Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Say uncle, anti-Americanism!

So I just bought Maclean's at the newstand again... (I'm a sucker for a cover story about allergies.)

This is like the fourth time I've succumbed, which means that my Maclean's purchases in the Ken Whyte era now outnumber my Maclean's purchases in the pre-Whyte era.

Anyway, on page 12, I came across a bit of snark about American Idol that I read over and over everywhere even though it doesn't have a whit of truth to it: "The hoopla was tinged with sadness: as host Ryan Seacrest noted, more Americans voted in the American Idol finale than for any president in history..."

First of all, what Seacrest actually said was that 63.4 million votes were cast and "That's more than any President in the history of our country has ever received." That is true. George W. Bush received the most votes ever for President in 2004 -- and he got just over 62 million of them.

While Seacrest's comment is true, it's completely meaningless. The American Idol vote total is for BOTH finalists, not just the winning one. And while you can only cast one vote for American President, you can cast as many as you like for Taylor Hicks or any other American Idol contestant. (Which is why the way Maclean's phrased it is wrong.)

So, how many people actually voted for their American Idol? It's hard to tell since American Idol hasn't released any sort of breakdown of the votes -- we don't even know how many votes Hicks beat Katharine McPhee by.

According to Nielsen, 36.4 million Americans watched the American Idol finale. While it is entirely possible that someone might have watched the finale without voting, it seems unlikely that anyone voted but didn't tune in. So I'd guess that, at most, 36.4 million people voted in the finale. The real number is probably less.

In the 2004 election, 122.3 million Americans went out and cast a vote for President -- almost four times as many as might have voted in this American Idol. And voting in an election requires a lot more effort than sitting in your living room and text messaging.

This may seem trivial, but, really, the United States gets beat up on a lot and ya gotta come to their defence once in a while.

I went to hear New Yorker editor David Remnick speak at U of T on Tuesday evening and was surprised that there were all these hostile questions aimed at him. One fellow stated point blank that Americans are hopelessly ignorant about Canada (fair enough, I suppose) and then asked why The New Yorker didn't have articles about Canada very often; unsatisfied with Remnick's response (he's busy publishing articles about, you know, Iraq and Sudan), the audience member shouted out what he belived to be the real answer to his own question, "Marketing!"

Then, another fellow went on a rant about how Americans cared and knew so little about any country not their own.

Anyway, I just don't get why these anti-American rants were aimed at the editor of the New Yorker, the magazine that broke the Abu Ghraib story and is reasonably curious about the world outside of the U.S. How about we Canadians create and sustain a magazine half as excellent or important as the New Yorker before lashing out at its editor about how dumb and uninformed Americans are?

UPDATE: I see now that Philip Cowley has already written everything I did about the American Idol statistic on the Guardian site.
How to Deal.

I confess to being fascinated by Deal or No Deal. It's a lot of fun to watch contestants get up there and, against their better judgement, bow to the pressure of a crowd shouting, "No deal! No deal!"

I also find it interesting that although the odds are quite good that a contestant will pick the $1 million case at the beginning -- 1 in 26, about twice the chance of winning $10 in the 6/49 -- the chances that the producers are ever going to pay out a full $1 million to a contestant are pretty slim. It may well never happen... I'm not sure if people watching at home are aware of this. And I wonder: if no one walks away with $1 million after a couple of seasons, will they stop watching? Will they tire of the tease?

Just how slim are the odds of walking away with the million?

Well, the anonymous probability experts at Wikipedia estimate that 1 in 130 contestants will walk away with the top prize. This is based on the rather spurious assumption that a contestant will keep opening briefcases as long as the $1 million briefcase and one of the briefcases with more than $200,000 are still unopened -- and then will take the 50/50 chance that she is holding the $1 million at the end, rather than the Banker's offer.

Personally, in theory, I would only say "No deal" all the way if I managed to leave the $750,000 and $1 million unopened all the way. (In reality, I'd probably cave long before that...) Assuming everyone thought like me, only 1 in 650 contestants would leave with the big prize. Even if the show ran five times a week all year-round (a possibility if NBC sinks any lower in the ratings), with an average of 1.5 contestants playing each show, there would only be a big winner every year and 8 months.

U of T probability professor and author of Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities Jeffrey Rosenthal, who I interviewed for an article on this subject in today's Post (free link), estimates the odds of winning the big prize are much lower: 1 in 13,000. Here's his rationale, which I think got cut from today's article:
Well, obviously the banker will never *offer* $1 million, so the only way the contestant can win $1 million is if they refuse all deals and happen to end up with the $1 million prize. Now, *if* they refuse all deals, then their chance of winning $1 million is 1/26. But most contestants accept a deal at some point, and indeed the banker will tend to make more generous deals as the number of unopened briefcases diminishes if the $1 million prize is still available. Still, I would imagine that at some point in the future a player will be "brave" or "bold" enough to refuse all deals, and will end up with the $1 million prize. If I had to put a figure on it, I would say that perhaps one contestant in
five hundred will refuse all deals, so the probability of winning the $1 million prize would then become (1/500)/26 = 1 / 13,000, i.e. something like one contestant in 13,000 might win the $1 million prize. So it will take a long time, but if the show kept running forever (a big "if") then it would eventually happen.
I think the best idea is to ignore the nearly impossible $1 million and go on the show aiming to win over $131,477.54. That's the average amount you would win if you played over and over -- so as soon as you get over that, you've beat the average, which is beating the Banker in my book.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

It is hot.

It is very hot. And I feel like it is affecting my ability to think. Actually, this whole weekend, even before it was hot, I felt like that. But the heat has compounded the feeling.

Today I spoke to a friend, a regular reader of my blog, and she said, "You're not writing much on your blog lately." Not much content; lots of links to The Drowsy Chaperone trivia.

Point well taken.

As I attempt to think up big thoughts, here is a Craigslist plea for the return of "a small taxidermized Nova Scotia squirrel, dressed as a cobbler ... holding a miniature shoe and wearing an apron." It was taken by some thieving Toronto hipster at last Friday's Santa Cruz party. The victimized hipster asks for it to be returned to Ideal coffee in Kensington Market.

Monday, May 29, 2006

In New York magazine...

One Canuck interviews another. We've taken over! Bwaa-haa-haa!

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Silencing of Rachel Corrie.

That's the name of a theatrical "happening" organized by The Wrecking Ball taking place this Saturday at the Tarragon Spring Arts Fair in T.O.

Since I've been following the "My Name is Rachel Corrie" debacle (and have an article in an upcoming issue of THIS that touches on it), I'm very curious about this event. If I were in town, I'd be there... Alas, I will be away in Ottawa.
Undead: Live!

Is there a vampire musical curse? That seems to be the consensus view in NYC after the producers of Elton John/Anne Rice's Lestat announced it was closing on Broadway after a mere 39 performances... As I wrote yesterday in the Post:
While Dracula and his ilk have been the subject of many a best-selling book and blockbuster movie, the undead have repeatedly sucked big time when they've tried to break onto Broadway. In 2004, Dracula the Musical, an adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel with music by Frank Wildhorn, was unbeloved by critics and closed after an unprofitable five-month run. A year earlier, Dance of the Vampires, based on the Roman Polanski film The Fearless Vampire Killers, was an even bigger flop, closing after 56 performances.
Up here in Canada, however, it's a whole other story:
Canadians have shown an almost insatiable appetite for the genre. Dracula -- A Chamber Musical, with music by Marek Norman and lyrics and book by Richard Ouzounian, premiered at the Halifax's Neptune Theatre in 1998 and had a popular run at the Stratford Festival the following year. It has since been performed at the Charlottetown Festival.

Then, this past winter, Dracula: Entre l'amour et la mort (Dracula: Between Love and Death), a new musical comedy starring Bruno Pelletier, was a critical and popular success in Montreal. With lyrics by Roger Tabra, music by Simon Leclerc and -- again! -- Richard Ouzounian as the book writer, the musical is on a year-long tour with stops at the Grand Theatre in Quebec City in June and Ottawa's National Arts Centre in August.

Add to those hits the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's globe-trotting production of Dracula -- choreographed by Mark Godden and later turned into an International Emmy-winning film by director Guy Maddin and it seems clear that the so-called curse of the vampire musical stops at the 49th parallel. Does this have something to do with our long, sun-less winters?
The more you know.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

On the subject of Nellie McKay...

Apparently, she's boycotting Canada over the seal hunt like Morrissey. I guess she doesn't make headlines like Moz...

Here are some pictures of her shouting into a megaphone and denouncing my country at a protest. Dreamy!
Rush and Bubbles playing Closer to the Heart!

Right here!

Alright, so this YouTube obsession is getting a little out of control...
The CBC's so with it!

Check out the new computer-animated opening for The National!
Sondheim/Lloyd Webber mash-up!

Of sorts.
Nominations for the next Poet Laureate...

... are due July 31.

Who should I put forward? Leonard Cohen could use the salary, but he sure doesn't need the prestige.

Perhaps Christian Bök? Or is everyone so over him?

What about Sherwin Tjia? He's super, but pretty obscure. (And my friend.)

But all poets are obscure. (And my friend.)

Except John Allemang. Anyone but John Allemang, please.
I say Dollard Day...

... you say May two-four. Mark Abley explains to all us.
Luddites lampooned!

Ha, ha!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Disco Sweeney! etc.

Sondheim dorks must check out this disco version of The Ballad of Sweeney Todd set to clips from the original Broadway production... Insane.

On the topic of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, when I was in New York earlier this month I shelled out to see the much-hyped Sweeney Todd revival currently on Broadway in which the actors are also the musicians. It was indeed awesome. I just love the concept, and it works perfectly, both distilling the show to superstrength and adding new layers to it. (For instance, the lovers Anthony and Johanna both play cello, while the Judge and the Beadle both toot muted trumpets -- though apparently it was just a fortuitous coincidence that the actor-musicians cast in these roles played these particular instruments.)

Here's a clip of the haunting Johanna quartet from second act to give ya a taste.

Yes, I am belatedly becoming obsessed with YouTube.

How I ended up seeing Sweeney is kinda interesting... At the opening night party for The Drowsy Chaperone, I found myself in conversation with singer Nellie McKay, who is currently in The Threepenny Opera revival on Broadway. How did I find myself in such a conversation? Well, I circled nervously until I got up the courage to go speak to her...

Anyway, I had one night left in NYC and thought I might go see her show and told her so. She, in fact, convinced me that this was a bad idea and encouraged me to see Sweeney Todd, which stars Michael Cerveris, who was also her date for the evening. It was good advice.

(Interesting fact gleaned from Ms. McKay's program bio. While this is her Broadway debut, she has a number of stage credits to her name, first of which is playing Lily in Canadian playwright George F. Walker’s The End of Civilization.)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Oooh! Drowsy Chaperone CD Will Have Two Bonus Tracks; Vinyl Version Also Planned!

So says Playbill.

What's that? Chill? Will people please stop telling me to CHILL!?!? I'm chill! I'm the CHILLEST!@!!
Criticisms of Liberal leadership candidates that bug me.
Part two of a series

Criticisms of Liberal leadership candidates that bug me, #2: Talking about Bob Rae's "defection" to the Liberals.

Dudes (Dude 1, Dude 2), Bob Rae did not defect to the Liberals.

Here's what I wrote in the comments on Fuddle Duddle in response to Dude II:
Rae actually didn't defect, at least if you use the English language properly instead of perverting it for cheap political points. I mean, open a dictionary. What Rae did was join. You can't call someone a defector unless they are switching from one party to another. Directly. Really. It's true. The only thing Rae defected from was political independence.

Now, as to your argument that Rae is an opportunist, well I think the burden is on you to "prove" that he is one, rather than asking others to prove that he isn't. How does one go about proving that a leadership candidate's motives are entirely pure and high-minded? Opportunist is such a lame insult, anyway. Who in the Liberal party isn't an opportunist, really?

If you want to criticize Rae for wanting to lead without having spent any years in the Liberal trenches, that seems entirely reasonable. But it's a tiny point in the large scheme of things, kind of like the criticism of Ignatieff that he lived in the United States for soooo long and just came back to Canada because he wanted to lead the Liberal party... It's like, Okay, I get your point, but maybe we should just get the chip off our shoulder and just consider the candidates by merit.
To which Dude 2 responded:
Oh my gawd, j.kelly, try chilling out a sec.

1. Defection, as defined by "To abandon a position or association". So yes, Rae did defect from the NDP and then joined the Liberals.

2. Burden of proof? If you can read, you'll notice that I've been emphasizing the fact that Rae bought a membership a month before declaring. I don't think it gets worse than that.

3. And no, I don't at all have a chip on my shoulder. Perhaps this is your weak attempt to discredit an argument based on rhetoric.
To which I responded:
Okay, well my Oxford English Dictionary says to "defect" means "to abandon one's country or cause in favour of another" and that's the definition I'm more comfortable with, be damned. I'm sorry I brought the dictionary into this at all.

Anyway, using either definition, what you wrote was incorrect, ie. that Rae "defect[ed] for the purpose of becoming leader..." That's simply untrue -- it would mean he gave up his NDP membership in the late 1990s in order to run for the Liberal leadership in 2006.

If you want to criticize Rae for joining the Liberal party for the purpose of becoming leader, that's fine. I still think it's fairly irrelevant -- of course, I'm not a Liberal. Personally, I'm distrustful of people who join a party at a young age and stay with them their whole lives... You know, foolish consistency, small minds, yadda, yadda...

Anyway, what is it with Liberals telling me to chillax and/or chill out? I'm totally chill. I'm like the chilliest. But what am I supposed to write about on my blog? How chill I am? Geez, that'd suck. It's just my opinion, man.


This has been: Criticisms of Liberal leadership candidates that bug me, #2

Friday, May 19, 2006

Criticisms of Liberal leadership candidates that bug me.
Part One of a Series.

Criticisms of Liberal leadership candidates that bug me, #1: Much of the stuff Warren Kinsella throws at Michael Ignatieff...

For instance, one of M.I.'s bloggers recently joked that in order to make the office more quiet, they had instituted a series of rules, one of which was: "no cursing Warren Kinsella (aloud).”

Not particularly gut-busting, but kinda funny in a National-Director-of-Operations way... Anyway, Kinsella gets up on his high horse and is all, "Doesn’t Sachin understand that this sort of thing merely encourages Your Humble Narrator? You know, that I’m getting under their skin? That, notwithstanding the one or two nice things I’ve said about their candidate lately, the Iggy folks (The Stooges, perchance) demand absolutely fealty, and no criticism whatsoever, to The Supreme Leader?"

That's a bit of a leap, no? I mean, Kinsella has been really hard on Ignatieff (not without reason) and the only outright response he has received to date is this tiny bit of blog ribbing... Which he then uses as an excuse to compare Ignatieff to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei! And this coming just a week after he took Bob Rae to task for comparing the softwood lumber deal to the Munich Pact, thus comparing Bush to Hitler!

Okay, so I found that somewhat annoying, but you know, that's Kinsella for ya... What really drove me up the wall was his reaction to the discovery that the M.I. blog post he had linked to had been replaced with a page reading:

Sunday, May 7th, 2006
9:30 - 11:30 pm

We are presently in th process of upgrading Micommunity. Please visit us back later
The blog post was simply being moved to here, where it is still available.

But in what may be the most spurious attack on Ignatieff to date, Kinsella then blogged, "Do you think a guy should be Prime Minister if he can’t spell the word 'the'? Who doesn’t even know what day it is? Whose grammarians write stuff like: 'please visit us back later'? Jeepers!"

Argh! I hate over-the-top typo criticism more than anything! And as if Kinsella actually thinks Iggy codes his own website and cannot spell the word 'the'... As if.

Anyway, the person who wrote that tech message was a fellow named Marc Gendron from the Fuddle Duddle blog. And he's a francophone.

So, way to pick on the francophone tech guy, Warren. Way to pick on the francophone tech guy.

I thought the Liberal party was trying to move past its divisions and have a fair, courteous, idea-based leadership race. Comparing other candidates to the Supreme Leader of Iran and criticizing their tech guys' grammar... Not so much a part of that.

This has been: Criticisms of Liberal leadership candidates that bug me, #1

According to LeapFish, the domain name is worth $13,824.00. Wowza... Here's hoping one of the other 20 or so Nestrucks in the world gets really famous and wants to buy it from me.

(Ha, ha! My domain's worth more than yours, Optimus Crime.)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"What's in the paper today, Marge?"

"That Nestruck feller has some ridiculous thing about two Mamet shows opening in Toronto - Oleanna and Romance."

"Oh yeah? Is that free or behind the subscriber wall? I'm on my laptop at this here end of the breakfast table."

"Free. You get whatcha pay for though."

"What else?"

"Nestruck's got another on that Toronto producer Aubrey Dan, the one who done all those co-pros with CanStage? Anyway, seems the feller's gone done to Broadway and invested in a moooosical called The Wedding Singer, based on that Adam Sandler film y'loved so much."

"Oh, that's sounds interestin'!"

"Yeah, seems Dan's bein' coy about some plan he has for Toronto too."

"Ooooh! The theeeeatah!"

"Also, behind the subscriber wall."

"Sheeeee-it! Oh, well... Pass the marmalade will ya?"

"You're marmalade."

"Oh my god! You're right. And you're margarine!"

"Am I?"

"Yep -- that's the real twist. We're both toast condiments!"

More Sesame Street.

But this time you'll cry: You Tube has the scene where Big Bird learns that Mr. Hooper has die.

And, if you want a taste of the Drowsy Chaperone, here's a badly shot bootleg of Sutton Foster's big number.

I had no idea there were all these Broadway bootleggers until YouTube came along... Check out these scenes from Elton John's Lestat bomb. And, apropos of nothing, this music video by the Quebecois rapper Lestat.
R.I.P. Dose

Fine Young Journalist has some obits.

At first I was kind of resistant to Dose... I mean, I'm a member of the 18-34 target market but I actually enjoy reading, you know, adult newspapers. I was slightly insulted by the idea that my demographic needs flashy graphics and hip sass to be interested in reading about the world around me.

Eventually, however, I came to admire Dose's style and smarts. And, if it had been distributed in the transit system here in Toronto, I probably would have read it all the time. I was sad to see it go, especially as so many young journalists (some who are friends) lost their jobs today. Don Mills will be a lot lonelier... (They were on the second floor of the building the Post is in.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

If I were a Richler...

I gots two stories in the paper today -- and they're both on the free side of the firewall.

A) Producer Gabriella Martinelli is turning Mordecai Richler's Cocksure into a movie musical. At first I thought, "Oh my god..." But then I thought, "Hmmm... could be good." The fact that playwright Jason Sherman's on board as screenwriter is a good sign...

B) Some article about some Canadian musical on Broadway picking up 13 Tony nods. ("It's hilarious, isn't it? Oprah's our arch-rival," says Don McKellar.)

I'm getting a bit of e-mailed flack from the old Livent guard for calling Drowsy the first Canadian musical on Broadway in over 25 years... Look, the Toronto production of Show Boat may have gone to Broadway, ditto for Ragtime, etc., but these aren't Canadian musicals, by which I mean musicals written and composed by Canucks. Much as I believe in a theatre sans frontieres, I don't think I'm using a controversial way of classifying a show's nationality.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

In case you haven't heard...

The Drowsy Chaperone picked up 13 Tony nominations today. Hoorah! That's two shy of The Producers' record of 15...

The surprise is that D.C.'s closest competitor is The Color Purple, which had rather tepid reviews but picked up 11 nominations. Tom O'Neil, however, suggests that Purple's chances are slim and that there may be a repeat of The Color Purple Oscar wipeout:
"Purple" just seems to be doomed at showbiz awards. The film version holds the record for being the biggest loser in Oscar history, tied with "The Turning Point" for losing all of its 11 nominations. Curiously, that's the same number of Tony Award bids it earned today. If it loses all of them, "Purple" will now be tied with "Steel Pier" (1991) and "Chicago" (1976) as the biggest loser in Tonys history. Another curious parallel: today "Purple" failed to nab a nom for best director — just like at the Oscars.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. O'Neil still seems to think that Jersey Boys is the one to beat.

And here are Terry Teachout's predictions.
Drowsy Chaperone to West End?

Not to get too ahead of ourselves -- the Tony nominations aren't even out yet, though they will be shortly after I wake up -- but the Brits seem to want The Drowsy Chaperone to take a trip across the Atlantic. The Times is picking it to win the Tony, this critic's all over it, and The Daily Telegraph is saying it outright: "In the 1980s and 1990s, Britain exported musicals to New York. Nowadays the trade is mostly the other way and I hope The Drowsy Chaperone will join such Broadway hits as Avenue Q and Wicked, which have already been lined up for the West End."

(I know, I know, I should write more about shows that are on in Canada, not the one Canadian show on Broadway. But that's my job in the actual newspaper and I can't scoop myself here... Plus, I did really love The Drowsy Chaperone and, for some reason, I'm really excited about its success. Maybe I'm turning into a closet Canadian cultural nationalist... Oh God! I'm becoming the thing I hate!)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Good news for people who like bad service.

Quebec is facing a waiter shortage... EVEN as the dollar rises and fewer Hollywood productions come North, I might add.
BBC accidentally interviews cab driver instead of Internet expert Guy Kewney.

The story is hilarious. The video is hilariouser.

Another slight to Michael Coren!


That guy wasn't a cab driver... It was just a black guy with non-English accent. Common mistake, right Guardian and Times?

Anyway, here's the story of Guy Goma, who was at BBC headquarters to apply for an IT assistant job -- and had the strangest job interview ever.

Veut dire: n.m. Petite armoire fermant à clé, qui occupe le milieu de l'autel et qui contient le ciboire.

l'Église catholique de Montréal essaye une campagne publicitaire non-blasphématoire...
4 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Drowsy Chaperone.

For those of you keeping track of such things. (Ok, me.)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Google harbinger?

Hey, anyone else notice that when you Google "Stéphane Dion"(with or without quotes), the first webpage to come up is the Office of the Prime Minister? Is this some subliminal campaigning on the part of Dionistas like this troublemaker?

In other, unrelated Dion news, did you know that his dog is a husky named Kyoto?
Some cool fotos...

.. from the Leonard Cohen even at Indigo, taken by Torontoist's Carrie Musgrave.

Left to right: Steven Page, Ron Sexsmith, Leonard Cohen.

Cohen crouched.
Question of the day.

How do Muslim astronauts pray in space?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ferme ta Bouchard.

It was just a rumour. Lucien ain't coming back.
Show off.

Drowsy Chaperone picked up the best musical award from the New York Drama Critics' Circle today, which is good news on its own and good news for the Tony race. Good news too is that:
The scribblers only took one round of voting to choose The Drowsy Chaperone as the best musical with a clear majority. Grey Gardens, Jersey Boys, and See What I Wanna See trailed far behind.
I still think Jersey Boys probably has the advantage at the Tonys... But it'll be close.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

CBC Arts Headline Watch, Part LXVII!

Check this headline out: Haggis meets bacon over poetry. Can you guess what the accompanying article is about?

The CBC Arts RSS feed... it's like watching Jeopardy! when you're drunk.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Bumped from a CBC panel!

Hey folks... Did you know once I was scheduled to be on a CBC panel about blogging? It's true. Wonkette was going to be on it via satellite and all too!

But then, gosh, after I got all excited about being on the teevee, I got a call back and you know who they bumped me for? Andrew Coyne! A famous columnist who writes much better and smarter than me and has much more experience being on television panels!

Can you believe that? Obviously there's an anti-Ukrainian bias at the CBC!

In short, Michael Coren can cry me a river. A syndicated columnist who has his own talk show complaining about getting bumped for another conservative (and a classy one like Deb Grey to boot)... Gee whiz, talk about being out of touch with what people actually care about.

You know, there are about 30 million Canadians who have have never been invited to give their views on a CBC panel? Ever. So stop your whining!
Totally in touch with the man of the street, I am.

FYI: I was reading The Da Vinci Code while eating at Swiss Chalet today. Word.
The Toronto Star's Conservative bias...

Drowsy in New York Observer.

'Nother rave: "If you don’t end up loving The Drowsy Chaperone, there’s no hope for the world. ... [M]ay it win every Tony Award in sight."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Neighbourly Gestures.

The walls are thin in my apartment and I can hear the neighbour upstairs. What can I hear? I'm too polite to say.

Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett isn't. In fact, he wrote a song based partly on what he heard going on in condo developer's Brad Lamb's penthouse suite, which is right above his boyfriend's apartment. The song is called This Lamb Sells Condos after Lamb's billboard motto. Here is the full story.

Monday, May 08, 2006

This rumour about Bouchard returning to politics to lead the ADQ... awful juicy. I'll believe it when I see it though.

Also, can I just tell you how fun it is to see Ontarians' heads explode when they see that Harper is so popular in Quebec? "The Conservatives can't get elected because the country will fall apart!?!" they screamed. You know nothing about Quebec and think Ontario is synonymous with Canada, you!
Finally, more Drowsy Chaperone reviews!

Because I can tell from the comments that you guys just can't get enough!



Here's John Lahr in the New Yorker:
At the beginning of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” the narrator tells us that he always prays at the theatre. “Dear God, please let it be a good show,” he says. With its intelligence and its high style, “The Drowsy Chaperone” is a well-judged answer to those prayers.
So, yes: It's a rave. Can I take a moment to confess something, though? I find Lahr one of the more boring New Yorker regulars. I love the theeeatah, but I regularly skip his reviews and kind of skim his profiles.

I'm sorry. I'm feeling a little under the weather.

And here's Jeremy McCarter in New York:
Too often, comedy in the New York theater comes as a surprise. The really funny writers, it sometimes seems, have gone elsewhere. But maybe they’re not all working for Jon Stewart, judging by two hilarious nights I’ve had lately. ... You may have heard that [The Drowsy Chaperone] is a “love letter to musical theater,” which is true, or that it appeals only to musical buffs, which is not. The clichés parodied here are hardly unique to theater. It helps, too, that the production marks another triumph for the limber, funny Sutton Foster and an exquisite Broadway-directing debut by choreographer Casey Nicholaw.

But mainly its appeal lies in Bob Martin, who plays Man in Chair with the easy offhandedness and perfect timing that seem to be dispensed with Canadian passports.
My passport came with that!?! Holee!

By the way, I should mention, the second hilarious night of McCarter's took place at The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Martin McDonagh's new play which I must say is brilliant, brilliant satire. I don't really want to tell you about it, because I feel like you should see it untampered for maximum effect. But if you have a weak stomach, do not go. I am not kidding.

How often do you get to say this about the theatre: "You may vomit in disgust if you see this play"? Theatre's not all Copenhagen, folks. It's not all:
Niels Bohr: My dear Heisenberg, look at that electron go. It must be moving at, oh, nh over 2 pi.

Heisenberg: But are you certain, Bohr, old chap? Are you certainly certain? What if the more accurately you measure the position of a subatomic particle, the less accurately you know its momentum? [Margrethe Bohr faints.]

Bohr: Margrethe! I'll ask you not to speak in that manner in front of my wife, sir!

Heisenberg: Oh, okay.

Bohr: Thank you. Lemonade?
I actually really love Copenhagen. Really. It's one of my favourite plays...

Anyway, Martin McDonagh: Irish. Me: Irish. It's true. I got my Irish passport in the mail recently. All I had to do was have a single grandparent born there. (Check!) Not sure what I'm going to do with it...

You know what my Irish passport came with? A gift for the gab, a drinking habit and an amazing ability to thrive in the new economy. Really. It's dispensed from a little patch you put on your arm.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

On a less cocksure note...

Pictures and blogoreporting from the Kawasaki Daishi Kanamara Festival of the Steel Phallus.
More Waiting-for-my-laundry Blogging.

Dear Jeffrey Simpson: Will I sound like you when I am 57? I wonder.

I couldn't help but get terribly annoyed at Simpson's column in the Globe today, headlined "Harper chasing ethnic vote with Air-India inquiry."
The judicial inquiry into the 1985 Air-India bombing called by the Harper government will serve no useful purpose, except as part of the Conservative Party's newfound determination to play ethnic politics.
There was something so off-putting about this column. Perhaps it's just the distaste I have when I hear the term "ethnic." It reminds me of a drunken Jacques Parizeau.

Perhaps it's also that Simpson never names the ethnicity in question that Harper is supposedly pandering to: ie. Indians or Indian-Canadians or Indocanadians or, perhaps, Canadian Hindus.

Simpson mentions Chinese-Canadians and Ukrainians (hey, I'm a quarter ethnic!) and Italians and Armenians by name. But no mention of the ethnicity that spurred his "ethnic politics" rant.

Leaving aside my bemusement at the view that politicians paying attention to the concerns of one ethnic group is somehow distasteful, while paying attention to the concerns of a particular income level or province or gender or sexuality or public transit users is not: Can the demands for an inquiry into the Air India tragedy be compared to the demands of Armenian-Canadians for an acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide or Chinese-Canadians for Head Tax remuneration? Is Air India a fair example of what they call "ethnic politics" (what is really just part of the old-age practice of coalition building)?

I think it's different. Very different. When the white families of the victims of some tragedy (Walkerton, Polytechnique) demand an inquiry and the government agrees, do we consider that "ethnic politics"? No. But families of the Air India victims looking for answers to the death of their loved ones? Ethnics making ethnic demands. When the government responds it's "ethnic politics."

What we're talking about the largest terrorist attack before September 11, 2001. 280 Canadian citizens died. We've had inquiries into the blood system, the treatment of female prisoners at Kingston prison, the pepper-spraying of protesters... But not into Air India. Cuz nobody but an ethnic cares about the CSIS's mishandling of the case or the fact that only one person has been convicted and for a measly five years in the biggest mass murder in Canadian history or the fact that a crucial witness was assassinated under police protection just 8 years ago. Right? Finding out what went wrong in a terrorism investigation and trial that ended just a year ago couldn't possibly be useful in this day and age, right? There are no more extremists hiding and plotting in our midst...

If Simpson wanted to make the case that an inquiry into Air India was a bad idea, fruitless endeavour, well he should have made that argument. (Here's a Maclean's article on why an inquiry would be a good idea.)

Reducing an inquiry into Air India Flight 182 to a matter of Conservative "ethnic politics"... Well, I don't want to call Simpson racist. But, as could have and has been asked at every stage of the sordid mess, if the victims and their families were white, would his (my, your, the government's, CSIS's, the press's) reaction have been any different?
Thank you for wasting my time...

a) Columnist and contrarian Colby Cosh
. Who linked to this collection of classic Sesame Street clips.

b) Comedian and "Pete Best of the Drowsy Chaperone team" Matt Watts. Who has an entertaining slackster* blog.

Whatever. What else am I supposed to do while I wait for my laundry?

* Slacker + Hipster.
I don't know how to buy tickets to rock concerts in advance.

It's true. I don't know how. When I do go to a rock concert, it is usually because:
a) A friend has an extra ticket and says, "Wanna come?"; or
b) A friend asks me ahead of time, "Hey, I'm going to get tickets for the TKTK concert. You want me to get you one?"; or
c) The rock band is small enough that I can pick up tickets at the door.

The first time I saw Radiohead, it was via option B. The second time I went through the fan club, but I didn't like the seats that much, so this time I decided to buy tickets the old fashioned way.

So I got up this morning, went to promptly at 10 a.m., and attempted to purchase two tickets to Radiohead. Did I get any? No. The two concerts sold out in an insanely short period of time.

I failed. I failed miserably. And so now I turn to my friends who read my blog: Any of you in Montreal or Toronto got an extra ticket and would like company?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Boycott the senses!

Er, census, I mean. According to THIS blog, "Statistics Canada has outsourced census-collection software and data processing to U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin."

Yeesh. Couldn't they have picked a less controversial company to outsource the census work to? Like, I dunno, Monsanto or something?

Now, ethics of having anything to do with merchants o' death aside, is it true that an American company will be handling our super-sensitive, check-this-box-if-you-want-your-info-released-in-96-years data? And that, as THIS puts it, "it is theoretically possible for the U.S. government to gain access through the Patriot Act, if it really wanted to?"

Well, Stats Can says no in a page they've set up just about the controversy:
Does Statistics Canada have a contract with Lockheed Martin?

Yes. Following an open, competitive and stringent bidding process, Lockheed Martin Canada along with IBM Canada and Transcontinental Printing Canada are required to provide hardware, software and printing services to Statistics Canada for the 2006 Census. At no point does any contractor collect, handle, or possess confidential census responses. ...

Is Lockheed Martin conducting the 2006 Canadian census?

No. Statistics Canada is in full control of all aspects of the census. All questionnaires and data are exclusively handled by Statistics Canada employees. At no point does any contractor handle or possess confidential census responses.

How safe are census data from the Patriot Act?

Completely. The information collected from Canadians will be, at all times, under the exclusive care and full control of Statistics Canada employees. At no time do contractors have access to or possess confidential Census responses. Thus, even if a request were made to any contractor to hand-over or transmit Census data, it would be physically impossible for them to comply.
A task force -- comprised of Mr. Denis Desautels, former Auditor General of Canada; Mr. Jean-Pierre Soublière, former President of Systemhouse Canada and International; . Simon Gauthier, Senior Manager, IT and General Services, Inter-American Development Bank and former Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Government of Canada; and Mr. Robert Reimer of PricewaterhouseCoopers -- also just released a report on the subject: "We conclude that the data to be gathered during the 2006 Census using the contractor supplied systems will be secure. Based on the work performed and to the best of our knowledge, it would be practically impossible for the contractors involved in the Census project to intentionally or otherwise access Census data."

I know a task force and Stats Can's assurances won't be enough to convince many privacy advocates on the right and left, but it's enough for me. Also, I already filled out my form online before reading all about this. (And I'm sure I gave the U.S. government more personal information about myself going through Customs last week than they could glean from my short census form.)

Still, not the nicest optics getting Lockheed Martin involved with collection of our private data. Never mind IBM, a company with an illustrious history of gathering population data.

Now, I'm not a real civil-disobedience type (though I did give a really nasty glare to a woman whose cellphone went off in a show last night), but if you're unconvinced, here are some tips on how to boycott the census and info of the consequences: a maximum $500 fine or three months in jail.
Are you there God? It's me, Prog Rock.

While working on a recent video project, Marathon Packs made a common mistake:
... the first line of the script she'd written read "from the beginning." She asked me if it sounded "too Genesis-y," to which my obvious response was, "not at all, it was actually Emerson, Lake and Palmer who did "From the Beginning." It took me about 15 minutes to realize that she was referring to the opening section of the Old Testament, and therefore not confusing two pioneering prog super-groups from the early 1970s.
Awesome! [via STG]
Ripped from the headlines spam...

Glad to see spammers are keeping up with the times... Got this variation on the famous Nigerian e-mail scam today:
I got your email address through Islamic organisation directory over the Internet.
I hope in the name of ALLAH that I have the right person who will assist me.

I want to transfer money for investment into your country/business as such I would like to make contact with people like you residing in that country for assistance Note,the funds are already with a security company which also has branches in Asia, Europe and America for safe keeping. If you are willing to assist me.

This is all you will do for me,You will help me contact the security company for the release of the funds to you as my next of kin, as I cannot travel out from iraq at the moment because of certain conditions which I will explain to you if we work together(my travelling documents are not yet complete).

The fall of Saddam Hussein has brought destruction / Hell to our great country and everything is practically difficult now and opportuinities are closing up,the new government is trying to frustrate our businesses. ...
Another Drowsy Chaperone Rave...

From Terry Teachout in the Wall Street Journal. (He's one of my favourite N.Y. critics, so I was eager to find out if he liked it or not...)

In other news, I finally visited Pandora and it is the awesome! (Radio for you!)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Consort.

Tart Cider comes to the rescue of Jean-Daniel Lafond.

I haven't seen Lafond's doc, so I have no comment to add. There's nothing like actually viewing a film before talking about it... Not that I haven't been known to talk about 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apocalypse Now from time to time without mentioning that I've never actually seen them.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Can they use that quote in the next election?

"I worked with Stephen Harper for five years and never once did he in that time eat a baby." - actual quote from Gerry Nichols, National Citizens Coalition.

Nichols was responding to a GO Train scrolling electronic sign that claimed the PM was a child masticator.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I loved The Drowsy Chaperone.

I did, I did... As my seatmate will attest, I was laughing through most of it.

Here's my review. And here's my sidebar about the show's unusual title. I also did some reporting from the red carpet last night, but you'll need a subscription to read it.

Here's a round-up of what the American critics had to say, and another with an emphasis on what this means for the Tony race.

And the CanCrit: T-Star's Richard Ouzounian and Kamal from The Globe.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I have no further comment...

... on the Canadiens/Hurricanes series.

Except this: I watched the first two games on TV. The Habs won. I've been at plays the last three games. The Habs lost.


Anyone know where I can watch the Canadiens play in New York City? There must be an expat Montrealer bar...