shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy pensive)

There is a great disturbance in the pop-culture Force.

Michael Jackson is dead. He who has been in my vision for as long as I have been aware of the wider media universe, who has acted first as the ultimate definition of cool, then of wretched excess, then plain ol'what-planet-is-this-guy-from weirdness...isn't there any more.

I did not expect to be nearly as moved by this as I am.

Well, perhaps moved is the wrong word. Something more along the lines of what happens when you try and go home again. Your worldview has been so comfily arranged for so long that when a piece is removed the whole thing feels unsettled for a little while. Farrah Fawcett, who also died today, was undoubtedly a beautiful, talented and courageous lady, and my heart goes out to those who knew and loved her, but she had no such niche in my memory.


The Jackson family apparently took a few stabs at being Jehovah's Witnesses over the years; our belief system revolves around a final resurrection to a Paradise earth. The great tragedy of Jackson's life is that something - a whole lot of somethings, all of which will be lovingly analysed in exhausting detail over the next weeks, so I don't have to - drove him to try and recreate that Paradise here and now, in this system of things. By the time he was done he'd pretty much canonised himself Lord Protector of All That is Pure & Innocent Amen.

As many of your major works of literature have observed, an imperfect human playing God is never a smart idea. Playing God with American celebrity culture for a that's just prime cosmic comedy.

So we laughed - and then cringed, as you do when the joke just goes on way too long, reveals way too much. Then...finally left, shaking our heads.

A lot of us did, anyway. Unfortunately (speaking of great tragedies) a sense of humour is not universal among the human race; never mind perspective. So a lot of other people bought wholeheartedly into Saint Michael. The misunderstood emissary, mocked and bullied by a world too jealous and shortsighted to appreciate his Vision.
This is what I'm really afraid of now. That natural guilt re: slandering the dead will translate into a huge backlash of mindless sentiment. A warm collective glow will arise from the media - which after all has been ready with fists poised melodramatically over breasts ever since the Britney circus - and suddenly the World Will Understand. Perhaps he really was a saint, after all!

Um, no. He was a humongously talented kid that warped into a sad, strange monster, finally unable to cope with reality to such an extent that - guilty of an actual crime or not - he honestly didn't see anything wrong with his taking little boys to bed. I'm not even sure if a proper understanding of what led to all this would be worthwhile, so little of it applies to real life. It'd be like holding Howard Hughes up as a warning example of overwork among businessmen.

He lived, he tortured himself, he died. In at least the awareness, if not the belief, that he has paid the price  and now awaits God's own understanding.

Which is infinite.

Thank goodness.

shoebox_dw: (garfield rabid moth)
Nothing too serious, just the usual opportunities to waaaaaaaay overthink public media on the daily commute:

1.) The Big Giant Ad of Specialness one of the online dating services - could be - has put up @ Union Station. 'We're looking for Canada's Top 200 Singles!' it says. Apparently there are prizes and everything.
Now, correct me if I'm missing some marketing subtletly here, but this is a dating service, right?  So, following things out to the logical conclusion, your 'top singles' would be...the ones who aren't single anymore? I mean, if they are still single, that would indicate a pretty severe failure to get with the program, from your POV.

2.) OK, this Robert Pattinson thing. He has my undying respect for his candidly-stated approach to his Twilight character - basically, the Method expression of "Are you %#$^%&-ing kidding me?". Thing is, he has also been confronting me on newstands everywhere lately, and you'll need to excuse me while I get this off my chest:

Is it just me, or does he - when in Edward Teh Angsty Vampire mode, anyhow - look exactly like a live-action Dragonball Z character? You know - the Brows of Badassery drawn way down his face, with a ferocious little scowl sort of wedged beneath? Like, it's hard to tell whether he's heroic or just irritable that he didn't listen when his mom said his face would freeze like that?

This all I have been able to see for some few months now, at any rate, and it is impeding what little ability I have left to take the whole Sparkly Fun Undead franchise seriously...oops, slipped another notch there.

You know, there are days when a long urban commute has its compensations, after all.
shoebox_dw: (pbs happiness fairy)
I just spent an entire evening rampaging through the Sesame Street clips on YouTube and favourited all my best ones. All the Yip-Yips, all the Bert & Ernie, all the Grover the Waiter (plus 'Near and Far' - love you, little blue dude!) Kermit and his Muppet News Flashes. Mr. Hooper's death, for when I want a good cry (actually, closer to sobbing hysterically...)

Even the most obscure ones, like the 'Capital I' ("We all live in a capital 'I'/in the middle of the desert, in the centre of the sky...") and that one bit with Wanda the Witch where I used to twirl around the living room declaiming "A wild wind whipped the wig from her hand, and blew it away! Forever!". They even have the Marmoset Song, quite possibly the most under-rated Joe Raposo composition ever ("And are there things to share, when you're a marmoset/But do you really care, when you're a marmoset?")

And the guest stars! Lena Horne! Madeline Kahn! Patrick Stewart doing "B...or not a B?" Paul Simon doing improv with a preschool Macy Grey wannabe on Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard! R.E.M. singing Shiny Happy Monsters! Stevie- frelling-Wonder performing Superstition live!

Ooh, and did I mention all the Typewriter Guy bits? "Noo-nee-noo-ne-noo-noo..."

So basically I now have my very very own Sesame Street episode to play whenever I want. And my poor cranky inner child of a couple days ago is now curled up cozily, humming softly to herself:

But if green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why
But...why wonder...why wonder?
I'm green, and it'll do fine
It's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be.

shoebox_dw: (bob & ray)
Word is that Abby Elliott will be joining the cast of Saturday Night Live, by way of helping replace Amy Poehler while the latter's on maternity leave.

Abby is the daughter of SNL alum Chris Elliott, and thus grand-daughter of Bob. (Albeit you can't tell by looking at her - lucky girl). This is intriguing, since In the course of researching the B&R article last year I ran across a reference to Abby - then an adjunct to profiles of her dad - as being very close to her grandfather, having inherited his 'dry sense of humour'.

(Certainly Grandpa is no stranger to SNL himself, the duo having been handed a showcase special back in the Belushi/Radner years, besides hosting once or twice. This will all make for wonderful Elliott family Thanksgiving dinner conversation, I can just tell.) 

So the Elliott dynasty beats on, borne back ceaselessly into the past. This is on the whole a good thing, I think. Although Bob has publicly never been anything other than proud and supportive of his son's career, I would really like to believe that privately Chris has been whacked upside the ear at least once. Hopefully for those Tostitos commercials, although if it comes down to it I'm not picky.
shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy pensive)
Being a young, single Jehovah's Witness in the big city can be a...fraught experience, at times. Especially when the need to unwind strikes on a Friday night.
It helps of course that I don't drink by choice, not by religious proscription; also, that I'm really not all that social an animal to begin with. Since I was a small child it has always seemed to me that there were more interesting things to do than actively seek the company of people - not cynicism, you understand, merely contented introversion. My friends tend to be those who understand this POV, and even share it to some extent.

Thus it is that my resourceful inner self and I have developed a compromise: each Friday night we seek out those more interesting things - new things, or things we know and love but simply haven't had the time to think of lately. We hike wherever our feet feel like going, heedless of time. Could be around nearby Leaside, or the Danforth, or Eglinton West, poking in stores and people-watching and just generally obeying the impulse of the moment. Sometimes Shoemom comes along, and those are good times, because her idea of an urban hike inevitably involves a good gossip and a stop at a favourite coffee shop.


Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (kitty attack)
So first of all I must mention the loverly little shout-out West of Bathurst creator Kari Maaren was kind enough to award me in return the other day. Given the bit about my being 'a good writer', I will go so far as to add that if she ever does install a forum, I will become a charter member.


This is going to be a quick post. It's only that I have a strange compulsion to comment on the current TV scene; strange, because  I don't watch any of it, or for that matter have cable in the first place. I do however pass huge banks of posters for it every day to and from, which means they're working, I guess. I am starting to feel what I believe are 'vibes' from 'the buzz'. It's either about the new fall season or drinking all that Sprite at lunch, one of the two., huh? This Darkness thing, pretty, uh...dark. Yeah. Weeds, heh, a suburban mom selling dope! See, it's funny, 'cause it's so at odds with her fresh, wholesome image! What edgy concept will those whacky sitcom producers come up with next? Maybe a show about a suburban mom who's really a witch, or something!
Or - wait - a hit woman! Yeah, I'm offering that one for free right here. Called...Babes and Bullets, maybe. They could do an episode where she gets so wound up after a morning trapped indoors with a Dora the Explorer DVD that she finally snaps and empties her semiautomatic into the TV set, screaming "Repeat this, you little ___!" Insta-ratings smash, I guarantee it.

(Slightly) more seriously, there's this one Global ad - in the 'BIG' series, if it helps - that features this shot of a really hunky guy looking all ironically dark and brooding, that I wouldn't mind somebody naming him for me so my flippings through People at the grocery checkout can have some real purpose. The poster is captioned 'BIG Trouble'. If it helps.

Then I get on the subway, and because of the unwritten agreement among rush-hour passengers that we are so not making any eye contact we don't get paid for, I end up spending a lot of time staring at an overhead insert showing all the Desperate Housewives, reruns now on Bravo channel.
'Least, I think it's all of them. Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria and a couple blondes on the ends I don't recognise. They're all wearing frankly inexplicable wine-coloured cocktail dresses, and they're all doing their best to look like Women on the Verge. What scares me a bit is that they're succeeding. I thought this was all supposed to be lighthearted parody, but Teri there especially looks like they gave her a strand of pearls for the express purpose of breaking it with her teeth.

Also, Marcia Cross - whom I cannot for the life of me imagine just calling 'Marcia' - it occurs to me, staring at this thing, that I've never seen a pic of her looking straight on at the camera. She's always looking out at me with a knowing smile from under brows set in little arches of irony, with that great glowing Forehead looming over it all.
It could be a nifty little satirical comment on real female desperation in Hollywood - Behold, the Power of Botox! - but I'm pretty sure that's not what she's going for, and instead of being intimidated I start getting uncomfortable, the way you do when you're sitting and you're talking to someone who's standing. "Erm, Marcia Cro...Marcia? You can let your occipital lobes down now. No, please, really."
shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy pensive)
First of all, upon realizing you’ve skipped breakfast on the way to work, don’t try and replace it with a super-sized May West cake. The whole experience was reminiscent of the ‘division dumplings’ scene from the Phantom Tollbooth – I could actually feel myself becoming less and less nourished the more I ate. Urgh.
Along the same lines, except with brain cells in the starring role, is wasting a rare chance to actually sit down and relax on the subway on the MetroNews free paper. I do not wish to provoke backchat involving rocks and glass houses here…but if there ever was anything meant to be read only in quick snatches as a distraction from the random limbs that keep banging into your face, the snoggings of Paris and latest would be it.
“They were so absorbed in each other - it was like the Oscars weren’t even on!” a ‘source’ gushes. A really, really, easily-impressed source. Honey, I hate to break this to you, but I watched the Oscars with my mother, from start to finish, and it was still like they weren’t even on.
shoebox_dw: (holly hare)

So I've spent the past few days (when not curled up in the foetal position, whining and wheezing) exploring one of the bigger problems you encounter writing a weekly column - or at least, a weekly conglomeration of thoughts you're pleased to call a column. Namely, coming up with things to conglom about.

It's not a shortage of ideas, per se; I've started up any number of promisingly thoughful trains...only to have them fizzle and die not much further down the tracks. Clearly I need to come up with more interesting concepts, or possibly just be more interesting period. The quest to find out which it was naturally led me back around to my many and varied influences.

Didn't work. Or rather, worked all too well. By the time I was half-way through the list of workaday idols, it became clear that all of them had either had or were in the process of having really interesting-/exciting-/amusing-incident-filled lives, to the point where my own random irritation with movie posters in the subway was starting to make even Arthur Black look like a raconteur on par with Twain. The only major exception was Dave Barry, but I'm really not into either booger jokes or beer, strong indulgence in the latter I suspect is necessary to make the former that funny anyhow.

I found myself spiralling down through the depths of recall, calling forth every random regular bit of newsprint I'd ever read, finally landing up back in my pre-teen-hood. We had a subscription to the Toronto Sun for a few years...

That's when it hit me. Potpourri Guy.

shoebox_dw: (kermit muppet show)

So I got a note from my editor yesterday telling me that he was very pleased with the results of my condense-and-focus job on the article…

[pause while those who know me well pick their jaws up from the floor]

…thank you. At any rate, his only major changes involved tweaking my idiosyncratic grammar into mass-magazine mode…which was kind of a peculiar experience. Not unpleasant, per se; believe me, nobody should be crushed at the discovery that the general public doesn’t share my stream of consciousness.

Just…well, by now I’ve got used to the thing having a certain rhythm and flow – my rhythm - and it feels decidedly odd to have it go off among strangers and come back sounding so carefully mature. [snif] My little article, all grown up and ready to stun the world…

Or something. I’ll know in about two-three weeks, he says, when the article goes up onsite. He also says there’s going to be a reference to this blog in the footer to the article…meaning I suddenly have a whole new set of literary anxieties.

This is after all a very classy magazine – I can tell, because a friend who holds a professorship in political science has heard of it. Which means these very classy readers are going to land @ Shoe Central expecting, like, reams of thoughtful, sensitive pop-culture critiquage, and you can’t just cheerily explain it was all a fluke, ha ha, and hope you like the Transformers review!

Thus I have only a fortnight or so to reinvent myself as a sophisticated, culturally-aware literati of whom same would not be wholly embarrassed to be seen engaging in discussion. Basically, I’m thinking of referring to the French Revolution a whole lot from here on in.

Ooh, and post-modernism. I have never had any clear idea what that means, except that Andy Warhol mocked it a lot, and boy howdy did that turn out to be the place where enthusiasm goes to die. However, it apparently has a lot to do with ‘theory’ and ‘irony’, so I figure I get the usage down pat enough to drop it into casual conversation (“The theoretical irony of robots philosophizing in Transformers is, like, mega-post-modernist, dude!”), and I’m totally covered in any discussion past 1952.

More immediately, this puts paid to my ambition to be the sole Oscar-free blog of 2008...

shoebox_dw: (kitty attack)
Public service announcement: Y'know what would make a great gift this holiday season? Fashion sweaters from the Bay. Get two or three of 'em - heck, run right down that list, maybe all the way to Fido.
Cashmere would be good, but really, any natural or acrylic fibre will do - it's not like Gramma's gonna know the difference. C'mon now, who doesn't lurve big poufy sweaters in the middle of a cold winter? All that softness, all that coziness, all that ability to maximise your honey's resemblance to an adorable stuffed animal except with breasts...
...Seriously, those of us whose job satisfaction - not to say overall sanity - is closely tied in to how much of this winter's 'hot trend' their bosses see left on the shelves in April will really, really thank you.

Public service announcement for that-one-mystery-IP#-from-Vancouver-who's-logged-in-like-thirty-times-in-two-weeks: Thanks, it's appreciated. Even if it turns out only to be by a random search engine bot. Always nice to be needed.

Bob & Ray moment of the week (yep, it's the random spillage of love that just keeps on giving): A skit from late 1959 that features Bob agreeing to help with a preview scene of Mary McGoon's (performed by Ray) new radio drama. For those of you keeping track at home, we end up with Ray 's character approving Bob's voice for a character he's performing opposite Ray's character performing another character in the drama, while Ray prompts both his character and Bob from the script. After which Ray's character complains to Bob that his character's voice could've used more of an Italian accent.


So I was musing over the State of the Blog the other day, and it occurred that for a journal that was founded on a series of critiques of Canadian Idol, this one contains precious little in the way of lightheartedly obsessive analysis.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (pbs truism)

So the other day I decided to recklessly shell out some credits on John Ritter and Arte Johnson reading Dave Barry’s columns. Quite good value, really; if only for the nostalgia factor. At that it’s funny how the one defect in Ritter’s reading is that he hurries a little, as if anxious to get it over. You’d think Barry’s Everyman-to-the-comic-extreme schtick would fit him as comfortably as if, well, they were sharing a beer.

At any rate, the collection also turns out to contain Johnson’s reading of the lengthy piece Barry wrote on the 10th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. It’s not about The Pelvis, per se, but his fandom – the hardcores, the Graceland ‘gate people’, the ones who made up the eager audience when he rented a local theatre for exclusive showings of (for instance) The Nutty Professor, night after long night.

The thrust - excuse it, please - of Barry’s essay is that, contrary to the popular notion, the really hardcore fans idealized, not the image, but the man himself. That they rode the downhill slope more faithfully with each stop, all the way to the sick, sad, trailer-park joke he was at the end – circling the wagons as you would for a family member, Barry points out. “I still don’t understand it,” he concludes, “but I’m not laughing anymore.”

I was standing in the checkout line @ Wal-Mart pondering this, and the thought occurred that – well, to be entirely honest, that I finally had a way of working Britney Spears into my journal [waves happily at theoretical oodles of new Google traffic] without feeling like a total sellout.

shoebox_dw: (kermit muppet show)
If last Sunday night proved anything, it's that there really is only one true Oscar host.

Only one comedian with just the right combination of sharp observation and subtle expression, so outrageous yet so beloved for it, so aware of the magnitude of the task yet so utterly unintimidated by it...

...Johnny Carson.

Who, yeah, is still dead. But they showed this highlight clip...and man, you just gotta wonder why they'd shoot themselves in the foot like that. "This is Day 164 of the Oscar telecast," Carson was shown deadpanning - in 1979. "We just want you to know that we have not forgotten...President Carter is doing everything he can..."

The only one.

Which is not to say that Chris Rock didn't shake things up a bit.Read more... )


shoebox_dw: (Default)

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