this last Sunday. When I missed that target, I thought I might publish it on Wednesday instead. Again, no such luck.

Anyway, here it is, better late than never. And still timely nonethless.


* * *

As we begin this new week, I’m sure that many of us are looking forward to Wednesday, the 4th of July, when we will celebrate the 231st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the beginning of the United States as a nation. The day will doubtless be marked by backyard barbeques and fireworks. On a more serious note, perhaps some of us will take the time to recount the struggle for freedom throughout American history, from the 18th century, continuing up to the 21st. Wherever and whenever we look closely at these struggles, we will be sternly reminded that freedom is not free. It comes at a price. Looking at today’s gospel text, we can see Jesus giving his followers a similar reminder. He shows them that the holy freedom presented in the Good News of God’s Kingdom comes at a cost: the cost of discipleship.

We read this morning about the beginning of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, which takes up ten chapters in Luke’s gospel. In the hearts and minds of Jesus’ disciples, this was a triumphant journey, when the Messiah, God’s anointed King, would march into Jerusalem and take back his throne from the distant Roman Empire and the corrupt puppet government set up in its name. Surely, they thought, this was the time when Israel would declare its independence from foreign powers and be set free from the oppression of colonial rule. It was a very exciting time for them and they felt proud to be partners in the revolution that would restore peace and freedom to God’s chosen nation. However, I think that some of them were also beginning to feel nervous, because Jesus did not seem to be cooperating with their ideas of freedom. In fact, he’d been saying and doing some very strange things. When they stood up to declare his arrival as Messiah, Jesus hushed them. When they dreamed about the glory of his new revolution, he anticipated his rejection, betrayal, and execution at the hands of his own people. In today’s text, when the troupe is rejected and turned away by a village of half-breed, pagan Samaritans, Jesus rebukes his disciples for entertaining the idea of calling down an angelic air-strike upon the village. This isn’t the way a conquering King is supposed to act! What kind of King is this anyway?

What the disciples don’t understand at this point is that Jesus’ idea of freedom differs from their own. They want Jesus to stage an uprising against the occupying forces of a foreign government, but Jesus wants to start a revolution against the powers of sin that occupy their hearts. They want Jesus to tear down the palaces of Caesar in Jerusalem, but Jesus wants to destroy the strongholds of the world, the flesh, and the devil in their souls. They want to change the world, starting with the outside, but Jesus wants to change them, starting on the inside. This is the inside-out revolution of Jesus Christ.

In the second half of today’s gospel text, we can see Jesus clearly setting forth the costs of this revolution. Once again, his would-be disciples have misunderstood his intentions and imposed their own assumptions on Jesus. On three occasions, people come before Jesus, pledging their allegiance to God’s Kingdom, but also expecting Jesus to comply with their expectations of security and social decency. Jesus’ response to them is curt, to say the least. He pulls no punches as he lays out the price of freedom in God’s Kingdom: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” These are harsh things to hear! It’s difficult to imagine these words coming from the mouth of “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild” who we used to sing about in Sunday School! Nevertheless, Jesus did say these things.

The inside-out revolution of Jesus has costs. We who pledge our allegiance to him will be dislocated from our positions of comfort and security. Jesus’ Declaration of Independence from the things of this world leaves no room for the warm security of a fox’s hole or the cool objectivity of a bird’s nest. For all of us, being a disciple of Jesus will cost us our most precious expectations in life. It may force us to take a smaller paycheck or become dependent on the generosity of others so that we can be in a better position to do God’s work among the poor and outcast of society. Following Jesus may cause us to sacrifice a respectable and prestigious image in order to take a public stance against popular trends such as violence, prejudice, consumerism, and other forms of immorality and injustice. Following Jesus has costs.

However, my friends, let me encourage you with a promise: the promise of freedom! When we pledge our allegiance to Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of heaven on earth, we declare our independence from the powers and principalities of evil in this world. We are freed from the bonds of sin that entangle us. We are transformed from the inside out. And not only that, but the world around us is transformed as well, bit by bit, as we reach out to others with our newfound freedom in Christ. God will work through us to make a difference in this world. We will become soldiers in the inside-out revolution, who fight for freedom, not by taking up a flag or a gun, but by taking up our cross and following Jesus. And in that march we march in the company of countless brothers and sisters who have gone before us on this journey: St. Francis of Assisi, the beloved saint who sacrificed his future as a successful businessman to care for lepers on the outskirts of his hometown; Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who made a home for starving orphans in the slums of India; Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who championed the cause of equality in Apartheid South Africa; and in our own country, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who inspired millions of Americans in their ongoing struggle for freedom with these prophetic words:

I say to you, my friends, that even though we must face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed—we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal… I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places shall be plain, and the crooked places shall be made straight and the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith I go back to the South with.

With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning—“my country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty; of thee I sing; land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride; from every mountainside, let freedom ring”—and if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
So let freedom ring... from every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, every state and city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and to sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

* * *

Many thanks to the good Reverend for his permission to reprint this sermon.
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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Books Wormed: "Sick Puppy" by Carl Hiaasen

The death of the comic novel in America ought to be grieved to a greater degree than it currently is. Thanks to Carl Hiaasen, though, the comic novel as once churned out by Tom Robbins, Philip Roth, or Kurt Vonnegut is merely on life support. If anyone can breathe life back into its moribund canon it's him.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketNormally I'm not fond of genre fiction, regardless of type. Even the most skilled purveyors of it seem to run out of ideas after the first couple, and all of a sudden the excitement you get from picking up a new title by an author you thought you liked is ruined by the discovery, a couple of chapters in, that it's the same as the last one.

Hiaasen pretty neatly sidesteps that trap, even though his subject matter varies little from book to book: they all take place in Florida, they all feature pretty skeezy good guys and monstrous villains. They are also damn funny, or at least the ones I've read, which by now is more than half. Maybe it's his wicked wit or because I agree with his politics, where Hiaasen is concerned, I almost wouldn't mind reading the same book over and over again.

Not that I ever have to.

In "Sick Puppy" specifically his targets are lobbyists and the shady dealings for which they are responsible. As with all of his tales of greed and corruption, Hiaasen offers no concrete plan for cleaning up the cesspool which is politics.

Then again, that's hardly his job. As a journalist AND as a novelist, Hiaasen's tactics seem to favour the shedding of light onto the situations that need light shone on them, namely the loathing that politicians, real estate developers, and their ilk seem to have for Nature.

To write a comedy crime thriller with an ecological bent cannot be an easy task, and yet Carl Hiaasen has written nearly a dozen of them now. Whether his efforts will ever do more than amuse his devoted readers remains to be seen.

Either way, they're the best chance Florida has at surviving the condo block and mini-mall juggernaut currently destroying the once-pristine beauty of the Sunshine State.
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Will Wonders Ever Cease?

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As previously reported on the Pop Culture Institute, the Seven Wonders of the modern world have been announced.

They are, in no particular order:

  • The Great Wall of China

  • Rome's Colosseum

  • India's Taj Mahal

  • Peru's Machu Picchu

  • Brazil's Statue of Christ Redeemer

  • Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid

  • Jordan's Petra

Oh well, I got three.

I did better than Mr. Davey, though. Laughlin, Nevada indeed.
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A Google Milestone!

I just discovered that, for the first time ever, if you Google my name (michael sean morris) this blog appears. Not only has it never appeared before when I've Googled myself (oh yeah, you know I do it), now it's the 5th link from the top!

Clearly I owe that to you, my readers. I have not become a hopeless recluse for naught.
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Hey Paula!

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Oh my god, Paula's so fucked up. Would you look at the size of her pupils?

Oh wait... Those are sunglasses. Yeah.

It's been a long day. I think I need to go lie down.
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C'mon! C'MON!!

It's okay. (breathe) I'll be fine. (breathe) That's better.

The Pop Culture Institute is eagerly following events in Chicago, where a jury has spent the last couple of months hearing a litany of crimes against humanity and decency committed by Conrad Black. And that was mostly the defense. Yeah, I think it'd be easier to defend Darth Vader than this morally bankrupt tyrant.

Incredibly, having heard everything in the courtroom that we've read in the papers, the jury is now into its seventh day of deliberations. That hotel they're in must have really good catering. Either that or the jurors needed the extra time to "go over any briefs they may not have gotten to", if one catches my inference.

All I can say is, this better be good...
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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Introducing... Self-Loathario

It has become increasingly clear to me that, as valuable as they are to do, my posts on self-loathing do not belong here.

I've often wondered what I should do about this, as I consider self-loathing to be at crisis levels, not least of all in myself. I mean, I'm even seeing it in really hot, successful people. Oh yeah, it's that bad.

To that end, and to spare the gay nerves of Mr. Barr, Mr. Gagne, and especially Mr. Davey, I've decided to move all such posts permanently off this page and onto an entirely new page entitled Self-Loathario, where I hope to help people to learn to love their yuck. After all, it's our entire lives that make us interesting, and not just our good stuff.

Of course, in order to maintain brand synergy, I will be referring here to material on Self-Loathario often, so watch for that as I with my trade school marketing know-how attempts to create some kind of cross-platform appeal. At least I think that's what it's called.

I'll try to keep it light, of course, since when I am not wracked with self-loathing I'm actually a fairly funny and positive person. Also, the site will deal with some heavy things, so the right tone will be everything. The last thing I want to do with such a site is to add to anyone's problems.

One thing is for sure, though; I can't help anyone who doesn't want to help themselves.

I guess that's why I didn't start sooner.
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OMG: I Just Told Off A Hottie

It was such a liberating experience, I may change my name to Simon Bolivar.

What a rush!

I won't reveal who he is; unless, that is, he really starts to piss me off, at which point I might spin it into a series.

Next on Fox: In the tradition of Hannity & Colmes, it's Hottie & Troll.

I mean really... Anyone who puts "fat jokes" in their profile under Interests has it coming to him in a big way.
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My Current Wallpaper: Vancouver Skyline with cranes

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As per usual, if you would like this wallpaper, just email me.
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The Gay Bomb?

British television scientists are feverishly working on creating the gayest episode ever.

No longer content with Little Britain and Graham Norton, they've written a part for Kylie Minogue into Doctor Who.

Once the episode airs, they predict random widespread DNA mutation, following which the eight straight guys who like Kylie and the seven straight guys who watch Doctor Who will all fleshpile.
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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Now Showing: Loudon Wainwright III

What would a Pop Culture Institute salute to the United States be without a dissenting opinion?

Here, then, is Rufus Wainwright's father with a few thoughts on the Bicentennial. From 1976.
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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Twitching the House Finch

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I've been trying for a year to get a clear picture of one of these sweet little birds, but they've always eluded me. Until today.
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One Of The Perks Of My Job Is Flexible Breaks

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Because I work alone, I pretty much set my own timetable. Obviously, random events will occur in a universe composed of almost pure chaos, but for the most part my time is my own.

On Canada Day, for instance, I decided to take my lunch break during the fireworks, where I snapped this shot.

Hope you had a good one, and good luck dragging your asses into work tomorrow. Me? I've got the day off...
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The Writing on the Wall: Dancing Alien

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Funniest Moments in Television

Many many of the funniest moments in the history of television came from The Carol Burnett Show, but for my money this is the funniest of them all.
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Wessexes Expecting

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Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, youngest son of the Queen, shown here with his countess Sophie and their daughter Lady Louise in 2003, will be adding to their family, Buckingham Palace has just announced.

The newest royal is expected in December.

There is a cloud over the good news, however, as the countess' previous pregnancy and delivery were fraught with complications.

Pop Culture Institute would like to offer the royal couple its best wishes at this time. The new arrival will be the Queen's eighth grandchild.
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The Legendary Mr. Jim Bailey

Here is his uncanny portrayal of one Phyllis Diller...
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Books Wormed: "Like A Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy" by Phyllis Diller with Richard Buskin

There are books over one which labours, and there are books that, no matter how slowly one reads, are over far too soon.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhyllis Diller's memoir is clearly in the latter category. I think she should have teamed up with the author of The Neverending Story on this one instead; I wanted it to go on and on.

In 1986 I had the privilege of attending one of her shows. I'd always been a fan, since the time she was on The Muppet Show in the late Seventies, I guess, although it seems like there was never a time in my life when she wasn't present. Seeing her genius (and hearing that laugh!) in person was the ultimate thrill. I've always wanted to be a standup comedian (and I may yet do it, if I can get over the stage fright) but she did it at a time when women simply didn't do such things. Yet she bears no obvious bitterness; unlike Joan Rivers' Enter Talking, which is better written, but also much more bitter.

Miss Diller's message is overwhelmiingly, almost overbearingly, positive. Having triumphed over a difficult childhood, less-than-perfect looks, and criminal taste in men, with persistence and humour she turned all her lemons into lemonade. By being able to make others laugh at the mess of her life, she has also been able to laugh at it as well. The book flits from high to high, stopping occasionally to ponder a darker moment, but never staying long.

Like A Lampshade in a Whorehouse doesn't belong on the shelf with the memoirs; it belongs with the self-help books, except that it succeeds where many of those well-meaning works fail. Miss Diller's brand of help is effective mainly because she's already tried it on herself, and her life is proof enough that it works.

The next time I find I'm taking my own "problems" so seriously, all I have to do is crack this one open again and make myself read until I've lightened up.

Gawd, I hope there's a sequel...
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