Monday, July 31, 2006

Western No Standards.

If you've happened across the no-shame zone that is the Western Standard Shotgun blog in recent weeks, you may have seen this controversial post in which a real thinker named Right Girl referred to "the devil that they call Allah" and argued:
If everything from smoking to lead paint to pitbulls can be banned because they are dangerous and deadly, why can't Islam? At what point is a death cult afforded the status of legitimate religion, and why? What makes Mohammed any better than Jim Jones?

Islam must be labelled for what it truly represents: wholesale slaughter and a corrupt ideology of sex and death.
Lovely.

Anyway, Ezra Levant, the Western Standard's publisher, loves to argue that he's the last true defender of free speech, because he allows bigots to comment about "towelheads" on his magazine's blog. To wit:
I think it is a better approach to let the marketplace of ideas sort these things out. Artificially censoring what can and can't be written -- like Zerbisias does -- or not permitting feedback at all -- like Radwanski does -- are old media calling cards. In the new media, if you don't allow people to react and respond, they'll go elsewhere where they can. It's quite democratic, and like other aspects of democracy, it can be grubby.
You'd think following this logic that he'd be all for safe injection sites for drug users, but nevermind. I have a certain respect for his idealistic position, but the fact is he's a freakin' hypocrite. There are limits to Ezra's tolerance of free speech.

This post by Rondi Adamson, The Star's lovely resident kitty-loving neo-con, was deemed too racy for the Western Standard Shotgun.

I don't care that much that the Shotgun folks censored Rondi's post back in January, because it referred to the *shocking!* idea that Stephen Harper and his wife have sex. I just find it friggin' ridiculous that a totally innocuous reference to connubial bliss is verbotim on the Shotgun, but blatant hate speech isn't.

Today, my eminently reasonable colleague Adam Radwanski condemned the worst tendencies of the blogosphere, but also argued that the Western Standard "of course can't be held responsible for the messages that wing nuts post on its blog." Uh, I think it certainly can be, both legally and morally. Especially since its editors were happy to exercise their right to edit in the past when their puritan sensibilities were offended.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bomboulopoulos! Fin.

The One is no longer: "There are no plans for additional episodes. Thanks to all who participated in and supported The One!" (Someone tell the CBC, already!)

Boy is this bad news for our already ailing public broadcaster...
Bomboulopoulos! Continued...

The One sank to 150,000 viewers this week. Ouch... And now this embarrassing sore-loser news: A CBC staffer called the police on Canadian Idol. [Via zerb.]
Compare and contrast.

... how four countries responded to Israel's attack on a UN observation post in Lebanon that killed four peacekeepers -- one from Canada, one from Finland, one from Austria and one from China.

Finland:
Finland, the country holding the rotating presidency of the EU, said Wednesday that it had learned "with great shock" that four peacekeepers had been left dead by an Israeli air strike on a UN post in southern Lebanon on Tuesday.

"Attacks against UN personnel are unacceptable," a Finnish EU presidency statement added.

"The presidency calls for an immediate and full inquiry into this event." ...
Finland's President Tarja Halonen issued a statement Wednesday demanding Israel to perform a full investigation on the strike.

"There is no justification for Israel's strike on a UN observation base," she said.

Austria:
The incident prompted foreign minister Ursula Plassnik to telephone her Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livnik, to express Austria’s indignation over the attack. Plassnik also demanded an immediate and thorough investigation into the incident. ...
The foreign ministry also issued a statement by Plassnik: "Such an attack on unarmed UN observers is entirely unacceptable and can in no way be justified”.
China:
China asked the UN Security Council on Wednesday to condemn an Israeli attack on a UN observer post in southern Lebanon that killed four peacekeepers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland.
"For China and for others," China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said, "we condemn this because I think any attack on the United Nations positions and the United Nations personnel is inexcusable and unacceptable."
Also on Wednesday, Chinese President Hu Jintao expressed "deep condolences" over the death of Chinese UN observer Lieutenant-Colonel Du Zhaoyu and expressed utmost sympathy to his family.
The president instructed officials to condemn the attack, said a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
Hu "demanded the departments concerned properly handle the aftermath of the incident and take every measure necessary to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals in Lebanon," it said.
Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said earlier that China felt "deeply shocked" by and "strongly condemned" the Israeli air raid.
And how did our Prime Minister respond? Mr. Stephen "Stand Up For Canada" Harper? As The Star reports:
Harper, speaking to reporters after a funding announcement in eastern New Brunswick, said the Canadian military would consult with the UN and the Israeli government to find out what happened.
The prime minister also said he wants to know why the post was still manned even though it was in the middle of an obvious war zone. ...
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has suggested Israel deliberately targeted the UN outpost despite repeated calls to stop the shelling.
But Harper said the facts suggest otherwise.
“I certainly doubt that to be the case, given that the government of Israel has been co-operating with us in our evacuation efforts, in our efforts to move Canadian citizens out of Lebanon and also trying to keep our own troops that are on the ground, involved in the evacuation, out of harm’s way,” he said.
“We want to find out why this United Nations post was attacked and also why it remained manned during what is now, more or less, a war during obvious danger to these individuals.”
Is it too much to ask for a little outrage when one of our peacekeepers is killed? The inclusion of a couple of words like "strongly condemn" or "unacceptable"? Especially when said peacekeepers reportedly contacted the Israeli military 10 times about their position before they were bombed?

Do I, like Kofi Annan, believe that this UN mission was deliberately targeted by Israel? No. But I'd prefer to see my country's Prime Minister put standing up for Canadians a little ahead of making excuses for Israel...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Name two brilliant British writers who have railed against the digital watch.

A) Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; and

B) Tom Stoppard in The Real Thing, which I finally saw tonight at Soulpepper.

The Real Thing's been held over, by the way, until August 5 and I really would highly recommend it. Sure, I've got a coupla qualms, but it really was the most enjoyable production I've seen in Toronto since winter; I was positively giddy during the first act...

Post-Script: The Real Thing

Henry: [Trying to change the subject from the terrible play Annie has asked him to read] Stop me if anybody has said this before, but it's interesting how many of the all time greats begin with B: Beethoven, the Big Bopper...

Annie: That's all they have in common.

Henry: I wouldn't say that. They're both dead. The Big Bopper died in the same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, you know.

Annie: No, I didn't know. Have you given up on the play or what?

Henry: Buddy Holly was twenty-two. Think of what he might have gone on to achieve. I mean, if Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at twenty-two, the history of music would have been very different. As would the history of aviation, of course.

Annie: Henry.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Best Prime Minister We Never Had.

Calgary Grit has come up with a list of 100 competitors for the title -- and your votes will help decide the winner.

This is a much trickier contest than last summer's Best Prime Minister contest, which my bud Lester B. lost. Of the contenders, I just cast votes for Larry Campbell, D'Arcy McGee, MJ Coldwell, Deb Grey, Stephen Lewis and Lucien Bouchard. Just to mix things up.

But where's Don Boudria!?! What a slight!

Robert Standfield and Ed Broadbent are currently in the lead, I see. Like they used to say, Conservatives and NDP -- winning Internet polls since 1993. I guess you can't say that anymore re: the Tories.
The Dangers of Playing It Safe.

How kindness is killing Canadian political theatre... My article on this subject is in the latest issue of THIS Magazine and free online.
From the creators of The Drowsy Chaperone: East Hastings -- The Musical.

Currently in rehearsals at the New Burbage Theatre Festival, the premiere will be directed by Darren Nichols. (Unless he quits before this season of Slings & Arrows is finished...)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sausage Links.

- Richard Ouzounian wishes theatre would take a page from the WWE. But the WWE is theatre! We just don't send reviewers to critique it...
Incidentally, I, for one, would pay good money to watch The Ooze (an excellent wrestler name) take on Robert Cushman (The Cush Man!) in a Battle Royale to determine whether The Lord of the Rings was actually good or not.

- Farewell Mr. Floatie.

- The staff at Ben's is on strike! Is this the end of Montreal's other smoked meat joint? Perhaps. Schwarma is the new smoked meat in M-town, anyway...

- Speaking of schwarma, Chris Selley takes on some of these jerks who are think Lebanese-Canadians were just asking to be bombed by going on vacation.

- And speaking of Lebanon, I've already got into one brutal, drunken argument about what's going on this weekend, so I think I'm just going to shut up for a while and link to silly articles.

- Like this one: Filmmaker puts life at risk hosting Toronto Appreciation day in Montreal.

Ah, VIA and your Wifi! You may be slow, but I commend you for existing.
Drowsy Cameron Mackintosh.

He's hot for The Chap. says Variety:
The Brit producer has said he's a fan of the Tony-winning tuner, and those involved in "Drowsy" say he'd like to get a London production up and running ASAP.

But it's too soon to say where another incarnation of the production might show up first. Producer Kevin McCollum says he's still deciding whether the next step for "Drowsy" is a U.K. production or a U.S./Canadian tour.
Just in case you Can't Get Enough news about The Drowsy Chaperone, check out tomorrow's Post for an article about the latest musical by Martin, McKellar, Lambert and Morrison.

Friday, July 21, 2006

CBC Arts Lede Watch, Part I.

Love the opening to this article, President Bush invites Idol contestants to White House:
In a move reminiscent of life mimicking art, U.S. President George W. Bush has invited the top 10 finalists of the hit show American Idol to the White House.
What a strange sentence. But who am I to judge? I opened an article about The One with the word "Bomboulopoulos" earlier this week...

By the way, how exactly is this Idol invitation reminiscent of life mimicking art? Well:
The event has parallels to the story line from the movie American Dreamz starring Hugh Grant, Mandy Moore and Dennis Quaid. The movie, which had a brief run this year, featured Quaid as an American president who is persuaded to host an Idol-type show to boost his sagging popularity.
Yeah! Actually, I take back my mockery of the unnamed writer's lede. This isn't a case of life imitating art. It is only reminiscent of life mimicking "art"...

In other news, someone has started a blog dedicated entirely to Expo 67 nostalgia. My thoughts on excessive Expo 67 nostalgia are eloquently expressed by my choice of photo for my MySpace page...

Yes. Yes, I do have a MySpace account. AND last night, I downloaded my first ever ringtone: Crimson and Clover. I feel so mellow now whenever my phone rings, which is exactly the opposite of how I used to feel.

I am the coolest.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

YouTube Purpose #347: Sonja Smits Hairstyle Archive.

Street Legal Season 3.

(I didn't realise Ann-Marie MacDonald (Fall On Your Knees, etc.) wrote for Street Legal...)

Season 4.

Season 5.

Season 6.

Plus: One of the great Don McKellar scenes from Slings and Arrows. (Third and final season starts on Monday!)
Audience as art.

Space Invaders recreated with people as pixels.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Flashback to 1866.

This bloody business in the Middle East is quite disturbing... and confusing for people like me who tend to tune out as soon as they hear the words "internationally recognized border." I found today's online chat with Conflict Management expert Janice Gross Stein somewhat helpful in clearing a few things up. Her answer to this question helped me bring the current conflict home and imagine it on North American soil:
Pro Canada from Toronto writes: Dear Ms. Stein, Israel appears to me to be very unreasonable to attack its neighbours over the abduction of a couple of Israeli soldiers, when there are plenty of Lebanese captive in Israel's jails--the legality of which I assume Lebanon would dispute. If my understanding of the situation is correct, how can Israel expect to get international support and/or sympathy when it acts so arrogantly.

Janice Gross Stein: The issue was not the abduction of a couple of Israeli soldiers, as you put it. The issue is that Hamas and Hezbollah crossed an internationally recognized border — following an Israeli withdrawal and captured these soldiers within the 1967 lines inside Israel. Can you imagine what Canada would do if a militia crossed the 49th parallel and captured our soldiers and then retreated back across the border while the U.S. government stood by and made no effort to stop the militias. That's a tough sell in any democratic society. The real issues here are borders, the role of militias, and states.
I can imagine. Because a similar thing did happen, and repeatedly: the Fenian Raids.

And what was British North America's response to a terrorist militia crossing the 49th parallel and killing our soldiers and then retreating back across the border while the U.S. government stood by and made little effort to stop the militias? Why, we joined together and made ourselves a country.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The awesome!

The NFB has put 50 of its animated shorts online, including Cordell Barker's classic The Cat Came Back. (Why did at least three of my elementary school teachers show us this cartoon?)

[Via O.C., who also links to this YouTubetastic video of the Log Driver's Waltz.]

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Butter Way.

That's it, Howard Moscoe. I'm through with you. With a million annoying things wrong with the TTC, you decide to crack down on smoking on TTC property.
Transit union president Bob Kinnear said it was extremely disappointing that Moscoe thinks this is a priority item for transit cops.

"Our special constables could be utilized in a much more efficient way by trying to reduce assaults and thefts and things like that on the system rather than enforce the smoking bylaw," said Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113.

"It would be nice if Howard Moscoe would put together a memo on a blitz to have undercover special constables out there protecting our operators at 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning. That would be nice."
Get the butter! Your tango's over Moscoe!
Rights and Wrongs.

Ever since I switched my personal e-mail address to jkelly -at- gmail.com, I have been receiving a fair amount of correspondence intended for other recipients. At least two errant e-mails a week.

E-mails from university registrars, a budget for an Internet company, a resume, a letter of affiliation from a private medical clinic... I keep them in a special folder.

I guess there's a lot of J. Kellys out there. And a lot of people who can't remember e-mail addresses properly.

Anyway, today I received a forwarded e-mail from an account executive at [a company] with the subject line "Fw: Ever been this drunk..." (It had been forwarded to him by the VP Sales.)

"Brace yourself...Trust me on this one!!" the account executive wrote.

The attached picture was of an obese human of indeterminate gender receiving oral sex on the hood of a car.

Lovely!

Anyway, usually when I get e-mail intended for someone, I reply and correct the sender. My question to you, dear readers, is should I cc the guy's boss when I do so this time?

Or would that make me a jerk?

UPDATE: Yeah, okay. I won't do it. I was just irritated that I viewed such an image moments before going to bed...

UPPERDATE: Account executive e-mailed back:
Sorry J. Kelly Nestruck,

A finger must have slipped when I was forwarding that along.

Don't be a dick though...that's my girl you're talking about!!!


She is Bold, Big and Beautiful.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Syd Barrett has passed away.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Toronto Fringe Begins Tonight...

And Alison Broverman and I are already blogging it at www.nationalpost.com/fringeblog.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Flushed with Pride.

To be fair to the men who will be charged with mischief for peeing on the National War Memorial on Canada Day, it really is hard to take a whiz outdoors in Ottawa without hitting some monument or another.

Wandering around Parliament Hill with a full bladder, you think you've finally found a nice place to empty it... and then when you're zipping up you suddenly realise, "Oh crap, I just peed on Nellie McClung!"

See, this is what happens when the Parliament Press Gallery and the PMO go to war... A couple of drunken idiots doing something dumb is suddenly a hot story and a national crisis.

I don't want to see drunken idiots doing dumb things on the front page. At least not unless someone dies or something is seriously damaged.

It's a bit of a stretch to say the memorial was "defaced" as this CTV headline states. I mean, the Memorial seems to have been designed to survive just this kind of situation:
Canadian granite of the rose-grey type, from the Dumas Quarry at Rivière-à-Pierre near Quebec City, was chosen for the base of the memorial and for the arch because this granite is virtually free from iron, thereby reducing the possibility of staining.
Hmmm... Why would you want the base of a monument to be stain-resistant?

If some fool (drunk or otherwise) came along and painted a swastika on the memorial, well, sure, I think we'd have cause to do a little national soul searching. But a couple of dudes peeing in public after celebrating their love of Canada... it seems like a bit of over-reaction.

Surely there must be something better we can spend our time discussing? Like how out-of-touch with real issues David McGuinty is, perhaps?

Or perhaps we should just go whole hog on this pressing issue and arrest all the
pigeons in Ottawa. ("We have you surrounded... Please fly down from Diefenbaker's head with your wings up.")

Only the Bloc and the PQ should be happy about how this story has played out... After all, it forced Stephen Harper to finally acknowledge urination. (Get it?)
Toronto Fringe Time!

So check out the National Post Theatre Eaters blog for reviews and news from myself and Alison Broverman.

Here are my picks for the Fringe.

Here are Kamal's in the Globe.

And here's a profile of Fringe President Derrick Chua.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Jazzmatazz.

Here's how my Sunday night at the Montreal jazz festival went:

First I saw Cat Power.
Then I saw Phantom Power Combo Deluxe.
Then I saw The Cat Empire.

Cat Power --> Phantom Power --> Cat Empire.

I did not see a band called Phantom Empire.

The highlight of the evening for me was the funk-rock-reggae-jazz of The Cat Empire, which was a surprise. Literally. The Australian band performed an indoor show with Bedouin Soundclash on Saturday, but then did a couple of surprise free outdoor shows on Sunday, the latter of which I caught. They're awesome. Aussome even. Especially the trumpet/singer Harry James Angus. Yowsa. He is an incredible scat-ter and beatboxer and has the pipes to fell a dozen Jerichos.

Of course, after I got home, I realised I had a Cat Empire song on my harddrive downloaded from Said the Gramophone last year. That Sean's really on top of things...
"They didn't sing the French verse, of course, but you can't expect miracles."

Canada Day on Broadway.