Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 20!

Ah Ben, the kooky things you do. My good friend Sam ( who inspired this series, commented thusly on today's photo:

"Think those guys are fighting over which one gets to clock Ben?"

I don't know, Sam. I don't know if we'll ever know...

Today's Fun Fact: Ben made his big screen debut in Fantastic Four as an entertainment reporter. Obviously trying to stretch his acting muscles!

For Those Who May Not Read Both of My Sites...

I'm just going to link to my article about yesterday's school stabbing here in Oshawa.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 19!

Is there any Canadian personality more maligned than Benedict Mulroney? I think perhaps, of late, only Chad Kroeger of Nickelback. So here's a picture of Ben interviewing Chad Kroeger of Nickelback!

Canadian Idol did their own version of Idol Gives Back one year, and Ben and one of the judges, Farley Flex, went to Malawi. Ben is also a National Ambassador for UNICEF Canada. Here's the video clip of Ben and Farley's trip:

June Havoc Dies at 97 (Maybe?)

I recently shared my love of Gypsy Rose Lee. It was kind of a strange admission that was, in fact, me just posting a video to test it for a friend having trouble doing so on his own blog. It was, though, a completely true admission.

And so, since my interest wasn't just in the Broadway show, but also in the "real" Gypsy (if there actually was such a thing) I was naturally interested in the truth about her sister "Baby" June.

In the musical, June and Louise (later Gypsy) are shown as "the Star" and "the Other". Sort of like "The Heir and the Spare" as Princes William and Harry are somewhat horrifically known. Mama Rose sees June's talent and pushes her onstage, leaving no-talent Louise in the background, on-stage and off. The sisters are obviously not close, but at one point in the show "If Mama Got Married", they unite in their wish to be off-stage and in a real home.

In truth, Gypsy and June were estranged for many years. June didn't like her sister's choice of careers, and was even less impressed by her own portrayal in the musical Gypsy: A Musical Fable (the last part was added in part to appease June by admitting the show stretched the truth - or outright lied, depending on who you talked to). They did apparently reconcile shortly before Gypsy's death in 1970, but I still find it sad that they were so torn apart by their mother's favoritism.

Ellen Evangeline Hovick was born November 8, 1912, or so she surmised. It was hard for her to know exactly since her mother carried five different birth certificates around to circumvent the child labour laws in various states. "June" was a huge hit in Vaudeville starting at an insanely young age. At the age of 6 she said she was making $1500 a week - not bad for 1918. She claimed to have been dancing on pointe at the age of 2. If you've never seen Gypsy, you don't know stage mothers. Rose Hovick was the stage mother to end all stage mothers from most reports. In the musical, Mama Rose is portrayed almost as quirky or eccentric, but her daughter claimed that she was actually physically and psychologically cruel:  June was pushed on stage even with a high fever and chicken pox - just covered with makeup.

As a young teenager (possibly as young as 13 years old) June did actually run away with one of the dancers from their show and get married. The marriage didn't last long, but the two stayed together professionally on the Depression-Era marathon dance circuit. Eventually June became a successful Broadway actress (Pal Joey, Dinner at 8), and appeared in films like Anna Christie and Gentlemen`s Agreement. She also created and directed the Broadway show Marathon `33 about the age of marathon dancing, and there is even a small Off-Off Broadway theatre named in her honour.

You can read more about the life of June Havoc here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 18!

This is Ben with his co-host on ETalk Daily, Tanya Kim.

Here's Ben on Corner Gas. Oscar is complaining about watching "that no-talent Ben Mulroney".

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Liberals Get a Tongue-Lashing!

Big news today about Robert Fowler's remarks to the Liberals at their policy conference. Fowler is a former diplomat and Al Qaeda hostage (four months in Africa in 2008-2009). He said that the Liberal party had "lost its soul." He said that they don't appear to really stand for anything anymore. They're so obsessed with regaining power that they'll say anything they think that the public wants to hear.

I think he's right.

And honestly, it makes me sad. I've always considered myself a Liberal. I'm about as far from a Conservative as you can get on 90% of issues. I suppose to a certain extent I swing more NDP, but a) I'm not big on unions; and b) I can't see them ever taking power in this country, and I'm not interested in attaching myself to a cement block if I'm drowning.

I've considered actually joining the Liberal Party many times. I'd like to have some say in the future of the party. Ideally I'd like them to recognize my brilliance and personal charisma and elect me leader so that I can be the first elected female Prime Minister. Is that too much to ask? Oh...

But anyway, in the past few years I have grown more and more disillusioned with the Grits (where on EARTH did that nickname come from, anyway?) I was disappointed in my country for getting rid of Paul Martin after such a short tenure, when he, according to the Gomery Report, apparently had nothing to do with the sponsorship scandal which brought the Liberals out of power for the first time in 13 years. I honestly believe it had little to do with the actual "scandal" of the sponsorships, as it did with the very Canadian idea that after a while in power the majority Party always gets "too big for its britches". The fact that "the Right" finally united, when the Canadian Alliance (AKA The Reform Party) joined forces with the Progressive Conservative Party to form the Conservative Party of Canada (note that "Progressive" had to go) didn't help.

Since Martin's minority government was defeated four years ago, there has been a bitter struggle for power between the two major parties. The Liberals threaten to bring down the Conservative government, Harper prorogues Parliament to stall them, and by the time they go back somehow the CPC has managed to appease the Liberals enough to stay in power for a few more months before they start the dance all over again. The Liberals are desperate to regain power, the CPC is desperate not to lose it. That's the main focus of the Canadian government right now, and it's sickening.

Michael Ignatieff seems like an intelligent man. I just don't understand the rush for his coronation. Desperation to make people forget about Stéphane Dion? I like Justin Trudeau well enough, but I think that people expecting his father will be sorely disappointed, and sadly I think he'll be eaten up by the hordes expecting the Second Coming.

Robert Fowler is right: the Liberals need someone who has the guts to make a statement and stick with it. They need to come up with a comprehensive, understandable platform and make sure that every voter in the country can at least name the main points. They need to stand up for something, instead of sitting back and hoping that the Conservatives will trip and fall over their own feet. That could very well happen (and I can't say I won't be grinning like the Cheshire Cat if it does) but it's not a very proactive approach.

I hate seeing what the CPC is doing to this country, and I really hope that the Liberals take Fowler's comments seriously. When they're ready for me to take over, they can let me know!

Finding Myself - One Blog at a Time...

I spent a lot of time last night thinking about blogging - far too much time, truth be told. I watched Julie and Julia, the Nora Efron movie that used a double narrative to describe the lives of Julia Child, America's French cooking instructor, and Julie Powell, the woman who became famous for blogging about her adventures trying to follow Child's recipes.

My thought process went like this:

First off, as Julie's audience grew, I found myself wondering for the umpteenth time (How many is "umpteen"? Does that fall between 16 & 17 or 13 & 14?) how on earth she got so many readers. My green-eyed monster came out to play, in other words. It happens a lot when I see a really popular blog. I start to wonder exactly what I'm doing wrong. Not enough self-promotion? Not using the right keywords, to be picked up by search engines? Is there somewhere I'm supposed to list my blog so that people will find it? Or do I really just suck?

Then, while I was still contemplating my failure to generate readership, the scene came when Julie and her husband, Eric, fight over her obsession with her blog. At one point she asks him, "Isn't that what blogging is about? Me, me, me?"

At the same time, I was surfing around looking for ways to promote myself (still having follower-envy) and one directory listed their criteria for listing a blog:

1) Must be topical - no personal blogs (AKA No "Today we went to the market and I took this picture of Little Bobby biting on a lemon.")

2) Blog cannot contain material copied and pasted from other sources.

Okay, this one gave me pause. I make it a point to always credit my sources, so to me, that's not the issue here. But isn't the point of a blog to be writing?

I started my other site as a parenting site. I thought I'd have a lot to say about that. I really didn't want to blother on constantly about my own kids, though. I wanted to write about issues. I wanted the site to have some journalistic integrity.

But the fact is, being a parent is only a part of who I am. I found myself dying to comment on other issues on which I had an opinion - and believe me, there are many. All of which led to the spur-of-the-moment creation of this site.

Much like Julie and Julia, I think I'm trying to find myself these days. That's a concept I've always mocked, but I'm really starting to understand it now. My earliest ambition was to be a writer, so I suppose that's a logical place to start. Which is why it's all the more disappointing to me that I'm not doing a lot of writing. Copying and pasting someone else's article, and then doing a one paragraph, or even one-sentence commentary on it might work for someone like Perez Hilton, but it's not good enough for me.

I really do like this blog, and I have no intention of quitting. What I want to do, though, is assume intelligence on the part of my readers - at least enough to be able to click a link to an article if I feel more information is warranted on an issue. Me, though, I'll be focusing more on my opinions on the issues, rather than on trying so hard to be a reporter that I'm just regurgitating others' work.

One thing I liked about that movie: Julia Child was 37 when she started to learn to cook. I'm 33, at least for a few more weeks (I'm still 33... I'm still 33...) Despite my inner voice telling me that I should have it all figured out by now, I guess it's okay that I don't. Someday I'll figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 17!

Somewhere around Day 11 I messed up, so we are actually into Day 17 of our 30 Days - I am aghast that this is going by so quickly - although I'm running out of fun facts, so it's okay, I think.

Today we will explore Ben's personal interests, as listed on his Facebook fan page, for those of you who haven't joined it yet.

Inspiration: Anyone with the last name Mulroney

Can't live without: His PVR

Favourite Movie: The Great Escape

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 16!

Ben with David Foster! Two Canadian icons, right there!

I've posted the link to this blog on Ben's fan page. It really looks abandoned, so I doubt he'll even see it, but hey, a girl can hope, right?

In the meantime, here's Ben being interviewed, rather than interviewing, on George Strombolopolous' show, The Hour. I'm actually a big fan of Strombo. He reminds me a bit of Dennis Miller. I also like somewhat snarky intelligence, so he's my guy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Congrats Tessa and Scott, and Patrick!

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 15!

I do believe that this was Mariah Carey's first live performance on Canadian television (probably her only one?)

Today's Fun Fact: Ben's Facebook fan page can be found here. He currently has 188 fans and has never actually written on the page, from what I can tell. But hey - it's there!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 14!

Aw - that kooky Ben!

Another quote from the Macleans article (can you tell I'm starting to reach here?):

"The perfect host for Idol should be slightly more interesting than vanilla: fashionable, but not like he's trying to upstage anyone, funny but not necessarily a comedian, confident but not necessarily cocky. He should be like a good child: speak when spoken to and recognize his place in the family. This show is first and foremost about the singers, and then about the judges, and maybe if we're lucky after that, and we have time, it should be about the host."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Acts of Cowardice, Ignorance

WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating acts of vandalism and a death threat aimed at Democrats who voted for the health care legislation.
A freshman Democrat from Virginia reported that a gas line had been severed at his brother's home, and two congresswomen — one in New York and another in Arizona — said windows at their district offices were smashed.

"A significant number, meaning more than 10" members received threats, said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and officials from the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police talked with House Democrats Wednesday about how to protect themselves. Hoyer and other Democrats said the incidents may have been the work of angry opponents of the health care legislation, which President Obama signed Tuesday.
Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., who on Wednesday disclosed two "alarming" incidents that occurred last week, blamed Republican leadership for "fanning the flames."

House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio condemned such misconduct. "Violence and threats are unacceptable," Boehner said Wednesday on Fox News. "Yes, I know there is anger, but let's take that anger, and go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign."

The FBI is "seeking to identify those responsible" for threats against members of Congress, spokeswoman Katherine Schweit said Wednesday. She did not know how many threats had been made.

"Anybody who has information, we want them to contact us," Schweit said.

Slaughter, who had a prominent role in passing the historic legislation as chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, said a window in a district office was shattered by a brick and a voicemail "referencing snipers" was left on a campaign office phone. She said the FBI, Capitol Police and local authorities are investigating.
Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Va., said the FBI and local authorities are investigating the incident at his brother's house.

Perriello, who defeated Republican Virgil Goode by fewer than 800 votes in 2008, has been a target of conservative ire because of his vote for health care. Earlier this week, a "Tea Party" activist posted Perriello's brother's address on a blog, mistakenly identifying it as the congressman's home and urging readers to "drop by ... and express their thanks regarding his vote for health care."

"While it is too early to say anything definitive regarding political motivations behind this act," Perriello said in a statement Wednesday, "it's never too early for political leaders to condemn threats of violence, particularly as threats to other members of Congress and their children escalate."

Mike Troxel, the blogger who posted the Perriello address, could not be reached for comment Wednesday and his website was inaccessible. Troxel is a "participant" in a Tea Party group in Lynchburg, Va., said Mark Lloyd, the group's chairman. Tea Party members are conservatives who oppose increased government spending and regulations.

Lloyd said in an e-mailed statement that his group does not "encourage violence, damage to property, or criminal activity of any sort." He added: "If bad taste and poor judgment were a crime, then most of Congress would be behind bars."

In Arizona early Monday morning — shortly after the health care bill passed the House — vandals smashed the glass door at the Tucson office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., her office said.

Giffords' spokesman, C.J. Karamargin, said a security guard reported the incident hours after he and others had left the office after watching the health care vote on television. Giffords voted for the legislation.

"That was the frightening thing, that people were here just before this happened," Karamargin said in a telephone interview from the Tucson office. "We feel lucky no one was injured."

He said the office had received many phone calls with "nasty and rude and hateful comments" from opponents of the health care bill.

President Obama believes that "people should have a right to ... passionate views," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. However, Gibbs said, people should "exercise those views not in a way that threatens anybody's safety or security, not in any way that foments violence."

I Loved You Yesterday, but Today...

By now you may have heard of Constance McMillen, the Mississippi teenager who was told that she couldn't bring her girlfriend to the prom. When Constance went to the ACLU for help, and the media got wind of the story, the school cancelled the prom "due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events". While the courts have decided that the school violated Constance's First Amendment Rights, they also ruled that the school couldn't be forced to hold a prom. Luckily a group of parents are arranging a private prom.

After hearing Constance's story, Derrick Martin, of Cochran, GA, decided to get permission to take his boyfriend to his prom. In this case, the school said okay, but sadly his parents, upset by the media attention, have kicked their son out of the house.

I just don't understand how someone can love their child one day for who they are, but as soon as a label is put on them, suddenly they're not the same person? You can't love your child because of who they love? It's just so sad.

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 13!

Sadly, it would appear that my current Ben Mulroney obsession has scared the more lasting of my objects of obsession: Jordan Knight of NKOTB. Yes, despite my 12 years of marriage, I have been in love with another man for well, almost 20 years. And today, he rejected my Facebook friend request. Sniff.

At first I thought it was because I don't spam him on Twitter. Quite frankly, those chicks are SCARY, but then I looked at my Facebook profile picture: Ben Mulroney on the cover of Macleans magazine. Yeah, I get it now.

Anyway, here's another quote from that Macleans article for today:

"Of course the name gives me an edge. And anyone who says that's wrong is an idiot. Everyone uses the edges they're given. If they don't want to use their edge then fine, I'll use mine to get ahead of them." Keeping his gig is another matter entirely. Private television is all about ratings, he argues. If people weren't tuning in, he wouldn't be on your screen anymore.

50 Most Creative Anti-Smoking Ads

Thanks to (via my friend Janice!) for this one. I'm just going to post a few of my favourites.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 12!

2003, he would have been 27, and on the cover of a national magazine. Not bad...

A quote from this article will be today's Fun Fact: Things Ben Mulroney has learned about life in a fishbowl: always be polite; never chew gum in public; people may say they hate you because of your clothes, haircut, family name or the GST, but they probably had no intention of liking you in the first place; if everyone is watching, you might as well take advantage of it.

You can read more of the article here, but I will likely be using more of it in the next few days, so you don't have to if you don't want to - I'll give you the best parts, anyway!

Hey - does anyone know how to reach Ben's "people"? Perhaps I could convince him to give me some Fun Facts! A girl can dream...

Monday, March 22, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 11!

Today I think we'll let our Ben speak for himself, with:
Five Things You Don't Know About 24 Sussex Drive

1. My brother Mark and I lost a near-mint condition 1957 Mickey Mantle baseball card somewhere in the house. If you find it, I want it back.
2. Margaret Trudeau named the sitting room on the second floor “the Freedom Room.” As far as I know, the name is still being used today.

3. There’s a secret safe on the first floor, behind a painting. In eight years, I never saw it opened. I don’t think anyone actually knows the combination.

4. The walls, floors and ceilings are very, very thin. If you are asleep on the second floor, you will hear everything on the third floor.

5. I went back to 24 in 2006 for the first time in years, and the combination lock that leads to the pool had not been changed.

Clarifying the US Health Care Changes

Sorry, only time for a link right now, but the article is worthwhile reading for Americans, and others interested in the changes happening in US healthcare.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Democrats poised to pass historic health-care reform bill -

President Barack Obama and House Democratic leaders struck a last-minute deal Sunday with abortion foes to secure the final few votes needed to remake America's health care system, writing a climactic chapter in a century-old quest for near universal coverage.
The House argued its way through a thicket of Republican objections toward an evening vote on the bill to extend coverage to 32 million Americans who lack it, ban insurers from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and cut deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.
Passage of a central health care bill already cleared by the Senate would send it to Obama for his signature. That still would leave one more step, a companion package of changes that would go to the Senate.
The stakes could not have been higher for Obama's presidency. Obama has made health care reform the defining issue of his first year in office. Republicans hoped that by blocking the legislation, they would be able to thwart Obama's ambitious domestic agenda, including immigration reform and climate change legislation.
While national health care has long been a goal of presidents stretching back decades, it has proved elusive, in part because self-reliance and suspicion of a strong central government remain strong in the U.S.
A shouting band of protesters outside the Capitol dramatized their opposition, and one man stood up in the House visitor's gallery shouting, “Kill the bill” before he was ushered out — evidence of the passions the yearlong debate over health care has stirred.
Obama lobbied by phone from the White House, then took the crucial step of issuing an executive order that satisfied a small group of Democrats who demanded that no federal funds be used for elective abortions.
“We're well past 216” votes, a majority needed for passage, said Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak, swinging behind the bill after leading the anti-abortion holdouts in a rebellion that had left the outcome in doubt.
Democratic aides confirmed his vote count.
Obama, on the verge of securing one of the most significant legislative triumphs in decades, planned to make a statement to the nation Sunday night after the House takes its final vote on the health care legislation.

After more than a year of political combat — certain to persist into the fall election campaign for control of Congress — debate on the House floor fell along predictable lines.

“The public has been grievously and purposely lied to,” by Republicans in their efforts to defeat the legislation, said Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter, a clear reference to Republican accusations that included the claim that there would be death panels for elderly patients.

Republicans opposed the measure as a takeover of government health care that would cut Medicare for the elderly and raise taxes by nearly $1 trillion combined. Republican Rep. David Dreier criticized the Democrats for their tactics on the House floor, but said, “the greatest outrage has always been for the bill itself.”
Over and over, Democrats stressed the historic nature of the day. The measure represents the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare and Medicaid were enacted in 1965 during President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration to provide government-funded health care coverage to the elderly and poor.
“Health care isn't only a civil right, it's a moral issue,” said Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy. He said his late father, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, had worked his entire career for nationwide health care, and President John F. Kennedy before him.
Slaughter, read a message President Franklin Roosevelt sent Congress in 1939 urging lawmakers to address the needs of those without health care, and said Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Richard Nixon had also sought to broaden health insurance coverage.
Obama has said often that presidents of both parties have tried without success to achieve national health insurance, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt early in the 20th century.
The 44th president's quest to succeed where others have failed seemed at a dead end two months ago, when Republicans won a special election to fill Edward Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat, and with it, enough votes to prevent a final vote.
But the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid soon came up with a rescue plan that required the House to approve the Senate-passed measure despite opposition to many of its provisions, then have both chambers pass a fix-it measure incorporating numerous changes.
Under the order of the day, set down by Democrats, the House was voting first on the Senate-passed bill, sending it to Obama for his signature. A final vote on the fix-it bill would follow. Its passage would set up a final showdown in the Senate, where Reid says at least 50 votes are in hand for its final approval under a fast-track procedure known as reconciliation.
Under the legislation, most Americans would be required to purchase insurance, and face penalties if they refused. Much of the money in the bill would be devoted to subsidies to help families at incomes of up to $88,000 a year pay their premiums.
The legislation would also usher in a significant expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor.
The insurance industry would come under new federal regulation. They would be forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and from cancelling policies when a policyholder becomes ill.

Parents would be able to keep older children on their coverage up to age 26. A new high-risk pool would offer coverage to uninsured people with medical problems until 2014, when the coverage expansion goes into high gear.
Once enacted, the two bills would create a series of so-called “insurance exchanges” beginning in 2014 where self-employed people and small businesses could pool together to shop for health care coverage.
To pay for the changes, the legislation includes more than $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade, roughly half of it from a new Medicare payroll tax on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples over $250,000.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Is it better? Absolutely. And with US politics being what it is right now, a step in the right direction is better than nothing.

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 10!

Day 10 already? How did THAT happen?

My laptop is dying, so computer time is limited. If it looks like Ben Mulroney is all I care about these days, I apologize. As soon as my baby is fixed, I swear that I will be back full force with other interests!

Today's Fun Fact: In April 2009 Ben began hosting a radio show on the CHUM radio network. I have never heard it, and have no idea when it airs, for those who may be wondering. My sincere apologies!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 9!

Day 9 already? How did it go by so quickly?!?

Today's Fun Fact: Ben's television career started on the now-defunct talktv, with the SIX hour daily show The Chatroom.

Glen Beck is an Idiot. And So is His One Brain Cell.

I have to admit, I have never seen Glen Beck. Then again, I've never sat in a pool with piranhas, and I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't like that, either. Everything I've heard of the man offends me to my very core. His brand of Conservatism isn't about the government redistributing wealth, as he'd have you believe. It's not about how individuals should be helping each other, rather than government. It's about "ME ME ME!!!" It's about "I shouldn't have to give you one red cent of my millions to help anybody else because my new Bentley is more important than a 3 year old's cancer surgery and treatment." In other words, it's bullshit for greedy sheep.

My friend Jen posted this blog by Roger Ebert. It sums up my feelings pretty damned well.

Pretty near everything Glenn Beck says strikes me as absurd, but he scored a perfect 10 when he warned his viewers against the dangers of Christianity. You already know all about it. Well, maybe not, because the usual defenders of Christianity, like James Dobson and Pat Robertson, were very quiet on the topic. Not even a peep from Pat about this man who showed every sign of having hired the best lawyers to draft his pact with Satan.

Many other Christians were not so silent Dr. David P. Gushee, Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, wrote: "He managed to do something few have been able to do -- speaking only of my own religious community, he has united Catholics and Protestants, evangelicals and mainliners, Christian progressives and moderates and conservatives."

What were Beck's unifying words? "I beg you, look for the words social justice or economic justice on your church web site," he told his audience. "If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes! If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, 'Excuse me are you down with this whole social justice thing?' If it's my church, I'm alerting the church authorities: 'Excuse me, what's this social justice thing?' And if they say, 'yeah, we're all in that social justice thing'--I'm in the wrong place."

I was on the brink of picking up the phone and asking Francis Cardinal George if he was down on this whole social justice thing, but then I recalled that I no longer use the telephone. Do you suppose the cardinal texts? I know some priests pretty well, and two ministers I went to high school with, and a rabbi, and I have a Muslim friend who teaches that faith in Chicago universities, and I work with a Buddhist, but it's no use asking them. They're all down on this social justice thing.

What are the words "social justice" code for? Why, Nazism and Communism, says Beck: "Social justice was the rallying cry--economic justice and social justice--the rallying cry on both the communist front and the fascist front." Beck even went so far as to cite Jesus Christ, saying, and I quote: "Nowhere does Jesus say, Hey, if somebody asks for your shirt, give your coat to the government and have the government give them a pair of slacks." Well, Beck has me there. It is quite true that nowhere does Jesus say that. Nor, for that matter, does he ever say, A wop bop a lu bop, a wop bam boom!

What I would enjoy hearing is one single clergyman from any faith in America, appearing on Beck's program to agree with him and denouncing social justice. Such a person might be a real piece of work. I suspect he might currently be in between congregations. Beck's oversight is that all religions teach social justice. That's sort of what they're about. "My church doesn't," said Beck, who is a Mormon. Not for the first time, he was dead wrong, and the mountains of Utah rang with the thunder of outraged Mormon elders. I know now, and did not know before, that before statehood the Mormons in the Utah territory provided universal health care and care for the poor as a matter of their duty.

What Beck has demonstrated, in a singularly inelegant way, is an increasing tendency of the extreme right to automatically describe its opponents in negative buzz words. You would think that if it's possible to be a conservative it's also possible to be a liberal. Not so. In the Beckian theology, a conservative is merely a conservative. Liberals are socialists, community organizers, Marxists, traitors, communists, haters, Nazis, elitists and, in general, liars. Conservatives, on the other hand, are moderates, patriots, reasonable, pro-American, and stand for family values.

I am proudly a liberal. I am also patriotic, reasonable, pro-American, and stand for family values. Sometimes I stray from moderation. I do not remotely identify with the ideologies Beck wants to tar and feather me with. Nor, for that matter, could a genuine conservative identify with a flywheel like Beck. Conservatism is a political and ethical philosophy that exists in another universe from Beck's shopping cart. Remember that TV show where couples raced up and down aisles seeing who could jam the most loot into their carts? Beck loads up from the shelves of the Discount Screwball Supermart. He needs material to fill his daily hours of air time and fuel his fans with one-liners they can pass off as thought.

What is social justice, anyway? I think it involves civil rights and liberties. It involves a trial in a fair legal system. It involves freedom of speech and the practice, or non-practice, of religion. It involves a living wage and decent working conditions. As my father often repeated, "A fair day's work for a fair day's pay." Which of these areas does Glenn Beck believe the Communists and Nazis excelled in? Is he holding in reserve a secret cache of obscure speeches by Hitler? If his listeners heard those words (which real liberals and real conservatives subscribe to) emerging from Hitler's mouth, would they be confused?

Another quote from Beck. The Communists and Nazis "talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly, democracy." Why, that proves it! Those are the very same things Christians talk about. And Democrats. And liberals. And find me, please, one single genuine Republican who doesn't also talk about them. We can gather that Beck disagrees with all of them. Even -- given his maladroit syntax -- surprisingly, democracy.

Beck has strayed way, way off beyond conservatism, to a land where reason itself is an evil conspiracy. This is a growing trend. In Texas, I learn from, "A prominent insider has told Infowars that Texas Governor Rick Perry and other establishment neo-cons have decided to deliberately target grass roots constitutionalists with dirty tricks campaigns in an effort to derail and hijack the growing liberty movement whose influence is threatening to blow the Texas gubernatorial race wide open." Yes. Rick Perry, indistinguishable from Democrats, mainstream Republicans, liberals, socialists, Nazis, elitists and believers in social justice.

This whole argument is described by a term widely familiar on the internet, the reductio ad Hitlerum. It is also known, Wikipedia explains, as playing the Nazi card. Anyone using this argumentum, it is believed, is signaling that his logical facility has jumped the rails. It is frequently used in a reflexive sense, as when your opponent accuses you of doing the same thing: "You guys called Bush a Nazi, so it's all right for the Tea Partiers to call Obama a Nazi." To the extent that this is accurate, it is an appeal to -- why, one's sense of social justice, actually.

I am writing this because I have a blog and I needed to vent. I am told repeatedly that Fox News is fair and balanced, that it has the largest share of the (actually rather small) cable news audience, and that it speaks for ordinary Americans. To the degree that this is true, Beck has left them all behind, watching his figure shrink on the far horizon of fanaticism. He has finally, definitively, said something that is completely Wrong from every viewpoint.

Does Glenn Beck speak for average Americans? His logic indicates they must be attending churches that preach Communism and Nazism from the pulpit every Sunday. Why are they so slow to catch on? Now that Beck has alerted them, where can they flee to worship? What will become of them? They have been cast out into the wilderness, where nothing makes sense anymore. The lonely, barren, ignorant wilderness, silent but for the gnashing of Glenn Beck.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 8!

Very late, I know, but it's been one of those days. I hope that no one has been holding their breath, waiting for today's picture and fun fact!

Despite how confused poor Ben may look in this photo, and what some may say, Ben is actually a pretty intelligent guy! Either that, or he's really good at faking his way through advanced degrees! He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Duke University, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Université Laval.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Harper Conservatives endangering maternal and infant health by refusing to fund birth control
OTTAWA – By excluding birth control from their maternal and infant health initiative, the Harper Conservatives are going in the opposite direction of its G8 partners and putting women’s lives at risk, Liberal MPs said today.

“Just when we thought the days of Bush-style abstinence policies were behind us, the Harper Conservatives’ right-wing ideology is now endangering the world’s most vulnerable,” said Liberal Health Critic Dr. Carolyn Bennett. “Just as taboos over condoms in the developing world are falling to the wayside, the international community has recognized the critical importance of offering the full range of family planning options to prevent maternal and infant mortality in the developing world.”

The European Union, the United Kingdom and the U.S. have policies in place that support contraception in the developing world, while the Harper Conservatives have clearly stated that birth control is not a part of the maternal health initiative they plan to present to the G8.

“The Harper Conservatives are setting the stage to embarrass Canada at the G8 with an initiative that turns back the clock on women’s equality and human rights,” said Liberal Status of Women Critic Anita Neville. “Their right-wing ideology should not be allowed to trump the volume of research from around the globe making a solid case for greater international support for sexual and reproductive health programs.”

Recent research by the Guttmacher Institute and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), for example, states that satisfying the unmet need for contraceptive services in developing countries would avert 52 million unintended pregnancies annually, which, in turn, would save more than 1.5 million lives and prevent 505,000 children from losing their mothers.

“Which of these facts do the Conservatives not understand?” asked Liberal MP Lise Zarac. “Greater use of modern contraceptives reduces unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and pays for itself by reducing the costs of maternal and newborn care.”

“Liberals are clear on this point: women’s reproductive rights are human rights,” concluded Dr. Bennett.


• Yesterday, Action Canada for Population and Development released a Call to Action on Maternal and Child Health at the G8 Summit: (Link) (English only).

A 2006 International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) report ("Death and Denial: Unsafe Abortion and Poverty") demonstrates that women who can’t access reproductive health services are more likely to obtain an unsafe abortion, and more likely to die as a result of pregnancy, childbirth or unsafe abortion.

• The report from the Guttmacher Institute and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) ( shows that maternal deaths in developing countries could be slashed by 70 per cent and newborn deaths cut nearly in half if the world doubled its investment in family planning and pregnancy-related care.

• The report states that “investing in both family planning and maternal newborn services can achieve the same dramatic outcomes for $1.5 billion less than investing in maternal and newborn services alone.”

• The risk of maternal mortality increases with each pregnancy. Yet research shows that 215 million women who would like to delay or avoid childbearing do not have access to modern contraception. Providing contraception to those who want it would avert about one-third of maternal deaths.

About 20 million women have unsafe abortions every year. About 8.5 million of those women need hospital care for complications, but such care is not available to about three million of these women.

• According to the UN Population Division, 61 percent of the world’s population live in countries where abortion is permitted. Providing safe abortion services where abortion is legal would prevent many of the estimated 68,000 deaths of women each year from complications arising from unsafe abortions.

• International human rights law states that maternal mortality constitutes a violation of the right to life and is linked to or results from violations of many other human rights, including the rights to health, education, equality and non-discrimination.

• Canada is a signatory to several agreements that commit to providing a full range of safe and reliable family planning methods and reproductive health services. The Development Assistance Accountability Act, for example, requires that any assistance provided by Canada be consistent with international human rights standards. In June 2009, a UN Human Rights Council resolution also committed Canada to provide “the effective promotion and protection of the human rights of women and girls” which includes “sexual and reproductive health.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed onto last year’s G8 Leader’s statement, which clearly promotes accelerating progress on combating child mortality, including through “sexual and reproductive health care and services and voluntary family planning.”

• In a January 2010 speech, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "In the Obama Administration, we are convinced of the value of investing in women and girls, and we understand there is a direct line between a woman’s reproductive health and her ability to lead a productive, fulfilling life."

Trailer for Eat, Pray, Love

I really need to get one of my girlfriends to go see this with me!

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 7!

And so, here's our Ben with Jacob Hoggard, 3rd place finisher on the 2nd season of Canadian Idol (still the best season by far, in my opinion). Jacob is now the lead singer for a band called Hedley.
And so, today's Fun Fact? Jacob Hoggard once gave Ben a "wet willy" on-stage during his days on Idol. I miss Season 2, I really do. I'm not kidding - definitely the best season!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Harper's "Maternal Health Plan" for the G8 - FAIL!

I'd heard this was coming. I'm so disgusted. Right-wing values trump actually SAVING LIVES. Oh wait, according to the Conservatives, birth control doesn't fit with saving lives.

That's right: allowing women to choose WHEN or IF they will go through pregnancy has nothing to do with saving lives.

Well guess what? This fact sheet from USAID disputes that. Here's just a sample:

Global Importance of Family Planning
• Saves lives of mothers and children: Births that are too close together, too early, or too late in a woman’s life decrease both the mother’s and the infant’s chances for survival. By helping women space births at least three years apart, bear children during their healthiest years, and avoid unplanned pregnancies, family planning could prevent 25 percent of maternal and child deaths in the developing world.
• Reduces abortion rates: Unintended pregnancy can result in abortion.An estimated 35 million abortions take place each year in the developing world.Wider availability of family planning programs could prevent many of these abortions.
• Important in fight against HIV/AIDS, particularly mother-to-child HIV transmission: Family planning allows HIV-positive women to space births for optimal health and contributes to programs providing voluntary counseling and testing and pre­ vention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services. Family planning services also help reduce stigma, improve referral networks for HIV-related services, and prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV infection, and other sexually transmitted infec­tions.
 Basically, the CPC don't want to upset their supporters by even remotely seeming to support abortion. It doesn't matter if women desperate for an end to an unwanted, or unsafe pregnancy are DYING; it's more important to keep those votes.

I'll have more to say about this later, I'm sure. Unfortunately I'm too sick right now to express my true outrage. Give me a few more days of antibiotics. In the meantime, you can read more here.

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 6!!!

Fun Fact of the Day: Ben and his wife, Jessica, announced on March 7th that they're expecting twins. Interestingly enough, his sister, Caroline, also has twins. Those Mulroneys - can't stop spreading their genetic material around!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Update on Joannie Rochette

OTTAWA—Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette has been cleared to perform a tribute to her late mother in Friday’s made-for-TV exhibition Thin Ice.

Her plan to skate in the ABC show appeared in jeopardy after she withdrew from the upcoming world championships Monday.

International Skating Union rules state an athlete can’t choose an exhibition performance over an ISU-sanctioned event.

But the ISU agreed Tuesday to make an exception for Rochette, who won hearts with her courage and grace as she skated to a bronze medal at the Vancouver Olympics less than a week after her mother Therese died of a heart attack.

The ISU ruling allows the Ile-Dupas, Que., native to perform Friday even though she won’t compete next week in Turin, Italy. After the ISU gave its blessing, Skate Canada also gave Rochette the green light to perform.

“We appreciate the ISU worked with us to find a solution for this situation,” Skate Canada CEO William Thompson said in a release. “They have agreed to relax ISU rule 136 for Joannie in this instance, due to the unique and extenuating circumstances of this particular request.”

Rochette, 24, said Monday the emotional and physical upheaval of the last several weeks had prevented her from properly preparing for the world championships.

In Thin Ice Rochette will skate to “Vole” by Céline Dion, her mom’s favourite singer. It’s the same program Rochette performed at the Exhibition Gala at the Vancouver Games. Dion wrote the song in memory of her niece who died of cystic fibrosis and Dion is expected to provide a recorded message to Rochette during the show.

It will be the first performance in a busy exhibition season for Rochette, who will also make a guest appearance in the first four shows of the “Stars on Ice” U.S. tour next month in Florida.
Rochette, along with Canadian Olympic gold medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, will then headline the Canadian version of Stars on Ice later in April.

And You Thought YOU Liked Tim Hortons?

Apparently when some men want their Timmies, you shouldn't get in their way! I thought my husband got grumpy without coffee, but not compared to Harvey Hale, 37, Randy Cayouette, 23, and Kevin Doucet, 25, all of Ajax. They apparently decided that a 36 year old, father of 2 was taking too long to get his order straight at the drive-thru. They began honking and screaming at him. The man got out of his vehicle (with his wife and kids inside) to try and calm them down, and the three men got out of their truck and began kicking and punching him.

I know we all get a little impatient at the drive-thru sometimes, but isn't this taking it just a LITTLE bit too far, gentlemen?

That being said, can I just point something out to the people who design drive-thru lanes? Once you're in, you can't get OUT without going through the whole line. If you decide that you can't wait any longer, you're screwed. While I do think people should use some common sense in looking at the lineup BEFORE getting in line, it would be nice to allow people to leave if they're pressed for time and stuck unexpectedly.

However, that being said, I am NOT justifying resorting to violence because you're going to be late for your anger management class!

International Skating Union Once Again Shows Its True Colours

DiManno: Joannie Rochette faced with a stark choice

Skater faces sanctions after accepting TV gig and bowing out of competition

by Rosie DiManno

A daughter's love for her dead mother or a skater's obligation to her sport: It's a stark choice that should not be demanded of Joannie Rochette.

She's been through enough already. But unless the International Skating Union does the humanitarian thing and relaxes its rules, makes one empathetic exception, this is precisely the dilemma facing Canada's Olympic bronze medallist.

A fortnight ago, the world was transfixed by the inspirational performance of a 24-year-old woman who compartmentalized her grief, competing in Vancouver just days after her mother's sudden death.

(Thérèse Rochette was struck down by a massive heart attack within hours of arriving in the city to watch her daughter's bid for a medal at the Games.)

Joannie Rochette dedicated that performance to her mom and, last week, placed the bronze medal on her mother's casket at the delayed funeral.

The native of teeny Ile Dupas, Quebec, then accepted an invitation to appear in "Thin Ice," a made-for-TV event to be broadcast live on Friday by ABC. On Monday, citing exhaustion and lack of preparation, she formally withdrew from next week's World Figure Skating Championships in Turin.

The ISU, a bossy organization at the best of times – and for Joannie Rochette these have been the worst of times – isn't having any of it. It has threatened unspecified punitive measures against the skater if she goes ahead and participates in the non-sanctioned "Thin Ice," citing a breach of two specific ISU rules and slyly shifting the blame to Skate Canada.

It was never Rochette's intent to compete in the ABC event. She wanted only to perform, at the end of the show, an exhibition tribute to her mother, the same routine she skated at the post-competition figure skating gala in Vancouver – choreographed to "Vole,'' a song by Céline Dion that was a favourite of Thérèse Rochette.

As of last night, there was no indication that Joannie Rochette, six years in a row the Canadian champion, has changed her mind, even though appearing on the show might put her ISU eligible status at risk – meaning it's possible she might not be allowed to compete in any future ISU-sanctioned event.

A statement issued by the skater on Monday addressed only her decision to withdraw from Turin.
"With everything that has happened over the past few weeks, I have missed a significant amount of training time. That means I'm not prepared either emotionally or physically to skate well at these championships and once again challenge for the podium.

"Whenever I compete I want to give my best to the fans and to respect the competitive nature of the sport. I just would not be able to do that for either the fans or myself next week.''

Her agent told Associated Press Rochette had filed her papers with Skate Canada, requesting permission to appear in the ABC show.

William Thompson, Skate Canada CEO, told the Star on Monday that the federation had made no objection. "But we didn't even know she was going to do it until we saw the press release from the promoter.''

At the time, Skate Canada presumed – but had doubts – that Rochette would still compete in Turin afterwards.

Skate Canada was then informed that "Thin Ice" lacked ISU approval, specifically because the event would be using non-ISU judges. Thompson told the ISU that Rochette was not competing, merely skating as an exhibition artist.

The ISU came back and said, uh-uh, not good enough. Another rule forbids skaters from participating in non-sanctioned events, even in an exhibition role, while simultaneously taking a pass on their competitions. And Rochette had just announced she wasn't going to Worlds. Even withdrawal from an ISU assignment on the Grand Prix circuit due to injury imposes a 30-day ban on any other appearance.

"There are legitimate reasons for the ISU rules,'' says Thompson, noting TV viewership and ticket sales decline when popular skaters – as Rochette certainly is – pull out of major events. "Skaters benefit greatly from ISU events also. They make a lot of prize money.''

While Skate Canada has no wish to directly sanction Rochette, it is at the mercy of the ISU, which has the authority to punish the national body and its other skaters.

"We're kind of stuck because there can be some sort of penalty against our skaters. We can't allow ourselves to be put in that position, but it leaves us between a rock and a hard place,'' Thompson says.

He says he doesn't know what the punitive range might be because he can't recall a similar situation in the past. But if Skate Canada bucks the ISU, it's entirely possibly other Canadian skaters might be denied participation in ISU competitions.

Thompson is now waiting to see if the ISU will show some flexibility.

"We're hoping they will relax the rules, given these particular circumstances. I certainly don't mind Joannie being in this show, and Skate Canada would not punish her. But I don't know where this is all going to land.''

Rochette's only other option might be to turn pro immediately and the hell with the ISU. In Vancouver, however, she made no mention of wanting to end her competitive career, and certainly not this way.

It would be shameful if the ISU pushed a grieving young woman into doing so.
This is an example of something that I talk about a lot: the literal sense of the law vs the spirit of the law. I can understand WHY the ISU would have this law in place. You don't want amateur skaters foregoing ISU events to do paid gigs.

This is not what is happening, though. A grieving young woman wants to do a tribute to the mother who sacrificed so much for her skating career. One small, exhibition performance on a television show. She doesn't, however, feel up to competing at the level of a World Championship. This girl just lost her mother, yet she still skated at the Olympics. Can't the ISU show a little bit of compassion? Oh right, I forgot who we were talking about for a moment.

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 5!!!

Today's Fun Fact: Ben married Jessica Brownstein on Thursday, October 30, 2008. Here's a wedding announcement!

Ben Mulroney, the eldest son of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, was married during a private ceremony in Montreal Thursday night.

Monday, March 15, 2010

This Woman Disgusts Me
Outrage is growing over the sale of a significant Canadian military collection amid claims that many of the artifacts are family treasures belonging to people who never intended them to be sold.
Adding fuel to the fire are reports that hundreds of World War II items from the Robert Stuart Aeronautical Collection and Camp X exhibit housed in the history buff’s museum have already been sold on eBay, following his death seven years ago.
Since Stuart’s daughter, Deirdre Stuart, advertised the contents of the museum on the Internet last month, benefactors have come forward to say numerous personal possessions were donated or loaned by veterans or their families, who want them back.
Newcastle firefighter Cameron Smith is one of them. His grandfather Harry Smith, who taught Allied agents safecracking, lock-picking and explosives demolition at Whitby’s Camp X spy training school, handed over his uniform and single-shot pistol in a “gentleman’s agreement” years ago.
“My grandfather wouldn’t have intended this stuff to be sold,” says Smith. “They do not belong to (Deirdre Stuart). This is a Canadian heritage collection and should be treated as such.”
Stuart, who’s asking $1 million for the entire collection on an aviation website,, says Smith and other claimants are out of luck.
“If you didn’t put it in writing, you pretty much gave it to us,” she says. “Like, hello? How stupid are people. We’ve had this museum for 33 years. It’s ours.”
She insists her father purchased most of the military and aviation collectibles housed in a city-owned building at Oshawa Municipal Airport on Stevenson Rd. Accusing dishonest types of “coming out of the woodwork to get a piece of the pie,” Stuart says she’ll only return articles to a couple of people who had a written loan agreement.
But documentation is practically nonexistent, says a longtime friend.
“Bob was such a lovely man and everyone liked him so much, no one would ask him to sign a document.”
He says the collection includes a “priceless national treasure” — a 1944 oil painting of ace fighter pilot Lloyd Chadburn that was donated by Chadburn’s family.
Since Robert Stuart died, artifacts worth between $100,000 and $200,000 in total have been sold on eBay by a third party, says a collector of militaria who knows the museum’s contents well. The sales include an RCAF World War II pilot’s lifejacket he witnessed being given to Robert Stuart to display.
Some of the items are so rare there’s no doubt where they came from, says the collector, who didn’t wish to be identified.
Not true, says Deirdre Stuart. “Tell them to prove that anything was ever on eBay.”
A friend who helped out at the museum says benefactors never intended the collectibles “to make money for his wife and daughter.”
“He’d turn over in his grave with what’s happening now,” Brian Munro says of the kind-hearted man who enjoyed “enormous support and respect from the community.”
Local historian and author Lynn Philip Hodgson, who fears the collection might leave the country, has launched a campaign to buy it and find a permanent home in Durham Region. He’s received many calls and emails from people who loaned artifacts in the belief that the museum, which is open on Sundays through the summer, is government-run.
“Usually, the stipulation was that they must always be on display or be returned to the owner,” says Hodgson, an authority on Camp X who also loaned items that he’d like back. A committee he’s set up is applying for charitable status so they can set up a bank account and start raising funds.
Bomber pilot Angus Dixon’s prized sheepskin-lined RCAF flight boots seem gone for good, says his dismayed widow, Jane Dixon.
“Stuart kept asking him for his flight boots to complete the pilot’s regalia on a mannequin,” she recalls. “It meant quite a lot to him. I don’t think he’d be very happy about it being on eBay.” After Angus died in 2000 at age 85, she donated his dress uniform and three flight posters.
Engineer Brett McLellan is similarly upset after Deirdre Stuart told him she has no record of his grandfather’s things, which an ailing Robert Stuart pointed out when McLellan was at the airport on a job in 2003.
“I feel sick to my stomach,” he says, thinking about his grandfather’s RAF uniform, Distinguished Flying Cross, pistol and other belongings being sold to a stranger.
“I really, really want to get the DFC back,” he says. “It’s family history.”
This woman should be ashamed of herself, but I think it's safe to say she doesn't have a conscience. “Like, hello? How stupid are people. We’ve had this museum for 33 years. It’s ours.” Karma's a bitch, Deirdre, karma's a bitch.

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 4!!!

Bet you think I'm going to get tired of this before the 30 days are up, don't you?

Today's fun fact: Ben Mulroney is one of the hosts of CTV's ETalk Daily, a Canadian Entertainment Tonight -style show (which predates Entertainment Tonight Canada  by several years, incidentally).

Here he is interviewing Trish Stratus on the red carpet. Why Trish Stratus, I have no idea, but then again, this isn't the 30 Days of Trish Stratus, now is it?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Donor Steps Up to Help Pay Costs for Haim's Funeral

Corey Haim is to be laid to rest on Tuesday in Toronto, the Toronto Star reports. The owner of a memorabilia company, Startifacts, has stepped forward to donate $20,000 towards the costs of bringing the body home, and the funeral and burial.

I'm sort of sad that it appears that none of the Hollywood stars who are claiming to be friends and admirers are helping. I hear varying things about Haim's family, and perhaps there isn't as much sympathy for them, but still, the cost of a burial is pocket change for some of these people. What about Charlie Sheen, his costar from Lucas, the highest paid sitcom actor on television (not that he doesn't have his own bills to pay right now, but still)? Charlie's problems with substance abuse are beyond well-documented; you would think he might have some sympathy. Haim's problems don't make him less deserving of a proper burial.

I hope that there doesn't end up with some big outcry in Toronto if the city pays for the burial plot. That's next to nothing, and it doesn't deserve some huge backlash. From all reports, Haim was a good guy who, as Corey Feldman put it, never did anything to hurt anyone but himself. Let him rest in peace at home.

Let Me Entertain You...

I have a fascination with the burlesque artist, Gypsy Rose Lee. It started when I first saw the 1993 tv movie Gypsy starring Bette Midler and Cynthia Gibb. I fell in love with that show, and it remains one of my all-time favourite musicals.

Then, as often happens when I see biographical shows, I started researching the real-life Gypsy. I wish there were more videos around to see what she was really like. I just happened to find this one tonight while I was trying to help a friend with embedding videos on his site. It's from the movie Stage Door Canteen, one of the only movies that Gypsy did as Louise Hovick, her real name. The clip shows an abbreviated version of her stage act.

A bit of a difference from today, don't you think?

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 3!

Again, I know that today's Fun Fact will be obvious to my Canadian readers, but here it is: from 2003-2008 Ben was our very own version of Ryan Seacrest! He hosted Canadian Idol and traded barbs with Zach Werner instead of Simon Cowell. He even had a wacky sidekick, Jon Dore, for the first three seasons (rather than Brian Dunkleman's one outing on the US version).

Ben is seen here with Season Six's third-place finisher, Drew Wright.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Think I Actually Respect Jesse Ventura... Almost... Wow...

The 30 Days of Ben Mulroney - Day 2!

I've been cross-posting my efforts between here and my Facebook account, changing my profile pic every day to a picture of Ben, the same way that Sam did with pictures of Matt Damon.

I have quite a lot of American friends, so as I expected I got the question "Who the heck is he?" To which I responded with a plug for this website, and told her that all of the answers to that question would be forthcoming here.

After yesterday's post, she told me she still has no idea who Ben is, so for a few days, the "fun fact of the day" will be somewhat obvious to my Canadian readers, but hopefully helpful to my international ones.

Above you can see our Ben, in the midst of an interview. What you may not know is that he is, in fact, interviewing his dear old Dad, Brian Mulroney. Brian was the 18th Prime Minister of Canada, serving from September 17, 1984 to June 25, 1993. He was the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party from 1983 to 1993. He was an incredibly popular Prime Minister at one point, however he also made some very unpopular moves, politically (bringing in the dreaded GST sales tax springs to mind) and had some rather spectacular failures (the Meech Lake accord anyone?)

So anyway, young Benedict (I'm liking that more and more) spent a good portion of his youth living at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa (the Prime Minister's residence - again, this is for my US readers, if my Canadian ones don't know that they are forever banned from this website!)

Stay tuned for more Ben Mulroney Fun Facts! We've got 28 days to go!

Awesome Job, Brian Linehan!

There are probably a lot of people now who don't remember Brian Linehan, which is a pity, because he was a real advocate for the arts, just as much as he was a Hollywood A-list interviewer. I'm thrilled to hear that his legacy (he died of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2004 - the same disease that killed my grandfather in 1995, coincidentally) is supporting TRUE undiscovered talent in Canada (not in a televised talent competition, either! What a concept!)

Somewhere, Brian Linehan is chuckling

Late talk-show icon left surprise financial legacy that's helping Canadian talent like Allan Hawco

This is the kind of thing Brian Linehan lived for.

The first part of the tale is all too familiar: An unknown young stage actor from Bell Island, Nfld., a graduate of the National Theatre School, is propelled by his ambition and initiative to Toronto to start up a small, struggling theatre company, maintained by small episodic roles and bit parts in the occasional film ... for all intents and purposes, doomed to the typically anonymous existence of the average unknown Canadian actor.
Except that there was nothing average about Allan Hawco, as anyone who saw him on stage can attest, with a talent that outshone even his rugged good looks – bearing, as he does, and as you can see from the photos, a rather startling resemblance to Colin Farrell.

And now, thanks in large part to Linehan's legacy, Hawco is the creator, co-producer, co-writer and star of the hit CBC series Republic of Doyle, a show that managed to pull more than a half-million Canadian viewers up against CSI and American Idol, and slightly less than half a million opposite Canada/Russia Olympic hockey.

Somewhere, Brian Linehan is laughing. The late interview icon, Canadian television's premiere celebrity schmoozer, was, for all his noted facility for stroking the A-list rich and famous, a passionate advocate for homegrown talent at a time when that was a fairly revolutionary concept.

It was – and is – a sentiment shared by the country's most respected and connected industry deal-maker, and Linehan's long-time advocate, adviser and friend, Toronto lawyer Michael Levine.

"Three weeks before Brian died," Levine recalls, "we're sitting in Morton's restaurant, and I finally said to him, "All right Brian, what do you want?'

"And he said, generously, "I would like to help artists. (I'd like) the best of the best of the best to have an opportunity to come forth, because I've always believed our talent is as good as any in the world, and all they need is training, good work and promotion.'

"And I said, 'Who do you want to do this?' And he said, `You.' "

When Linehan died, in 2004 from non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, he left behind an estate, to be administrated by Levine, totalling $4.5 million – much to the surprise of even those of us who knew him well, and generally assumed he was broke.

"Even I had no idea what Brian was worth," Levine confesses, "because Brian was the world's most private individual. And then I wake up one morning, and when the bank tells me I literally started to laugh. I mean, I didn't know if I had enough money to pay for his funeral.

"I remember, shortly after Brian died, Norman Jewison yelling to me from the stage of the Elgin Theatre, 'Levine! You know the money he left? It's ours!' "

And indeed, Levine did funnel some of the funds into the Jewison-founded Canadian Film Centre, toward establishing the new Actor's Conservatory.

"We put in 20 per cent of the money, got a network to put in money, got the government to put in half the money ... and now we have about a $5 million fund sitting there, and we just graduated the first class a couple of days ago."

There have been other endowments, to the likes of TIFF, Soulpepper and the Stratford Festival. "Everything we do has to be not-for-profit," stresses Levine. "And I am very careful as to how it is used.

"I have said to recipients, 'I am not a rich philanthropist. I have a duty to a beloved friend and to a concept ... and if we can't bring that added value to the project, I am not interested in giving you money."

So he was skeptical when Seamus O'Regan, co-host of CTV's Canada AM, started badgering him to come out to see his best pal, Hawco, on stage in his Company Theatre's inaugural production, Whistle in the Dark.
But saw him he did, and was immediately impressed.

"Blown away" is how he puts it.

"So I sit the kid down and ask that same fatal question, `What do you want?' And he said, `Well, I've got this little theatre company ... do you think you might give us a little sponsorship?' "

Levine did more than that. "I give the kid a small grant, I tell him to apply to BravoFact, I give him a Heritage Minute, which is a program I ran. And I take him by the hand to the CBC, and I get a little bit of money for a treatment, a little more money for a script, and literally put together a $20 million package.

"That is a perfect illustration of how we're trying to, in a very quantifiable way, use Brian's money."
It does not, of course, stop with Hawco.

"I went with my wife last year to see West Side Story at Stratford," says Levine, who is on the festival's council. "And I see this incredibly talented kid, and I'm asking, you know, `Who is that?' And they say, `Paul Nolan.' And I say, `Who's he?' `Well, he's this talented song-and-dance guy.' And I ask, `How old is he?' And they say, `30.'

"I went, `You're telling me that this kid has been professionally in this country, doing this quality of work, for a decade, and nobody knows who he is?'

"I mean, he's a former professional hockey player, for crying out loud."

It strikes Levine as typically Canadian that we so readily celebrate our athletic achievements – particularly, most recently, at the Olympics – and yet still somehow manage to overlook our actors.

"Oh, we take great pride in anybody who makes it abroad ... but we have got to create a standard of excellence for what we create, not just export the raw material so it's created elsewhere. Don't export all of the wood and build the furniture in Minnesota. Cut down the wood, build the furniture in Ontario and export the furniture, because you get more money for it. Let's become stars at home, and let's export ourselves.
"I'm saying we're as good as anybody in the world. And that exactly was Brian's philosophy."