Friday, August 31, 2007

Dutch Royals In Wiki Scandal

When it was announced last week that WikiScanner, a software program that tracks updates to Wikipedia via IP addresses, had gone online I remembered wondering who exactly it might catch. Actually, for the sake of full disclosure, I was actually wondering whether or not I would get a blog post out of it. My own earliest list of potential culprits included the White House, Microsoft, and Donald Trump.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSo while politicians and corporate stooges alike actually have been called out on their rewriting of certain pages, I would have never dreamt that a royal would fall into this trap. (Royalty, in case you hadn't already guessed, is my catnip.)

That's exactly what happened, though; Prince Johan Friso of Holland - second son of Queen Beatrix - and his wife Princess Mabel were busted doing a little tidying up of her past recently. In their own defense the Prince did say he was only trying to correct the public's erroneous impression of his wife: namely that she was once the gunmoll of a druglord, then lied to the Prime Minister about it so she could be a Princess.

To be fair, rather than blaming it on a press secretary, they did 'fess up to doing it themselves. Which has me thinking they must still be in contact with the Princess' ex-boyfriend*, because what were they smoking anyway? Royalty are trained to avoid scandal from birth; what, they can't send a secretary to an Internet cafe to make whatever edits they need? No, they do it themselves on a computer inside the Palace.

Still, at least they owned up when caught. Turns out both chivalry and responsibility (both presumed dead for years) are alive and kicking.

[S O U R C E]

*: They're not. He died in 1991. I just liked the joke so I left it in.
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The Face Behind The Voice: Dee Bradley Baker

When asked to name the strangest cartoon character he's ever played, no doubt that of an East German skiier whose brain has been implanted into the body of a goldfish by the FBI so as to rig the 1980 Winter Olympics must rate pretty close to the top of the list. I know it would for me.

Happy Birthday Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of (among many many others) Klaus, on American Dad.
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StatWatch, Week 3: The Mimi Panzirer Effect

No single story has given me as many hits as that of Mimi Panzirer. Whether she's is a living angel or twice as bad as her babygramma matters not to me; I will be forever grateful to her for the traffic she brought to my site.

The former daughter-in-law of the late Leona Helmsley caused a nearly three-fold jump in hits on Wednesday and a nearly two-fold jump on Thursday, making Wednesday the busiest day on record for the Pop Culture Institute: 144 visits and 173 page views on that day alone. Thursday was none too shabby either: 90 visits and 100 page views when my average is still only 53 and 66.

Of course, hits are nice mainly because each one represents a potential reader, and it's the readers who matter most to me. Thanks to Mrs. Panzirer I even got a few of those. Discounting those regulars (whom I still love!), here is a select list of new readers:

Silver Spring, Maryland - :16
Goose Bay, Labrador - :21
Huntersville, North Carolina - 1:19
NYC - 2:25
San Francisco, California - 3:08
NYC - 4:01
Houston, Texas - 4:32
Portland, Maine - 5:46
Ottawa, Ontario - 8:54
Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania - 10:32
Kansas City, Missouri - 12:37
Calgary, Alberta - 13:57
Westbrook, Queensland - 18:55
Unknown US - 21:41
Ayer, Massachusetts - 21:46

Each one of these people came looking for Mimi Panzirer and yet all of them stayed because... Well, it's not my place to wonder why, and in lieu of comments, I may never know. Due entirely to the Mimi Panzirer Effect, though, I dohave a little better idea how to find, respond to, and follow trends in Google.
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Can It, Senator Hot Pants

I'm a ho...Er, I mean Idaho Senator Larry Craig says he's not gay. He claims that all that shuffling and note passing he was doing in the men's can was innocent and misinterpreted. Next he's going to say he invited only the guy to caucus with him, and was misunderstood due to lousy acoustics.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI have news for Senator Craig. I'm actually gay and nothing I've ever done in the men's can has ever been misconstrued by anybody. Where there's smoke, there's fire, and in this case, it's your pants. They are definitely on fire, Senator Hot Pants.

When will Republicans ever learn that GAY does not mean "wears a tight shirt and lisps"; GAY means "gimme more of the same, genital-wise, please". Frankly, I'm getting tired of repeating myself. For the fortieth time, gay is not a lifestyle, it's a predilection.

Your marriage does not make you straight, nor does your saying that you are. What does make you straight is... See if you can follow me... Not angling for furtive mansex in the men's can with cops. I mean, I may be gay, but that's just nasty.

Of course, the cop is a blonde. You may not know this about me, but I'm not partial to blondes. Well, only the women: you know, Marilyn, Diana, Pam -- Oh, sorry Senator. I know how you get when people start talking about women. Would you like a Tum's?
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Remembering... Buddy Hackett

True, Carson was a bit of a crypto-fascist. Nevertheless, he ran a good show. Here, then, from the late 80s (judging by the set) is Johnny himself with birthday boy Buddy Hackett.
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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Marriage Equality Scores In... Iowa?

Kudos to Judge Robert Hanson for getting it right.

First he struck down the statewide ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional; then he ordered officials in Polk County to begin processing same-sex license applications. Theoretically, while the measure only applies to Polk County, Iowans from any part of the state could apply to be married there, and have the marriage be vaild in the rest.

Less than two hours later Gary Allan Seronko and Curtis Rethmeier were in the system. It'll take three days to process their application.

Republicans and the Religious, naturally, were incensed.

Which means Iowa is now poised to become a battleground state for marriage equality, and the heartland is about to get a whole heap more hate. Which I like, personally. The more hatred spewn by the foes of equality the more people see the kind of hatred queers live with every day.

Hatred: it's a good thing.
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Benazir Bhutto: She's Back, and This Time It's Personal

Allegations of corruption have always dogged Benazir Bhutto; given the corruption of those making them, if I were her I'd consider them to be compliments, rather than allegations.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWell, she's at it again, this time looking to topple Pervez Musharraf, whose grasp on power is weakening. Elections are planned for November 2007, and Musharraf may have to step down as head of the military if he wants to remain President.

Recent allegations made by Bhutto that elements in the Pakistani secret police or ISI are propping up Al-Qaeda and the Taliban will not play well in the West, even though Bhutto herself assisted the Taliban's rise to power in Afghanistan, because she thought they might stabilise the region. They might have, but their misogyny (much of it directed squarely at her) did not sit well with most of the rest of the world. We all know what happened next in Afghanistan.

One thing the mullahs of Pakistan fail to grasp is that Bhutto's word will go farther in Washington and London than theirs will. After all, she was legitimately elected - twice!; something Musharraf has never even done once. Not to mention that, as a Muslim woman - and a telegenic one at that - Bhutto could do more to repair the reputation of Islam in the West than a dozen men in uniforms.
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A Few Of My Favourite Things

Since I am unable to do my laundry - AGAIN! - because my neighbours are hideous self-involved fucks who put their clothes in the washer then go to Vegas for a few days or whatever (who knows with straight people), I am as usual indulging myself so as to not completely lose it. There are times when it's great to be an only child; no matter how mad I get, there's always a treat (or three) that'll make it better.

Well, one of my most favourite things of all time is checking out blogs of really hot guys who would never talk to me in person in a zillion years and then leaving comments. Whether A-Gay or Hot-Gay doesn't really matter, although obviously if they're both it's twice as great.

I like to imagine them thinking "what a funny comment" and then the expression on their face when they click through and see my profile picture. HiLARious! Obviously, the disappointed look on his poor, pretty punim is far more funny in person, but luckily a masochist with a good imagination doesn't need actual the face time to have fun.

Today's victim is a guy in the Castro named Moby. Cute guy, hot friends, seems to take himself with a grain of salt; thanks to Gavin for the heads up on him. I don't pretend to understand those Castro types, or have anything in common with them excepting a predilection for penis, so visiting them in their natural habitat is more like anthropology than mere surfing.

Plus, every comment I leave sows the seeds for a possible page view for me down the road, so it's win-win.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mandela Statue Unveiled

A larger-than-life statue of Nelson Mandela was unveiled today in London's Parliament Square.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAfter unveiling the 2.7 metre tall bronze, Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to the man, following which the man paid tribute to the country; during President Mandela's remarks, he shared his reminiscences of coming to London in 1962 with Oliver Tambo and their visit to the same square.

As usual, the quote of the day came from Tony Benn. "If Diana was the People's Princess," he said, "Then Nelson Mandela is President of the human race." Amen.

[S O U R C E] | [S O U R C E]

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RIP Richard Jewell

I don't remember what I was watching the evening of July 27th, 1996, but you can be damn sure it wasn't the Olympics. Anyway, I ended up missing what I was watching when news of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing was broadcast.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWithin days the hero of the bombing, Richard Jewell (left), became the prime suspect. By this time I was riveted by the story, mainly because of this poor schlump of a man, living with his mother, working as a security guard, who had spotted the device and begun calmly clearing the area before it went off. In a low-key, soft-spoken way, he appeared various times on various shows and described what had happened; I just knew he couldn't have done it, even as others rushed to judgement.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe FBI, in their usual zeal to catch anyone - whether he did it or not - implicated Jewell in the heinous crime, which killed 2 and injured 111. Although never arrested he was put under surveillance and had his home searched. Neither turned up anything, naturally.

Of course, by the time Christian terrorist Eric Rudolph (right) was eventually apprehended, Richard Jewell had been fully exonerated; but even though the real bomber had been caught and Richard Jewell cleared in the most public way possible, I'll bet there are still people who think he's guilty.

Apparently Richard Jewell had kidney trouble related to diabetes. He was found dead at home today, aged 44.

[S O U R C E]
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It's A Dog's Life

Trouble, the white Maltese belonging to the late Leona Helmsley, has nothing to sniff at today. It seems he was the principal beneficiary of the Queen of Mean's largesse.

The dog will inherit $12 million, and live with Helmsley's brother Alvin Rosenthal, who also made out none too shabby.

Two of Helmsley's Panzirer grandchildren - David and Walter - will inherit $5 million each (and another $5 million each in trust), so long as they visit their father's grave once a year. Two other grandchildren, Craig and Meegan, have been utterly disinherited "for reasons which are known to them".

Her chauffeur, Nicholas Celea, got $100,000; as predicted the proceeds from the sale of all her worldly goods, expected to fetch billions, will be funnelled into the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

One Bright Note: in my thorough, ongoing research into this matter, I have learned that Leona Helmsley paid out of pocket for repairs to burned black churches in the South, during a rash of such crimes in the late 90s. In fact, she'd donated as much as $35 million to various causes in recent years.
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Wherefore Art Thou, Mimi Panzirer?

Well, if Google is any indication (and I think it is), the most popular woman in the country this week is Mimi Panzirer.

I think by now we all know the basic story, but it bears repeating. When her son Jay Panzirer died Leona Helmsley sued her daughter-in-law Mimi for everything that had been his. Ms. Panzirer and her four children, Mrs. Helmsley's grandchildren incidentally, were rendered penniless.

There are no pictures of Mimi Panzirer on the Net, and believe me I've looked. Alas, the libraries in Vancouver are on strike, or I'd be down there now, looking for a photo from an old magazine. I'm beginning to feel like Leonard Nimoy; remember, he used to do that show, "In Search Of"? Well, I'm in search of Mimi Panzirer, except I don't have that groovy Spock voice, so if and when I find her I won't be able to do the narration like him.

Anyway, I'm just putting it out there, but it seems to me that if some news organisation or other wanted to make a ratings smash they should get an interview with Mimi Panzirer toute de suite. The world wants to know, Mrs. Panzirer, what really happened when Leona Helmsley came screeching out of the sky like a vulture with PMS and robbed you of your life.

And if, by some chance, you don't feel like sharing your story with one of the big guns - a Diane Sawyer or a Barbara Walters, say - you can always talk to me, Mimi Panzirer. Likewise, if you need a ghostwriter for your book, I work cheap; I also happen to have a black belt in adjectives. Or, if you prefer, just take a digital camera and take a photo of an existing photo and email it to me. I'd be ever so grateful.

Talk to us Mimi! The world wants to know!
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1153: A Year in Review

As lucky numbers go, I couldn't ask for a better one. As years that I'm determined to blog about, though, 1153 is barely better than 1111.

There was a change in the papacy, as Anastasius IV succeeded Eugene III to become the 168th Pope.

There was also a new king in Scotland; Malcolm IV followed his grandfather David I onto the Scottish throne.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketTo the south, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald of Bec, managed to reconcile King Stephen and Empress Mathilda, ending a period in British history known as The Anarchy with the Treaty of Winchester (which is also, somewhat anarchically, known as the Treaty of Westminster and the Treaty of Wallingford). Stephen's heir, Eustace, died in 1153, which cleared the way for Matilda's son Henry of Anjou, to succeed as Henry II, which he did the following year.

Considering what British Royals used to get up to - equipping armies, torching villages - makes the current lot seem kind of tame.

Also: Constantinople became the largest city in the world, a title previously held by Merv, in the Seljuk Empire (present-day Turkmenistan). Taira no Kiyomori assumed control of the Taira clan in Japan, Baldwin III assumed control of Jerusalem from his mother Melisende, and Islam was introduced in the Maldives.

Just so you don't think I'm one of those Anglophiles who's never heard of anything beyond Gravesend.
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A Personal Milestone

The day started as an interesting test - to see what blogging full time would feel like; lucky for me it feels bloody marvellous. It's a long time since I've so enjoyed being so busy for so long. In fact, it's going to be hard to go back to staring at walls and harassing the innocent for a living on Thursday afternoon.

Today, in just under twelve hours, I wrote 22 blog posts. Please be kind if it turns out there's a mistake in one; just leave a nice comment and I'll cheerfully correct the error. Think of it as an Easter egg hunt, only with spelling. Yum... Spelling. I'll be reviewing them all myself, but despite my output I am only just one person. I'll be very surprised if my clear morning eyes don't spot some mistake right away tomorrow. As for now, it feels like there's glue underneath my eyelids. Blepharitis, feh!

Of course, this now means I am not only caught up on a day-to-day basis but also ahead of my monthly quota. I will need to publish 9 posts a day to attain 2008 posts by New Year's Day. Of course, not all of these have to appear at this end of the blog; there is much to be done to prepare for the beginning of the year - only three months away! - and so the archive will be getting it's fair share of the next 855 posts. Not to worry, though; you don't have to go looking for them, they'll come around again just as inevitably as the calendar.

Traffic is growing - from an average of 20 visits a day three weeks ago I'm now averaging 30 visits a day. From the gathering crowd I'd like to single one lady out in particular and welcome her as a new regular reader: Hey Rhonda!

The next post is a milestone (number 1153), and in the next few days there'll be a major anniversary (the death of Diana), and a programming change as well. Now more than ever it's time to stay tuned!
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Burning Man Suffers From Premature Incineration

You know, it happens to all the festivals. You're getting older, things just don't work the way they used to...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketA performance artist named Paul Addis who was attending the Burning Man Festival in Nevada has been arrested for setting the Burning Man ablaze four days early, and therefore pretty much killing everybody's buzz.

While I agree it was quite a performance, was it art?

On the plus side: Best. Mugshot. Ever. Plus, his friends will all be calling him the Burning Man now, so at least he has that to look forward to.

[S O U R C E]
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No Faith In Faith-Based Schools

Regarding the recent faith-based schools initiative in Ontario I have just one thing to say: NO.

I admit that it's unfair to let the Catholics run their own school system, but not Jews, Hindus, or Muslims. In which case, the Catholic Schools should also be abolished; what moral right does the Catholic Church have to educate children after thirty years of revelations, anyway? The solution to the problem isn't more religious schools, it's less.

Faith-based schools represent just the beginning of an evangelical agenda aimed at creating a total theocracy in Canada. It is also a blatant attack on any attempts to create a cohesive society; keeping people of different ethnicities separate as children only fosters suspicion and ignorance in them as adults.

The separation of church and state is of the paramount importance. Religious intolerance has consistently impeded progress; sectarian strife routinely causes war, genocide, and terrorism. In the days ahead, our human species will encounter increasing hardships due to environmental degradation. Science, not dogma, is the cure.

Teach your children their religion at home, on your holy days, so they'll know where to leave it. Hold it in your heart, let it inform your life rather than dictate it, an' it harm none do what ye will...

[S O U R C E]
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Owen Wilson Attempts Suicide

On August 26th Hollywood film star Owen Wilson attempted suicide by slashing his wrists and overdosing on pills; he was found by his brother Luke, also an actor.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe following day, Owen Wilson released a statement, saying: "I respectfully ask that the media allow me to receive care and heal in private during this difficult time."

Well, I'll make a joke about almost anything, but this is where I draw the line. Whether indicative of some deep-seated unhappiness or merely a ploy for attention, suicide is no laughing matter. Each year in the world a million people kill themselves, and between 10 and 20 milion attempts are made.

If you are considering suicide (or think someone you know might be) please call your local crisis line.

I'm sure that, in the fullness of time, Owen Wilson will have an opportunity to fully explain the reasoning behind his drastic actions. In the meantime I, for one, am one member of the media who is more than willing to forego speculation in this matter.
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Monday, August 27, 2007

Duchess of Cornwall To Pass On Princess of Wales Memorial

No doubt the memorial scheduled for Diana, Princess of Wales, has put a few senior royals in an awkward position.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketShould they attend even though their disdain for Diana had always been public? Would attending look two-faced? Would not attending look like a snub?

None have felt the sharpest part of this double-edged sword like the Duchess of Cornwall. As the third person in the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales, Camilla is as inextricably bound up in the Diana saga, even more so than Dodi Fayed, Henri Paul, or even Trevor Rhys-Jones.

Prince William and Prince Harry invited her, which is only right; Her Royal Highness has declined the invitation which, again, is only right.

Diana's memorial is scheduled to take place this coming Friday, ten years to the day Diana died in Paris.

[S O U R C E]
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Breaking The News To George

LAURA: George. Put down those Tonka trucks. There's something I have to tell you.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketGEORGE: Don't wanna.

LAURA: George. This is serious. Pay attention to me or there'll be no ice cream after supper.

GEORGE: Sorry.

LAURA: It's about Gonzales.

GEORGE: Who, Speedy? Andale! Andale! He's funny. Why, is he coming here?

LAURA: No George, Alberto Gonzales.


LAURA: The Attorney-General.

GEORGE: How can he be an attorney and a general...

LAURA: Condi! You wanna give it a try while I go get the Vice-President?

CONDI: You on yo' own.
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Alberto Gonzales Resigns

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Why in the world he held on and held on, despite the fact that his presence had entirely demoralized the Department of Justice, is anybody's guess. Why he quit so suddenly after doing inestimable damage to the title, the administration, and the country, is something only he knows for sure.

But why he left so soon after Karl Rove is easily deduced; it's what rats do when the ship is sinking. As you'll discover if you read the source article, darker forces may be at work, even darker than the blots Alberto Gonzales left on the reputation of the office of Attorney-General...

[S O U R C E]
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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Where There's A Will There's A Way

The granite mausoleum she built for herself cost a cool $1.4 million; it's keeping the Queen of Mean nice and cool now, for which she must be eternally grateful. I bet it's plenty hot where she is.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDespite the extravagance, the cost of it barely made a dent in her fortune; at the time of her death real estate mogul Leona Helmsley had a very real estate herself, valued at $2.5 billion. Much of it will likely go to charity, which is at least a legal form of tax evasion. Who said prison doesn't lead to rehabilitation?

Since she famously felt that "only little people pay taxes", she's about to get her last cackle. It seems that giving it all away is the best way to avoid paying - you guessed it - estate taxes on it.

But what would a eulogy be without a suitable anecdote to sum it all up, one which highlights her oh-so charitable nature?

Helmsley didn't have a generous bone in her body - even her funny bone snarled - and for her charity always began at home, preferably someone else's. When her son Jay Panzirer died one of the richest women in the world sued his widow Mimi for all of his possessions, leaving her former daughter-in-law and four grandchildren virtually penniless.

Which must be making it extra hard to get that camel through the eye of a needle right about now.
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Muh-Fuh Don't Even Take His Own Advice

Proof that power corrupts... Witness the change in Cheney over a dozen years; from calm and reasonable then to a growling ogre today.

Proof also that corruption is like vitamins to a Republican. How else could a man with a heartbeat you could crunk to still be living?

Clearly, to assist in his recovery, the Vice President's heart was removed and replaced by a turnip. It's a similar surgery to the one the President had when he was still at Yale, sparing him a lifetime of wear-and-tear on his brain by replacing it with a cauliflower.
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Dare We Call Him "Poached Salman"?

Troubled Bollywood heart-throb Salman Khan seldom fails to heat up a movie screen or a gossip column. This time, though, he may have gone too far.

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In 2002 he killed one person and injured 3 others while driving drunk in Mumbai; he appears to have gotten away with it. His turbulent relationship with famed beauty Aishwarya Rai ended in scandal, and featured revelations of his ties to organized crime as well as candid assessments of his colleagues in the Indian cinema.

Now, though, it seems he's really done it. For poaching a Chinkara, Salman Khan received a five-year jail term. Khan was himself poached by police yesterday; today he's known as 'prisoner number 343'.
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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Classic Costello: Saturday Night Live (1977)

Birthday boy Elvis Costello's scandalous appearance with The Attractions on Saturday Night Live in December 1977 more than made up for a last-minute cancellation by the Sex Pistols.

Costello, forbidden to play Radio Radio, played it anyway. Lorne Michaels banished the man his mum calls Declan from the show for a dozen years; history has proven that punishment very light, given that most of them were not the show's best.

Anyway, it never done 'im no 'arm, eh? He married Diana Krall, had twins, and they all lived happily ever after...
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1111 - A Year In Review

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[In this gorgeously moody engraving by Gustave Doré, Bohemund I is seen climbing the ramparts of Antioch alone during the First Crusade.]

* * *

For those of you who are interested in interesting things, the year 1111 will be of no interest to you.

However, if you're like me, and revel in what you don't know (especially since there's so damn much of it!) then 1111 is a veritable cornucopia obscura. Or something like that.

A n y w a y...

In case you weren't aware, that's the year the Synod of Rathbreasail was held, which profoundly reordered the Church in Ireland. That was pretty... Uh. Important.

Henry V was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Paschal II? Most powerful man in Europe at the time... And the Emperor wasn't too shabby either. No?

Baldwin VII became Count of Flanders? I mean, he probably wasn't even voted Most Likely To Succeed in high school or anything.

I understand. I'll be nice and spare you any mention of Agnes of Babenberg, Henry of Blois, or even Bohemund I of Antioch.

Hee hee hee...
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A Mini-Milestone!

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I decided that a thousand posts was a long time to go without a milestone. So today I commenced my thinker to workin' - seriously though, numbers and everything; at one point, I almost took an Advil - and I came up with five "mini" milestones: 1111, 1153, 1234, 1357, and 1510. Those oughta get me through the next couple of months.

This, then, is my 1111th post. Yay me!

The significance of 1111 is fairly obvious. Not only is it four numbers the same, I have a friend who swears he looks at the clock several times a week at 11:11.

Which I find creepy, because I do that with 1153. When I was in high school, our lunch break started at 11:53. Twenty years later (gulp!) I still look at the clock at that time 20 times or more a month. I guess you could say it's my lucky number.

1234 is another obvious one, 1357 a run of odd numbers; 1510 is a bit cryptic (one-five-ten).

Onward and upward!
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Friday, August 24, 2007

StatWatch: Week 2

In this, the second full week after installing Site Meter, I'm actually beginning to enjoy it. By studying the hits I get - and the misses - I think I'm starting to get a better sense of how to collect new readers. As an added bonus, maybe my learning curve can enlightertain you in some way, and if it can, it's worth doing. Plus, for an unrepentant Social Studies geek like me, I enjoy looking at the World Map feature which plots out where my hits are coming from.

Of course, as cheap as I am, I am only using the free versiion, which means if I want more detailed records I'm either going to have to shell out or start taking notes... Did anyone see my pen?

It is, of course, akin to spying in a way; but in another way it's more like voyeurism. I guess that's what gooses me the most. Having spent a lifetime on the outside looking in, I'm finally on the inside looking out, and if nothing else, the view is educational.

There are pleasant surprises a-plenty waiting for me each and every time I log in; right after publishing my piece on the Prime Minister's recent cabinet shuffle someone on the House of Commons server Googled "Stephen Harper cabinet shuffle". They didn't look at the page, but I have to say, I got quite a little thrill when I saw how close they'd come.

Similarly, the recent post announcing the birthday of Queen Noor got me my first hit from Jordan; the ISP in question was simply called "The Royal Hashemite Court". They didn't read my page, but someone inside the palace in Amman came thisclose to my blog. Again, I got cold chills all over me when I saw that.

Having spent a fortnight now compiling my stats it's becoming clear to me that there are responsibilities in this kind of work. What if, for instance, Queen Noor herself had looked at that birthday card I wrote? Actually, that would thrill me no end. But it's become clear to me that each post I send out there at least has a duty to be accurate. It can be opinionated, and even unfair, but the time may come when I'll have to defend some of this work, so it must always at least be defensible.

The plan for the present is to make StatWatch a weekly vidcast; so watch for that in the next few weeks as I figure out how to move the Pop Culture Institute from entirely written original content to the audio-visual panoply I've always dreamed it could be.

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Margaret Cho: "The Sensuous Woman" On Tour

According to, legendary comedian Margaret Cho is turning impresario on her next US tour.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketRather than just featuring her own stand-up act, this time around she'll be joined on stage by burlesque and comedy performers such as Liam Kyle Sullivan, who's another one of our favourites around here. Also featured will be belly dancer Princess Farhana, transgender comic Ian Harvie, burlesque performer Selene Luna, New York's own Miss Dirty Martini, and comedians Diana Yanez and Kurt Hall of West Hollywood's Gay Mafia Comedy Troupe.

Cho and the Gang will play Los Angeles August 10–September 15, Chicago September 19–22, and New York starting Sepember 26. For further information, check out her website.
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The Coldest Case

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Sergei Pogorelov, a Russian archaeologist working in Siberia, thinks he may have found the remains of the Tsarevich Alexei and one of the Tsar's daughters, possibly Grand Duchess Maria. Theirs were the only remains not found at the bottom of the mine shaft where the rest of the family was dumped in 1918, a site re-discovered only in 1989.

When the discovery was made public in 1991, the entire Royal Family were canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church. But the remains of the Tsarevich and one of the Grand Duchesses were neither disposed of nor found in the mine shaft. Rather, by most contemporary accounts they were taken away and thrown into a grave in a farmer's field, where they were burned.

It is this grisly site that Pogorelov has been investigating. Their remains - if that's who they are - have been more efficiently obliterated than those of the rest of the family, and so it may never be known to whom they belong. At the time of their murders, Russia was in a state of revolution, and there may be thousands of graves such as this around the country.

The rest of the family's remains were re-interred in 1998, but not as the Royal Family, as 'victims of the Revolution". Russian officials are said to be reopening the case, though exactly what they hope to achieve by doing so is unclear.

[S O U R C E]
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Dave Chappelle's Gay Nightmare

An early-90s appearance by our birthday boy Dave Chappelle on Def Comedy Jam, introduced by Martin Lawrence.

While Dave is admittedly uncomfortable with man-on-man action, at least he manages to find the humour in it. Oh, and also the Rodney King riots and working for Domino's.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

OFF THE RACK: Blair on Men's Vogue, Obama on GQ, Samberg on Blender

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"In His Prime" by Roger Cohen

If you look at extremism in Pakistan or Chechnya or other parts of the world, extremism on the streets of Spain or France or wherever, it wasn't born there but imported in. ~ former British Prime Minister Tony Blair

[Photography by Norman Jean Roy]

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"Above the Fray" by Ryan Lizza

The danger is that you become so risk-averse that you become canned and scripted. I am resisting that. I want to push the boundaries of it and try to make a point. ~ Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama

[Photography by Peggy Sirota]

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"Andy Samberg's Super-Awesomely Retarded Awesome Zone" by Jonah Weiner

Most comedians aren't offered oral sex outside rock concerts. But Samberg is a lot better-looking than most comedians. When Scarlett Johansson last hosted SNL, guess who she made out with in a sketch? (It wasn't Horatio Sanz.)

[Photography by Jill Greenberg]
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He's No Vick-tim

The reason I haven't written about Michael Vick sooner is that it's taken me this long to calm down. The story - in case you've been living under a rock, is that the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons and three of his buddies have been running a dogfighting ring for six years.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThen today comes word that basketball star Stephon Marbury of the New York Knicks has come to the defense not only of Vick but also dogfighting, labelling it a "sport" rather than what it is: a "crime".

While even the ASPCA labels dogfighting a sport, that doesn't make it right. After all, Death Race 2000 was a sport... If it's such a sport why don't Michael Vick or Stephon Marbury get into the ring with one of those pitbulls and show us how it's done? Eh, sport?

In the meantime, not even the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will come to Vick's rescue; Dennis Courtland Hayes, interim president of the NAACP, said today that Vick is not a victim and must take responsibility for his actions in the matter.
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Hate Music Silenced?

From Gothamist... Clear Channel - owner of Power 105, the Manhattan radio station which is a major sponsor of the Reggae Carifest at the city's Randall's Island - has pulled its sponsorship in response to homophobic lyrics by a number of its headliners.
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Buju Banton and Beenie Man are among the most popular performers in the dancehall genre. Their music also advocates the torture and murder of gay men. Someone at Clear Channel is bound to have known this, but following a recent telephone call from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Clear Channel has not only withdrawn its support but is now calling on other sponsors to do the same.

Also singled out for their hatred are Bounty Killer and Elephant Man.

[S O U R C E]
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vladimir Pinup?

It looks like Abercrombski & Fitchivich has a new cover boy.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketRecently Russian President Vladimir Putin and Albert II of Monaco - the former head of the KGB and that foremost impregnator of flight attendants - decided to make a Siberian version of A River Runs Through It. All I can say is, thank the gods it wasn't Brokeback Gulag.

What would normally count as the most shameless act of pandering to the female vote since Poppy Bush made Dan Quayle his running mate becomes an almost indecipherable act when committed by figure as enigmatic as Putin. It might be that he's demonstrating his virility in a more modern way than Stalin (for which we can all be thankful), or it may just be that he's eager to distance himself from his resemblance to C. Montgomery Burns.

Russia's gay pundits have suggested Putin's recent topless antics demonstrate tacit support for greater tolerance of homosexuals in their country. I don't know if I believe a theory as far-fetched as that, but since homophobia there is endemic I have no problem supporting it either.
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

This Cougar Makes Some Serious Scratch

Quicker than a ray of light, Madonna might be leaving Warner Music Group, her record label for the past 25 years.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAccording to British music bible New Music Express that's the case.

She's said to be in talks with Live Nation, and this talk ain't cheap; the deal is said to be in the vicinity of £50.5 million. That's a hundred mil to you and me.

Whew! That oughta buy a lot of Ben-Gay and support hose.

Madonna's current contract calls for an (eagerly anticipated!) new album produced by Justin Timberlake - due out this fall - and a greatest hits package to wrap up her years with Warner in a tidy little bow. It could all be a done deal by the New Year.

Once she's finished promoting those she'll be footloose and fancy-free. [Insert your own joke here.]
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Now Showing - "Jake and The Fatman"

I must confess, I never watched this show. I did, however, see Joe Penny on various talk shows and such. I would probably watch it now that I have a better attention span. I was --

Hey! Shiny...
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Now Showing - "Magnum P.I."

Hawaiian tourism never had a better poster boy than Mr. Tom Selleck.
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Now Showing - "Hawaii 5-0"

In keeping with Pop Culture Institute's celebration of all things Hawaiian, here's the first in a series of three shows which have featured tropical scenery with a side of crime-fighting.

Recently I had occasion to watch some old episodes of this show, and I was surprised to find it solidly written and acted. Even if Jack Lord's acting was often Shatnerian, his three dimensional hair always made me feel safe. Plus it kinda looked like Diamond Head.
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Monday, August 20, 2007

What's Your Opinion?

Recently I was discussing this blog with a friend of mine who has only recently become a reader.

It was an interesting conversation, mainly because, as he was giving me his advice on content and editorial slant, he kept telling me I needed to be more opinionated. He said it half a dozen times, so I asked him what he meant.

Apparently, according to him, I don't give my opinion enough.

Which is news to me, since in my opinion this whole damn thing is my opinion. So... What's your opinion?
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Great Barrier Reef: The Bad News And The Worse News

Tourism to the Great Barrier Reef is up, which may be great news for places like Cairns and Townsville and Rockhampton in Queensland who share in the $5 Billion annually generated by tourism, but it's definitely destroying the reef.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIn the very near future all tourism to the Reef itself may have to be banned to protect it; that is if the pollution doesn't destroy it first. Currently only part of the region is protected by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Of course, the first tourist to impinge upon the purity of the region was Captain James Cook, whose ship Endeavour ran aground here on June 11th, 1770. But casual boaters and day-trippers have been known to do their share. Already one-third of the reef has been closed to harvesting.

I have no doubt that the Great Barrier Reef will outlive me, and there may even be a happy ending to the story. But happy endings in real life involve the efforts of millions, and may fail despite their best efforts. In the meantime, it is incumbent upon aquariums to have well-stocked saltwater tanks, so that many people can experience the glory of living coral without running the risk of killing it in the wild.
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Ryan Seacrest: The New Merv?

Seacrest out? Not yet. But he is In as the host of the television industry's annual gladhanding festival.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket It was announced today that generic metrosexual and perennial closet case Ryan Seacrest will be hosting this year's 59th Annual Emmy Awards, scheduled to air September 16th on Fox.

In recent years hosts as diverse as Ellen DeGeneres and Conan O'Brien have handled the top job, and admirably. However, whatever artistic triumphs these two may have wrought, their ratings all but stunk up the place. For this reason the producers of American Idol have been brought onboard.

And this was the best they could come up with. This fembot with his fifty teeth and hair by Cuisinart. Yeah.

Hmm... No one knows why awards ceremonies are getting lower and lower ratings... Could it be because there used to be four a year and now there's four a week? Too bad I'm too smart to be a TV executive, huh?
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Bif Naked's Engaged

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt was announced last week that Canadian punk icon Bif Naked is engaged to marry Ian Walker, a sports reporter with the Vancouver Sun. The wedding, set to take place September 29th in Vancouver, may be traditional, but the marriage promises to be anything but.

No word yet on which tattoo parlour the happy couple are registered at, but as soon as I find out I'll let you know.

[S O U R C E]
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Why Are There Are Outages, But Never Innages?

In my perambulations around Vancouver I am again and again both impressed and distressed by all the construction; there are more cranes in our skyline than at an origami festival.

The Internet, it seems, is going through similar growing pains of its own. Between Blogspot, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Photobucket it's a rare day I can blog in peace without interruption by scheduled maintenance or planned outages.

Today's outage is at Blogspot, which would be fine if it were summer. But just because it's the third week of August means nothing when you live in Vancouver. The current city motto - "By Land And Sea And Air We Prosper" ought to be changed to "The City That Summer Forgot".

Oh well, I guess I can always do some housework; there's some dust behind my fridge that's so old I could sell it to a museum.
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RIP Leona Helmsley

I was brought up to believe that if you can't say something nice about somebody, don't say anything at all.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOf course, that advice stopped making sense the minute my mother got behind the wheel of her car and started impugning the parentage and IQ of every other driver on the road. Despite the lesson on offer, what I really learned was that there's often a difference between what we ought to believe and what we actually do.

Despite her well-publicized bouts with tax evasion and homophobia, I have nothing against Leona Helmsley. After all, there are bigots and shady capitalists literally everywhere, and who has the time or the energy to get bent out of shape every time one of them spews hubris? Or even dies?

The fact that Leona Helmsley made a fortune converting apartments into condos in the late sixties, long before her last name was Helmsley, makes her seem far more loathsome than hearing her subsquently saying "Only little people pay taxes" and firing her staff for being gay. The two events in her life that made her famous seem inconsequential beside the far-reaching ramifications of the real estate development which cost Manhattan its affordability.

If anything the most offensive thing Leona Helmsley ever did was to be portrayed in a TV movie by Suzanne Pleshette; linking that lovely and talented lady to this Skeksi-in-drag was downright immoral.
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

An Anonymous Comment

Today I received an anonymous comment, which I published with the previous post. The text of the comment is as follows:

your blogs really suck and u should stop

The comment came from Rome, from the IP address 88.49.63.#

Thanks for the destructive criticism! It takes real guts to hide behind your anonymity and tear down rather than build up.

(Honestly. You'd think the Pope would have something better to do on a Sunday.)

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Rita Moreno on "The Muppet Show"

Undeniably the highlight of Season 1, not to mention one of the funniest things ever put on film. If you doubt me, try watching it with the sound off.
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"The Muppet Show: Season 2" - Now on DVD!

I've only just returned from the rooftop of the building I work in, where I've been shouting about the long-awaited purchase now clammying up my hot little hands. For those of you who think I'm exaggerating, I know at least one very traumatized seagull who will beg to differ. The poor thing; I'm sure not even Gonzo could calm her down now.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIf the previous paragraph seemed a little silly to you, either a) you haven't been reading this blog for long, or b) you are unaware of the effect The Muppets have on kids of all ages (not just me).

For five years (from 1975 until 1980) Jim Henson's felt and foam and funfur coterie infected their syndicated corner of television with a riotous, anarchic energy. Aided by guest hosts, The Muppet Show assayed vaudeville and popular music with an aplomb seldom seen before or since.

Season 2 features such classic guest stars as Don Knotts, Milton Berle, Madeline Kahn, Bernadette Peters, Elton John, and John Cleese, among 18 others, and is loaded with special features besides.

But wait, that's not even the best part. Turns out the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational show of my childhood is even better than I remember it, mostly because now I get all the jokes.
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A Formal Apology

Tech Support has detected a virus within the Pop Culture Institute's mainframe, Utilitas.

The virus, known as a "bummer" virus, causes circuits to become depressed and very often hostile.

Not to worry. Encryptions have been rerouted, and the virus removed.

We apologise for any unintentional bumming out which may have occurred. Such material is usually dumped into a Spam-type folder called "Self-Loathario"; in this case, there may have been some leakage. We will be working through the night to ensure that all trace of it is removed.

Thank you for your "support".

- Tech Support
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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gingerphobia: An Update

Over the past week one of the most popular posts on here has been one I ran on July 29th, about an increase in bigotry directed at redheads in the UK.

Well, I am nothing if not a whore where this blog is concerned, and so I am once more into the fray. Anything for a hit, a page view, or a comment...

Clearly this is a divisive issue. Like many divisive issues, it's one which was never known to me (since I am not red-headed), and might have remained unknown, had I not stumbled across the original article by accident.

It doesn't surprise me that humans have an almost limitless capacity for hatred, at least not anymore. What does surprise me is the seemingly modern phenomena for how small and narrow these prejudices are getting. Some day I fully expect to read about how the coppers are discriminating against the auburns, and/or vice versa.

In the old days a Catholic would hate a Protestant, and that I could almost see because that's a big deal. I don't agree with it, but I understand it. Our forefathers were ignorant and superstitious, and so their religion meant everything to them. Less obvious was how one Protestant could hate another Protestant; I guess I just put it down to the nature of Christianity, which is a kind of bigotry in itself on my part.

Lately, though, identity politics has made everything a potential battleground. People with brown eyes often get coloured contact lenses because they feel discriminated against. So is theirs an actual discrimination or just a matter of perception, like a neurosis? And in the end, does it matter?

I was under the impression that this bias against redheads went out of style at about the same time people stopped fearing black cats and eclipses. It's a funny thing about bigotry, though: you can't kill it. As a minority (or even as a majority, in the case of brown-eyed people) you may think that the matter has been settled, when all of a sudden it's back, only this time it's got a website.

Yet despite reading all these articles I can't seem to find one concrete instance of gingerphobia, only people's impressions of having been discriminated against. Could it be that redheads are simply using their genetic gift as an excuse? Or is that - horror of horrors - merely blaming the victim?

Maybe because one of Canada's pop cultural heroines - Anne of Green Gables - is red-haired, the situation isn't as bad here as it is there. It could also be the vast numbers of Irish-Canadians and Scots-Canadians in Canada, whose mark can often be witnessed still, and vividly at that.

Clearly, if this issue is going to linger in the public debate, I'm going to have to do more research. More reading, more enquiries. Maybe I'll even have to find some redheads and conduct some interviews. In-depth interviews, lasting until the wee hours, involving candlelight and soft music...

Anything for my readers.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Very Different Mary Poppins

NSFW: No' Sui'able Fer Wee'uns

(Thanks to my Facebook friend Ryan Anning for turning me on to this. ~ MSM)
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Monday, August 13, 2007

Paul Shaffer's Sidekick Has A Point

I have to agree with my buddy Dave on this one.
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Karl Rove's What?

It's everybody's favourite Bush-whacker, that pudgy little dumpling we lefties all love to hate... Yes, it's Karl Rove!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhen I first read that he was retiring the other day, I hadda sit down. I remember thinking, it's not even close to April 1st. Not even he would be so cruel as to pull such a prank in the middle of August, with all the heat and such making it a real effort to fight back?

So I waited a couple of days.

Sure enough, it wasn't just something from The Onion, or a joke on The Daily Show gone horribly awry. Actual newspapers were talking about it. It was official.

Well, I'll be a monkey's cousin (anywhere but Kansas). The man responsible for the Intelligent Design of the Bush White House is taking his protective coating of executive privilege and going home to write a book. While the President is left alone to try and read one, or at least try to colour inside the lines.

We'll miss you, buddy. All the lying, the cheating, the stealing... Good times.

The image is one of my favourites. A couple of years ago, he made a hilarious guest appearance on American Dad, as himself. He showed a real flair for comedy; they even got him to do that trick where he turns himself into a bat. I mean, he usually only does that for his fraternity brothers.

(Two little known facts about Karl Rove that I discovered while "researching" this post: his middle name is Christian, and he was born on Christmas. Suddenly, the rest is becoming clearer...)
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This Should Be Good

For seven months now the Vancouver papers have been filled with the most ghastly, lurid evidence from the trial of Robert "Willie" Pickton, who stands accused of killing 26 women and disposing of them in the usual ways associated with the pig farm he owned. Even for the Province, which is nauseating on a good day, the evidence has been grotesque.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketYesterday the Crown rested; now it's the defense's turn. Now, someone has to defend why he had dismembered body parts all over his property. Heads in coolers, buckets full of hands, sudden trips to the rendering plant...

In other words, someone has the onerous task of defending the indefensible. They have to do a good enough job so that justice is served, but not such a good job that a monster walks free. Yet for all that Robert Pickton might say he wants to walk away from that court room, in the back of his mind he's got to be just a little worried that karma won't bite him in the ass.

Remember Fargo? Steve Buscemi in the wood chipper? Now, I'm not suggesting anything. I'm just saying, is all.
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Doin' The Cabinet Shuffle

Our intrepid Prime Minister (intre being French for stu, I guess) Stephen Harper isn't letting the dogs of summer nip at his heels.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Nossir, he's a-keepin' busy, protectin' Arctic sovereignty and shuffling that Cabinet of his'n.

It could be quite the square dance - and I do mean square! - except that none of them will allemande left. Square dance, ha! More like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Besides, shuffling a Cabinet is more like a rodeo than a square dance. Which is not to say that the Cabinet don't deserve a good roping, only that I doubt he's poke enough for those particular cows.

And as for his intentions towards our Arctic (the kid sister of Confederation), I'm not convinced they're entirely noble. It's a good thing she's frigid; as long as she stays that way.

I predict a disaster. On so many levels.
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Sunday, August 12, 2007

RIP Merv Griffin

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TV legend Merv Griffin - shown here with one of the many Emmys he won - died today. He was 82.

On the bright side, at least now he'll be able to come out.
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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rudolph The Bald-Faced Liar

The more I see of Giuliani the less I like of him. Apparently the International Association of FireFighters agrees with me; they decided it was time to call bullshit on "America's Mayor". So they made this video.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSara Gilbert, who for nine years was my favourite character on Roseanne, and who I never knew until this minute was Melissa Gilbert's sister (!), is welcoming her second child with her partner, Allison Adler.

Their son, Levi Hank, was born in October 2004, and now they've got a daughter, Sawyer, born August 2nd.

As usual, on a slow day in the blogosphere, count on TMZ to have an interesting story.
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Friday, August 10, 2007

What Is Wrong With This Country

You'll note, the title of this post isn't a question. Not even a rhetorical one.

Alvaro Orosco has applied for refugee status, fearing persecution in his homeland of Nicaragua if he's forced to return. Mr. Orosco is gay.

Too bad Canada doesn't care if gay men live or die.

He was recently ordered deported, and could be gone as early as August 16th. Given the media attention his story has been receiving, especially in Nicaragua, his life is already in serious jeopardy. Homosexuality is punishable under Nicaraguan law by up to four years in prison; the worst part is, that's the good news.

You could, if you are of the idealist, er, bent, email Immigration Minister Diane Finley. You could try bombarding her office with faxes, carry signs up and down in front of her office, or even make a calm and rational appeal to her better nature.

You could try just about anything. But let's face it, she's a Tory; homophobia's like mother's milk to them.

The only silver lining is that his blood will be on her hands.

[S O U R C E]
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Thursday, August 09, 2007

They Tried To Make Her Go To Rehab...

...she said "No! No! No!"

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She wasn't nearly as feisty when it came time to take Amy Winehouse to University College Hospital in London.

Ms. Winehouse is said to be suffering from "severe exhaustion". Partying round the clock will do that to a person.

The Pop Culture Institute wishes one of its favourite singers a full recovery; or at least full enough to squeeze out another album.
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dems To Debate Gay Agenda

I thought it would be nice, for a change, to discuss a political issue (or, for that matter, any issue) and not be cynical. I'm not quite sure how to do that, so please bear with me.

It seems that all the major Democratic candidates for President are getting together to discuss gay rights. How momentous!

What great strides we've made since 1980, when Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter first discussed gay rights at the Democratic National Convention.

That first-class citizenship we're entitled to must be right around the corner.

(Sorry, that's the best I could do. It turns out I can also read the ingredients on a packet of soup mix and make it sound sarcastic. It's a gift, it's a curse...)

[S O U R C E]
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Fit As A Fiddle?

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According to his doctors (who only just completed the President's annual physical) the President is fit for duty.

Phew! It's a good thing the President's physical doesn't include a psychiatric profile. That would have been a close one.

[S O U R C E]
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Is The Matthew Shepard Act Doomed?

A hate crime is the gift that keeps on giving.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe White House today announced that it is the President's intention to veto the Matthew Shepard Act, a bill providing for the gay and transgendered victims of hate crimes. Anyone surprised by such an action clearly isn't from this planet, and should be rounded up by NASA and studied.

"The qualifications [in the bill] are so broad that virtually any crime involving a homosexual individual has potential to have hate crimes elements," said White House press secretary Tony Fratto, according to The Washington Times.

Yeah? So fucking what?

The President has never yet had a veto overridden, which is the last chance the Matthew Shepard Act has of passing.

Not that mere passage of a law means anything. Canada has an excellent hate crimes law, which in instances of crimes against queers has yet to really be tested, since police and the courts routinely refuse to enforce it.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe 2001 murder of Aaron Webster in Vancouver is just one example of the bigotry of Canadian justice. Not only did it take the Vancouver Police Department more than 18 months to make an arrest and, even though what had happened was clearly a hate crime, it wasn't prosecuted as one because the VPD refused to implement the correct charges. On the stand one of the presiding judges, Valmond Romilly, also refused to take the crime seriously.

One of Webster's four assailants got as much as 6 whole years in prison for committing cold-blooded murder, while for murdering Webster's dog he might have gotten eight.
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Smitherman/Peloso Nuptials: It's Official!

Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman married his boyfriend, Christopher Peloso, August 5th at Laurentian Lodge near Elliot Lake in northern Ontario.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNews of their engagement was published on the Pop Culture Institute February 13th this year.

The wedding was small - about 200 guests - but what high-powered guests they were. The wedding cake was even made by a former mayor of Toronto. Even though he had been invited, Smitherman's boss Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty was unable to attend.

[Towleroad] | [The Toronto Star]

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Princess Margaret: Rejected Regent?

Newly-released State papers reveal that prior to her coronation in 1953, the Queen changed her will to prevent her sister, Princess Margaret, from becoming Regent of England in the event of Her Majesty's untimely death. Princess Margaret would have been the nearest adult in the succession until Prince Charles reached the age of 18 in 1966.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Queen's will is said to have favoured the Duke of Edinburgh for such a role, in the unlikely event that it would be needed.

Nevertheless, given the astonishing amount of travel undertaken by the Queen in the early years of her reign, not to mention the political timbre of the end of the Colonial era, every eventuality had to be anticipated.

Princess Margaret did serve as a counsellor of state during some of the Queen's travels, allowing her access to the fabled red boxes, from whence most of the Queen's paperwork emerges. She also met with the Privy Council, in addition to her other royal duties, in this role.

It appears that Margaret declined the role of Regent, and also that the Queen's own loyalty to her husband in this era (when he was still quite unpopular with the Establishment) may have motivated the action.

Naturally, there will be no further explanation forthcoming from Buckingham Palace.

[S O U R C E]
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How The Straight Media Covers Queer Events

I picked up this week's Westender mainly out of prurient interest.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSee that little blurb there next to the shot of the very hot, oily guy? It says "How Can You Find Love At Pride?" To which I might add: how can you not pick up a paper with a headline like that, especially if you're a love-starved homo with a better chance of being killed by a meteorite?

Turns out the article in question is just a summation of the various Pride Day dances and parties. It's written by a gay guy, so I'll at least give the Westender credit for that. However, the gay guy in question is a little shitheel named Michael Harris. I've had many run-ins with him in the past, and none of them have been good.

He used to work at the gay bookstore, where his principal skill involved not serving me. He'd help the three or four people in line ahead of me, and then either refuse to serve me or he'd skip over me and help the person in line behind me. This happened at least half a dozen times, and only ended when I finally stopped shopping at Little Sister's because of it.

I realise the healthy thing to do would be to let go of this particular grudge. Only I don't want to.

The truth of the matter is, the only way to find love at Pride Day is to look like the hot, oily guy on the cover. The only one with the guts to speak the truth, it seems, is me.
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Another Proud Day in Vancouver

Most of my Pride Day coverage, understandably, is over at Self-Loathario. Consider this your warning.

Because of where my party sat, I didn't get many pictures. Had I taken any, they would have all had that damn 7-11 logo in them. But the thought of striking out on my own and spending the entire Parade surrounded by strangers was not an acceptable situation. So instead I sat surrounded by friends and just watched. It felt very safe.

As usual, Pride Day amazes me, and I think it's the sheer variety of people on display that has always amazed me most. I'm glad for them, mostly, that they can be so open and proud of who and what they are. I just wish I could.

Another of the great things about Pride Day is how it functions as a celebration to enable people to triumph over past hurts. We've all been viciously oppressed, and to some extent still are. Yet not taking it personally is a skill I've never developed. Whereas the majority of the revellers seemed to not care that there are untold thousands of people in this very city today who would gladly murder the lot of us, it's just about all I can think of; every time a balloon pops I find myself wondering who planted the bomb and where. Maybe it's time to get out of security and start trusting people again.

Anger borne of frustration is more or less my default setting. Generally speaking, I defuse it with humour, or try to. My success or failure in this depends largely on your sense of humour. It doesn't bother me, though, if someone doesn't find me funny, since humour is subjective. So why does it bother me so much that when it comes to that other great subjective - looks - I'm such a loser.

I guess we all want what we can't have.
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Ramones - "I Wanna Be Sedated"

Call it "I Need To Be Sedated" and it'll describe me even better, especially after my shameful display at Pride Day yesterday.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy the sedation, so either way it's an accurate anthem.
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Sunday, August 05, 2007

1000 Posts: A Grand Day Indeed

Well, there you have it - me, on film. Not the kind of thing I care to watch, but you might like it. Not unlike Adam Sandler, C-Span, or foxy boxing to name just three.

Expect more of this sort of thing from now on, only hopefully I'll get better and better at producing it. Better lighting, better set design, and not so obviously reading from cue cards either. Plus puppets. Lots and lots of puppets.

Oh well, years from now the above clip should give me something to look back on and laugh about, which is what really matters in life, isn't it? No matter where we go, what we do, or who we're with, it's nice to have a bit of a laugh.

In the immediate future, though, is the daunting task of publishing 1008 posts between today and New Year's Day, which is a mere 148 days away. The last couple of weeks I've purposely stopped myself from posting items I wanted to because I was aware of needing some rest. I've also needed the perspective, to find my way forward. In both instances, I think I've found what I need.

The other task at hand is to encourage more participation from readers. This means comments, yes, and not just from the three or four people who always comment, either. Poor Mr. Gagne is busy with his own life; he doesn't need to spend an hour a day down the Comment mines, searching for the choicest nuggets to lob at me.

Since the only way I know how to elicit comments is to be outrageous, that's what I'm gonna do. I'm not fond of aggressive marketing, especially of myself, but I can see that this is also the kind of thing I'm going to need to do more of.

(That and not dangling my prepositions.)

Anyway, it's Pride Day here in Vancouver, so I'm off to attend the Parade and later to go dancing. You may rest assured that all the best of the day will appear here in due time, and any of the worst (if there is any) will be on Self-Loathario as soon as I can come to terms with it.

Happy 1000th post! It's as much your day as mine.
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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Nancy Sinatra - "These Boots Are Made For Walking"

Fresh from the Swinging Sixties, one of the finest songs of the era. Performed by Nancy Sinatra and written by the late Lee Hazlewood, this song was one of my earliest fascinations; from the bass intro to the mariachi trumpets at the final fade, it's definitely one of the finest pop songs ever written.
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RIP Lee Hazlewood

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Equally fluent in the idioms of rockabilly, country, and pop music, Lee Hazlewood's finest hour involved the crafting of a feminist anthem which in 1965 made Nancy Sinatra a star. In his time he also mentored Phil Spector, whose own famed sound (dubbed the "Tower of Power") was one which Hazlewood first worked out while in collaboration with Duane Eddy - namely overdubbing and reverb.

Hazlewood died August 4th of renal cancer. He was 78.
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