Monday, May 25, 2009

"Escape To Canada" - Must-See TV

Okay, I rarely see a documentary that affects me so deeply, but if ever there has been a moment wherein I've been prouder to be Canadian, I can't think of one.

I beg of you, see "Escape To Canada".

I actually burst into tears several times. Once was when several gay American couples came to Toronto in 2003 to get married, and n none of their family members had agreed to come to support them...but more than a thousand complete strangers from Canada turned up to throw confetti after they said their vows.

Once was when the mayor of Vancouver made an impassioned speech about how no other country is going to dictate drug policies to him, and that he wants to legislate the permanent decriminalization of marijuana, and control and tax it just like alcohol, and pour every tax dollar back into the B.C. health care system.

Once was hearing some American military deserters - all of whom had already served at least one tour of duty in the Middle East - explaining why they couldn't go back, and what would happen to them if they are (were) ever caught by Bush's government.

And just now I got teary-eyed again when it was shown that, in 2005, Canada's version of Webster's Dictionary changed the definition of marriage to be "the union between two people".

It's not anti-American at all (it's just anti-Bill O'Reilly and anti-Ann Coulter). It's as critical of our PM Harper as it is of Bush. One U.S. citizen summed it up very well by saying, "We're not in Canada because we don't love America; we're in Canada because there are more freedoms here than there are in the land of the free. You can love both countries for different reasons." And there's a lot of celebration of California, too, which seems to be a state that has been adopted as Canada's sibling somehow.

(Watching Pierre Berton explain how best to roll a joint, using one of his own hardcover bestsellers, is definitely a hilarious highlight. Hearing Jean Chrétien basically say, "Uh, non, screw the war in Afghanistan, merci," ranks up there, too.)

The whole thing is fascinating - I've learned more about my own country in two hours than I did in all of my years in high school. The push and pull over laws governing gay marriage, marijuana, even our "women can walk the streets topless" practice... I had no idea just how much has gone into all of this, and how hard people have been fighting, so quietly, for so long in order to get as much equality as possible.

So, to my Canadian friends, I beg of you: FIND THIS DOCUMENTARY. Revel in it! Hell, I've got it on my DVR, and I'll burn as many copies as anyone wants, whether you're Canadian or American or Australian or British...any nationality, anywhere... Email your address to me (below) and I'll send it to you. It is remarkable.

Email me HERE

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And you thought YOUR house was a mess?

Back in 2003, I stumbled across a thread in the SomethingAwful forums. It was all about a college student whose mother's hoarding habits had more or less destroyed their house. The 5MB of photos this fellow posted left such a huge impression on me that I've never forgotten it; I use it in conversation sometimes, too, if my mother is troubled by the "horrible mess" in our living room etc. But until now, I hadn't been able to find those photos again to show her why a little bit of clutter here or there does not even come close to...whatever the hell this complete disaster is.

I uploaded the 50+ photos to my Flickr account, put them all in order, and added the commentary from the original thread (made by a user named "Knormal" - all credit for the pics and descriptions go to him). You can now go through them, shot by shot, and read the explanation behind the horrors of this you'll-believe-it-when-you-see-it state of affairs.

For the record, compulsive hoarding (or disposophobia - yes, that's a real term!) is, in fact, recognized as a legitimate psychiatric issue; it has not, however, been defined in the DSM-IV as anything more than an offshoot of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Without further ado, then, I shall direct you to START HERE, the very first photo, and wander through the house as though you were there yourself. Just be grateful that you're not.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Charges dropped against Steven Page

It's been a long time coming. An update on the sordid Steven Page/Christine Benedicto situation. I'd first posted about it when it happened last summer, and again in February when Page officially quit Barenaked Ladies. He's off the hook; let's hope he's off everything else, too.


Charges dismissed against singer-songwriter Steven Page

Friday, May 1, 2009 | 1:38 PM ET
[story from CBC.Ca]

A New York judge has dismissed the drug possession charges against Canadian singer-songwriter Steven Page, former frontman of the pop group Barenaked Ladies.

According to Page's lawyer Mark Mahoney, the singer met the conditions New York Judge Thomas Miller laid out for him in October, including passing a drug screening test, undergoing therapy and having no further arrests.

Charges against the singer as well as his girlfriend and her roommate were dismissed earlier this week.

Page, Christine Benedicto and Stephanie Ford were arrested in July 2008 at the Fayetteville, N.Y., apartment where the two women live. Police allegedly found the trio with cocaine and marijuana and charged them with drug possession.

"The respect and responsibility I have earned over the course of my life and my career thus far are important to me and I am moving forward from this with gratitude and with hope," Page said in October.

"I also apologize to all of those I have hurt or embarrassed during this episode."

The dismissal of the charges means there will be no legal obstacle to Page entering the U.S., his lawyer said.

Page announced in February that he was leaving the Barenaked Ladies to pursue a solo career. He was not with the band in March as they accepted a Juno Award for their recent children's album Snacktime!


Well. I was wondering when they would get around to making a decision on this. It surprises me, though, that now, when I hear their music, I get sad. Maybe it's my sensitivity lately to watching what people will do to their best friend(s), the selfishness of it all...or maybe it's just that, in meeting Page, I'd have put him at the very bottom of my "he's totally gonna become an adulterous cokehead" list (did you know I had such a list? Neither did I...). Either way, listening to their version of Lovers In A Dangerous Time will never be quite the same for me.