Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Natalie v. Katrina.

Okay this is getting weird... Right now, the only of the top ten searches on Technorati that isn't Katrina-related is Canadian Miss Universe Natalie Glebova... She was crowned on May 31st and hasn't been in the news for weeks, so what's the story? As far as I can tell, she's been in the Technorati top ten for the past few days only because she's been on the top ten and people keep clicking/searching to find out who she is... But how did she get there in the first place?

In other Canadian music news (what?), popwherry points us to the news that the Hip's New Orleans is Sinking has been pulled off playlists at radio stations in Ottawa.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Yeah, you're walking on something, all right...

Hey, anybody remember the 80s band Katrina and the Waves? I had their hit Walking on Sunshine in my head all day, looked it up on the InterWeb, and my mouth dropped when I saw the name of the band. Minds work in weird ways...

Bonus KATW fact: They had their first success in Canada.

UPDATE: Apparently, many, many clever headline writers remember the band...

UPDATE AGAIN: Apparently, I am the last person in the world to make this connection.
Kumbaya, my lord... Kumbaya.

Punk'd continued I: Warren K. has responded to my post about Carl Wilson's column about Fury's Hour. (I laughed upon reading this line: "Being Kelly, Kelly also attempts to get everyone to link arms and sing campfire tunes." I may add that to On the Fence's mission statement.)

Punk'd continued II: Reader Herb has left an interesting comment on the politics & punk.

Non-punk related question: Why is Canada's Miss Universe Natalie Glebova currently the number 2 search on Technorati?

UPDATE:

The aforementioned Kinsella post has disappeared. (Apparently, the non-me-related part of the post was the reason for its erasure.) But Carl "Zoilus" Wilson, back from his weekend away, has responded not once, but twice. And has he got a neato parry: an e-mail from Kinsella circa 2003 asking for help for his book on punk.

To which Kinsella replies: "'Zoilus'? Not quite. More like Soils Himself. Tit."

Nice comeback. But the match goes to Zoilus methinks.

Okay, now take the hand of the person next to you. Ready? Michael row the boat ashore... Hallelujah...
Meow!

Oh no! Alex Ross has posted the cat!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Salut, Salutin.

One of Rick Salutin's best columns in a while. Why the calls for a "Muslim reformation" are useless, if not counter-productive.
Canadian bloggers punk'd!

Okay, so Warren Kinsella picking fights with prominent Canuck journalists and/or bloggers is nothing new. But it's always fun, isn't it? Just a little?

Carl Wilson -- a.k.a. Zoilus -- wrote about Kinsella's punk manifesto/memoir Fury's Hour in the Globe today. (If link doesn't work, Google News "Fury's Hour".) Wilson's musicological opinion of the book was pretty negative: "Kinsella's "manifesto" is merely the nostalgia trip of a punk dinosaur and, oh yeah, total sellout."

In response, Kinsella did what he so often does when someone disagrees with him -- launched a personal attack.
A buddy of mine who edited this Wilson guy's stuff at the Globe told me he's a poseur, that he's a prissy arsewipe, and that he'll be insanely jealous of my book - and, ipso facto, that he'd try and figure out some way to rip it. My buddy was right, it seems!
What's most amusing about this Moron-With-A-ThesaurusTM is his naked desire to impress someone, anyone, with how very clever he is. I mean, referencing Freud in a column about rock'n'roll? "Warholian" impulses? Golly, Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore - we're stuck inside some loser's need to impress his black turtleneck readership at OCA!
Okay, first of all, what kind of anti-intellectualism is that, attacking someone for referencing Sigmund Freud and Andy Warhol in "a column about rock'n'roll"? They're not obscure academics... they're two of the most important figures of the twentieth century. No one reading the Globe's Review section will be, like, "Who is this 'Freud' of which you speak?" I don't think anyone reading the Sun would for that matter... Please, Warren, our newspapers are dumb enough. Don't encourage the dumber-downers.

(This isn't to say that I don't roll my eyes at a lot of the academic overthink Wilson is prone to in his column and on Zoilus... Just that, in this column at least, it's in check.)

I haven't read Fury's Hour yet, but I'm inclined to believe Wilson when he writes that Kinsella has a "blind spot" in not understanding the link between punk and neo-conservatism. This was clear back in September, when Kinsella posted:

A bunch of us are seeing Franz Ferdinand this Friday - and, yes, Tony Clement will be among us. A former Conservative cabinet minister who I happen to like, guys like Tony are a puzzle to me - as are all punk-loving conservatives. Punk, y'see, is essentially Leftist in its orientation (anti-globalization, anti-corporate, pro-feminist, pro-gay), and it is decidedly anti-authority, too. Usually, the Right constitutes the authorities. So, ipso facto, how did Johnny Ramone, a life-long Republican, keep himself from going batty? I'm not being coy, either: I'm writing a book about punk, and I actually don't know the answer.

Well, Wilson knows the answer and he explains it rather clearly (as does Jonathan Coe's great book The Rotters Club, I think):

Kinsella realizes punk was a purgative convulsion against the perceived decadence of the 1970s, but overlooks how closely that origin binds it to the neoconservative backlash that brought putative punk (and Liberal) foes Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney to power...
He enthuses over punk's do-it-yourself (DIY) ethic, for instance. But call it an entrepreneurial work ethic and you've got a neo-con sacred cow. (Vancouver punk Joey Shithead points this out, but Kinsella shrugs it off.) Punk also partook of Cold War apocalyptic fantasies parallel to those that would soon drive the mass revival of Christian fundamentalism -- "no future" meets the Rapture down on Death Drive.
Neo-cons hated the sixties, and punks hated hippies. In many ways punk anticipated the knee-jerk, know-nothing disdain for collective input and consequence that would become standard-issue conservative politics and culture -- extreme individualism and atomized democracy.
I've got to agree with Wilson when he writes that "punk is an ink blot -- you see in it what you want. From drunk racist frat boys to anarcho-feminist straight-edge vegan art geeks, all sorts of characters have claimed the mohawk and leather jacket (or vinyl jacket for the vegans) for their own." I've never thought of punk as a progressive youth movement, but then I never understood how all the anti-globalization activists in university thought that Black Bloc anarchists were somehow on their side either...

I understand, of course, why Kinsella's pissed. Wilson was pretty harsh. And he was a bit unfair -- clearly wanting to engage the book because of who Kinsella is, rather than what the book was about.

When Wilson writes, "the people who buy this book don't really need [Kinsella's ]mini-bio of the Ramones... they want an account of how this prominent late-1970s Calgary punk, a member of The Hot Nasties and proprietor of Blemish Records, ended up a notorious strategist in the Liberal regime of Jean Chrétien" he is projecting his personal reasons for reading the book on everyone who buys it.
He simply wrong there: If political junkies are buying the book because Kinsella's the author, they probably do need the mini-bio of the Ramones... If people buying it because they are punk fans, they probably don't really care about the autobiographical stuff.

In any case, Kinsella should thank Wilson for this column because -- unlike the Globe's review of Fury's Hour, or its interview with Kinsella -- this article kind of made me want to read his book. (I am also eager to know what, if anything, he says about the Dead Kennedys...)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

When managers write headlines...

Check out this doozy from the CBC News website: "Canada's MDs, older, more of them, and coming home."

Confused? Don't worry it's all cleared up in the lede: "Canada's medical doctors are getting older. There are more of them. And more of them are returning to Canada than going abroad." Ahh... See how grammar helps strings of words make sense?

Alternative "fair and balanced" viewpoint: Well, if the goal of a headline is to make you read the article, then this one succeeded.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, journalistic, many locked-out, and it hurts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Lynndie Pop

Here's my interview with Waneta Storms, the Canadian actress who is playing Lynndie England in Judith Thompson's My Pyramids at the Edinburgh Fringe.

I have issues with the premise for this show, which Thompson describes as "a playwright's free associative improvisation around the question of female notoriety. All of the events that the character narrates are imagined, with the exception, of course, of the images seen around the world."

As a "political play" then, My Pyramids is useless. When you mix fact and fiction to make a political point, well that point is not worth the stage it is acted upon.

However, as a drama starring a character called Lynndie England, My Pyramids is quite a compelling one-person show. Storms is a fabulous actress and her Lynndie is a horrible, but fascinating woman -- a slightly sympathetic sadist. I liked how Thompson drew the links between the rough teasing (her) Lynndie experienced and participated in as a child and the "abuse" she would perpetrate in the future. It's kind of like Lynndie, instead of taking it out on her fellow students in a Columbine, saved her rage and revenge for her military service... And enjoyed it.

Worth a showing back home. Hope it gets a full production here soon.

In other Fringe news, congratulations to honorary Canuck comedians Mark and Shenoah from The Pyjama Men (formerly Sabotage) who have won The Fairtrade Dubble Act Award for their show "Stop Not Going."

In further fringe news, my new apartment has hardwood floors. Hyuck.
See CBC Run Badly.

Woke up this morning to soft rock on CBC Radio... Good lord! Is this the future without public broadcasting!?! Lenny Kravitz!?!

Having been in the U.K. for the last couple of weeks (oh, BBC, how I miss you already), I don't have much to contribute to the debate over this lockout. I have little use for CBC Television, though Newsworld is alright*. I am committed to CBC Radio and will listen to the Internet until this is over. The Mother Corp's online content like CBC.ca/arts is promising, but, like so much CBC media, a little underwhelming.

Um, so yeah. CBC: You're cool, but maybe you should spend this time thinking about how to be cooler. End this lockout... Then return to work and rockout. With your CBCockout.

Such useful commentary today at On the Fence.

Antonia Zerbisias has gobs o' links to lockout bloggers, notably CBC Unplugged. If you're jonsing for Wiretap, here's an archive of old shows.

Post Script

* From answers.com:
USAGE NOTE Despite the appearance of the form alright in works of such well-known writers as Langston Hughes and James Joyce, the single word spelling has never been accepted as standard. This is peculiar, since similar fusions such as already and altogether have never raised any objections. The difference may lie in the fact that already and altogether became single words back in the Middle Ages, whereas alright has only been around for a little more than a century and was called out by language critics as a misspelling. Consequently, one who uses alright, especially in formal writing, runs the risk that readers may view it as an error or as the willful breaking of convention.
Alright!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Friday, August 19, 2005

Edinburgh: It's not pronounced phonetically!

Yes, still away in the U.K., but now only half on vacation... Been seeing a ton of Canuck stand-ups and plays in Edinburgh and will bring home plenty of news from Fringetopia next week.

In the meantime, I just wanted to relate what my Scottish cabbie told me this morning while were talking about famous Canadians:

"Celine Dion! Now there's a face you could slap and slap and slap and never get bored."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This is a quirky piece.

... And it illustrates one of the reasons why, unlike the esteemed Mr. Nestruck, read by hundreds, I was not born to put pen to paper in the service of the world's journalistic establishment.

There's a special sort of either oneness with one's reading public or genuine narcissism, sometimes both, that drives an individual journalist to believe that something he or she finds interesting will also be interesting to a multitude of other people. Ditto the blogging thing, but I'll press forward.

Some years ago, I was wandering through Santiago, an inland, relatively untouristed town in the centre of the Dominican Republic, when I came across a Chinese restaurant, run by two charming immigrants from Guangzhou. Theirs was a similar story to that told by the gentleman in Baghdad (minus the body parts), and we conversed for hours in a seemingly bizarre Mandarin-Spanish patois. Yet, it would never have occurred to me that such an experience would be interesting to people other than my immediate friends and family.

So kudos to Mr. Nestruck and others for recognizing this sort of thing.

[J. Kelly Nestruck is visiting with Britain's most distinguished DeLillo scholar in London, and will return. Filling in, for the time being, is S. A. Carrie]
I'm not here...

This is Kelly. I'm really not blogging while on vacation. But I just thought I'd link to a couple articles I had a hand in that are in the Post today and free online...

1) The stages of their relationship: Stuart Hughes and Megan Follows draw on nearly a decade together for their starring roles in Sam Shepard's Fool for Love; and

2) Montrealer finds money, fame, sex charges in N.Y.C : Big apple's 'no. 1 escort': Vice squad strikes after interviews with CNN.

For the latter, thanks to the old high school chum who tipped me off...

Back to S.A. Carrie...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Newsflash!

British authorities have announced that they are investigating a man who contends that the July 7 bombings in London would "make people wake up and smell the coffee."

The announcement was made in conjunction with news that officials may deport people who make such public pronouncements. Which means, of course, that British-born Abu Izzadeen may soon soon be the first man banished from a western country by reason of his having uttered a worn cliché.

Several third-world governments, as many know, already employ this draconian approach to unoriginal language, and the central square of Nouakchott, Mauritania, has witnessed more than one cliché-related execution. But Britain's new approach to the de-hackneyfication of the national dialogue marks a major turning point for western civilization's Global War On Prosaism (a term since re-jigged as the Global Struggle Against Irksome Bromides).

It remains unclear as to what - if any - effect this will have in boosting flagging British fortunes in the GWOP-cum-GSAIB. While deporting purveyours of prosaic pap will surely be effective in diminishing their short-term contributions to British debate and letters, is it not conceivable that dispatching cliché spewers like Izzadeen and, say, Martin Amis to more cliché-friendly locales will simply allow them to continue disseminating their criminal regard for phrases like "wake up and smell the coffee" to armies of young, impressionable, willing ears? Will failing to deal with these men in the west cause an explosion of banal chestnuts that will inevitably overrun us anyway?

Time will tell. Er, we'll see how the land lies. Er, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Er... whatever.

[J. Kelly Nestruck is away. Far away. And, in his absence, his 'web log' is being incompetently maintained by Dr. S. A. Carrie, chair of the Bob Jones University Evolution Sciences Department-in-Exile]

Monday, August 08, 2005

Holy moley.

Um, I know I'm on vacation and not supposed to be posting. But anyone who went to my high school in Montreal might want to check out this New York magazine article...
The $2,000 an-Hour Woman: In the bedroom, Natalia was a superstar, an escort in demand by Wall Street traders and NFL quarterbacks alike.
What have you done since high school graduation?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

On the Fence Visits... Great Britain!

Yes, I'm flying overseas in a few short hours for a two-week trip that will take me to London and Edinburgh and encompass both business and pleasure. (In Edinburgh, I'm going to pop in on Sean from that MP3 blog sensation Said the Gramophone.)

Fear not, oh monarchists, I shall be both respectful and couth when visiting Buckingham Palace. I have a deep respect for tradition and heritage, but also the brains to not live in a fantasy world of the past. Hopefully, I'll run into Prince Harry, my fav bad-boy Royal.

Anyway, while I am away I will try to stay away from the blog -- though I may pop by from time to time. In my stead, a monarchist: Mr. Sean Carrie, who guest blogged for me last July too. When he's not collecting Royal Family paraphenalia, Mr. Carrie enjoys watching Bill Murray movies, purchasing books in bulk, and the occasional game of squash. He is fluent in one of those Chinese languages (Mandarin, I believe) and has many interesting thoughts on the presidency of James Polk. I leave you in his capable hands.

Friday, August 05, 2005

GG GGG? Gee...

I'm not a monarchist. Nope. And I would like to see all this Governor General business abolished. But that would expose the fact that the Prime Minister has too much power... And then we'd have to start considering some long overdue democratic reforms.

So, I think we're stuck with the G-G for a while.

Anyway, for a job that is highly symbolic -- no, wholly symbolic -- Michaëlle Jean seems like a fine choice. When I was a kid, you used to be warned about going into Little Burgundy at night. They weren't warning, "Don't go into Little Burgundy: You might become the Queen's representative in Canada!"

Those columnists who are criticizing Jean for having "a paucity of relevant experience" (John Ivison) or being "unqualified to become Governor-General" (Bruce Garvey, I'm looking at you sir) clearly are deluded as to what the "job" actually entails. News broadcasters are in fact perfectly qualified to read Throne speeches and stand on ship decks and shake hands. Oh, it's going to be sooo hard for her to figure out how to dissolve parliament.

I'm sure she'll handle the pressures fine. Has any other Canadian G-G seen a man shot dead in front of her? I don't think so.

Adam Daifallah asks if Jean is a separatist, which seems a funny question. No true separatist would represent the Queen in Canada. If she is a separatist, she's a really casual one. (That's, of course, a possibility: every Radio-Canada journalist is a social smoker and separatist at parties.)

If folks aren't speculating that Jean a separatist, they're calling her a Liberal patronage appointment. "The GG represents the Crown alright. The Liberal Crown," huffs The Monarchist. The theory is that it's all about currying favour in Quebec.

Uh, what? It's been a tradition since Vincent Massey, the first Canadian G-G*, that the post alternates between a francophone and an anglophone. And the majority of French Canadians are in Quebec. And we haven't had a G-G from Quebec since Jules Léger retired in 1979. So, in fact, it would have been really weird if the new G-G wasn't French-speaking and from Quebec.

But she works at that bastion of Liberalism: Radio-Canada! Um... Next.

It's not only that she's a francophone from Quebec who works in the media, see... It's that she's a non-white woman who works in the media! Didn't we just have one of those?

You lost me. Anyway, the fact that her political leanings are in question and that her appointment "surprised just about everyone in official Ottawa" suggests to me that she is a good choice for what is a non-partisan position. Possibly the best choice Paul Martin has made since becoming Prime Minister. Possibly the only choice Paul Martin has made since becoming Prime Minister.

And if Jean is a separatist? I wish. It would be awesome if she abolished her own post or gave the finger to the Queen or something.

Also, I would like to suggest that Jean and get little Marie-Eden a Bouvier.

(*Lyman Poore Duff was technically the first Canadian G-G, but he only held the post briefly after John Buchan died in office. History!)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Karla Concluded: Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Well, that answers my question... An August 3rd press release from the Montreal World Film Festival:
In light of the reaction to its proposed showing of the film "Karla", and the discomfort expressed by clients of its sponsors, MWFF organizers have decided against presenting the film at the Festival.
I have mixed feelings about this. As previously noted, I thought it was a big mistake for the festival to "propose" to present Karla. And, if public reaction caused the clueless Serge Losique -- who, keep in mind, was unaware that Karla Homolka is living in Montreal and didn't see what the fuss was since "la justice a fait son chemin" -- to realise that it was a mistake, then it's big of him to drop it from the schedule. But something makes me think "the discomfort expressed by clients of [the festival's] sponsors" had more to do with it.

If Losique really believed what he said a week ago -- "We judged the quality of the movie was good for the festival... It's a film like many other films we selected. That's all." -- then he is a lousy defender of artistic expression. He wouldn't make his festival more inclusive and transparent to please his government sponsors, but he'll drop a controversial film from the schedule to please his corporate ones.

If Losique didn't believe what he said and Karla was chosen for its sensational subject matter rather than its artistic merit, dropping it is more excusable, but the decision to screen it in the first place is exposed for what I thought it was right from the start: A cynical attempt to attract publicity to an moribund festival.

Damned either way.

Vive le New Montreal FilmFest!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Another Montreal Olympics?

This sounds rather pie-in-the-sky... But what the heck: I'm in favour of it. I paid taxes most of my life for an Olympics that took place before I was even alive, so I wouldn't mind actually having one that I could attend.
Karla Coffee Klatch Continues...

There's some interesting discussion in the comments on my recent post on the Montreal World Film Festival's decision to premiere Karla. There's also a lot of Zeke calling me a "bloke" and me calling him "knee-jerk."

Anyways... the last comment I made re: festival director Serge Losique was:
If you truly believe that Losique is an art-film defender, fighting off evil incursions from "Hollywood Glitz" -- and not simply an incompetent festival organizer who should have handed the reins over to some new blood a decade ago -- then how do you explain his decision to include "Karla" as a special presentation? Okay, so Laura Prepon isn't exactly an A-lister, but does "Karla" strike you as an art film? Go take a look at the director and writer's credits on imdb -- heck, wait until you see the actual movie or a few reviews are out -- and then tell me Losique selected this movie for its artistic merit and not because it is attracting a ton of publicity for his film festival.
Then, in one of those moments that makes me love the blogosphere, Karla's writer/director Michael Sellers popped up to defend himself:
I agree that if you view the writer/producer's credits on IMDB you might be inclined to assume that this is a B Movie without redeeming artistic merit. On the other hand, didn't some of our best film-makers toil for some period in B Movie hell before "breaking out"? The producer has made much in the media of how the film is not exploitative, how he has three daughters of his own, etc. Is he serious? Should he be given the benefit of the doubt. Probably not, but the proof will be in the viewing. One final note. Turns out, I'm the writer/producer in question. I believe you have a right to be skeptical. But I also know the truth, and the truth is that this is a serious-minded film which shuns exploitation and seeks to provide insight into a difficult story. In the meantime -- the skepticism is understandable.
Well, I do remain skeptical... But I appreciate Sellers dropping by to toss his two cents in. We'll have to wait for the premiere.

In the meantime, here's a question for you: Why has the FFM removed the triumphant press release announcing that Karla will be a part of the festival from its website? It has vanished from its communiqués de presse page. Not the publicity Losique was looking for?