Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Levity comes with linkspam!

I get serious for a while, and then I lay an entry like THIS ONE on you. Prepare to laugh, shriek and possibly hate me for life, because I've been a-bloggin', and that means mining for links. A couple of friends have already been lucky recipients of some of these treasures, but I made sure to hold some back for the sake of full impact.


(Oh, case I have to actually warn you ahead of time - like you couldn't tell from the titles?? - a whole lot of this is NSFW [Not Safe For Work, newbies!] and in some cases NSFL [that would be LIFE] don't blame me if you wind up in therapy or get fired for looking at Cynthia Plaster Caster's creations online.)

Begin linkspam!

  • The 6 Most Terrifying Foods In The World - You know, I thought watching Fear Factor for the first couple of seasons would have prepared me for this, but I was so, so wrong. Probably safe for work, but not for the weak of stomach. Then again, I won't even eat goat cheese, so maybe I'm not the best judge of Scary Foods.

  • The 6 Most Terrifying Things That People Actually Collect - Something may be wrong with my circuitry here, but I didn't find all of these "terrifying", per se. Warped, to be sure, but terrifying? Not especially. Go back to that Mice Wine and THEN we'll talk about terror.

  • 6 People Who Just F*cking Disappeared - More than anything, I love the title of this list. Please also note that I lined up my three 6s so I can commune with Teh Devil Nao, OK?? (I forget sometimes that my usual blog readers aren't the majority of who's reading this; just ignore anything that doesn't make sense.)

  • The 5 Creepiest Death Rituals From Around The World - This one lives up to its name. I already knew way more than necessary about Tibetan Sky Burials from my friend Jess, who was researching a novel abroad and got to witness an event in person (and has never fully recovered). But some of these? My mind is broken.

  • 7 People Who Cheated Death (& Then Kicked It In The...) - Well. You get the idea. And these stories are amazing. I'd only heard a couple of them, and not in that much detail, actually, so even though I just saw Final Destination 2 on TV last night, I now believe that DEATH CAN BE CHEATED! The Grim Reaper is made of fail.

    But I've saved last. If you have ANY functioning brain cells left, allow me to present to you...

  • The 25 Most Disturbing Sex Toys (NC-17, people!!!) - So, now...let's just get this over with. If someone could please explain #18 to me in the comments section here, that'd be swell. (Maybe that's a bad word to use.) In my estimation, the ones that are too far beyond disturbing to be on this list are #3 (WTF?!?), #14 (ouch ouch ouch god no...actually, that could be applied to #15 as well), #7, and the almost completely inexplicable #1 (that one reminds me of those magnetic mustache toys people gave their kids to shut them up during long car trips...but NOT). On the flipside of that, though...

  • The OhMiBod iPod Vibrator is actually kind of brilliant. Especially since you can get one to match, so the colours won't clash.

Aren't you glad you're my friend?? Say what you will about me, but I'm almost never boring.

(An addendum: Some of you have gotten these mailed rather mysteriously to your inboxes before; technically you have to request a subscription, but I do know it's gone to a few random contacts, on and off Facebook, in the past! Don't panic. I think I've got it all straightened 'round, or will have once I see where this one ends up. And if by some chance you want to be notified when I make these posts, comment below or email me & I'll deliver the goods. I've maxed out on my "full-entry-to-inbox" subscribers - why only 10, Blogger?!? - but I can set it up to email you links when new posts are up. Make sure you browse through the other entries at Ehch's Space to see what I write about first, though, to ensure it's your cup o' tea. IF YOU DARE.)

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Terry Fox, the hero.

I'm a few hours late, but let's pretend it's still July 28th. Terry Fox's birthday. I'm up at my usual hours, watching a documentary put together by his family, and it's dawned on me that this is the first time in my life that I've allowed myself to know too much about the man who many consider the most famous Canadian to have ever lived...and certainly among the most noble and extraordinary. I think the subject has always just saddened me so much that I didn't let myself explore who he really was, and what he's really done. I was only about five years old when he died, and yet - just like the day John Lennon was shot - I have a remarkably clear set of memories surrounding the tragic news.

I'm not going to go into pages and pages of everything Terry accomplished. There've been hundreds of people before me who've said it better. But I feel like I should pay homage to him in some small way, because we - my family - have lost people to cancer, people who meant the world to us (and, oh, how egregiously that phrase is overused; one only really grasps its meaning when one has truly lost what we have. Many of you, sadly, know that to be all too true, having lost someone who mattered that much to you, too...). And Terry Fox, just some kid from Winnipeg, stands for the hope that, someday, others won't be lost the way people like Rose Marie O'Leary Stewart and Michael McCluskey were lost. In fact, there's little doubt in anyone's mind that what Terry did has already made a remarkably significant impact on cancer treatment and education...all because he decided to go for a run. And all he asked was for each Canadian to donate one dollar to the cause. I'm so proud, when I think of the movement he started, to be Canadian. Proud that his name is associated with my country.

I guess I'm just writing this because there's this fear that I have that people outside of Canada don't know who he is. Is that the case, I wonder? I'll have to ask my international friends if they've heard of him, and of what he did. In the meantime, though, a primer:

Terry Fox was an athletic young man with a lot of plans for himself, all of which got derailed at the age of 19, when he was found to have osteosarcoma. Despite a lower leg amputation to rid him of the original tumour, the cancer had already begun to metastasize, and yet still he decided he would run across our enormous country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, on a prosthetic leg and in failing health. He began his run in April 1980 in St. John's, Newfoundland, and while the tumours in his lungs forced him to stop in September of that same year, he'd still managed to run an astonishing 5,373km (3,339 miles) in 143 days. He'd made his way through Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Québec, and came to a stop here in Ontario.

(An aside: It still sickens me to know how Québec treated him. He was forced off the main roads - allegedly because "nobody spoke English and didn't understand his message" - and left to run on a barren, unpopulated path alongside the St. Lawrence River. Because of that, despite the 100+ kilometres he ran through that province, he raised only THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS from "La Belle Province". The only thing that makes me able to swallow the horror and disgust I feel about that is the knowledge that, when he stopped at Toronto's City Hall many weeks later, he was handed $100,000 for his charity.)

In the end, even after he had to stop the Marathon Of Hope in September 1980, he continued to lobby for donations. CTV held a telethon while Terry was hospitalized to receive chemotherapy, and the most amazing thing happened: the total donations that had poured in from his run and from the telethon reached over $24 million...which meant that his dream of having $1 from each Canadian had been realized.

And though he died in June 1981 from pneumonia, he'd lived long enough to see that, while the marathon had stopped, the message had not. His efforts alone had doubled the projected annual budget of the Canadian Cancer Society, and for that he was presented with the highest honour our country can bestow: the Order Of Canada.

I have friends who still run the Marathon of Hope each year (now simply called "The Terry Fox Run"; it takes place all over Canada each September), and while I've never done it myself, I think I should. I was born with deformed legs that cause me pain every day, but my god... What is that, really, in the face of what Terry Fox did? I'm ashamed that I've never done it. It's high time I did. I can't run, but I can walk, and the physical price I'll pay in the days following are nothing compared to what one 22-year-old boy did for millions of people.

I should end this on a lighter note. (I'm sure you're wondering how that's possible, but if anyone could add levity to a story, it was my Grandma, who herself would be a casualty of cancer only 6 years after Terry Fox lost his battle.) I'm sure I won't get it quite right, since I was so little when it happened, and I've not heard the second-hand version for a while, but I laugh every time I hear it:

On the day that Terry Fox made it into Toronto, his arrival caused people to gather in droves alongside his route, and his police escort always brought traffic to a halt whenever he would reach a highly populated city or town. My Grandma didn't drive, but she took a taxi to and from work, and on this particular day I suppose she'd gotten up too early to catch the news that Terry would be coming through our city that afternoon. When she got home from work, much later than usual, she and her Irish temper were on fire; she railed at my Mom and my uncles about how there was "some stupid bastard jamming up traffic and running down the middle of the bloody road!"

You can imagine the completely inappropriate laughter that would have come from her audience, and the horrified, sheepish expression on my grandmother's face when she was told who it was, and why her taxi ride had been so torturously long. And needless to say, my family has since been very supportive of the Cancer Society, all of us readily donating every year, our house always brightened by those annual yellow daffodils, and my Mom volunteered actively for our local chapter; my cousin Kristin also runs for charity and is a personal hero of mine for that.

And Terry Fox? Well, if he wasn't a hero of yours before reading this, I hope he is now. Maybe this year you'll want to join the Terry Fox Run, too. Or perhaps support me when I do it.

I can only imagine how proud that boy from Winnipeg would be if he could see what he started.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"My heart belongs to Daddy": The Virginity Movement and "Purity Balls"

A friend of mine posted a set of unimaginably disturbing links about "the Courtship Movement", which, as she pointed out, is well-intentioned but has somehow managed to flip the "squick" button for a lot of us. I'll be borrowing liberally from the links she used (and I hope she doesn't mind!), and adding my own editorials as I go.

Preaching abstinence to teenagers is not inherently a bad thing. In this sex-crazed world, it's important for kids to know that they do have the option to JUST SAY NO, and that it is nobody's choice but their own. I was a teenager in the '90s, and I seemed to run with a bizarrely "pure" crowd (I do hate that word; as was mentioned in my friend's original post, it makes it sound as though a girl/woman who has chosen to engage in sexual activity becomes less valuable somehow - "used goods", as it were). Yes, there was sex, but everyone in my group of friends was paired off, most of us carrying our relationships into university, and some of us beyond and into marriage/cohabitational bliss. None of us drank underage, there were no drugs, no smoking, no sleeping around... It sounds utopian and probably outright untrue, but there it is. I was there. I know. We were an aberration, I suppose; those of us who chose to have sex were responsible and monogamous, and those of us who chose not to weren't looked upon as "lame".

But therein lies my problem with preaching only abstinence, which is the central theme of books such as "I Kissed Dating Goodbye", apparently a popular read in this Courtship Movement. Kids will be kids; covering their eyes and not educating them about all of their options, and the most responsible way to handle each of them, simply isn't realistic. (I was going to add, " this day and age," to that statement, but I suspect there was just as much premarital sex happening in Jane Austen's years as there is now; the main difference is taking a literal roll in the hay on ye olde plantation versus "all those clumsy, sticky fumblings in the backseats of cars" - thank you, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.)

Here's where the squick factor comes in. Long have we known of events like the traditional Southern Cotillions, the coming-out parties that announce a young debutante's "arrival" onto the scene. Now, though, there are glitzy bashes that, on the surface, look just like a cotillion or a prom, but are something altogether different. And are, in my opinion, freaky as all hell.

Introducing "Purity Balls", in which girls of various ages pledge their virginity. To their FATHERS. (Also known, according to the Wikipedia entry on the subject, as "Father Daughter Purity Balls" or "Purity Weddings". Just...ugh.)

A quote from the article to which I linked above:

In a chandelier-lit ballroom overlooking the Rocky Mountains one recent evening, some hundred couples feast on herb-crusted chicken and julienned vegetables. The men look dapper in tuxedos; their dates are resplendent in floor-length gowns, long white gloves and tiaras framing twirly, ornate updos. Seated at a table with four couples, I watch as the gray-haired man next to me reaches into his breast pocket, pulls out a small satin box and flips it open to check out a gold ring he’s about to place on the finger of the woman sitting to his right. Her eyes well up with tears as she is overcome by emotion.

The man’s date? His 25-year-old daughter. Welcome to Colorado Springs’ Seventh Annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball, held at the five-star Broadmoor Hotel. The event’s purpose is, in part, to celebrate dad-daughter bonding, but the main agenda is for fathers to vow to protect the girls’ chastity until they marry and for the daughters to promise to stay pure. Pastor Randy Wilson, host of the event and cofounder of the ball, strides to the front of the room, takes the microphone and asks the men, “Are you ready to war for your daughters’ purity?”

Cue my gag reflex.

Until I read my friend's blog entry,I had no idea such parties existed. I'd always thought it questionable that nuns wore rings on their "wedding finger" to signify their marriage to God, and my stomach has always turned a bit at the sight of little girls walking down the aisle in miniature wedding dresses to meet the priest at the front of their Catholic church and become "confirmed" (which, to me, is synonymous with "owned") by the religion. But these are only my opinions; I feel strongly that everyone should have their own, and not have someone else's shoved down their throats (or in turn shove theirs down anyone else's). I am against organized religion (which is not the same as being against faith or spirituality; a lot of people make that mistake when I say such things), but I can, in many cases, understand why others choose to subscribe to a certain religion or set of beliefs.

This whole Purity Ball, thing? No. No. That I cannot understand.

To quote my friend's entry: "I'd be pro- these events, albeit with reservations re: the tackiness of turning an important private spiritual decision into A Public Display That Looks Like Yet Another Damned Prom, except for one thing: the girls don't make this promise to themselves, or to their God. They make the promise to their fathers (and here's an insider view that will explain why)."

She hit the nail on the head as far as one of the reasons this concept bothers me so much: These girls should be making this decision for themselves, or, if they're doing it in the name of their religion, making a promise to their deity. Wearing a ring that marks you as your father's property until you're married, though...? Oh, yep, there's that nausea again.

I realize that we incorporate parts of this into widely undisputed rituals in our lives already. The father who "gives his daughter away" at her wedding is, essentially, allowing his daughter to become currency that's exchanging hands, from one man to another. I'm quite sure it's not looked at that way by most of the people who do it - it's probably meant to be a sweet gesture, a moment where the little girl has grown up and left the nest, and her father is indicating that he trusts this new man to love her as much as he always has. But you see my point. And there's also the issue of a woman changing her name after marriage. She usually has her father's last name to begin with, and once the ink has dried on the contract wedding license, she takes her husband's name instead. (That too has always driven me INSANE, and mark my words: I will never change my name for any man, and my "chosen" name - the one I use as my pseudonym - is in fact my mother's maiden name.)

Anyway, back to the Purity Balls. (Doesn't that just sound wrong?) Here's an interesting article about these events also taking place for boys, and the differences between the two. As is pointed out early on in the piece, a woman's transition away from virginity involves an actual, tangible, physical change (remember all those lovely morning-after-the-wedding rituals that involve a man hanging his white sheets outside the honeymoon suite's window to show everyone the spot of blood, thereby proving he got himself a good one?), whereas boys remain physically "intact" no matter how much sleeping around he does. The article underscores the disturbing dissonance between a woman's purity (of body AND soul) and a man's integrity. Read it. It's...eye-opening.

All of this horrifies me. But I think my jaw hit the floor hardest when I got to this part of my friend's blog entry (in which she wisely points out that this guy can't write to save his life and makes it sound like he was 12 when he took his daughter out for a night on the town...): "Here's Jonathan Lindvall, explaining how he coerced his twelve-year-old daughter into putting him in charge of not just her sexuality, but her emotions: At age twelve, I took Bethany out to dinner one evening and presented her with a golden necklace with a heart-shaped pendant formed like a padlock. There was a small keyhole and an accompanying key. I presented the pendant and necklace to her and asked her to "Give me your heart" (Prov. 23:26). I explained that I wanted to keep the gold key as a symbol of her trusting me with her emotions. I specifically asked her to not entertain romantic thoughts toward any young man until she and her mother and I together conclude that he is God s choice to be her husband. (There is scriptural precedent for the young people involved to be consulted and consent to a marriage arrangement.) I explained that at the beginning of her marital engagement I would give the gold key to her betrothed, and that although she might not yet love him, she would then be free to aim her heart toward him. Bethany unreservedly entrusted the symbolic gold key into my care, and with it, her heart."

I'm well past nausea now. I think I'll have to ask my father about this. I expect he'll shudder and tell me he was just as happy NOT TO KNOW, thankyouverymuch. And where, might I ask, are the mothers in all of this???

I could go so much further in-depth than I have; my friend's entry certainly did, and provided even more astonishing - and, to me, disturbing - revelations about what's going on in my neighbouring country (and probably here in Canada, too, really). But I'll leave the links and those articles to speak for themselves, I think. And tonight, before I go to sleep, I will silently thank my parents for teaching me what I needed to know, and trusting ME to make the choices I needed to make as I went along, always letting me know they were there if I had questions or needed guidance. I am not betrothed to my father until some other guy comes along, nor do I have to feel guilty if and when I choose to enter into a relationship with a man, and for those privileges I thank my parents, not a god or a church or an organization that seems to be built around making independent girls feel like used up trash.

I don't know that I ever realized just how lucky I was until I read about the Purity Ball that never got thrown for me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

All the latest on Barenaked Ladies & Steven Page...

Consider this me saving you the trouble of Googling the hell out of this story. I have the scoop on all the nastiest bits of Steven Page's blow woes right here. Big, big, BIG updates in the whole scandal today, and they're all RIGHT HERE. Complete with photos.

EDITED - FEBRUARY 25th/09: Page bails on BNL!

Ugh. From this... this:

The New York state police who arrested the musician said the white powder they seized from him tested positive for the drug. When they questioned him about the substance, he reportedly said, "Yeah, it's cocaine," the documents show.

If convicted, the singer could face 15 years in jail.

DAMN, do I ever wish we'd known the two women had Livejournals before they deleted them!!!

And WHY did he pay the bail for the one who ISN'T his girlfriend...???

ETA: If you want the sleaziest of the sleazy, read Michael Crook's website and click on the COUNTLESS entries he's done about Steven and his trashy girlfriend Christine Benedicto. It's...educational. EDIT: Apprently Michael Crook's site has been dismantled. Try here, or MichaelCrook.Ca (is that even him??? I think not!), or Google him to see if you can find where he's hiding. Apparently he has quite the history...

ETA II: Christine's nondeleted LJ,, has a LOT of public photos in her gallery, if anyone is bored. Also, here's her Last.Fm profile (wonder if there's any BNL on it...? *goes to check* LOL!! TONS!!!) and her MySpace.

ETA III: OOOOHH!! Her LJ is cached!!! (And her ex-husband has made a snarky entry on his blog about her "dirty laundry". Oh, this is FUN.)

ADDED FEB. 2009: A screencap of her LJ info page, should it ever mysteriously be deleted (note the interests including BNL and Steven, as well as her having a friend called "BNLprincess"... Oy. He hooked up with her??? I STILL DON'T GET IT.

(click if you can't see the whole thing)

ETA IV: Christine Benedicto doesn't yet have her own Wikipedia page, but she gets mentioned lots at Steve's entry.

Now to the story, with all the latest updates:

Girlfriend's roommate recounts events in court documents

Don Butler, and Mary Vallis, Ottawa Citizen and Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, July 18, 2008

All fans want is the barenaked truth: Did he or didn't he?

Based on court documents now circulating widely on the Internet, it doesn't look good for Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page.

According to the documents, filed in Fayetteville Village Court on Monday, Mr. Page, 38, admitted to police he used a Canadian bill to snort cocaine before his arrest last week in a suburb of Syracuse.

While there has been no official announcement, it appears the affair may already have cost Mr. Page's band its spot on a Disney music tour this summer.

Mr. Page had two capsules of cocaine in his pants pocket when police arrived around 2 a.m. last Friday, the court documents state. When questioned, he admitted he had been snorting drugs, saying, "Yeah, it's cocaine," the documents show.

Mr. Page is charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a felony that could carry a prison sentence if he is convicted. He has been released on $10,000 U.S. bail and faces up to five and a half years in state prison, according to Mark Mahoney, Mr. Page's Buffalo-based lawyer.

The Toronto-based father of three, who separated from his wife last year, was visiting his 27-year-old girlfriend, Christine Benedicto, when they had a fight, according to a handwritten deposition filed by Ms. Benedicto's roommate, Stephanie Ford. Both women also face drug possession charges.

After the alleged fight, Mr. Page wound up at the women's kitchen table with a bottle labeled "calcium" that contained capsules of white powder, Ms. Ford's deposition said.

"There was a pile of white powdery substance on the table, near one of the capsules," Ms. Ford says in the document. "There was a Canadian bill on the table, which Steven rolled up, and we used it to snort the white powder.

"We never discussed what the white powder was, but I thought it was cocaine."

According to Ms. Ford, the night began when Mr. Page met the two women late Thursday at a pub in Fayetteville, New York. Mr. Page fought with his girlfriend because she "was flirting with another guy," according to Ms. Ford.

When Mr. Page stormed off, Ms. Ford accompanied him to the apartment to ensure he did not attempt to drive home.

"Steven kept saying he was going to drive back to Toronto. He was laying on the grass, so I sat on him so he wouldn't leave," Ms. Ford wrote. "I was concerned because he had been drinking."

When Ms. Benedicto arrived at the apartment, the couple fought, and she drove away in Mr. Page's car, leaving her own vehicle in the middle of the driveway, Ms. Ford said.

Police found Ms. Benedicto's car at 2:04 a.m. and knocked on the door of the women's apartment to investigate. When they arrived, they tested 10 capsules in the "calcium" bottle, capsules on the table and two capsules found in Mr. Page's pants. All "contained a white powdery substance, which all tested positive for cocaine," according to a statement from officer Sean Davis filed with the court.

Yesterday, police released mug shots of Mr. Page and the two women. In his mug shot, the normally cherubic and clean-cut Mr. Page looks morose, rumpled and unshaven, without his glasses. Incongruously, his girlfriend, Ms. Benedicto, is smiling in her mug shot.

The Barenaked Ladies, who released their first children's album, Snacktime, in May, are scheduled to be one of the featured acts in the Disney Music Block Party, a family-oriented touring music festival that kicks off next Friday.

However, even though the Disney Music Block Party's website lists other artists on the nine-city tour, the Barenaked Ladies vanished from the site late yesterday, and the band's own website lists no tour dates at all.

Fans posting to the band's message board were divided between those ready to pronounce Mr. Page guilty and those proclaiming undying loyalty to him and the band.

"The band has forever lost my support," wrote 1missblueeyes. "Steven has let his children, his wife, his family, friends, his fans and Canada down. He is an embarrassment."

"Geez Steven," chimed in Daisy, "I adore you but ... what's happened to you? I'll tell you man, you're on a slippery slope."

If the charges against Mr. Page are true, added a poster named BNLfan4evr, "Steven must come out and make a public apology."

Others rallied to Mr. Page's defence. "Steven Page is a principled, responsible individual with a political conscience and strong family values," fired back lovetheladies. "I think he deserves a little more respect."

"I cannot believe that so many 'so-called fans' are so dang judgmental," another wrote.

Bloggers are having a field day with the story, dishing dirt about Ms. Benedicto and, especially, Ms. Ford.

Perhaps the most ferocious is Michael Crook, who bills himself as southern New Jersey's snarkiest blogger. He was all over the story, offering caustic commentary and linking to court documents, mug shots and websites maintained by Ms. Benedicto and Ms. Ford.

In response, within hours the two women had deleted their LiveJournal websites and changed the privacy settings on their Flickr pages, where, according to Mr. Crook, Ms. Benedicto obsessively posted pictures of Mr. Page.

One of Ms. Benedicto's Flickr postings, reproduced on Mr. Crook's blog, includes the words, "his voice was so beautiful, it was like cocaine or caffeine, it was my addiction."

According to a résumé posted at her website, Ms. Benedicto is a 2004 graduate of Syracuse University's Utica College in journalism and public relations.

For the past four years, she has worked at Mohawk Valley Media, laying out pages, rewriting news releases and scanning and formatting photos. She also apparently fancies herself to be a graphic artist.

Mr. Page has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The Barenaked Ladies are standing behind him, saying in a statement on their website that the charges would be "strongly contested."

Mr. Page is scheduled to be back in court on Aug. 26.

Somehow I don't think this picture is gonna be as cute as it once was:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Control: a movie you ought to see.

It's been a while since I watched a movie that depressed me as much as "Control" did.

Despite being awake until some ungodly hour on Saturday night, I decided to watch - of all things - the movie about Joy Division's lead singer, Ian Curtis, who changed the face of new wave and then committed suicide in 1980. He was 23.

Joy Division was formed the year I was born, but I was lucky in my clubbing years that I was surrounded by DJs who knew good music and exposed me to all of it. I remember hearing "Love Will Tear Us Apart" when I was about 19 and thinking, Wow...that's a haunted voice if I've ever heard one. And at the time I had no idea just how right I was.

(The link to the song above, by the way, will take you to the real video on YouTube, which not only lets you hear the actual song in full but also lets you see the real Ian Curtis, versus the movie version, which is shockingly accurate.)

This is an amazingly well done fanvid-slash-movie trailer for "Control", which shows just how astonishing the actor, Sam Riley, managed to be as Ian Curtis. At some points I had to remind myself this wasn't a documentary.

Oh, god. The last 20 seconds of that have made me cry again. Oh, god.

I was telling my uncle about the movie after dinner earlier, and he's more familiar with New Order than Joy Division, but he knew, basically, who I was talking about. He made the observation that an awful lot of musicians seem to choose hanging as their method of death, and he listed off several right away: Richard Manuel (The Band), Peter Ham (Badfinger), Paul Hester (Crowded House - that one broke my heart)... And of course Michael Hutchence. Sure enough, I scrolled to the bottom of Ian Curtis' page at Wikipedia and saw two subcategories: Popular Musicians Who Committed Suicide and Suicides By Hanging. Which is just... I just sort of sat there for a while, not saying anything, and I put on "Isolation" to fill the silence in my head.

Mother, I've tried, please believe me / I'm doing the best that I can / I'm ashamed of the things I've been put through / I'm ashamed of the person I am

See the movie. Even if you've never heard a Joy Division song in your life. Even if you hate their music. It doesn't matter. It's one of the best-made films I've seen in a long, long time, and despite the obvious sadness of the subject, it would be a terrible shame to let that make you not see it. It's that good. Sam Riley and Samantha Morton and the whole cast are just...staggeringly fantastic.

Me, though? I need to watch something else now. Because the heaviness in my chest still hasn't gone away.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A random set of links to LISTS.

Considering I've been this here blog lately (In Memoriams, talk of the Air India case, the sadness over broken friendships that cannot be fixed... Aren't you glad you don't see what goes into the private blog??), I thought I'd take a moment to add some levity in the form of linkspam. Because, really, life is so much more fun when you've got someone like me to point you to the weirdest sites and news features on the 'net, is it not?

Below you will find a remarkable collection of LISTS. I love lists. Even the ones that throw me into a blind fury, like the AFI's Top 100 Movies Of All Time, which gets it wrong every damn year. It's still a list, and I like 'em. I hope you do, too, 'cos that's what you're gettin' from me today.

  • 25 hysterical er, Historical Events As Depicted By 5-Year-Olds - and no, I don't care that they weren't really done by 5-year-olds. They're bloody funny all the same...and some of them took me a minute to get. What does that say about me??
  • 6 Famous Songs That Don't Mean What You Think - I, for one, take issue with "Angie", because that's exactly what I thought it meant.
  • 6 Absurd Phobias (And The People Who Actually Have Them) - They totally ruined whatever credibility they had when they mention a fear of clowns and then they include a picture of freakin' PENNYWISE THE CLOWN from "Stephen King's IT"!!! What kind of soulless psychopath must you be if that guy doesn't scare the hell out of you???
  • The 5 Most Unintentionally Scarring Music Videos Of The '80s - I'm in agreement on these ones. I will never again hear Bonnie Tyler singing the lyric "...turn around, bright eyes..." without shuddering.
  • 5 Terrible Life Lessons Hollywood Loves To Teach Us - Am I the only one here who thinks that a future full of Agent Smith clones doesn't really sound that bad? Hell, I took the red pill a while back; I'm ready for anything!
  • 7 "Based On A True Story" Movies That Were Complete Bullsh*t! - Wait...what? They lied to us about Rudy?? Ugh. Nothing is sacred anymore. The world is a hopeless place. As one of my uncles often says, "Armageddon can't come fast enough for me."'s something like that. I think I have the gist, anyway.
  • 11 Movies Saved By Historical Inaccuracies - I take this to mean that telling the real story would have resulted in the movie being a steaming pile of cow dung. But then we're back to the Rudy issue, are we not?? Oh, I'm so confused. (But I would like to point out that 2 of the first 3 on the list are Mel Gibson movies, so that makes me laugh. Because I hate that guy. And because I think it's hilarious that a Revisionist would end up in multiple factually unsound strips of celluloid. GO, MEL.)
  • Wikipedia's List Of Unusual Deaths - It's a dazzling array of the weirdest ways to check out, EVER. Hell, it goes all the way back to 458 B.C.! Apocryphal or not, this is one entertaining list.
  • Wikipedia's Look At Conspiracy Theories - You had to know this one would be close to my heart. I'm still not sure about that moon landing. But this page is actually quite fascinating, even touching on things that aren't as widely known (but are perhaps as bizarre) as the Magic Bullet Theory. The Tuskegee Experiments are worth looking into, if you ask me. Which you didn't, but you're reading my blog, see my point.
  • Best Movie Endings Ever - SPOILERS AHOY! I haven't looked at this one yet, but if Se7en only made it to the very bottom #20 spot, I cannot even begin to imagine what other goodies they'll have on there.

So...this didn't really count as "blogging", did it? I think this was actually more like "cheating". But I am le tired, and besides, I know you will all find at least one or two of the above lists highly entertaining.

And I live to entertain you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rose Marie O'Leary Stewart, September 19th,1927-July 9th,1987

Today is the 21st anniversary of the day my Grandma died of cancer. She was 59.

It started to pour rain outside just as I typed that line, and just as the first tear fell.

Someday, maybe, I'll do an entry about my family's history, and how it lends itself to the weird things that happen to us every so often since my Grandma passed. I think I have at least one (particular) relative reading this (Kristin), and if she is, I think she & I should compare stories someday, because our grandmothers were sisters, and we were both very close to them, and the house where we spent much of our childhood was...not normal. In the sense that Not Normal Things would happen a lot. Again, it's an entry for another time, but it's interesting to expand one's mind and think about just how far one's energy can reach...

I'm starting to think that this...thing...that I Spider Senses, as my Mom calls them...are from my Grandma too. There were a lot of things that seemed normal at the time when I was a kid, but looking back, I realize that they were NOT. Like how she & I would spend an entire weekend together and hardly talk, because we didn't have to. And we were happy being together. She used to say that I "filled [her] up", and now I have to wonder if that particular wording is as significant as it seems.

I have so many better pictures than this one, but it's the only one I have that's scanned in, so for now it'll have to do: My grandma, holding me (and my heavy casts on my poor, twisted little legs) just shortly after my surgery when I was almost 4 months old.

I don't really know what the point of this entry is. Aside from marking the day, as I always do, and avoiding everyone and everything for as long as I can, because even 21 years later, the loss is still enormous. It never seemed to get smaller, somehow. The hole she left was so big. Is. And I never got a chance to ask her if she knew that there was something different about her, if she knew that she was as bright as the sun and could empathize to a degree that I'm sure many mystics would sell their soul to attain. Because I didn't know, as a little girl, that those were questions that needed answers. I had no idea that I would end up having so many of her characteristics. Even now, every so often, my mother will look at me bemusedly - sometimes for no discernible reason (although usually because I have A Look on my face) - and say, "You are so much like your Grandma."

A blessing and a curse. But also the biggest compliment I could ever be given.

ETA: As I hit 'post' for this entry, the rain stopped. It is now incredibly sunny outside. How...very.

ETA II: Quite by chance, my Mom literally just found my grandmother's notebook full of her poems (most of which are quite funny, and clearly she had me following in her footsteps, as you'll see)...and the one on the last page is written by both of us, together. I wrote the first verse and she wrote the last. I thought it deserved to be included in this entry:

To Gramma

[my part]
She thought she could
But then she couldn't
She thought she would
But then she wouldn't
[Grandma's part]
She thought she might
But then she mightn't
She thought she did
But then she didn't
She started to
But then she waited
She's definitely discombobulated.

Right below it is a poem I apparently wrote for her on the same date, July 29th, 1985, with a big heart at the bottom:

Grandma's nice,
Grandma's sweet,
I love her so
I can feel the heat
Of her love,
Coming through.
She loves me,
Grandma, I love you!

Love, Heather

So...maybe I did tell her she was as bright as the sun, after all.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mixin' Up The Muxtape - June '08 turns into July

July is upon us! Last chance to request (or buy) any of the MP3s from my June Muxtape! (Yeah, fine, so I'm a couple of days late. Shaddap.) You can comment to this blog, or write on my Facebook Wall, if there's something that catches your fancy.

The way it works is this: You can upload your favourite music of the moment (12 songs, I think?), and the site will host them. People can't download from it, so it's legal; they have the option to buy the MP3s from the site, which is cool. (Of course, legano, ni legano... I'll send you a song if you ask nicely.) And in the meantime, all you have to do is click on a track on someone else's Tape, and you get to hear the whole song, crystal clear (unlike Last.FM or Facebook's iLike, for example, where you only usually get 30 seconds of a track).

[ Ehch's Muxtape - JUNE 2008 ]

I'll be changing the selections later today, most likely, so do let me know if there's something you'd like. And if you happen to have one of your own (or are inspired to make one 'cos cool people like me and Sephorah are doing it), link me to it! I like seeing what people are listening to these days. It says a lot about someone.

JUNE 2008's MUXTAPE Tracklist:

  • Econoline Crush - Razorblades and Bandaids
  • Billy Joel - And So It Goes
  • Keane - We Might As Well Be Strangers
  • Tea Party - Walking Wounded
  • Level 42 - Leaving Me Now
  • Oasis - Stop Crying Your Heart Out
  • The Tragically Hip - It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken
  • She Wants Revenge - Us
  • Mono - Life In Mono
  • Garbage - You Look So Fine
  • Matthew Good Band - Suburbia
  • Shaun Verreault - Long Distance Love

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

On friendship.

There is something to be said for friendships that can weather anything. Despite having several that couldn't stand up to the tests given them, I still believe that the right combination of people can remain friends forever. And I mean real friends - the kind to whom you can go weeks or months or years without talking, and yet you can pick up exactly where you left off. People who you can trust with even the deepest, ugliest side of yourself. I'm at a point in my life where I'm realizing that I had badly mislabeled a few friendships I've nursed for decades, thinking they were the be-all and end-all of what friendship should be...and I was completely overlooking those whose devotion truly is unconditional.

It's a very freeing realization.

Perhaps it's only because I'm getting older, "growing up", that I'm able to see now what I have to give, and who is happiest to receive (and most capable of receiving) it. I think about particular people, many of whom are sadly separated from me by a great deal of physical distance (and some of whom I've not yet even shared physical space), who have truly gotten me through the last year at great cost to themselves. I am so lucky to have met them. So, so lucky. I've had some very dark moments, particularly since the start of 2007, and yet I have something that few others can boast: I have a 24/7 network of people, all over the globe, who are at the ready. And I am for them, too. For them, I can always find the smallest reserve of energy, just enough to let them know that I'm here, and I'm listening, and that it's the very least I can do for all they've given me. In fact, I daresay it's what I've been allowed to do for them that truly defines what I now believe is real, honest-to-goodness friendship.

True, there are as many different kinds of friendship as there are people. It's impossible to nail down just what "being a friend" is; the definitions are practically limitless. But it's one of those "you know it when you see it" things. And, sadly, the same can be said for those you thought were unshakable relationships: if you really step back and look hard enough, you can see what your gut has been telling you for a long, long time...and that years do not add up to how well someone truly knows you. Or vice versa.

But I'm blessed. By complete chance, I've stumbled across the strangest, perhaps unlikeliest group of people, who somehow manage always to know what I need and when, and who also honour me with almost unfathomable levels of trust. Somewhere along the line, year after year, I became The Vault. I began to notice that more and more people, people who don't even know each other, were beginning to behave in similar ways - 4 a.m. phone calls, "Ehch-Only" filters on their blogs, confessional emails, whispered conversations in the dark - and they may never know how extraordinarily flattered (god, that seems far too weak a word) I've been to be the bearer of their burdens. To know how many of them think I'm worthy of these snatches of knowledge, these deep and scary secrets, these things that they fear others will judge...but not me.

I think it's through those moments, especially lately, that I've learned some hard lessons about what is and isn't important in a friend. And it has changed everything I thought I was, everything I thought I wanted, and everything I thought I could be.

I am so close to some of you that I have to think for a moment about whether or not we've ever even met face to face. I forget, you see. Because you're here with me all of the time anyway; where your physical self happens to be doesn't really matter much at all. I'm there with you, too.

Some of our friendships are fledglings, sure, but there were things we saw in each other right away that somehow made our bond, and our level of trust, deeper than many I've shared with people I've known all my life. Others of you have been here all along, and we've grown together, which means a great deal to me.

I can't name names, obviously, much as I wish I could let the world know the names of the people who've made my life a thousand times more worthwhile. I'm fortunate enough to say the list would be too long to type here. How miraculous is that? But those of you who are reading this, and seeing yourselves in know who you are. Or I certainly hope you do. (I fear some won't; you're too bloody...humble!) Some of you I've known for eons; others perhaps only a year or two. Some of the gestures have been grand; others have been small and simple. Some of our conversations, confessions, admissions, and moments of breathtaking understanding and complete simpatico have changed me forever. I will never, never be able to express the gratitude I feel for the trust you've put in me, and the faith I have in you, and I hope that never changes.

Now that I'm learning what friendship truly means, I suspect it never will.

I love you guys. And yes, you do know who you are.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day, and Happy Pride!

Happy Canada Day, everyone! I'll never understand anyone who says that we're not patriotic. Everyone I know adores being Canadian, and god knows we have plenty of reason to adore it.

I love that I live in a place that truly celebrates love, in all its forms. I love that Toronto dedicates a whole week to teaching acceptance and respect and just having fun. I didn't get to participate in any of the events this year - I was supposed to go to PANIC on Saturday night, which was Pride Themed (The Gay 80s!), but not only have I been sick, but the party was canceled because of liquor license problems at FunHaus. But at least I got to catch some of the revelry on the news, and it just makes me smile. I love thinking back and never being able to remember a time when seeing two men walking down the street holding hands seemed the least bit odd to me. My parents never even had to explain what "being gay" meant, as far as I know; I guess I just learned by example. They were cool with it, so I never knew there was any reason not to be.

One of the best things about this year's parade was the involvement of our military. Every year, more and more groups of people who traditionally adopted the "don't ask, don't tell" mentality, or who were outright homophobic or hateful, have been joining in the celebrations. It's always such a welcoming time in the city. Literally a million people hit the streets, and they're every gender, colour, religion, occupation, even orientation - I have loads of straight friends who march along each summer and are welcomed with open arms into the party. It's If only we could take that snapshot, that one week, and blow it up into a macrocosm... It's practically utopian. Maybe someday that will spread further than just a week every year. Where it doesn't matter who or what you are - you can all just get a kick out of each other's similarities and differences.

From the CBC website:

Soldiers march in Toronto Gay Pride parade

Set up booth in Gay Village for recruitment drive

(Robin Rowland/CBC) - For the first time, members of Canada's Armed Forces represented the military in Toronto's annual Gay Pride parade, held Sunday.

Lt. Steven Churm, one of 10 soldiers from across the country who marched in uniform, said their presence sends a message that the Canadian military is inclusive and an equal-opportunity employer.

"The message to the public is that the Canadian Forces is an employer of choice. We have employment opportunities that people can pursue, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation," he told CBC News.

"For our own members, they can be proud of what they're doing and also be proud of who they are."

To mark its place in the festivities, the Canadian Forces set up an information booth in an area of the city where thousands of people gathered for the start of the parade.

The parade is the main event for Canada's largest gay pride celebration and marks the end of a week of festivities that organizers say attracted about one million people.

The stories are all over the news every year, and it seems like the events just keep getting bigger and more fantastic. And how can you not just love seeing endless photos like these??:

About one million spectators gathered to watch the annual Gay Pride Parade in Toronto. (Richard Wahab, CTV Toronto)

Toronto Police took part in the Pride festivities. (Richard Wahab/CTV Toronto)

Our Mayor always marches, too, as do other high profile and high influence people, some gay, some straight, and all in the right spirit of things.

Just so cool. And just one of a million reasons to love being Canadian, today and every day. As Sloan has said, One thing I know / about the rest of my life / I know that I'll be living it in Canada!

Amen to that.