My Links


Listed on BlogsCanada

February 2006 - Posts

February 28, 2006 10:16 AM

Regarding regards, guardedly

An editor's rejection letter, written to Gertrude Stein: "I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your MS three or four times. Not even one time. Only one book, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one. Many thanks. I am returning the MS by registered post. Only one MS by one post."

- from the tome "Bad Press: The Worst Critical Reviews Ever"

February 27, 2006 10:28 AM

When Harry met Kellogg

Birthday greetings to Kellogg's, the company that turns 100 this year thanks in large part to corn flakes. Kellogg brothers Will Keith (W.K.) and Dr. John Harvey went into cereal in 1906, "as American eating habits began shifting from heavy, fat-laden breakfasts to lighter, more grain-based meals," it sez here.

"W.K. discovered that a better flake was produced by using only the corn grit or 'sweet heart of the corn. To help consumers distinguish Kellogg's Corn Flakes® cereal from the products of the 42 other cereal companies in Battle Creek, Michigan, W.K. put his signature on each package, saying that these Corn Flakes are the 'The Original.' The company succeeded because it believed the entire populace, not just those on special diets, might be interested in wholesome cereal foods, and because it continually improved its product line and packaging techniques to meet the needs of an ever-changing and evolving consumer base."

Fascinating? Gosh, but not quite the whole story. There was in fact a family obsession with preserving men's physical and spiritual strength, which Doc John believed was dissipated by... the willy nilly release of sperm. John Kellogg to the rescue!

"Masturbation was also associated with many physical symptoms; psychiatrist Benjamin Rush called it 'self-pollution,' claiming that it caused headaches, epilepsy, nosebleeds, memory loss, heart murmurs, blindness, and even psychosis," it sez here.

But that was a picnic compared to what came next. As John D'Emilio and Estelle Freedman write in the book "Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America," by the 1800s the idea that male masturbation destroyed body and mind was being questioned... by those who believed that any and all sex was bad for men. "[S]turdy manhood... loses its energy and bends under too frequent expenditure of this important secretion," noted the "Boston Medical and Surgical Journal" in 1835.

The control of men's sex drive needed extra help, concurs this write-up: "In the 1800s, Sylvester Graham led a health food crusade based on the idea that sexual excess including masturbation, erotic dreams and intercourse more than once a month was caused by rich and spicy foods. He prescribed a bland and boring diet; the Graham cracker, in fact, is a sweetened version of his invention. Corn Flakes were originally designed by John Harvey Kellogg to promote health and decrease sex drive!"

February 27, 2006 9:48 AM

The Butler did it

Sci-fi's Octavia Butler, a fun writer whose visions of the future included lesbians and bisexuals (and androgynes), has died (after a fall). To call her a populist paperback producer is not an insult: this scribbler of futuristic fantasy won a genius grant.

February 25, 2006 10:20 AM

What the gringo wants to know

Some people seriously do believe that questions can be evil. That certain requests for information are inherently offensive, and that it, the impulse behind it, and by extension, the person who dared utter it, should be smushed into a gloppy slush beneath your heel. (Think back: there is a question that you've been asked that you've considered to be gross -- where you're from, how much money you make, why your god is yucky, or what you do in bed.)

It's fine to gently refuse to answer a question, but I don't believe anyone should be blasted for asking. Surely silent ignorance is worse for the future of the world than is the asking of a stupid question. And I'm inclined to answer questions (unless it's about sex, where I tell'em to rent a movie; no more close-my-eyes-and-think-of-England for me). One moment of annoyance for me, balanced by the possibility of opening someone's eyes, even if only by the barest squint.

That's why I love "Ask a Mexican."

February 24, 2006 12:33 PM

Oscar moments

The modern-day movie version of Truman Capote guzzles J&B. And the Brokeback Mountain boys prefer Budweiser and Coke (but not together).

Con U prof Matt Soar has set up a new website, Brand Hype, that tracks product placement in flicks. Seventeen in Spiderman II, and 80 in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days."

(Hugs to Karen for this.)

February 24, 2006 11:06 AM

The right questions for hizzoner

The queer background check on the next Supreme Court of Canada judge is in. The Constitution states the prime minister makes the choice, and he's picked Federal Court of Appeal Justice Marshall Rothstein to boot upstairs.

Stop the presses! Rothstein once ruled against same-sex spousal benefits... back in 1993. "At the time gays and lesbians were not included in human rights legislation in Canada. The case was brought by Manitoba civil servant Chris Vogel who had been denied benefits for his partner. Rothstein ruled that under law same-sex couples had no rights."

That doesn't make Rothstein a bigot. Making a ruling based on current law is very different from spewing hate, eh. A ruling based on law one year can change 180 degrees based on law (and on the societal values that shape law) 10 years down the pipe.

Should Rothstein be questioned by politicians? Sure -- since when does silence serve democracy? The coming three-hour parliamentary committee quiz show -- a first in Canuckistan -- is a great idea. This country needs a good debate on how much, on whether, personal opinions can and should influence legal decisions. Both conservatives and progressives can still feel obliged to work within existing legal frameworks. How much should they push? How important is their personal politic to their job?

Unfortunately, we all know we're not going to get that debate. More likely, the whole thing will turn into a circus. What's yer personal opinion on A, B, and C? Choose yes, or no. Cue outrage.

The (now ruling) Tories have said they want to change politics: wouldn't it be great if they did more than just create a bigger mess?

February 24, 2006 9:35 AM

Placere, il me nome E' Denden!

Yowza! For the Tintin fans! Topolino mashes Donald Duck and the eternally jeune reporteur! He appears in the ninth block of images! Haddock and the goofy detectives pop by later! I couldn't tell if the mustaches were done right!

Only in Italian! Pout!

(Via Bookninja!)

February 23, 2006 2:43 PM

We love our blacks. Always have.

The February/March African American history issue of a golf publication has been pulled from the stands at the sporting-goods-selling Sports Authority retail chain in the U.S. "The Green Magazine" is magazina non grata because of its cover: a sign dating from 1784 that reads "Negroes For Sale."

Offensive? You bet! And it's authentic.

Reality? We don't like it. Horrible, nasty, evil truth. Now make it disappear. Poof! It's disappeared.

February 22, 2006 10:27 AM

The dish

Quick queer media hits.

The American Q Television Network is hurtin' bad. Details here.

AND... Rex Wockner is probably the best-known gay reporter in the United States. He's a syndicated writer who does the unthinkable -- he makes a living as a freelancer in the queer press. (Oh, it is to dream!) And he's now, sort of, retiring. One of his signature, er, products, is The Wockner Wire. His last regularly appearing scribbles can be found here.

"[T]his will be the end, except for when I really need you to listen to me rant," he sez. "I've written opinion pieces for gay media on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis for most of 21 years."

And one of the reasons for moving on? "In recent years, I drifted from 'the gay community' and lost track of the latest trends. (I do still follow gay politics and activism and such, and cover that beat as a news reporter.) .... What does it mean to drift from the gay community? Probably that I've had all the experiences, good and bad, that one can have in/at gay bars, gay organizations, gay neighborhoods, gay events, gay cyberspace -- and now I'm spending my time having other experiences.

"It also probably means my sexual orientation is, more than ever, just a piece of me and not something I center my life around."

February 22, 2006 9:51 AM

Allergic to taking responsibility

Americans are becoming more and more obsessed with the belief that sexual orientation is innate. The queer mainstream mag the Advocate has begun running a full-page ad for its website that tells readers it's the Internet address that they "were born" to visit.

Letters to the editor about pro athlete Sheryl Swoopes' coming out are full of vicious criticism. How dare Swoopes say she "chose" her relationship?

Dwight S. Powell, the editor-in-chief of the very snazzy looking, recently reborn Clikque Magazine, a Florida-based glossy "for and about black SGL [same-gender-loving] men," has a similar attitude in the January 2006 issue. "[A]s a role model for the gay community, she will be dynamic... right? In a recent interview on LOGO, Sheryl Swoopes proclaimed that her sexuality was not by birth, but however, a decision and 'choice' she had made shortly before the birth of her eight-year-old son Jordan," wrote Powell.

"For me, Sheryl Swoopes may be a champion on the basketball court, but certainly not an 'advocate' for the advancement and cultural acceptance of gays and lesbians around the world. For decades gay rights activists and supporters have fought feverishly against claims of anti-gay factions who suggest that we 'choose' to be gay. With such a high-profile personality adding fuel to the fire in support of anti-gay rhetoric, such statements does nothing but set us [gays] back, and makes our struggle for equality and acceptance even that more difficult.

"Since that interview, we made numerous attempts to contact Sheryl and quiz her on her remarks. Unfortunately, we weren't successful. We were hoping she would tell us that she misspoke and is still coming to terms with what she has known for most of her life. I am still hopeful and optimistic that she will correct these statements, but until then, we dare not proclaim her guardian and role model for the gay and lesbian community."

Good on Powell for having the nerve to criticize (we all know of too many media outlets that refuse to question). It's just too bad it's on this issue. Regular readers will recall my analysis of that choice thing. We need to reject blame, and instead glory in all our choices (else bisexuals will be forced to stick to the opposite sex, since they can).

It's an ideology that's taking over. I fear for the future of the movement in the U.S. of A.

February 22, 2006 9:25 AM

Hurting my feelings? That's illegal

Yes, offensive Holocaust denial blatherings got "historian" David Irving three years of jail time in Vienna. This is where fundamentalists of all stripes meet -- in the belief that intimidation or punishment can fix it. Martyrs, anyone?

There's now a demand for an even longer sentence.

February 21, 2006 11:05 AM

That's the magic number

La Presse reporter Emilie Coté has touched on the newest pay-for-play payola scam in the U.S. (a repeat of the 1950s mess), and looked at how a new tune finds airtime on the Montreal FM radio waves. Each week, stations like CKOI, Energie, Rythme FM and RockDetente add two songs or, at most, three, to their playlists. And that's it. Now you know why commercial radio is impossible to listen to for more than five minutes at a time.

February 21, 2006 10:34 AM

So yesterday, dahlink

Gay marriage is legal in, what, four countries or something? And it's already a pop-culture cliché. On Friday, a Canadian athlete proposed to a teammate by placard. "Montrealer Dominique Maltais celebrated her Olympic bronze medal in the women's snowboard cross event Friday by hoisting a Canadian flag with a saucy proposition for teammate Maelle Ricker," it sez here. "'Marry me Maelle,' read the flag, which was signed, 'Dom 3:16.'

"The image was captured in a photo and begged the question of whether it was just a joke or an actual proposal, with the possibility it would highlight the right to same-sex marriage in Canada on the world stage at the Olympic Games. Turns out it was just a prank and that the snowboarders' reputations as jokesters is well-deserved. The two are close friends -- and nothing more."

Tain't just the Canucks, either. Why, justa coupla weeks ago, Cha Cha proposed to another girlie on the alleged reality show "Rollergirls," in a bit titled "Love Boat" (oddly, the official program guide doesn't mention the wedding, which was heavily hyped in the commercials for that episode). A roller derby league referee pronounced the two women to be skate buds.

It was a joke. I think.

February 21, 2006 10:23 AM

The bar

My old neighbourhood haunt was a simple, square room with the leftovers of a brown carpet, where the beer came cheap and just slightly watery. There was always just enough light by the television to read a National Enquirer, and the night waitress was always polite. She was maybe 10 years older, dyed her hair black, and after watching me debate whether to laugh when a guy sent over a beer, she made sure it never happened again. Pleasantly quiet evenings followed.

Still, I was surprised when she told me I was obviously a nice girl, and she liked nice girls.

Pleasantly quiet evenings continued to follow despite my churlish disinterest -- though I tipped better.

I met her off-stage one afternoon on a chilly sidewalk, tears streaming down her face. Her father had died, back home in Eastern Europe.

Months later, popping out of the convenience store, I watched a world-weary butch stop in front of the bar -- oversized pants, stringy hair, scarred hands. She pressed her nose up against the window.

February 20, 2006 1:49 PM

Those halcyon days

It was so much more forthright back in the ole days. Like the time me and the rubbie crossed paths. I was walking west with purpose, he was wandering east, mumbling ("rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb").

He suddenly backed up, stopped in front of me, and really looked. "Hey," he drawled out in slow surprise. "Yer not half-bad!"

February 17, 2006 8:10 AM

The secret life of teenage girls

So I'm in the Concordia University library, holding the monster three-volume doorstopper that is the Krever Inquiry report on tainted blood (more on that next week), a middle-aged fat gal loudly galumping along with her long wallet chain swaying.

I pass by a table of three 19-year-old chickies, who stop everything, check me out, elbow each other, begin to giggle, and whisper excitedly to each other.

Wow. I am some cute!


February 16, 2006 9:26 AM

A paler shade of black

"Si j'etais blanche," sang Josephine Baker in 1932. In Oples translation: "I wish I were white, what a joy that would be."

Freda Josephine McDonald was born in Missouri in 1906. (I love that her first name was Freda -- must have been especially entertaining for the bisexual Josephine to fling with her homonym, Frida Kahlo, as [apocryphally?] suggested in this flick, an otherwise ridiculously, overwhelming, hetero film).

This biography reads: "Josephine grew up cleaning houses and babysitting for wealthy white families who reminded her 'be sure not to kiss the baby.' She got a job waitressing at The Old Chauffeur's Club when she was 13 years old. While waiting tables she met and had a brief marriage to Willie Wells. While it was unusual for a woman during her era, Josephine never depended on a man for financial support. Therefore, she never hesitated to leave when a relationship soured. She was married and divorced three more times, to American Willie Baker in 1921 (whose last name she chose to keep), Frenchman Jean Lion in 1937 (from whom she attained French citizenship) and French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon in 1947 (who helped to raise her 12 adopted children)."

We all know the tale. Baker moved to Paris and became a star by wiggling her naked boobies while twirling in a banana skirt. (Her movies "Zou-Zou" and "Princess Tam-Tam" are now out on DVD.)

Nowadays many see Baker's stage routine as offensive, and her as a racial sell-out.

Baker's power is best shown by this American reaction: "A 1936 return to the United States to star in the Ziegfield Follies proved disastrous, despite the fact that she was a major celebrity in Europe. American audiences rejected the idea of a black woman with so much sophistication and power, newspaper reviews were equally cruel (The New York Times called her a 'Negro wench'), and Josephine returned to Europe heartbroken."

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Baker would pop back into the U.S. every so often: "Josephine felt it was her duty to help advance the civil rights movement in America," it sez here. "She wouldn't perform in theaters that discriminated, refusing to go on stage until blacks were allowed to sit in the same areas as whites. Josephine also spoke at the 1963 March on Washington, telling the crowd they looked like 'Salt and pepper. Just what it should be.'"

And "Josephine visited the United States during the '50s and '60s with renewed vigor to fight racism. When New York's popular Stork Club refused her service, she engaged a head-on media battle with pro-segregation columnist Walter Winchell. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) named May 20 Josephine Baker Day in honor of her efforts."

Josephine Baker, desperate to be blanche? I don't think so.

But different strokes for different folks. I am reminded of Baker's song every time I walk into a North American pharmacy. Check out Daggett & Ramsdell's "Moisturing Lightening Soap: Helps Lighten and Even Skin Tone." Or this ad for a similar product from the same company, Facial Fade Cream -- "As seen in Essence magazine," with before and after pix. There is no judgement in this paragraph: I believe in freedom of choice, and that means across the board.

February 15, 2006 11:03 AM

Country twang

Willie Nelson has recorded a version of "Cowboys are Secretly, Frequently, Fond of Each Other" -- a tune discussed here on Oples back in the summer.

Burt Reynolds thinks he and Willie woulda made a great item.

February 14, 2006 1:34 PM

Djuna Barnes and naked ladies

What to do on Valentine's Day? Why, examine the theory that lesbian icon and novelist Djuna Barnes was a pornographer, of course!

Russ Kick, the, er, "researcher" behind the "Rare Erotica" website (a naughty little collection that proves that one person's hot pic is another's yawner), has found some of the nekkid girlies of "Majeska," who is called "Madame Majeska" in the work's 1930 introduction. Some digging about was in order.

"If Majeska was indeed a woman," writes Kick, "she is among the tiny number of pre-1980s female erotic artists. She illustrated several erotic and non-erotic books from the 1920s to 1940, but nothing more seems to be known about her."

But Djuna Barnes knew Majeska. "In the University of Maryland's collection of papers of the lesbian modernist writer Djuna Barnes, one of Barnes' scrapbooks contains a photo of a painting she did (Item 4.5). The painting is of 'Emily Coleman as Madame Majeska.' What this means is not at all clear.

"Was Coleman, a novelist and poet who was a friend of Barnes, the illustrator Madame Majeska? Coleman isn't known to have been a visual artist. But Barnes was an excellent, prolific illustrator (and, to a lesser degree, painter), and the time frame fits. I'm not saying Barnes definitely was Majeska, but it's an intriguing theory... [and] Majeska did the illustrations for an early (the first?) English-language edition of Isadora Duncan's autobiography, 'My Life.' Barnes and Duncan knew each other and were part of the same bohemian and lesbian circles."

Barnes was born in 1892 in the U.S., into a family that would have made Jerry Falwell ill. "The complex network of family relationships produced by her father's bigamy and the experience of being 'given' in marriage in 1909 to her father's second wife's brother influence both [the books] 'Ryder' and the later family drama 'The Antiphon' (1958)," it sez here.

"Barnes left home almost immediately after the marriage and around 1912 arrived in Greenwich Village, where she supported herself by writing feature stories and local color sketches for several New York dailies. In a few of the sketches... Barnes captures the same-sex desire encoded in the accoutrements and cultivated eccentricities of the Villagers.

"A number of the articles she wrote for Vanity Fair and other magazines over the next twenty years verge on a camp sensibility; among the titles are 'How the Woman in Love Should Dress' and 'What Is Good Form in Dying? In Which a Dozen Dainty Deaths Are Suggested for Daring Damsels.'"

What's billed as a copy of Barnes' "The Book of Repulsive Women" can be found here.

The auteur moved to Paris in 1920. "Barnes found both an international writing community and a dynamic lesbian community. 'Ladies Almanack' (1928), which she printed and sold privately, is a playful satire of this community and the first text in which Barnes's lesbian imagination directs her literary project."

A move to England led to the writing and publishing of her best-known work, "Nightwood." She later returned to New York and died there in 1982.

Barnes eventually found the obsessive adoration of lesbians to be stifling. "She grew increasingly resistant to lesbian interest in her work and its place in a tradition of lesbian writing. 'I am not a lesbian,' she insisted in the 1970s, 'I just loved Thelma.'"

A cautionary tale on this Valentine's Day: No one wants their entire life reduced down to a single word. That would be truly pornographic.

February 14, 2006 12:36 PM

Too good to last

Bye bye, mashup. It was fun while it lasted.

Bastard pop -- defined by my morning paper as the fusion of two pop tunes -- is on the hit list, and I don't mean the Top 40. The four-year-old "Get your bootleg on" site has been ordered to behave by the British Phonographic Industry.

Art is dead, eh.

February 14, 2006 12:23 PM

Beam me to a different dimension

The Earth Policy Institute has pub'bed a report on the scam that is bottled water. It's stupid to drink it when tap water's perfectly fine, and it's destroying the environment. We're talking litter, and the energy needed to produce endless bottles and to transport them across the world. (Memo to self: no more Perrier, babe.)

"Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing -- producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy. Although in the industrial world bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, it can cost up to 10,000 times more. At as much as $2.50 per liter ($10 per gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline," it sez here.

"In contrast to tap water, which is distributed through an energy-efficient infrastructure, transporting bottled water long distances involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels. Nearly a quarter of all bottled water crosses national borders to reach consumers, transported by boat, train, and truck."

How odd. I'm feeling... frozen. Immobile. Hey, there's....


February 13, 2006 11:57 AM

I tought I taw a UFO

C.G. Jung started collecting flying saucer tales in 1946. "I am puzzled to death about these phenomena, because I haven't been able yet to make out with sufficient certainty whether the whole thing is a rumour with concomitant singular and mass hallucination, or a downright fact. Either case would be highly interesting," Jung wrote in a letter (reproduced in the shrink's collected writings, "Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies"). "If it's a rumour then the apparition of disks must be a symbol produced by the unconscious. We know what such a thing would mean from the psychological standpoint."

And what would that be, you ask?

"At a time when the world is divided by an iron curtain -- a fact unheard of in human history -- we might expect all sorts of funny things, since when such a thing happens in an individual it means a complete dissociation, which is instantly compensated by symbols of wholeness and unity." Like, say, floating discs.

Bored now.

The work of former Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry Dr. John Mack is so much more fun.

"I did everything I could to rule out other sources, or sexual abuse. Some of these people are abused," Mack once told PBS. "But they're able to tell, distinguish clearly the abduction trauma from other forms of abuse. Some forms of psychosis or people making up stories -- I could reject that on the basis that there was no gain in this for the vast majority of these people....

"I've now worked with over a hundred experiencers intensively. Which involves an initial two-hour or so screening interview before I do anything else. And in case after case after case, I've been impressed with the consistency of the story, the sincerity with which people tell their stories, the power of feelings connected with this, the self-doubt -- all the appropriate responses that these people have to their experiences."

We're talking sudden immobility, abduction, lots of, uhm, probing, and the theft of sperm or eggs. The victims return with cuts and bruises.

Mack said humans need to expand their understanding of the universe. "It's both literally, physically happening to a degree; and it's also some kind of psychological, spiritual experience occurring and originating perhaps in another dimension."

The aliens inform their guests that they are producing a new, hybrid species that "will populate the earth or will be there to carry evolution forward, after the human race has completed what it is now doing, namely the destruction of the earth as a living system."

Yes, today's extraterrestrial sighting is about the environment and the impending end of the world.

I did, I did see a UFO! And then the aliens kidnapped me!

February 10, 2006 8:51 AM

There is no dog

Those wacky Raelians. We love 'em - after all, space aliens support queer rights ("you may behave as you desire"). And Quebec is particularly blessed, seemingly being the place with the most and most ecstatic followers of the guru Claude Vorilhon, rechristened Rael by extraterrestrials, whose book I just finished. That tome would be "Space Aliens Took Me To Their Planet. True Story. The Most Important Revelation In The History Of Mankind. The Book Which Tells The Truth. The Ultimate Encounter!" It was translated from the original French by acolytes and published in 1978.

So Raelians are homo supporters. And yes, humanity was created in test tubes by an advanced race of creatures who boiled us up in a lab in their own image (and much of the tome reinterprets the Christian Bible in this light). The message is that humans must prepare their brethren for the return of the creators. Hey, everybody's gotta have a purpose in life.

His Holiness Rael (and the space aliens who make his mouth move) are pro-choice and anti-religion (except for their own); they're pro-science but anti-evolution (because aliens created everything); and they're anti-marriage because "a man or a woman cannot be the property of anyone else." Space beings "all love one another. Jealousy doesn't exist." That last part's all terribly progressive sounding. So gay lib-ish!

So it's such a shame about the other tenets of the faith. Followers would be wise to keep their hair long, and men to hold on to their beards. Hair helps with the telepathy. "Man's brain is like a huge transmitter capable of sending out a multitude of very accurate waves and thoughts.... But this type of transmitter requires antennae. That is why one shouldn't shave off the hair of the face and head if one wants to make use of them.

"You have surely noticed," quothe the alien, "that many of your scientists have long hair, and often a beard. The prophets and wise men, too. Now, you understand the reason for this better." (That would make hairier men, uhm, better, than women.)

And speaking of big brains: Jews are the Earth's most intelligent race. In fact, Jews will come out on top in the end, since Raelism is the worship of a dictatorship of the smartest. Only brutes have held power so far, the alien told Rael. That's gotta change: from here on in, only geniuses should rule the Earth, preferably in one world government. "In order for this to happen elections must be abolished and also the vote."

Only sufficiently intelligent people can participate in running the world. "Now you have psychologists who are capable of creating tests to evaluate the intelligence and the adaptation of individuals. Right from infancy on, these tests must be applied... and when the individual reaches an age when he becomes responsible, we may finally define his intellectual coefficient which will be marked on his identity card or voter's card. Only those who have an intellectual coefficient of at least 50 percent above the average will be eligible for a public post and those who will be able to vote will have an intellectual coefficient of at least 10 percent above the average."

All this lobbying and re-arranging of the world order takes mondo moolah, of course. Conveniently, the spaceship people also ordered Rael to tithe followers and build a large home with a swimming pool, trees and a great big fence. Plus servants. And maybe, if the aliens really like his work, they'll send over a few anatomically correct and very, very beautiful girl robots -- easily rassled up in their automaton-makers. The robots are quite adept at the raunchy stuff. I read that somewhere.

February 9, 2006 4:21 PM

On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog

Hysterical gay gamers (gaymers, in the parlance of the yout') are settling their asses back into computer chairs after wringing an abject apology out of the company that runs "World of Warcraft," the hotsie role-playing game I've never bothered with.

Here's the story, as explained by Boston's queer In Newsweekly: Someone at Blizzard Entertainment had a freak-out when a sword 'n' sorcery geek started up a rainbow players' guild.

The thinking was that joining would allow bigoted players to identify and harass the homos, and harassment is verboten, a game boy announced. Thus your guild is illegal. Lambda Legal Defense Fund got involved, and everything's all fixed now.

Phew. Gay people can have gay characters.

And thank goodness for that. Because a queer nerds' guild is exactly what I want. My home life is lesbian, my reading is lesbian, my writing is lesbian, even my television entertainment is lesbian. My friends are lesbian, my issues are lesbian, my politics are lesbian. Yeah -- I want the fantasy life that is my computer gaming to be lesbian, too.

I want to be the exact same person -- me! all the time! all the where! -- no matter how far my imagination takes me from my drab little life.

February 9, 2006 3:35 PM

Humourless homosexuals, part 354

A "Brokeback Mountain" funny: "The cold weather continues to spread across the United States. In fact, down South it was so cold people were shaking like Jerry Falwell watching 'Brokeback Mountain.'" More here.

February 8, 2006 11:22 AM

Out of sight, out of mind

In the controversial "Tintin in the Congo," the blacks are a colonizer's wet dream. But at least there were blacks in Africa.

In the United States, publishers refused to print as-is the first English translation of cartoonist Hergé's follow-up work, "Tintin in America." As with the American populace, there were blacks within -- and that kind of realism, it turns out, was a no-no.

Let's start with page one, as our intrepid reporter arrives in Chicago. A group of racially mixed criminals -- including a black man -- receive their anti-Tintin marching orders from the big bad kahuna. The black guy goes bye-bye in the American edition. A few pages later, a black doorman becomes a pale male. And a black woman holding her baby becomes white, as does the tyke. In short, the blacks are disappeared.

American publishers, notes Frederic Soumois in his 1987 book, "Dossier Tintin," refused to allow the mixing of the races.

When did this occur, you ask? The first American edition of "Tintin in America" was published in... 1973.

February 8, 2006 9:40 AM

Hometown brew

Some quick Montreal news.

Montreal Gazoo columnist James Mennie notes that efforts to rename Beaudry subway station after the gay village are stalled. "It would appear the process of changing a metro station's name, like the state of matrimony, is not to be entered into lightly."

Moving beyond the eye-rollingly tedious comparison: "For the past two years, the Montreal Transit Corp. has slapped a moratorium on any name change....." World Outgames folk are hoping for some action before June's gay sports and culture gumbo.

An inventory of historic Montreal buildings has been compiled by the city, and is available en français ici. Left out, this morning's paper notes, is the giant milk bottle of Guaranteed Pure Milk Co. Ltd.

The Festival des Voix d'Ameriques schedule is here.

The general interest news-and-think Maisonneuve mag is giving up on international distribution. A year ago, I wrote a short piece for the media trade pub Masthead, in which Maisonneuve publisher Derek Webster was quoted: "To be sustainable and important, a magazine has to be able to succeed in the U.S. as well.... Sticking a maple leaf on the cover is not going to make anybody buy it." Parochialism, he said, dooms magazines to thinking small and being small. At the time, Webster said Maisonneuve placed 5,000 copies on U.S. newstands.

Webster also seemed to think that regional publications were good things. They do "a better job of delivering the local market to advertisers" than do most national rags.

As of September, Maisonneuve will be a locally-focused bimonthly. I look forward to an eclectic and broad-minded publication free of big baby politics. Montreal needs a decent local magazine.

February 7, 2006 11:17 AM

It was the salmon mousse!

I've never understood the panicked witch-hunt for the spy within. I feel dislike, anger, a sense of betrayal -- in democracy, in the state's claimed belief in civil liberties and lawful dissent -- yeah to all the above. But fear? Of spies? Never.

The fall-winter 2004-'05 issue of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, includes a report from an Oregon anarcho-green gathering. "There was a man," note the authors. "He didn't fit in. Actually there were four or five men who didn't fit in, but this one talked more than the others. He asked personal questions and wrote things in his notebook even after he was told not to. (These are practices, by the way, that are taught by mental health workers to people who have problems relating to other people.) No one knew him. People got a look at his notebook and saw that there were names and projects and ages noted down, as well as lines that could have been either the disturbing thoughts of a wing nut, or the codes of a cop.

"There was hurried, whispered consultation with the people who were named in his book -- and people decided that he had to be asked to leave. Some people thought he was a cop. Some people thought he was too creepy. Some people thought the week would be less interesting with him there.

"So he was asked to leave. He cried....

"Later, it was acknowledged that he was too obvious to have been much worse than a diversion from whatever real infiltration had been going on."

I think back to many years ago, when I was a member of one of the very few groups whose meetings I was able to stomach (I still can't endure much organized anything). My memory's fuzzy, but we were probably trying to publicize the horrors of South African apartheid. Already, distrust was permeating. I was pulled aside and urgently whispered at: That one over there is probably a police plant. What should we do?

I asked: "Are we planning anything violent? Anything nasty?"

"No," came the response.

And I settled it: "Then why does it matter?"

OH YEAH. The salmon mousse.

February 7, 2006 10:08 AM

Spies, my country told me

Half of us homosex-chuals believe we're so damned special and important and scary and threatening to the status quo that our every word is of the utmost import to Canada's evil spooks. The other half of us make fun of the paranoid narcissists.

But there is -- or at least, was until quite recently -- something about queers that the coppers just couldn't stop watching. Literally.

Steve Hewitt tracked some of the surveillance in his 2002 book "Spying 101: The RCMP's Secret Activities at Canadian Universities, 1917-1997," written after years of access to information requests and archival research. The then-high-school educated cops were especially freaked by universities, as they were filled with the free exchange of naughty ideas and the snooty eggheads who lorded it over the vaguely insecure state authorities. Plus, the yout' were not respectful of their elders. In short, campuses were riddled with Commies and ne'er-do-well malcontents. From 1971 to '73, Hewitt notes, gays were "targeted" at the universities of Calgary, Saskatchewan, and Waterloo. Those last Ontario faggots were classified a "significant threat."

The iconic Gay Alliance Toward Equality was of interest. Students and profs in Mathematics were also particularly watched, as the discipline "is more akin to philosophy as it is an abstract subject. This means it is open to a more individualistic interpretation and accordingly attracts a more freethinking and unconventional individual." Other problematic areas of study included Political Economy (celebrity faculty "had the ability to influence students and the general public"), and Social Work and Library Science types ("because of the presence of activists seeking unionization").

Hilariously, "the recurring message by the middle of the 1970s was clear: there was little in the way of campus countersubversion work for the Security Service to perform. A lengthy annual report about York University concluded that while the situation there was troubled, it was 'from a social point of view, not from a Security Service point of view.'" Though some tinpot in a smaller urban centre was still sincerely concerned, warning, "If a city such as Kitchener or Waterloo is converted to maoism then the rest of the country will fall."

"Before the 1970s," writes Hewitt, "the concept that societal factors and not agitators might be the cause of unrest had not been recognized by the RCMP... Now there was an increasing understanding that the world was more complex." At one point, spooks began to talk with the young hippies to ask why they were so, like, discontented, man.

As campus protests subsided, the Security Service found new busy work. Jewish and Arab groups, campus-based anti-apartheid groups that were suspected of having Communist sympathies, and Oxfam, whose "efforts often coincided with Soviet foreign policy goals."

Feminists were very, very bad. The Mounties disapproved because "they challenged traditional gender barriers, including those within the force itself, which women were able to begin joining only in 1974." The RCMP kept files on everybody, from the "Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (WITCH) and the Phantom Purple Penis Avengers [not a single mention of this group in a Google search], the latter having disrupted a Miss Teen-Age BC Beauty Pageant, to an abortion rights group at the University of Saskatchewan and a women's conference at Montreal in January 1973. The latter, open only to women, was covered by a female source -- the RCMP followed the pattern of the FBI in the United States, which either recruited from within women's groups or had women infiltrate from outside. As late as 1982 members of the Kitchener office of the Security Service spied on a gathering in Guelph to commemorate International Women's Day. Unfortunately for the Mounties present, there was not sufficient light to allow for photographs to be taken of the members of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) in attendance.

"The same formula applied to the Security Service's interest in other areas that had both an on-campus and off-campus presence. Gay rights' groups, like the University of Guelph Homophile Association, the University of Saskatchewan Gay Student Alliance, Vancouver's Gay Liberation Front, and the Gay Liberation Group at McMaster University, are cases in point. The RCMP spied on the latter, even though the force admitted, in an internal communication, that it was not being used as a 'front by any subversive organization.'"

So it turns out that, in the beginning, we were alone. No Soviet cash, no truck with the Irish Republican Army nor the (investigated by the RCMP) church-run peaceniks of Project Ploughshares. And even so, with no allies on our side, the coppers could not bring themselves to leave us be.

How things have changed. We're not alone any more! And sadly, a good dose of healthy subversion still has little to do with the queer movement.

February 6, 2006 11:29 AM

DJ Earworm

A mashup is a greater whole created from the inspired melding of a bunch of udder tunes. Hear here.
1 2 >