Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Adjust Your Links, Avert Your Eyes.

For those of you who usually get here by typing www.nestruck.com into your browser, I'm afraid you're going to have to learn the true URL: fence.blogspot.com. That's because I've recently pointed www.nestruck.com to www.jkellynestruck.com. Yes! My new Web site, only marginally better designed than Kelly's Pointless Homepage I made on Geocities a decade ago...

The dealie is this: I'm an entrepreneur now. A self-employed freelance writer. And I figure I got to have a presence on the ol' Interweb that isn't just me blabbing on about pelicans eating pigeons. So, that's www.jkellynestruck.com, where I am slowly compiling an archive of my old articles, etc. I welcome all your constructive feedback on my terrible use of Dreamweaver templates.

Hmmm... It suddenly occurs to me that people who normally get here via www.nestruck.com aren't reading this message, because they're at www.jkellynestruck.com. Hopefully, they found the "blog" link there. Hi! The Internet!
Lord Black of Cross-Examination.

Almost everything in the Tom Bower book about me is a lie, says Conrad in The Sun:
This is a play in three acts, as I tried to explain in my e-mails to Bower, but it was hopeless. He was writing a criminography; where the biographer begins with a judgment against character, then argues backward to invented or twisted "facts." The egregiousness is already certain, as you are dealing with someone known to be wicked, as well as, in this case, pathetic. Almost every word of his malodorous pot-boiler will be dishonest and defamatory.
Hat tip to Daifallah.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Through the magic of globalization, I can be here in London, while my byline appears in the National Post in Toronto! Yes, if you happen to pick up a copy of the Post today, you can read my interview with Canadian comic Phil Nichol, the top comedy award winner from this year's Edinburgh Fringe, who filmed a DVD of two of his very funny shows on the West End this weekend. If you follow that link, beware: It's subscription only, darnit.

In other Canadian media news, THIS Magazine turns 40. Hoorah! I'm interested to see where newish editor Jessica Johnston -- who happens to have the same birthday as me -- is going to take it.
Monday Schadenfreude: An update on the pelican that ate a pigeon

The British media are almost as obsessed with this freak act as they are with the Macca/Mucca debacca. The Times' AA Gill takes the cake with his interpretation of the fowl play:
The pelican is the ancient symbol of selfless charity. They were thought to feed their young with the blood from their breast (they don’t) and the pigeon of course is cousin to the dove, harbinger of peace. Some might think that charity eating peace was an augury of some imminent catastrophe or perhaps it’s just an elegant bestiary metaphor for the end of the Tony Blair years?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Importance of the Arts.

Oh, scrap that. I had something to say about the relationship between arts and foreign relations, but I think I'll save it for a day that's less... less... less of a Sunday, you know?

But I will say this: Isn't it highly ridiculous in this era of Globalization for a book to have different titles in different countries that speak the same language? Take Margaret MacMillan's new tome Nixon in China: The Week that Changed the World. Over here in England, it is called Seize the Hour: When Nixon Met Mao. I just read a review of it in The Sunday Times and felt completely thrown off when I got to the sentence, "Margaret MacMillan is famous for Peacemakers [The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War], her study of the 1919 Versailles conference..." What? You mean Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World, surely.

Why confuse people this way? Perhaps the Brits need less of an excuse to read history books, whereas North Americans in the bookstore think, "Versailles? Meh... I'm not interested... WAIT! This event changed the world? The entire world!?! I've got to read that!"

Meanwhile, the Brits are all, "Oooh! The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War! Hand over that hardcover immediately! I must read more about this failed attempt to change the world!"
The Elephant Show.

I found this New York Times Magazine article by Charles Siebert about the increasingly fraught relationship between elephants and humans absolutely fascinating. I had no idea how little I knew about elephants, their brains, their societies, their incredible mourning habits... Not the usual kind of thing I link to from here, but thought I'd pass it on.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Now I've seen everything...

A pelican eating a pigeon?
This country is craaaazy!

I particularly like that the BBC covered this. I love the headline: Pelican swallows pigeon in park.

Reports a photographer who happened upon the scene:
Mr McNaughton, from the Press Association, said: "The pelican was on the towpath preening itself, and there were a lot of tourists watching it.

"Then the bird got up and strolled along until it reached one of the pigeons, which it just grabbed in its beak.

"There was a bit of a struggle for about 20 minutes, with all these people watching. The pelican only opened its mouth a couple of times.

"Then it managed to get the pigeon to go head first down its throat. It was kicking and flapping the whole way down."
A bit of a struggle? For twenty minutes? Ladies and gentlemen, the British art of understatement.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


You can read my review of the National Theatre's production of Tony Kushner's musical Caroline, or Change over at Londonist.

WARNING SPOILER AHEAD: Something I didn't mention over at Londonist, but which I found puzzling and a bit disturbing, was the audience's reaction to the play's climax. Caroline, the Gellman's African-American maid, has been told that she can keep whatever money eight-year-old Noah leaves in the pockets of his dirty laundry. (This is 1963; we are in Louisiana.) Caroline finds this a bit patronizing, but she only earns $30 a week and could use the spare change -- even if it does come from an absent-minded child.

Well, everything goes swimmingly, until Noah leaves his Chanukah money -- $20 from his grandpa -- in his pants. He rushes home, but Caroline has already found it and kept it and is thinking of the Christmas presents she can now buy for her three kids. Upset that Caroline won't give the cash back, he tells her (sings, as this is a musical) that LBJ has invented a Negro-killing bomb and he hopes she dies from it.

Caroline hands the money over. Then she tells Noah that Hell is a fiery, hot place... and it is where Jews go when they die.

It's really a shocking moment in the play. Caroline has been infantilized by her position and has been reduced to scaring a child... all over a little loose change.

But the audience laughed. And then, they applauded. They applauded a grown woman telling a precocious little kid that he was going to hell because he was Jewish.

Eeg. My expat theatre companion, I found out after, was equally put off by this reaction. He wondered if we were just having the "North American reaction" and the rest of the audience was having their "British reaction."

I'm assuming that Kushner wants more of the North American reaction. After all, Caroline has to exorcise her demons after this and regrets the mean, bitter woman she has become.

The laughter is understandable. The "Jews go to hell" bit is set up like a punchline. It is surprising. And, in a way, you're glad to see the whiny brat get his come-uppance, even if you feel guilty afterwards. I do hesitate to ever condemn an audience for having an honest reaction.

But the applauding really did throw me for a whirl...

I'd be curious to know what Kushner thinks... And also what the reaction to this part was like in New York. Anybody see the production there? Am I off base?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Canucks in London: trey anthony.

Yes, anthony's Vagina-Monologues-meets-Beauty-Shop-with-drumming play Da Kink In My Hair, which was very successful in Toronto, will be here at the Hackney Empire in east-end London on Nov. 8.

Read all about in my article in today's Toronto Star.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Re: La nation québécoise...

Matthew Hayday voices my thoughts perfectly on the current Liberal leadership debate over recognizing Quebec as a nation. Except, of course, that his post is less profane than mine would be, and he makes more references to Charles Taylor's writings. From Matt:
I believe that Bob Rae and Stéphane Dion are wise to preach caution about the merits of re-opening constitutional talks for the main purpose of writing in an official recognition of the "Quebec nation". For one thing, it begs the question of the ramifications of having the constitution speak of one nation, and remain silent on the remainder of Canada's population. For another, I'm not sure it's prudent to have our constitution be so prescriptivist on issues of identity. And for a third initial thought (recognizing that this is a blog post, and not an academic paper), I think Canadians should be cautious about constitutionally entrenching what are, to be certain, fairly recent conceptions of what constitutes a Quebec nation. There may well currently be a sociological nation of Quebec. But less than 50 years ago, the primary identity for francophone Quebeckers was as part of la nation canadienne-française, which spoke to a much larger geographical reality, and encompassed many more people in the rest of the country.
Our identity politics (and indeed our identities) continue to change and evolve over time, and this is not necessarilly a bad thing. Even if one accepts Taylor's premise that Canadian society is characterized by "deep diversity," and that our individual identities are rooted in (or derived from) broader collective cultures, I do not think that it need necessarily follow that our constitution should codify the current forms that this diversity assumes.
Damn straight!
Montreal Stories.

Le Journal de Montreal may not be the best newspaper in the world, but its reporters have their ear to the ground and come up with some really great human interest stories.

I liked this one from a couple of weeks ago, about a woman riding the Metro for the second time... 40 years after her first ride.

Then, I liked this one about Joseph Lamontagne, panhandler at the corner of Notre Dame and Iberville who has just turned 65... and so is retiring now that's he's eligible for his old age pension.

[h/t to Kate, who reads Le Journal so we don't have to...]

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Man's Best Frenemy.

From today's Sunday Times excerpt of Tom Bower's upcoming book Conrad and Lady Black:
Simon Heffer, a columnist on Black's Telegraph, observed: "Barbara has turned Conrad from an homme sérieux into a society petal. He's besotted with her, like a spaniel."
From A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, Scene I, Helena:
I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you:
Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
What worser place can I beg in your love,--
And yet a place of high respect with me,--
Than to be used as you use your dog?
This is a propos of nothing.

Okay, it's a propos of a few things. First, I'm pleased -- or do I mean displeased? -- to find out that Brits are as fascinated with the trials and entrails of Conrad Black as Canadians are. The above excerpt was trumpeted on the front page of the Times today. (It's an interesting read, though I prefered the excerpt that dealt with Amiel, which names many familiar Canadian journos as her ex-lovers and has a story about George Jonas -- denied by him -- confronting her first husband Geroge Bloomfield at gunpoint.)

Second: if we aren't allowed to insult our ex-girlfriends, who are we allowed to insult? I'm refering of course to Mr. Mackay's alleged not-so-snappy QP comeback that alluded to his ex Ms. Stronach (or Belinda, as everyone insists on calling her) as his dog. (Not "a dog," but "his dog," which suggests that he has yet to relinquish all feeling for her.)

I do think that Mackay should keep such lame witticisms out of the House of Commons and in the pub after your third pint where they belong. (Likewise perhaps, Liberal MP Mark Holland, who first asked Mackay about "your dog," could refrain from making veiled references to the Mackay-Stronach breakup like a high school bully.) I do think Mackay would've been wise to apologize quickly.

I also, however, think this is Not A Big Deal. And I think Jack Layton looks ridiculous calling upon Mackay to resign over this "sexist" remark.

Ah, scare quotes. They're there because when you call Black a "spaniel," I don't think anyone calls it sexist. Likewise when you say "You dog!" to a guy. Even the expression "his/her bitch" has become unisex. (Ie. Mackay is really the media's bitch right now.)

So yes, Mackay's alleged (he says, though he's heard the Liberal recording) remark was insulting and unparliamentary... but I don't think it was sexist. If Belinda Stronach was Ben Stronach, Mackay's male ex-lover, I suspect Mackay would have the same broken heart and adolescent disdain. Hating your ex is not the same as hating a whole gender. And dog is a gender-neutral insult.

My third and final point is: We have a weird relationship with dogs, one that extends back to Shakespeare's time at least. I don't think I want to explore that any further.
Getting to Know U.K., Getting to Know All About U.K...

Did you know BBC Radio 4 actually has a radio program(me) called Desert Island Discs? I thought that was an imaginary show Tom Stoppard invented in his play The Real Thing.

I'm not sure who this woman is on the show right now... "I couldn't spell, I was struggling in school..." That could be anyone.

I'm sorry I missed last week's episode, which featured Robert Fisk. Would you believe he had them play Hatikva, the national anthem of Israel? It's true. Also, Mellow Yellow.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Easy Like a Bad Day.

Okay, I'm trying to put my finger on it, but why do I always think of Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores' Easy (Like Sunday Morning) when I hear Daniel Powter's Bad Day? I guess it's the similar piano openings...

Anyway, now a message for the kids: Remember to double check all information you read on Wikipedia before you include it in a paper. Something tells me that this little tidbit from Powter's Wiki entry is likely untrue: "In the late 90's Daniel Powter worked with the Canadian Mounted Police aka The Mounties in Québec to fight of an attack of wild grizzly bears who were a threat to the traditional Canadian way of life."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ist Shift.

Some of you may recall those halcyon days when I used to post over at Torontoist, the Gothamist offshoot founded by my friends Sarah Lazarovic and Josh Errett. Well, it conflicted a bit with my day job and this here blog and I just didn't have the time, so I move on while remaining an avid reader...

Now, unemployed in London, I got nothing but time! And so I have begun to contribute to Londonist, the British branch of the ist-iverse.

To wit: My brief recounting of a two-parts fun, one-part embarrassing evening at BAFTA celebrating Canadian short films. You can take the boy out of Canada, but you can't take the Canadian Heritage Minutes out of the boy.

POST-SCRIPT: Does anyone object to me putting Blogger comments on? I'll put Haloscan comments back on if so...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Two countries separated by a common language, part LXVI.

Apparently, parts of the Mary Poppins musical that is such a hit here in London are too scary in New York... even in a new lightened up version. Michael Riedel reports:
"Mary Poppins" played its first preview Saturday night and is, by all accounts, more child-friendly here than it is in London.

But there is one production number, a holdover from London, that's still scaring the kids and baffling their parents.

Called "Temper, Temper," it occurs just before the end of the first act. Mary Poppins has temporarily deserted her petulant charges, Jane and Michael Banks, leaving them alone in their nursery. Suddenly, a sinister red hand pokes out from the window of a doll house. A gigantic, evil-looking rag doll then emerges from the doll house, ready to exact revenge on Jane and Michael for abusing their toys.

Soon all of the toys, looking as if they were designed by zombie horror movie-maker George Romero and acting like graduates of the John Wayne Gacy School of Clowning, come to life. ...

Ticket brokers and group sales agents, who are driving a lot of the show's business right now, aren't pleased. The last thing they want is word that "Mary Poppins" is scaring kids.

Cast members, too, think the "Temper, Temper" number should go, grumbling that they can tell from the stage it's making the audience uncomfortable.
Producer Cameron Macintosh is insisting the scene stay in, however:
Years ago, Mackintosh secured the rights to "Mary Poppins" from author P.L. Travers by promising her that the stage production would be closer in tone to her books than the the saccharin Disney film. He also promised to use characters and incidents from the books that were not in the movie.

The concept of "Temper, Temper," one production source says, is "deeply rooted" in the producer's commitment to P.L Travers and her estate."
I hope we haven't got to the point where there can't be any scary scenes in kid's entertainment. What's Wizard of Oz without those terrifying flying monkey? On the other hand, I do still have nightmares about the Jabberwocky thanks to a TV version of Through the Looking Glass I saw as a kid... Of course, I still have nightmares about the Gorgs, too. I'm a bit of a wuss. [H/t to Playgoer.]

P.S. Speaking of the Gorgs, did you know that poet bpNichol was a writer on Fraggle Rock? That blows my mind.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

You are missing from me.

As someone whose French is littered with anglicismes, one of the phrases that always trips me up is: "Tu me manques." In English we say "I miss you" and so I always feel like I should say "Je te manque" in French even though I know full well it is incorrect.

I'm thinking of this for a couple of reasons. One is that Les amoureux du francais, La Presse's handy language blog, discusses manquer today. (If you feel your French isn't quite up to snuff, as I do, I recommend subscribing to the RSS feed; it's quite comforting to read all the questions from pur laine Quebecois who are just as stymied as I am by some of the stranger quirks of the language.)

The other reason is that, while I'm having an exciting time here in London, I am of course missing many things: family, friends, home. But when I say "I miss home," it doesn't quite do justice to the feelings I'm having. It makes me think of some Jane Austen character staring out the window wistfully..

I kind of prefer the French construction: Canada me manque. It's like that: home is missing from me... It's not that I'm actively missing certain people and places all the time; it's just that those people and places are missing from me and my everyday life. I've been altered by my displacement and it's left me feeling like a chair missing the foot on one of my legs. I'm slightly off balance, rocking back and forth just a bit, looking for a matchbook to slide underneath...
Dear Internet,
Hi! It's me, Kelly! You may remember me from the days when I used to blog on you. Well, I'm currently spending the time I might otherwise spend mocking Michael Ignatieff or telling the world how thrilling Rock 'n' Roll was or how harrowing Bent was on building a new website, one where I can archive old archives, etc.
Hopefully, I will have it done by the end of weekend and we can be friends again.
P.S. Boy, everyone likes to drink here, don't they? This is me drinking a glass of water -- yes, water -- at Le Mercury in Islington last night. Ms. Sue Toth took the photograph. Contrary to what it may seem I am not growing jowls. Well...
P.P.S. If you're family or friend or stalker, you may want to check out this Flickr set of my new flat near Finsbury Park. My new expensive flat near Finsbury Park. If anyone from Google is interested in buying this blog, please drop me a line. Starting price: 1 billion. POUNDS.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Yes! Porky's has been dethroned!
After 25 years as reigning champ at the Canadian box office, "Porky's" has finally met its match.
The action-comedy flick "Bon Cop, Bad Cop" surpassed the 1981 teen comedy in sales this week and took over the title of most popular Canadian film at the Canadian box office. Sales for "Bon Cop, Bad Cop" have totalled $11.3 million across the country, beating out the raunchy Florida-set 80's comedy which cashed in $11.2 million at the Canadian register years ago.
Of course, the CP story and the rest of the English Canadian press reports conveniently ignore a little thing called inflation... But I encourage this! Let's not let Porky's stain our national reputation any longer...

Can't remember if I ever posted my interview with BCBC's script doctor Alex Epstein... Here it is if you're interested.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bubble 2.0.

$1.65 billion for YouTube, a website that has never made any money and is a million lawsuits waiting to happen? We'll see, I suppose.

And now a personal message for my friend Lindsay: Dude, see why we have to get on our little web projects? We could've thought up YouTube! We could be rich, rolling in Google stock! But no, you're too busy... Too busy to become rich beyond your wildest dreams, apparently. Pah.

Friday, October 06, 2006

London Observations #1

There are two tube stops called Shepherd's Bush. Two different tube stops in different locations. What the heck?

Stay tune for more inane observations from across the pond! I'm here, I'm frantically searching for shelter, I'm jetlagged! Woo!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Meanwhile, in Manitoba...

The Nestrucks are a little less, uh, on the fence:
To illustrate his view of the state of today's NDP, Nestruck played a tune about a marionette on his clarinet, saying he made the selection "because the whole party is a bunch of puppets right now, following the marionette man."
Yep, that's my father. My decision to move to England at this point in time is completely unrelated... Really.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Liberal Leadership Race.

Here are the results of "Super Weekend," ever changing.

Last night I stayed up until 3 a.m. packing. This morning I woke up at 8, finished packing and stuffed my sister's car full of boxes. I started driving to Montreal around noon.

The drive took forever (accident, rain). I was bored out of my mind and needed to do something to keep me awake. So I called Cross Country Checkup.

You can hear my sleep-deprived comments on the Liberal leadership race at 99:14.

I am still deprived of sleep, so no more on this for the time being.