Friday, January 30, 2009

Gratuitous Brunette: Christian Bale


Despite the fact that today is Christian Bale's birthday, he's the one who's given the blogosphere a present, in the form of an expletive-laden rant directed at Shane Hurlbut, the cinematographer on the film he's currently shooting, Terminator Salvation. Now, there's nothing the Average Joe likes more than proof that some pretty-boy prima donna really does hold his lessers in contempt, and no one has been enjoying watching this story play out in the press more than I have.

For all that, though, I must confess that I have a terrible temper; having been on a number of film sets myself, about the only display I've ever seen that even comes close to this came on the day I mistakenly offered Cholmondeley St. John-Mainwaring a juice box of orange without pulp, knowing he prefers it with extra pulp. Clearly I'm a better director than McG, because I immediately ordered the set cleared and the crew searched for recording devices, at which time we hugged it out.

Obviously, Mr. Bale, it's time to book yourself a bed at the Russell Crowe Clinic and get in touch with why you're so angry... Is it the swoon-inducing looks, the pots of money, the harem of Class A tail? Or is it a certain white powder whose principal side effect is rampant egomania? Either way, I'd figure it out before box office bait turns himself into box office poison...
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Friday Watchlist - January 30th

Broken-Hearted Savior - Big Head Todd and the Monsters
The Gate - Sam Roberts
Drops of Jupiter - Train
Hot Stuff - Craig David
Morning Glory - Oasis
No Other Way - Jack Johnson
Golden Touch - Razorlight
Disco 2000 - Pulp
Black Horse and the Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall
Higher Ground - The Kooks
Oh Father - Madonna
Hedonism - Skunk Anansie
I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl - Nina Simone
Love Bomb - N*E*R*D
The Obvious Child - Paul Simon
The Wind Knows My Name - Fairground Attraction
Downtown - Petula Clark
Read My Mind - The Killers
The Ghost In You - The Psychedelic Furs
Faded Love - Willie Nelson
Sun Hits The Sky - Supergrass
One In A Million - Pet Shop Boys
Hand To Hold Onto - John Cougar Mellencamp
Something Beautiful - Robbie Williams
Back Street Affair - Webb Pierce
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

'Saddlebacking' Defined


Syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage has done it again! Take that Rick Warren, you festering bigot!!

Following the success of such neologisms as 'pegging' and 'santorum', both of which are as firm wedged into my vocabulary as can be - it's almost like they've been pegged there, so that not even santorum could work them loose* - he has now added 'saddlebacking' to the lexicon, then left it to Fate and bloggers like yours truly to spread it far and wide... HELLO!

Defined as 'the phenomenon of Christian teens engaging in unprotected anal sex in order to preserve their virginities' it also manages to incorporate the practice of barebacking with the anti-sex dogma and failure of 'abstinence only' sex education**. As he wrote in this week's column:

'Here's why this definition is perfect: Saddlebacking, like barebacking, involves one person riding up on another's backside. But in this case, it's not the bare-naked cock-in-ass that's the most important feature of the ride, but the fact that the person being ridden has been saddled - thanks to the efforts of the Rick Warrens of this world—with religious hang-ups and serious misconceptions about sex. Like the barebacker who casually tosses away his health - or his partner's health - because he believes, quite erroneously, that 'risky = sexy', the saddlebacker offers up her ass because she believes, quite erroneously, that she can get fucked in the ass - vigorously, religiously - and still be considered a virgin on her wedding night.'

Amen, brother!

Is it any wonder that the fastest growing demographic of HIV cases are young women - especially those saddlebacked by boyfriends who inject steroids with infected needles, with nary a gay man in sight? And yet they're allowed to give blood, while we're not.

Ah, but that's a matter for another post...

*HA! A two-fer!!
**Especially since it's been proven again and again to not work.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Day A Plot To Kill The Queen Derailed

[Here we see the Queen of Australia on April 1st, 1970, chatting with jockeys Ron Quinton and Hilton Cope before the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick Racecourse near Sydney, which Her Majesty attended during that year's Royal Tour; the winner that day was Panvale.]

Recently, a story came to light that while on a Royal Tour of Australia in April 1970 an attempted assassination of Her Majesty The Queen was foiled by an eagle-eyed engineer named Albert Rowley and a cautious train driver by the name of Robert Walkington - both heroes...

According to Clifford McHardy - the retired policeman who decided to break the news 38 years after swearing Bele Lleyton, then the editor of The Lithgow Mercury, to secrecy - it seems that while traveling via rail on the Main Western line from Sydney to Orange through the Blue Mountains a log large enough to derail the royal train was placed on the tracks, probably deliberately. The deed would have had to be done in the space of an hour between the time an earlier train had swept the track for obstacles and the royal train approached; that all this had happened in the dead of night and in an out of the way location makes it all the more suspicious. Rather than causing the train to derail and plunge down an embankment, the log became jammed under its wheels instead, likely because the train wasn't traveling at top speed. The train then came to a slow stop outside the town of Bowenfels, having dragged the log about 200 yards.

If it was, in fact, an assassination attempt, no culprit was ever found; then again, the subsequent investigation was conducted with such discretion that they might as well have not bothered. Still, McHardy decided to speak to the press now in the hopes that some further details might come to light; at the time he had the story covered up to avoid potentially embarassing Australia, so that not even the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh knew about it themselves until recently, an action he has called 'one of the big regrets of [his] police service'.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Introducing... Cholmondely St. John-Mainwaring

On this, the second anniversary* of the Pop Culture Institute, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the newest member of our organization, the esteemed journalist Cholmondeley St. John-Mainwaring**; long involved behind the scenes around here, he brings with him years of experience in the puppet press*** and a unique insight to these proceedings which I feel will quickly become invaluable. Also, he should make for precisely the kind of public face this enterprise demands as we make our transition from strictly print to a full-service multimedia outlet.

As our daily hit counts continue to increase and we add readers by leaps and bounds - whether through viral marketing efforts at Facebook or else purely at random - I've also taken the added step of re-subscribing to YouTube as PopCultureInstitute, so as to accommodate the expected influx of videos I hope to be making from now on as well as to further extend our brand. It's all part of turning a one-man onslaught of new media into a one-man one-puppet onslaught of all media!

*Just to refresh your memories, the first blog post I ever made was on this day in 2006, when the blog was called The Pandora Institute; the name change - to the Pop Culture Institute - came the following Christmas Day.
**Pronounced 'Chumley Sinjin Mannering', natch!
***Which is not, as one might expect, a euphemism for the mainstream media.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Barington Encounter: Part Thirteen


[1] * [2] * [3] * [4] * [5] * [6] * [7] * [8] * [9] * [10] * [11] * [12]

Once back inside 14 Juniper Mews Marlak directed his colleagues to bear their pall to the sofa and there deposit it before preparing the kitchen table (the King Arthur) - a vast and sturdy wooden brute which had somehow come out of a box the size of a biscuit tin, and which was misleadingly named besides, seeing as it wasn’t even remotely round. That having been accomplished, from out of one of the few organless pockets in his coveralls he withdrew what looked like a paperback book, since that’s what it was, at the sight of which they all gasped, even he who’d himself withdrawn it, although for effect (as much as by tradition and/or ego) he gasped the loudest.

He spoke, in Andromedan naturally, which dialogue is transcribed here in English because… Well, because their language like their national anthem is naturally enough also a series of slurps and gurgles, and many other sounds besides which are even more distressing, words and phrases composed of many letters not found on any computer keyboard in the entire quadrant, and besides which spattered with enough diacritical marks to make a Swede or even a Slav weep. It is a dialect so impenetrable not even Irvine Welsh would attempt to reproduce it, so neither am I.

‘Behold, The Encyclopedia Earthica,’ he intoned. Again, all assembled let out even more gasps as solemnly as cows let out methane, maybe even more so - who can tell with those inscrutable bovine bastards. These (like the first ones) were, in fact, genuine gasps, and not the Andromedan word for ‘vulva’, which merely sounds like a gasp.

The Encyclopedia Earthica is the sum total of our knowledge as Andromedans of this place they call Earth, which we call Earthica,’ he continued, according to established protocols. He was very good at this part of his job, since he’d begun devising and establishing these protocols himself - call and answer gasps and all - shortly after departing Andromeda. They might have been unnecessary for the extraction of knowledge from the book, but it had given him something to do on the long journey, especially since as hugely dull a travel game as ‘I Spy’ is to play in, say, the Midlands, in space it’s a crashing bore. Besides which, considering all the dangerous things there are in space one wouldn’t want to crash into - Saturn, say, or the small toe on God's left foot - designing protocols had the added benefit of also being the smartest option, health and safety-wise...

Again, this book is the size of a paperback novel - and not a Dickens either, but more like a Virginia Woolf, and one of the skinnier ones at that. Mrs. Dalloway, or To The Lighthouse, say, besides being profusely illustrated. In fact, it was just half as thick as the protocol manual describing how to use it. Marlak, understandably, had been a civil servant before leaving Andromeda, so he knew what he was doing.

The Encyclopedia Earthica did, however, contain a very thorough section on Human Death, drawing heavily on such diverse source material as How To Sit Shiva by Miriam Leibowitz (New York City, 1971 CE, out of print) and The Egyptian Book of the Dead (Cairo, 1971 BCE, way out of print). First he read the entire passage aloud, and when he was done the five of them proceeded to do everything the section had suggested, occasionally stopping to consult the book when they’d come to some bit they didn’t understand, like why it all seemed to involve so much cinnamon.

Once they’d stopped crying, eaten all the devilled eggs and kugel, taken the dark cloths off the mirrors, and put away the crates upon which they’d been sitting, they immediately set about to give ordinary constable Gary Carlisle currently set upon their settee, a burial fit for a king. Exactly why they did this we shall find out later; suffice it to say that this explanation, when it comes, will satisfy some of you and enrage the rest. Such is often the case with most of the outlandish explanations of improbable events in impertinent novels which, like their authors, try too hard to be funny due entirely to insecurity.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Watchlist - January 23rd

Depeche Mode - Just Can’t Get Enough
The Whispers - Rock Steady
The Streets - Who Got the Funk?
Eels - Something is Sacred
Marlene Dietrich - Makin’ Whoopee
Ne-Yo - So Sick
Pet Shop Boys - Positive Role Model
Beck - The New Pollution
Sigur Ros - Flugufrelsarinn
Donna Summer - Last Dance
Steve Martin - King Tut
Robert Palmer - Bad Case of Loving You
Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam - Head to Toe
Mel Torme - Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
Ruth Etting - A Cottage For Sale
Eurythmics - Lifted
Robbie Williams - Ego a Go Go
Pretenders - My City Was Gone
Janis Joplin - Me and Bobby McGee
Jackson Browne - The Night Inside Me
Sigue Sigue Sputnik - Love Missile F1-11
The Chiffons - One Fine Day
Bob Marley - Get Up, Stand Up
Jonny Lang - The Levee
The Rolling Stones - Ruby Tuesday
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

2009 Oscar Nominations Announced


Best Picture:

'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
'The Reader'
'Slumdog Millionaire'

Best Actor:
Richard Jenkins 'The Visitor'
Brad Pitt 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
Frank Langella 'Frost/Nixon'
Sean Penn 'Milk'
Mickey Rourke 'The Wrestler'

Best Actress:
Anne Hathaway 'Rachel Getting Married'
Melissa Leo 'Frozen River'
Meryl Street 'Doubt'
Angelina Jolie 'Changeling'
Kate Winslet 'The Reader'

Best Supporting Actor:
Josh Brolin 'Milk'
Robert Downey Jr. 'Tropic Thunder'
Philip Seymour Hoffman 'Doubt'
Heath Ledger 'The Dark Knight'
Michael Shannon 'Revolutionary Road'

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams 'Doubt'
Penelope Cruz 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'
Viola Davis 'Doubt'
Taraji P. Henson 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'

Best Director:
David Fincher 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
Ron Howard 'Frost/Nixon'
Gus Van Sant 'Milk'
Stephen Daldry 'The Reader'
Danny Boyle 'Slumdog Millionaire'

Best Animated Feature Film:
'Kung Fu Panda'

Best Adapted Screenplay:
'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'
'The Reader'
'Slumdog Millionaire'

Best Original Screenplay:
'Frozen River'
'In Bruges'
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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Bush Era Is Over... Or Is It?

With mere hours to go before President-elect Barack Obama takes office, it's time to reflect on the ongoing travesty that was, is, and will continue to be the administration of the 43rd US President, George W. Bush... Hiding behind a folksy exterior, the king of the frat-boy douchebags systematically sought to defy his own inauguration oath - namely, 'to defend and uphold the Constitution'.

Here Keith Olbermann reads off the laundry list of atrocities committed over the past eight years, and the greatest atrocity on the list isn't; that none of it has been or likely ever will be punished.

Of course, with his backing of Rick Warren and his Inauguration Committee's shafting of Gene Robinson, the new President is off to a roaring start already - and he hasn't even started... The vast majority of his administration will be engaged in undoing the damage done by his predecessor, and if he succeeds at even 10% of that the presidency of Barack Obama will be a huge success.
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No More Mr. Nice Gay: Not This Shit Again...


It's a scene straight out of a dystopian novel; a plot written, say, by an incredibly creative author, one capable of imagining a nightmare scenario that is so unbelievable it wouldn't pass editorial muster on a blog, let alone at a major publishing house. Yet it's actually happening! Today! Proof that truth is definitely stranger than fiction...

Imagine it: as a result of a single complaint by the father of a high school student, the Toronto School Board is currently engaged in re-assessing the inclusion of Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale in the curriculum - a book any person of any age can legally buy in a shop for as little as a dollar!

PhotobucketYou read that right, folks... Tyranny, censorship, and a waste of taxpayer money all because one egotistical prude feels his opinion is more important than the consensus of an entire society.

Of course, the American Library Association has named The Handmaid's Tale one of the most challenged books ever, and truly it's been as challenged as it's been honoured - which is saying something. Not only did it win the Governor General's Award, the very first Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Nebula Award, and the Prometheus Award, it was also nominated for the Booker Prize. Then again, people are always trying to ban 1984, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Wrinkle in Time, and James and the Giant Peach (!) for goodness' sake, so I suppose anything is possible.

What were we talking about? Oh yeah, bigots imposing their antiquated values as a means of impeding progress*...

Calling the book 'rife with brutality towards and mistreatment of women (and men at times), sexual scenes, and bleak depression' and 'anti-Christian'**, not only has this bluestocking decided to celebrate Freedom To Read Week - February 22nd to 28th - with a spot of theocracy, he's neglected to also try and ban the Bible, which contains all of those things, plus slavery, incest, and polygamy*** besides.

The gentleman's name is Robert Edwards, and he's been quick to state that he doesn't seek to ban books, and that his only opposition to Atwood's novel is its occasional use of profanity; because high school kids have never heard profanity, since if they did they might start using it, and high school kids (especially high school boys) never use profanity. Right... So now not only is he censorious he's a pathological liar as well. And this person is responsible for raising a child!

Your spaceship is waiting Mr. Edwards; enjoy your flight back to the planet Total Fucking Deluded Nutso. Oh dear, now I suppose he'll try and get my blog banned because I used profanity... Bring it on, bitch! Not only should the Toronto School Board refuse to proceed with this matter, they should press criminal charges against Mr. Edwards, who should go to jail for even suggesting such a thing in 2009. I wonder what programs the school board will have to cut to pay for this total waste of time.

Next I expect comes book burnings, although that'll probably wait until Stephen Harper's Conservatives have succeeded in stealing themselves a majority government; then again, who can tell? The Alliance Church - from which the Prime Minister takes his marching orders directly rather than the electorate, 60% of whom are virulently opposed to him after all - is notoriously cagey about its political agenda, in the time-honoured tradition of Fascist organizations. Particularly galling is how these villains drape themselves in the words of a humble carpenter whose message was one of unconditional love and non-judgemental doctrines.

I have absolutely had it with Christians trying to force their beliefs on me; I've tried being sensible, I've tried being understanding, so now I'm going to try outrage and logic - outrage to keep my head from exploding, and logic because it's the best kind of poison with which to kill religion. No more Mr. Nice Gay indeed...

*Progress is also known as 'the forward motion of time'...
**Yeah? So?
***Among many other outrages.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Barington Encounter: Part Twelve

WARNING: The following excerpt of The Barington Encounter may not be suitable for all readers - such as wimps, wussies, and people offended by depictions of human sexuality because they aren't getting laid themselves. It contains content of a frank nature - including heterosexual boinking, adultery, and worst of all the smoking of cigarettes - which may be harmful to people living in the sort of denial that makes them think stuff like this never happens, and also anyone so brainwashed by their clergy that they've been rendered incapable of precisely the kind of critical thinking which might help them understand that their clergy are probably trying to hide something exactly like this from them by brainwashing them in the first place. Parental discretion is not advised, since it's usually parents who are offended by stuff like this, while the teenagers they're trying to 'protect' - in other words, 'lie to' - aren't. ~MSM


[1] * [2] * [3] * [4] * [5] * [6] * [7] * [8] * [9] * [10] * [11]

Oh, the Emmerdale theme tune was being emitted by the telly alright, but it wasn’t life on a northern farm interested Felicia Fripp this afternoon - no sirree bob, not by a long shot. In fact, it was an entirely different variety of animal husbandry which was consuming her thoughts just then...

After her confrontation with the alien from next door in her front garden she called up the vicar, Victor Vickers, and more or less ordered him to make a ‘pastoral visit’ - which euphemism seemed to fool everyone in the parish who mattered, as well as quite a few who didn’t. In the meantime there remained only the waiting, during which time she made a lacklustre attempt to put right the disarray she’d caused earlier, even though all of a sudden the fact that even with its mess her decor was pristine enough to feature in a spread in Hello magazine mattered to her not one whit.

Pacing up and down the front room, arms clamped about her newly bulbous chest, taking long inhales on a Chesterfield cadged from one of her husband’s many pathetically hidden packets - as if she was so stupid she’d never think to look for them in his golf bag! - she paused at the ends of each patrol and listened for it... Around and around her lounge she went in the same swirling motion as around and around in her head went the day’s events as well; yet with each pass those same thoughts became as disturbed as a nest of hornets in a lettuce spinner. Then, the tell-tale sound of the vicar’s Ford Cortina as it rounded the corner off of Castlewood Avenue and roared its way down the entire length of the street, first round one corner and then another, finally making its way up the lane and into the open shed in the back garden with all the subtlety of a candidate’s car two days before a hotly contested election.

That’s when she crossed into the kitchen and watched him from the window getting out of the car, his hat pulled low, before fetching one of Denis’ old coats from the boot and opening the back gate, scurrying up the garden path in a way that couldn’t have looked more dubious if it had actually been Denis coming home early in order to shag her brains out. It scarcely needs to be said that such a thing had never once happened, not even when they were newlyweds, although she knew because she’d seen him do it, Denis had often enough done just that with whatever random crumpet the company had assigned him from the typing pool.

The kitchen door opened and before Vickers could close it she hissed at him. ‘You fucking idiot!’

Shocked as he was to hear her utter a profanity, he pushed the door closed a little too roughly, rattling its numerous panes of glass into the deal. He even dared utter a peevish ‘Shush woman!’ before she’d uncrossed her arms; when she did, and when a voluptuous bosom that had never been there before sprang from her chest, Vickers’ eyes widened at the sight. It was a look which infuriated her further, which infuriation of hers aroused him all the more, which arousal of his flushed her genitalia with what felt like magma; a vicious cycle was developing - one which typically ended in a tangle of sweaty limbs and the moral morass which sadly too often accompanies it. While normally Felicia Fripp would have organized a hundred sheep-like protestors from the church into picketing such a thing inside twenty minutes - even if it occurred at night-time behind closed doors within the full sacrament of marriage - today she was feeling lusty enough to just let it happen. So rather than scolding him for shushing her, she cried out: ‘One of the aliens who just moved into number 14 put a curse on me!’

There was no part of her statement Victor Vickers understood - not the part about the alien and certainly not the part about the curse, although to be fair he had heard of the number 14, and suspected even without the context that it was also the number of a neighbouring house. Given the sight he now beheld with less and less blood accessible to his brain, though, his lack of understanding mattered to him not one whit. ‘Funny how an alien could put a curse on you that would turn out to be such a blessing to me,’ he said, approaching her like a silent movie villain, licking his lips and wringing his hands, demonstrating an earthiness which ill-suited his middle class upbringing.

With a disgusted exhalation she lit a new cigarette from the remainder of the old one then with a snap of her wrist tossed the fag-end the length of the kitchen, hitting the sink with deadly accuracy, turning on her heel with a haughty demeanour once she had. Of course, she went only as far as the fireplace, where she stood sulking; to which location he dutifully followed her, savouring as he did the sight of the two delicious mounds that had recently replaced her formerly flat buttocks retreating from him in such an ineffectual way that effectively rendered it a tease. Like a schoolboy being bullied on the yard, his cock squirmed this way and that, but failed to break free from the iron grip of his Church of England approved but Jeremy Paxman condemned Marks and Spencer’s underpants.

On the way he also managed to shed his shoes, his trousers, and finally even the cursed pants themselves, slinging his blazer over the chair nearest the fireplace in a neat move that would have better suited James Bond than a suburban clergyman who’d never been suave and was too old to start now. By the time his hands touched the sweet pink skin of her upper arms he was wearing nothing but his socks and his vest, which sight Felicia Fripp never got a chance to see, fortunately for him, although she was currently so aroused it scarcely would have mattered if she had.

He was behind her now, his rampant tadger and its inspiration assuming an identically furious posture; with one final draw she allowed the still-lit dog end to fall to the grate, and as his mouth began caressing her neck she exhaled in a way you wouldn’t care to have happen at Sellafield but if it happened in your front room in the middle of what until a half an hour ago was a very ordinary day indeed it might surprise you delightfully.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Good News: School Massacre Averted


A plot by two high school students to go on a shooting rampage at Winnipeg's Fort Richmond Collegiate and Lorette Collegiate, at the campus of the University of Manitoba, as well as at that city's Church of the Rock, was recently foiled by police. No motive was given for the attack, and as is often the case with an ongoing investigation police spokeswoman Constable Jacqueline Chaput was cagey with the details.

The two 17-year-olds involved - one male and one female - had been stockpiling stolen guns, and planned to target at least one specific person, gunning down anyone else who got in their way; the two have been arrested and police say the threat has been neutralized. The revelation comes following an investigation begun in November, an investigation which is naturally still underway.

Given their ages and the type of crime being contemplated, the Pop Culture Institute can only hope that the two will eventually be tried as adults, so that not only their names but the full nature of their grudges can become part of the public record - especially if, as is often the case in school shootings, the pair were being motivated by bullying.
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Friday Watchlist - January 16th

The Feeling - Never Be Lonely
The Fuzztones - Down on the Street
Joan Armatrading - Mama Mercy
New Christy Minstrels - We’ll Sing in the Sunshine
Charlotte Gainsbourg - 5:55
Fletcher Henderson - Singing the Blues
Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King - Forget-Me-Nots
Freddie King - Lowdown in Lodi
The Expendables - 24-7
Belle & Sebastian - Funny Little Frog
A Tribe Called Quest - Stressed Out
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - Me and Mia
Al Jolson - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Captain & Tennille - Love Will Keep Us Together
Miami Sound Machine - Bad Boys
Andrew W. K. - Ready To Die
Mastodon - Capillarian Quest
Pet Shop Boys - Absolutely Fabulous
Ludacris - Pussy Poppin’
Bette Midler - Come Rain Or Come Shine
Roy Ayers - Can’t You See Me
Eiffel 65 - Too Much of Heaven
Jamie Lidell - Music Will Not Last
Modest Mouse - Black Cadillac
Jason Mraz - Stranger in the Sky
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good News: Miracle On The Hudson


The incessant production of blog posts involving puppets and/or concerning the birthdays of obscure pop musicians, sitcom actors, and dark-haired hotties around here usually prevents me from including much in the way of current events - that plus the fact that I'm typically 4-7 days behind schedule - but every so often something somehow or other makes it onto the news that a) renews my faith in humanity, and/or b) doesn't rob me of the will to live - compelling me to shout 'Stop the presses!' like an old-timey newspaper editor in a black and white movie and spend half the night rearranging things to include it... Fortunately, it doesn't happen too often, but in amongst the writing initiatives I've planned to begin taking effect this year is one detailing Good News*, so from now on it will be happening more and more...

PhotobucketIt's apt, then, that the first installment of Good News should involve a story which even three days after the fact can't fail to bring a smile to my face, namely the ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 (shown above) into New York City's Hudson River following the loss of both of its engines due to bird strike.

Although the Airbus A320 itself is a write-off, thanks entirely to the quick thinking of pilot Chesley Sullenberger (shown at right) not only did the plane land safely but everyone on board survived, and no life-threatening injuries were reported. The 150 passengers and five crew were then brought to safety by a veritable flotilla of working boats, including those of the venerable Circle Line fleet.

Sullenberger - known as Sully - brought to bear his years of experience not only as a commercial pilot but from the seven years he served in the US Air Force in order to avert certain disaster. He then stayed behind, insisting that he be the last person rescued from the wreck; in fact, flight crew related the story that he personally inspected the plane at least twice before he'd allow himself to be ferried from it.

The Pop Culture Institute cannot say enough about the heroics of Captain Sullenberger, which must surely be proof of our immense admiration, since the hyperbolic application of adjectives is our favourite pastime. At a time of immense uncertainty, this story brought a pang of joy to the charcoal heart of this jaded reporter, making Sully a hero many times over; may we suggest to our American readers who are willing to take the time, please email your representative and senator, recommending him for the Presidential Medal of Freedom... Let one of President Obama's first acts as Chief Executive be the restoration of lustre to the country's highest civilian honor tarnished by his predecessor, who saw fit to award it to such criminals as George Tenet.

Plus, I'm already seeing the TV movie as an excellent vehicle for Ted Danson, or possibly Tom Skerritt...

*Not 'Good News' meaning the American Bible Society's thoroughly loathsome politicized version of the Bad Book but Good News in the sense of those stories which occasionally creep into the 24-hour news cycle that a) renew one's faith in humanity, and/or b) don't rob one of the will to live.
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Barington Encounter: Part Eleven

I've read and re-read this excerpt a dozen times, and I'll be damned if I can find a single suitable image in there to accompany this thrilling installment of The Barington Encounter; therefore, I've settled on this lovely picture of Beachy Head because a) it's in Sussex, and b) it's a place associated with death, which rears its ugly head here for the first time in this story. ~ MSM


[1] * [2] * [3] * [4] * [5] * [6] * [7] * [8] * [9] * [10]

It was more than an hour later when Gary Carlisle left number 14 Juniper Mews, and when he did he was whistling, or rather singing – or, let’s say, performing - the Andromedan national anthem. Indeed, he performed it to the other end of Juniper Mews, away from Castlewood Avenue, then along Wellington Boulevard, and down the busiest part of the High Street past the Balls chemist where he jauntily tossed a pound coin at its on-duty down-and-outer. At the next corner he turned sharply left and continued performing it while striding down the length of Cooper’s Close, making his way diagonally from one kerb to the other neither in the well-marked zebra crossing nor looking right before doing so. In fact, he was still performing it when he’d entered his own home at number 42.

That was what tipped off his wife...

You see, the Andromedan national anthem sounds an awful lot like an improvised series of slurping and gurgling noises, usually accompanied with the rasping from opening and closing a large jacket zipper in 7/4 time to an atonal melody which, when performed en masse, might remind one of Stravinsky being played backwards underwater. Only this May 12th, which so far and in so many ways had been so far from ordinary, had also been unseasonably warm. All of which meant Gary Carlisle had gone about his constabling perambulations earlier that morning in shirt sleeves - short shirt sleeves, and all - forcing him to improvise more than the slurps and the gurgles...

‘With the zip in your trousers?’ Mrs Carlisle, whose name was Trudy, was now shouting with some abandon, especially for Sussex. I mean, Essex definitely, Wessex possibly, but Sussex? Honestly...

‘Well I had to improvise,’ he said, as though that was an adequate explanation, and despite the fact that he’d never improvised a thing in his life. As a teenager he’d even painstakingly rehearsed his orgasms, though he was careful not to touch himself when he did, which his parents and Headmaster at the time all agreed was probably for the best.

That was when he told her the entire story of his day in the most policeman-like manner he could muster - from beginning to end, without prevarication; and the parts of it she understood she believed, as certainly as if they happened to her, as indeed they had. Unfortunately for her, though, the parts of his story she'd understood were the very beginning and the very end of the story only - namely those portions of her husband's recent adventure for which she’d actually been present - and since they weren’t the parts that dealt with aliens at all, let alone their national anthem and how he’d come to learn it, his explanation did little or nothing to alleviate her confusion in this instance.

‘Who or what in Hell are Andromedans?’ She stopped herself; lest she go quite wild with abandon she changed the subject, continuing in a kind of hoarse whisper so prevalent in the suburbs it was technically classed a sociolect. ‘And why are you suddenly obsessed with their national anthem anyway? You don’t even know our national anthem.’

This accusation so offended Gary Carlisle that he actually seemed to be physically injured by it; in fact, a bruise was already beginning to bloom on his left cheek. Not that he was aware of it; he was too busy wheedling. ‘I do too. I’ve been through police training.’ Whereupon without prompting he proceeded to sing the first verse of God Save the Queen, in a high quavering voice and with a Nigerian accent before lapsing into What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor in spot-on impersonation of Marlene Dietrich. When finally even he’d had enough of this he stopped, whereupon a quizzical look bloomed on his face over top of the bruise. ‘Hm. Maybe I don’t then. But I definitely know Land of Hope and Glory.’ Before he could demonstrate, though, Trudy Carlisle reflexively held one hand up to her husband’s mouth and the other to her own, hoping against hope to prevent any further or sudden emanation from either.

What happened next to Gary Carlisle is irrelevant, partly because it was both a seemingly minor event at the time and therefore irrelevant to the bigger picture inherent in the narrative, but mainly because within moments of its occurrence he died, thus distracting the author from discussing it further. However, the solace he found in his last few minutes on Earth by the continuous performance of the Andromedan national anthem greatly comforted him, no matter what havoc it may have wreaked on his wife and her digestive tract. It was that kind of song.

Though neither he nor anyone else alive on Earth at that moment (with the possible exception of the Centauri Health Minister, currently masquerading as a German welder on a beach at Torremolinos) could have possibly known it, the performance of the Andromedan national anthem is normally fatal to humans. Normally fatal within minutes, in fact... Simply hearing it will produce a violent reaction in most humanoid species, a fact which Trudy Carlisle and her stomach (currently performing dressage astride her intestines beneath her ribcage) knew all too well. Which is all the more surprising seeing as her husband had managed to not only live but seemingly thrive as well for more than two hours, while performing the song almost continuously at that.

It turns out that Gary Carlisle, while outwardly as ordinary a man and a constable as one could hope to meet (or not, depending on what you're into) was inwardly an extraordinary specimen of British manhood, a man and indeed a human whose DNA could have immeasurably improved the strength and endurance of the whole race if necessary. That is, if any of their number had known that, let alone known how to apply it.

The Andromedans had no idea either. In fact, they were quite in the dark – that is, until Gary Carlisle had showed up and shown them how their light switches worked, before demonstrating the correct way to wire up a plug on a DIYnot? torchiere that would not have looked out of place on a Doctor Who set attempting to replicate the Palace of Versailles. Their confusion was only to be expected, as the Andromedan national anthem had never been performed by a human before; they couldn't even have warned him not to perform it if they'd wanted to, which they would have done, since they were that kind of species. They merely turned up suspiciously promptly after the fact on their new friend’s doorstep with a welcoming basket of scones to find him recently dead (indeed, both cooling and stiffening on the kitchen floor) of some unspecified cause.

The aliens’ grief was inconsolable, but their attention span mercifully short; and so, while Trudy Carlisle was in the kitchen - ostensibly to make tea to go with their scones, but surreptitiously to ring 999 and babble semi-incoherently at the operator until he finally called her a nutter and rang off - the Andromedans merely absconded with the remains of their only friend in the world and hove back to Juniper Mews.

That they were able to do all of this in the curiously dignified manner which is the birthright of every Andromedan was a credit to them, seeing as they’d had to hire a mini-cab to do it in, and seeing as initially the driver had tried to hove them back to Hove, which was in the wrong direction altogether. Geography just wasn’t the mini-cab driver's best subject, you see; though he was a dab hand at geometry, his brothers thought it best if he drove the mini-cab today as they believed (mistakenly, it turns out) that the move they’d been hired to do today didn’t involve anything more geometric than an awful lot of flat-pack from DIYnot? and little else.

Somehow the aliens’ return to Number 14 failed to attract nearly the level of attention in Juniper Mews their arrival had, which upset them; four of them were still eager to test their assault vests, not to mention all of them being fond of idiosyncratic children’s stories and more than a little peeved at having had to miss the one Marlak had heard earlier, since his retelling did not do it justice. Then again, Emmerdale had just started, so no one saw the vicar’s car pull up at the ersatz Fripp Manor at the scandalous hour of two in the afternoon either.

While the tallest alien paid the driver then went ahead to close curtains, draw blinds, and shutter shutters in an effort to ensure both their privacy and discretion during the impending ritual, the other four whisked the five-foot-eight body of their dead friend the policeman through their faux-Georgian front door in the least mattressy manner possible.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday Watchlist - January 9th

Men At Work - Be Good Johnny
Janis Joplin - Mercedes-Benz
Journey - Faithfully
James Iha - Winter
Nina Simone - Mississippi Goddamn
Shirley Temple - Animal Crackers in My Soup
Tom Waits - Down, Down, Down
Alexei Sayle - Didn’t You Kill My Brother
Barenaked Ladies - Spider In My Room
Madonna - I Love New York
Michelle Shocked - The Ballad of Penny Evans
The Irish Descendants - Sam Hall
Green Day - Time of Your Life
The Ennis Sisters - Out From St. Leonard’s
Mark Knopfler - Boom Like That
Amy Winehouse - Love is a Losing Game
blink-182 - First Date
Reverend Horton Heat - Psychobilly Freakout
David Bowie - Panic in Detroit
Stone Roses - This Is The One
Vince Gill - What You Give Away
She Wants Revenge - Pretend the World Has Ended
Bill Justis - Rebel Rouser
Porter Wagoner - The Battle of Little Big Horn
Rufus Wainwright - In My Arms
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Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Barington Encounter: Part Ten


[1] * [2] * [3] * [4] * [5] * [6] * [7] * [8] * [9]

Inside 14 Juniper Mews was a sight for which Gary Carlisle was wholly, utterly, mercilessly unprepared; even that time he’d found the body floating off Barington-on-Sea Pier - the one that later turned out to be a mannequin - even that he’d managed to take in his stride after a severe bout of vomiting, a mild panic attack, and a spot of light weeping. But this... This was something else.

Across the threshold he stept, into a pitch black hallway; opening the light switch he was serenaded from within and without by five girlish screams, a sound more normally heard of a Saturday night on the Barington-to-Brighton line than mid-day in Juniper Mews, it’s true, but under the circumstances he was oddly grateful it wasn’t five actual girls screaming but five grown men... Even if they were five grown, blue men.

Normally his natural timidity - the same quality his Deputy Inspector said made him the ideal police constable for modern Britain - would have had Gary Carlisle calling for back up long before now; only when the street looked like a carpark, with enough panda cars to hold a disco, would he deign to set foot in the yard. But not today... Today he removed his hat, tucked it under his arm, and forged ahead, into the unknown, regardless of what perils might lie ahead...

While without 14 Juniper Mews was distinct, even from its neighbours, within he was pleased to discover it was a house not unlike his own. Both of them, it seems, having been built at the same time by the same builders; despite being half a mile apart their floor plan was nearly identical, yet despite being nearly identical their decor couldn’t have differed more, at which discovery Gary Carlisle released a heavy sigh borne of not inconsiderable relief.

‘Thank you,’ said the alien, a heavy sigh of relief being the Andromedan word for ‘I admire the audacity of your decor’. This house in which he found himself was delightfully unencumbered by Axminster-ish carpets, heavy Victorian-esque furniture in dark wood adorned with dust-catching curlicues, and entirely, utterly, blissfully devoid of chintz to boot. In fact, the blank walls here and there adorned with sophisticated gadgetry, the sleek chrome and black leather furniture, and the delightful lack of cupids made for a very male environment indeed. Almost erotically so, in fact...

If he briefly felt ill-at-ease in the aliens’ home it was because it looked a little too much like a gay sauna he’d once seen on Graham Norton’s Christmas in Soho - which he’d only watched anyway so his wife wouldn’t think he was homophobic - than any house he’d ever been into in Barington; if anything it looked like the radiology department at St. Bartholomew’s in London where he’d had his ultrasound that time. The fact that the combined kitchen and dining room was, in relative terms, crawling with identical blue men of unknown provenance in the process of rapidly and precisely stowing the considerable contents of the lorry parked outside was less unsettling to him even than the idea that at any moment one of them might make a grab at his bollocks.

‘Come in friend,’ said a voice behind Gary Carlisle, which made him jump as much from the surprise of it as the image of his own surprisingly robust bottom - which he’d never even seen - an image which chose that moment of all moments to flash through his brain. ‘Who are you?’

‘My name is PC Gary Carlisle of the Barington Constabulary,” he offered, somewhat prosaically, even for him.

‘I’m well aware of that information from the various badges stitched upon your uniform,’ offered the alien in a maddeningly neutral albeit still posh tone, positioning himself to facilitate a face-to-face, if not quite a tete-a-tete. ‘What I meant was who are you?’

‘Oh, I see...’ said Gary Carlisle, even though he did not, and even though a moment later he not only did but did perfectly - just like he never had done in his entire life. ‘I’m just an ordinary middle-aged bloke trying to get through life without embarrassing myself too deeply at any one time, and hoping that my best days aren’t behind me but more afraid with each passing day after identical day that they are.’

To this day he had no idea why he said it, although to be fair, this was the same day and in fact the same minute in which he’d said it, so the realization hadn’t had much time to sink in yet, let alone given a more complex analysis time to percolate. Still, he’d been less forthcoming with his own wife during that hoary old courtship tradition of the five-hour-long phone call following the second date, for goodness’ sake.

‘You must be an Andromedan at heart,’ said the alien to whom he’d been speaking, who proffered a chair which 90 seconds earlier had been a box of chair parts accompanied by an Allen wrench. ‘Or at least at one of your hearts.’

Gary Carlisle sat in the chair, a little nervously, since he was familiar with the effects of DIYnot? furniture in the hands of the kinds of inexpert assemblers of it with whom he worked; the one into which he sat, to his relief, seemed more than adequately sturdy. ‘So, Andromeda... Is that where you’re from?’ he enquired, attempting a kind of nonchalance he’d been trained to use but had never had call to even attempt before this moment.

Before the alien could answer, though, there came a quiet rapping at the door; all within turned to face Jasbir, who was standing sheepishly in the entrance and all but reaching up into the front of his turban to tug at what promised to be a considerable forelock. ‘We’re all done boss,’ he said, with a grin only an NHS dentist could love.

‘Thank you again, kind sir,’ the alien said. ‘May the name Jasbir resonate throughout the ages, and may Great Britain forever remain a land of Grewals.’ At which point the alien made a sound not unlike a prolonged belch which, while being the Andromedan word for ‘thank you’, had a meaning understood everywhere in the universe there were males of a species, which was fewer places than you might care to know about - depending on what you’re into. The odd expression on the Indian’s face now was one neither the alien nor the policeman could comprehend, but would have clearly communicated the words ‘what a nutter’ to any random person on or indeed even from the Subcontinent. Still, before any further interpretation of it could be made his facial expression, like the man himself, was gone...

‘Nice chap,’ said the alien, his head turning jerkily and his body turning smoothly to allow him to alight on a chair of his own. ‘To answer your question,’ he said, the moment he’d sat down, ‘My colleagues and I are indeed from Andromeda.’

‘Used to be a series on telly called Andromeda,’ offered Gary Carlisle, for no other reason than the pressure to create small talk where none had ever been before, which was just one more English disease spread about the globe by their once-mighty Empire, and the only one worse than smallpox, although it was slightly better than overcooked Sunday lunch.

‘Did it concern a civilization paralyzed by boredom, where intellect is the favoured form of prowess, and diplomacy an athletic event?’

Gary Carlisle wracked his brain to remember the single episode of the show he’d seen a decade earlier during a baffling bout with insomnia. ‘No.’

‘Typical,’ said the alien, becoming jaded already having been on Earth a grand total of six hours. ‘Bloody television.’ At the rate he was going he’d be going on about the decline in values or the rise in prices in a moment.

By now three of the remaining four aliens were seated on their own chairs, while the fifth bustled around the ultra-modern cooker at the state of the art electric kettle and the pristine kitchen sink, oohing and awing this way and that at how delightfully primitive (and therefore quaint) it all was. Once again, the chatty alien spoke: ‘I am Marlak.’

‘Pleased t’meet cha Marlak,’ said Gary Carlisle in a folksy way that would not have been out of place in Wiltshire, although it was as far removed from the purview of his own vocabulary as it was from his distinctly Sussex-y geographical location. As if suddenly remembering his manners, he held out his hand; the three silent aliens sniggered, while the one preparing the tea said nothing since his back was still to them. Marlak remained stoic.

‘On my planet, this hand gesture is the word for ‘gynecologist’,’ Marlak said, at which Gary Carlisle pulled his hand away so fast it made a breeze. ‘If you wiggle the fingers, it means ‘popular gynecologist’,’ he felt compelled to add but needn’t have. More giggles from his friends encouraged him on. ‘If two of you do it at each other it means ‘lesbian gynecologist’!’ Gary Carlisle’s own giggles joined the chorus made by the others; just to give the bit a punchline, Gary Carlisle jumped up and proffered his hand, fingers wiggling, which motion Marlak mirrored, and which action made the house fairly reverberate with five-sixths alien and one-sixth human laughter, a hitherto unheard-of sound, albeit a not unpleasant one.

Recovering somewhat, Gary Carlisle offered to explain what a handshake was, and how one should go about performing one, even though most people on Earth had been shown this repeatedly throughout their lives and still did it improperly, which was one of his greatest pet peeves. (Not the bad handshakes - the inability or unwillingness or sheer bloody-minded cheek not to follow basic instructions.) Before he could begin, though, a melodious flute-like sound as unlike a ring-tone as possible emanated from the vast telly, at which all the aliens turned their heads and bodies in various combinations of jerkily and fluidly, and which would have reminded Gary Carlisle of the musical Cabaret, had he ever seen it; it was Marlak, though, who rose and glided over to the machine where it leant against the wall. Grasping the vast thing at either side with his impressive arm span and hanging it perfectly on the once-empty wall without a nail or a hook or anything, Marlak then touched the tiny red button at the bottom right corner of it; at which the button made the sound of a meerkat coughing, which was the Andromedan word for ‘on’. Even had Gary Carlisle known this, he still would have found it odd, since on Earth most consumer electronics neither answer back nor state their intentions in so many words, but just get on with it once their buttons were pushed - not unlike football hooligans. In fact, it was just one of the reasons he preferred machines to people.

Seconds later, the screen came alive as though its two-dimensional surface had melted from ice to water to gas at once, whereupon its surface reconstituted itself as an image so clear it better resembled an opening; at the centre of the image that next appeared was a pale young man with shoulder-length pure-white hair wearing what looked like long underwear. Both facially and bodily he resembled a statue of Apollo Gary Carlisle had seen while on a school outing to the British Museum, which was a not altogether unpleasant sight, even if he wasn’t into that sort of thing; the other thing he noticed was that, skin colour aside, this man looked exactly like the five aliens in the room with him.

Behind this man - who for some reason Gary Carlisle couldn’t take his eyes off - was a scene of unparallelled splendour. It looked to him as though the largest city he’d ever seen had been built inspired by the Parthenon, a jagged skyline of white marble as far as they eye could see, which, given the resolution of the telly and the startling lack of air pollution, was a very long way indeed. The figure made a grave V-sign, palm up, accompanied by an oddly dignified raspberry sound. ‘Greetings...’

All five aliens were now crowded ‘round the set like over-eager toddlers trying to get closer to Noddy, or Sooty, or La-La - whomever happened to be on - although they’d considerately left a view corridor up the middle for their guest to see through; for his part Gary Carlisle sat rooted to the chair he’d taken for fear that standing up might either finish loosening his bowels or else betray the spontaneous erection he’d gotten from the appearance of the man on the screen.

‘I see you have met a human,’ the man said, seeming to talk to his co-specieists while looking straight at Gary Carlisle, almost... He knew it was too odd to be true, but almost as though the man onscreen could see him.

Marlak turned, both head and body smoothly this time. ‘Say hello human.’ That was when Gary Carlisle noticed that Marlak had also ‘pitched a tent on his own common’. As had they all...

There followed an awkward pause in which the many forms of panic he was experiencing - chief among them that he’d just thrown a boner from looking at a bloke for the first time in his life, not knowing that a stiffy was the equivalent of a salute on Andromeda. ‘Can he see me?’ Gary Carlisle enquired, his already small voice having somehow gotten smaller.

‘Of course he can,’ said Marlak, as though that should have been obvious. ‘It is my pleasure to introduce you to our Emperor, Hngork.’

At least, that’s what Gary Carlisle thought he’d called him; for all the world (and who knows how many others as well) the name had sounded like the noise one makes to get phlegm off the back of one’s throat an hour after eating too much custard. ‘Um, um, um um,’ he stammered before regaining enough of his composure to say ‘Pleased to make your acquaintance, your Emperor-ship,’ - the mere sound of which made him cringe. At which sign of the utmost respect the heretofore grave monarch grinned like an Essex girl on a hen night (which, it scarcely needs to be said, did not even remotely mean what Gary Carlisle thought it meant; after all, how could it?). If he didn’t know a cringe meant ‘It’s an honour to meet you’, how could he possible know a maniacal grin meant ‘The pleasure is all mine’... Although, to be strictly honest, it had a similar meaning on Earth as well.


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Friday, January 02, 2009

Friday Watchlist - January 2nd

MGMT - Love Between The Sheets
Jim Reeves - He'll Have To Go
Blondie - Heart of Glass
Lily Allen - Littlest Things
Bob Dylan - Forever Young
Fairground Attraction - Station Street
The Ting Tings - Fruit Machine
Dragonette - Competition
Connie Francis - Lipstick on Your Collar
Kaiser Chiefs - Never Miss A Beat
Martha and the Muffins - Song in My Head
The Rolling Stones - Waiting on a Friend
Culture Club - Miss Me Blind
Sade - Hang On To Your Love
Napalm Death - Circle of Hypocrisy
Led Zeppelin - Black Dog
Bad Religion - Anti-Social Girl
Propellorheads featuring Shirley Bassey - History Repeating
Doris Day - On Moonlight Bay
Sheryl Crow - Love Is All There Is
Barry Manilow - Could It Be Magic
Patsy Cline - I Fall To Pieces
Lethal Bizzle - What Now?
Jimi Hendrix - The Wind Cries Mary
Adele - Chasing Pavements
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RIP Jett Travolta

The teenage son of actors John Travolta and Kelly Preston, Jett Travolta has died today while on vacation with his family in the Bahamas; the above clip is from CBS News.

While normally the Pop Culture Institute maintains a news embargo on Scientology and its practitioners, the family's 'religious' beliefs may come to bear on this case; the younger Travolta had a history of health problems, including seizures, which his parents no doubt tried treating with Thetan mumbo-jumbo and biofeedback machines rather than actual medicine. If that is indeed the case, there's so much more at stake here than the tragic death of a teenager.

Needless to say, the truth may never come out about exactly what the nature of Jett Travolta's illness was or what, if anything, was done to treat it. If the nature of our coverage today seems cold it must be stated that our sympathies are with his family and friends, but if justice needs to be served, it's Jett Travolta's side we're on first and foremost.
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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009!


It's that time of year again, when my best intentions brush aside the fly-like attention spans with which I've been known to use to put them into force, and engage in that annual ritual of self-delusion known as the writing of the New Year's Resolutions...

This year they are a streamlined version of the same ones I've always made - to seek more balance in my life, to work more and harder at this blog and all its concomitant endeavours, and to spend my money more wisely - but to these I would add guidelines that might make actually carrying them out possible. Guidelines such as ignoring the voice in my head that says none of it matters since I'm so ugly I don't deserve to live; after all, just because a voice in your head tells you something doesn't mean it's true, especially if it's not your voice saying it. For all my horror of the double standards of others, I realize nothing I hope to accomplish will be possible until such time as I also eschew those which have been self-imposed.

To my personal mantra of 'self-improvement at all times and at all costs' I will always be true, but it's time to add a proviso which every parasite knows by instinct: namely, that killing the host is counter-productive. Meaning I need to eat better, keep a cleaner apartment, and not just smile when I'm crying inside but because I'm crying inside. It also means apportioning the self-esteem generated by creating this blog into other areas of my life, so that if I should come face to face with any of my horde of Facebook admirers I won't hold them in contempt for their attraction to me as I have done in the past. As a strictly hypothetical example, of course.

Finally, I would like to reiterate my utmost desire that any success I may encounter not reside in me but instead move through me, and so allow me to do whatever I can to make that tiny portion of the world I encounter the best possible place...
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