Monday, July 21, 2003


At first it was a bane. In elementary school it was all that's-a-girl's-name and teasing and the usual chasing around the schoolyard.

It still causes issues, my unisex name.

Once, a middle-aged male journalist invited me out for a beer after I had contacted him for something or another. I thought, "Maybe he's just asking me because he's a dirty old lech wanting to ogle a college-age girl."

Thinking myself clever, I emailed back saying it would be nice to meet him, when should we go, etc, etc:

"P.S. Just so you know, I'm a guy."

He was terribly insulted, thinking that I thought him a middle-aged lech eager to ogle a college-age girl. Which, of course, I did, being inclined to believe the stereotypes one has about middle-aged male journalists.

There was no beer.

Now I am rather thankful for my unisex name. It occasionally affords me the opportunity to transcend gender, which can be fun, liberating. Women aren't the only ones who can feel trapped.

This thread on a Baseball website amused me terribly. The bit where they debate my gender.

I'm not usually privy to that conversation. Nice window in.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Summer Blogging Madness!

Okay, clearly I haven't been updating that often lately. But, forgoshsakes, it's summer!

What are you doing on the Internet, anyway? Go outside and play catch or something...

Memo to Friends

"Hey! Go to Google and type in 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' and then hit 'I'm Feeling Lucky'..."

Yeah, yeah, I know already!

I can't believe how many people have sent me emails about this. They come in waves.

Could this be the biggest meme yet? Bigger than "all your base are belong to us"?

Someone should track this. Is there some sort of memetracker out there?

Personal Testimonies

What anonymous people are saying about On the Fence and/or J. Kelly Nestruck:

"How fucking pathetic... Who this Nestruck person? A friend (or, more likely, child of a friend) of the Aspers?" -- greyherring, Frank website.

"Much worse than [Rebecca] Eckler - and that is saying something." -- lurker, Frank website.

"Kelly, you certainly are a right-wing press slut! You should get a green card and go work at Disney World in the States! Or CNN - same difference." -- poster going by the name of Coutney.

"you're just ludicrous ... quit journalism while you're ahead." -- greyherring, again on the Frank website.

Insults always welcome at

Friday, July 11, 2003

Media Slut Update: I lost my cell phone; Pedro Martinez found it; Stop the Presses!

It's true.

I went down to the Skydome last night and picked the phone up. Got to meet Mr. Martinez afterwards. Terribly kind fellow.

From today's National Post:

Baseball superstar phones Post and asks for Batman (not batboy, Batman)
He said, "I'm Pedro Martinez. I replied, "Sorry -- who are you?"

Well, of course, we ran this on the front page today. I didn't really expect anyone else to pick it up, however.

But Associated Press and Canadian Press picked it up and now it's all over the place, for instance on ESPN's website.

And I did an interview with a New Hampshire radio station called The Score.

Then - thrill of all thrills - I got bashed on Frank magazine's website in the Remedial Media section. I was a little less than pleased that they linked to my high school webpage which I have been trying to delete for years, but I guess this means I've really made it, huh?

(A special hello to all you Frankies out there! You're just jealous I got to meet Martinez...)


Just moments after I updated my blog, some guy going by the name of greybeard posted my post on the Frank forum. A post about a post about a post about an article in the Post? That's too damn meta for me.

Also, he refers to me as "R. Kelly Turniptruck." Huzzah! My first Frank nickname...

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Fringe Diary: I'm Exposed!

Donovan King, the man behind the "Reclaim the Fringe" movement has "exposed" me as a corporate blogger working for CanWest Global in cahoots with the Fringe festival to undermine his movement and keep the man down. Check it out, yo..

Mr. King has been upset at the Fringe festivals, what he calls Fringe (TM), since his show Car Stories was kicked out of the 2001 Montreal Fringe. Mr. King claims that the Gazette threatened to removed its sponsorship from the festival if Car Stories was not kicked out.

The independent Quebec press association and many journalists have investigated the situation and found there to be no real basis for Mr. King's claims.

Michael writes...

Michael, who keeps an excellent page on the Montreal Fringe, writes in response to this poorly-written press release from Donovan and/or his minions:

Somebody ought to tell the minions (or is it the fool himself posting under different names?) that Chuck McEwen is no longer president of CAFF. I gather his term has expired, and Miki Stricker is now president (and I believe Chuck is now treasurer or secretary).

At least, over on the Ottawa Fringe site, she/he has a message on behalf of CAFF. I think she must be running Ottawa now, though she was previously listed with one of the Fringes out West. But unfortunately, like most things Fringe related, CAFF doesn't have a website, or much of an internet presence, so it's really hard to be certain. I've tried to drill nto Patrick and Jeremy's heads that the way to control these outside threats to the Fringe is by being out there themselves.

I wonder how long after the Idiot discovers that Chuck McEwen is no longer president of CAFF that they will claim that they got him fired from the position?

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Fringe, Day 6: Five Shows... and a Show of My Own

Okay, so I haven’t really had a chance to post my Fringing notes for a few day, mainly because I was Fringing hard. I’ve met a lot of fine people over the last few days and I shan’t list them all. I will, however, give you a quick run-down of the shows I caught Saturday and Sunday.

Sabotage : In Fine Form

I was nervous. You see, I brought my friend Ben along to see the show and I had hyped the Sabotage boys up as being really funny, hilarious, etc, etc.

My credibility as an arbitor of what is funny and what is not funny was at stake.

About 15 minutes into the show, I relaxed. Fuckin’ hilarious. That’s all I can say. I love these guys and I think I have to go back again later this week.

JOB II: The Demon of Eternal Recurrence

Much as I admire these guys and the incredible work they do, I didn’t like this show as much as its predecessor JOB: The Hip-Hop Musical. The sequel has a more complex story, more to say philosophically, more social commentary, and perhaps it got bogged down a bit because of all that. I think perhaps it needs to be another half an hour or so in length for them to more fully explore the characters and plot.

My other complaint is that I have trouble following what is going on some of the time. But I had a bit of this problem last year too. I have trouble making out the words. (Though, MC Cain and MC Abel do stop and bring us back up to speed from time to time.)

I don’t know how it could be done without losing the hip-hop feel for the show, but I’d like clearer enunciation from Jerome and Eli.

I’m critical because I like it. The audience loved it. It’s worth the money. Jerome and Eli have not just created another good show, they’ve successfully proved that the Hip-hop musical is a genre, one that can keep its appeal even after the concept loses its novelty.

A Canadian Bartender at Butlin’s

I’m profiling T.J. Dawe later this week for The Post, but I stopped taking notes after about 15 minutes of ACBAB. What a masterful storyteller! T.J. had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand – and that included me.

Go already.


I saw Nharcolepsy after five games of squash and two other Fringe plays, so – to be honest – I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind. There’s nothing fast-paced about Harrington and Kaufman’s show, in which they reprise the roles of a Belgian cabaret singer and his slow, nearly-mute assistant, this time on a trip to the North Pole in search of the Yeti. In my state, I didn’t have the patience to enjoy this piece the way I think I might have under different circumstances. I wanted some dancing girls, maybe.

Several friends of mine, whose opinions I hold very highly, consider these two to be one of the funniest troupes on earth. The friend I saw Nharcolepsy with on Sunday evening, however, hated it and thought it was lazy and completely unfunny.

I think I’m the only one who has seen it and been ambivalent.

Caveat Emptor.

Self-Promotional Update: A train, a train, a train, a train, would you could you on a train…

I didn’t attend the Fringe tonight because I have to be up early in the morning. 5:30am, I think. I haven’t been up that early since… Well, I don’t think I’ve ever really been up that early, unless I stayed up all night.

I’m going to be an extra on the Global show Train 48, you see, and they start taping at the ungodly hour of 7 am, way out in Don Mills.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Do check it out if you get a chance tonight at 7pm on Global.

Email in your Fringe gossip, reviews and news to

Saturday, July 05, 2003

In Memory of Mordecai Richler

It was about a week before Mordecai Richler died -- two years ago on July 3, 2001 -- that I walked into The Word used bookstore on Milton and picked up a copy of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. I embarrassedly explained to the girl behind the counter that I had never actually read it, or anything by Richler. "I mean, I've read his newspaper column and all, of course," I stuttered. "And I follow the careers of his kids."

The clerk told me not to feel bad: she hadn't read Richler yet either and was determined to get on it that week. Whew!

When Richler fell ill, I felt partially responsible. Here I was bringing sickness to him, simply by reading his book. But the story begins at a fictional school located on St. Dominique, just up the street from where I lived at the time, so I couldn't stop then.

The day he died, I was stunned. I felt numb and raced through the pages atoning for some imagined sin by immersing myself in a Plateau of yesteryear.

While at work, on one of my many breaks, I reached the midway point of Duddy Kravitz. "Maybe Lennie'll turn out to be the guy who finds the cure for cancer," says Duddy's father Max about his other McGill-enrolled son.

Max continues, "That would be a big thing for the Jews. One of ours finding the cancer-cure. Aw, they'd still make us trouble."

I was slightly impressed that mere hours after Richler's death, I would stumble across a cancer-related passage in Richler's most celebrated book. But I fell off the couch, when I glanced at the page number: 173. That day, the day Mordechai bit the dust, was the 3rd of the 7th month of 2001. The numerological significance blew me away.

I became convinced that this passage fell on page 173 in all copies of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, and not just the 1969 McClelland and Stewart paperback edition that I had picked up.

After getting off work, I stayed up for a couple of hours reading late into the night, despite having worked for 13 hours straight. I had to force myself to go to sleep.

I dreamt about Mordechai. He spoke to me in my kitchen and invited me to go smoke shisha with him on Emery St. He tried to get me to donate my fruit bowl to Sun Youth. "For Mr. MacPherson," he insisted, teeth covered with tar protruding from his mouth menacingly.

When I awoke, I eschewed the morning paper for Duddy and polished off the book by the end of my shift that day. I felt cleansed and no longer entirely responsible for Richler's death. I had achieved some sense of catharsis.

The other book I picked up at The Word that fateful date at the end of June was John Irving's The World According to Garp.

Pray for him, folks.

Next entry: Back to the Toronto Fringe Festival. Email your comments and bizarre Richler-related stories to
Day Three of the Toronto Fringe: Maggie Gyllenhaal is so hot!

I had an excellent day on the Fringe, so let's get right to it, strike a pose, there's nothing to it...

Shakespeare's Gladiator Games

Okay, so I couldn't hear a lot of what was being said and there were a few too many amputated penises, but Upstart Crow's Shakespeare's Gladiator Games was just plain fun.

The show is a weird comic amalgamation of Troilus and Cressida, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, Julius Caesar, Titus Andronicus and Antony and Cleopatra, presented as a cable sports show on UCSN (Upstart Crow Sports Network).

The play, which takes place outside in University of Toronto's Trinity College Playing Field, is a giant postmodern mess of just about everything. At one point, they manage to reference/parody Monty Python's Life of Brian, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and Titus Andronicus all at once. Julie Taymor is mocked incessantly. There are lots of Greeks and Romans with funny names like in the Asterix and Obelix comic books.

The jokes are corny, the puns are punny: I loved it. Frivolous and clever mix of high and low.

Also, the actress who plays Cressida (Sandra Berjan) looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal. Swoon! (More on her later.)


That's the name of the show: Will.

It seems like ages since I left a theatre in tears. How wonderful to be reminded up just how gut-wrenching and cathartic theatre can be.

Excellent performances by Jennifer Gauthier and Marjorie Chan as a mother and daughter, growing apart, torn apart by a buried past.

The story is about family secrets and how destructive they can be. It's also about mothers and daughters. Its themes are universal, its plot straight-forward and unadorned by gimmicks (unlike most Fringe plays).

Crisp, sparkling dialogue. A truly perceptive script, free of cliche.

At first, I felt that the actors were rushing through the play. Ultimately, however, I think the fast pace was a good idea from director Tara Bastikar; the whole play felt like a sprint to the finish line and, consequently, left me breathless.

And, as I mentioned before, I left the theatre in tears. Heartbreaking.

Highly recommended folks. Bravo.

Random Fringe Gossip

So, yeah. I headed to the Fringe Club/Beer Tent after Will..

There, who did I see, but Sandra Berjan in all her Maggie-Gyllenhaal-esque glory. Go talk to her, Kelly. It can't hurt.

But I chickened out...

So, I had a few beers and chatted with some of the fantastic Fringe folks hangin' around tonight.

Chuck McEwen was congenial.

So were the cast and crew of Living Room, which is going on in the basement of the Sonic Boom music show on Bloor near Bathurst. Co-writer Andrea Donaldson and I and a couple other guys had an excellent discussion about fetuses (feti?) who can ride bicycles and play the drums and whether or not a coconut was a mammal. (It gives milk and it breathes: therefore, possibly, a mammal.)

The cast of Baby Steps was also quite nice, though I think they were only talking to me because they knew I was a journalist. (Damnit! I thought they liked me for me!)

Shenoah Allen (from Sabotage) and Jem Rolls (from, well, Jem Rolls) were fun to chat with. It turns out that Shenoah's car (which was stolen last week in Montreal) has turned up. Police found it about two blocks away from where Shenoah had parked it, but its windows were broken and it had been hotwired.
The theory posited by the Imponderables is that, because Shenoah accidentally killed a deer with the car a few years ago, it was the ghost of the deceased deer that stole the car and took it for a joyride -- as a weird sort of beyond-the-grave deer revenge.

Aha! I knew I had spied the talented Lori Delorme from Unsinkable and the Hungarian Suicide Duel earlier this week. Turns out that she is directing a comedy called Scrambled Eggs being presented at Venue 8.

(This is NOT to be confused with the sketch comedy show Leggs over Easy, also playing in Venue 8. Apparently, the Leggs girls showed up at the Scrambled Eggs show on Thursday and were checking with the people in line to make sure that they hadn't mixed up the two shows. Wooo... Talk about a breach of Fringe Etiquette.)

Turns out also that Lori saw me play Socrates in Symposium: The Musical in Montreal Fringe 2001.

Anyway, after I related my new-found love for Magg--- er, Sandra Berjan to Lori and Shenoah, they encouraged me to go and talk to her. Go on, they said, what do you have to lose?

So, taking a deep breath, I went up to Sandra and promptly turned around and went to the bathroom. She was talking to a much more attractive man. Sigh.

On my way out of the bathroom, however, I bumped into her again. Mustering up the courage, I said:

Hey, you were in Shakespeare's Gladiator Games, right?

Yes, she replied.

It was *squeak* good...

Oh, thank you...

And then she was gone with handsome boy.


Non-Fringe-Related Blog News

1. I found out today that I'm going to be an extra on Train 48 next Tuesday. Yay, convergence!

2. Scottish Blogger Peter is quitting smoking. Go give him encouragement at

Send your Fringe gossip and lovelife advice to

Friday, July 04, 2003

Day Two of the Toronto Fringe: In which I actually go to see shows...

An Act of God

Can I be honest with you? I was a little disappointed in this show. I've seen a couple of Joel Fishbane's plays before and, well, I think this is probably my least favourite of them all.

Which doesn't mean that this play is bad... I don't want to deter you from going. This show has moments in which it really shines: It does a good job of making you think. The cast is uniformly good. There are a few very well-written jokes that totally killed.

Now for some quibbling:

1) This play needs some dramaturgy and it needs to be directed by someone other than the playwright. There are parts of the script which contradict each other, little plot inconsistancies that could be easily ironed out. I have a feeling that Fishbane is too attached to his words (as all playwrights are) to make the cuts/changes that are necessary.
2) The Adam K. Adams role, played by Scott Faulconbridge, is underwritten. Compared to all the other characters, A.K.A. seems flat. I love watching Faulconbridge on stage. He's just plain fun to watch. I wish he had been given more to work with here.

And now a compliment: Fishbane has written an (almost) perfect ending. Endings are really hard to write, but this ending is enderiffic. With a little work the whole play could be brilliant, even Stoppardesque...

The One Man 80's Blank Tape

Charles Ross follows up last year's One Man Star Wars Trilogy with this show, a blast from the past directed by T.J. "Mirvish of the Fringe" Dawe.

Tonight was the first time Ross has performed this show in front of an audience and he did a marvelous job taking us on a tour of 80s pop-culture detritus like: Juicy Fruit ads, The Muppet Show, The Breakfast Club, Dirty Dancing, Night Court, the Karate Kid, the Princess Bride, Whatchamacallit ads (the candy bar, remember?), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Dark Crystal, etc, etc.

Also, for the second year in a row, the Toronto Fringe has featured a musical version of Top Gun on its stages. Someone should alert the Guinness Book of World Records. (Ross only does about 1 minute of Top Gun, however, unlike last year's hit Top Gun! The Musical.)

Verdict: Fun, but disturbing. In the end, I walked away amused but somewhat depressed: is this what is being stored in the recesses of my memory? I didn't even have cable in the 80s, so why do I recognize so much of this?

...And in the audience of TOM80sBT..

... Were a whole bunch of Fringe actors, directors and playwrights, as well as several representatives of the media. What this meant is that, while the house was pretty full, very few of those patrons were actual paying customers.

But that's a smart move, Fringers... Hold free volunteer shows and give away tickets at the beginning of your run. It's good for word of mouth, which is the best sort of publicity you can get.

So who was there?

- T.J. Dawe, the aforementioned director and "Mirvish of the Fringe". (I'm trying to get that nickname to catch on.)

- Nicola Gunn and Mark Chavez, the Fringe Power Couple. Gunn is the star of the WONDERFUL Tyrannous Rex and Chavez is the director of Tyrannous, as well as half of the HILARIOUS comic duo Sabotage.

- Peter Katz and Melissa-Lynn Dozois, director and star of Uncle Jack. Poor Uncle Jack only had eight people in the audience tonight. I haven't seen the show yet, but it has good buzz and the cast and crew are very congenial people who will happily give you tips on where to buy flashing lights for your bicycle. (Dozois recommends the shop on Bloor across from the Beer Tent. Also, did you know that you can get a $110 fine for riding your bike without a bell here in Toronto? Good God!)
So go see Uncle Jack folks; they deserve more than eight audience members. And send me your reviews or comments or Toronto bicycling tips to

- Oh, one last thing about Uncle Jack. Peter confirmed for me tonight that Andrew Katz -- the guy who sent me a review of Uncle Jack during the Montreal Fringe - is indeed his brother. I told you so, Vava Laverite!

Fringe Trivia: Which theatre company's car was stolen in Montreal?

Burning City New Works Company a.k.a. the guys behind Sabotage: In Fine Form. Mark Chavez, Shenoah Allen and Nicola Gunn (Tyrannous Rex) had to come to Toronto by train, because of the vehicular disappearance.

Kate Taylor Watch!

Two days down and no sight of Globe and Mail Theatre Critic Kate Taylor! Perhaps, unable to stand the heat, she is hiding with Mme. Proust in the Kosher Kitchen?

Send yer gossip, tidbits, and pseudo-celebrity sightings to

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

First Day of the Toronto Fringe is over...

... and despite my claims that I would see a couple of shows tonight, I have yet to see a single one. Various factors -- including work, a snarky (but then apologetic) ticket vendor, and a pot of uneaten Pad Thai noodles with chicken -- conspired to keep me from the Fringe.

I did make a stop by the Transac club (aka Fringe HQ), however, to pick up my press pass (for my day job duties). While making a brief stop there (I left my 4-ways on), I did spot one Imponderable (the sinister-looking one with the dark hair; Tony Lombardo?), and one of the talented women from Unsinkable and the Hungarian Suicide Duel (either Michelle Winters or Lori Delorme), Fringe hits from years gone by.

Also hanging around the beer tent playing their guitars were James Downing and Paul Gibson, the stars of That Boy, a play described as 'Othello' meets 'Spinal Tap' and this year's winner of the Fringe New Play Contest.

I promise some real honest-to-goodness, I-hung-around-the-Fringe-and-saw-some-shows news tomorrow. For now, you'll have to make do with the fact that my article from Saturday's National "Your Canada, Your Post" Post is finally online , accompanied by a lovely picture of the talented Nicola Gunn from Tyrannous Rex.

Ottawa Fringe was a success

Since I am now striving to make my blog Your Number One Stop For Canadian Fringe News (tm), let me tell you this: The Ottawa Fringe Festival closed on Sunday having increased their audiences by 10%.

The Ottawa Fringe - which currently wrapped up its 7th season - is smallish (40+ shows, 4 venues), but it is growing and seems to have a lot of spunk. It is also the only Fringe outside of Montreal's that tries to be billingual.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that the People Choice Award went to Vision Theatre's production of Daniel MacIvor's Never Swim Alone (a Fringe favourite). If you Ottawans did not catch it, the show will be remounted at Arts Court Theatre Aug. 20 to 24.

In the Fringe round-up article, Catherine Lawson reports that:
- Third Wall Theatre Co. of Ottawa won the award for outstanding comedy for An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein.
- John Huston's from Creeping Murmur and Pouring Dark won for outstanding solo performer.
- Job II: The Demon of the Eternal Recurrence won awards for outstanding concept and outstanding original work.
- Outstanding visual design went to Maximilius Draconius by Groupe des deux of Ottawa.
- Independent Auntie Productions of Toronto won outstanding performance for Clean Irene and Dirty Maxine.
- The Spirit of the Fringe award went to Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan who presented Trick Boxing.

Note to Fringe Festival Producers: Just because your festival is over doesn't mean that you should stop updating your website. Neither the Montreal, nor the Ottawa Fringes have put the list of prize winners up on their sites. Which is why people end up here...

Send your Fringe-related gossip or news to J. Kelly is now at the Toronto Fringe, fringing it up in a fringey way.
Toronto Fringe Kicks Off

Well, tomorrow [ed. Today, I suppose] the Toronto Fringe begins and I better start attending plays immediately, or I'll never get through the 30 or so shows that I circled while going through the program.

Unfortunately, four of the shows I really want to see are all scheduled at the same time tomorrow: Nharcolepsy, Toothpaste and Cigars, A Canadian Bartender at Butlin's, and P.S. 69. These are all at 8:30 pm or 9:00 pm.

And there's not really any show I want to see afterwards.

Perhaps this is, in fact, a blessing, because then I am forced to go see a show I know nothing about at 10 or 11.

All right then. If anyone wants to recommend a show that's on at 10:00, 10:30 or 11:00 tomorrow and post it here, I will go see it.

Or, I suppose, I will just go home and go to sleep.

Eye spy with my little Eye..

That the Eye Fringe Page is up and running. You can go and post your reviews there starting, well, now. Be aware, however, that if you post a review before a show opens, everyone knows that you're related to/are a member of the cast.

NOW? Yes, of course. Jon Kaplan has his guide to the first day of the Fringe up on the NOW website right here. Kaplan and Glenn Sumi will be posting their reviews online throughout the festival.

Oh, has a list of shows, venues, times, etc., as well has a short article with the enigmatic headline "Theatre that’s shakin’ – and stirred." (What does that mean?)

With all these interactive sites available, my blog doesn't seem like it will have much of a purpose, now does it? Nonetheless, I will endeavour to post any gossipy bits that I hear during the fest. Also, I will post anything you send me at, provided that you are not a crazy person. Or you can post comments on the entries by clicking on the comment button: I don't know how to edit or delete comments that people post here, so you can write whatever you want there.

Have a good Fringe!

More Fringe in the News

Saturday's National Post Fringe Preview is archived online here. The Post's Top Ten Best Bets of the Fringe are also there....

...The Toronto Star had a Fringe Fest preview recommending certain shows last Thursday by Derrick Chua, which is a little weird, because Chua is the president of the board of the Fringe. This is weird for two reasons: 1) it seems somewhat wrong for the president of the board of the Fringe to recommend certain shows over others, and 2) It seems a little wrong for the Star to have Chua write a preview of his own festival. (I think the Star is guilty of the lesser evil, because they at least identified who Chua was at the end of the article.) There was also an article about Victoria Goring (Happy) and Sunday Muse (Bitty Idiot) by Robert Crew.

...T.J. "Mirvish of the Fringe" Dawe was profiled in the Toronto Sun today. In the interview, Dawe revealed this startling fact: He "shunned the Vancouver Fringe Theatre Festival during his high-school days because he thought it was full of weirdos."
Well, sounds like High-School T.J. (That'd me an interesting premise for a sitcom) had it right on. Of course, the Fringe is full of weirdos....

Happy Canada Day, by the way.