Monday, August 16, 2004

The Same, But Different

"Excuse me," said the stranger, to the shapely young woman walking through the park, "But how big are your tits? Like 34C?"

"Actually, they’re 36D," said the young woman.

"Wow. 36D. That’s amazing. Are you a stripper? Or a porn star?"

"No," she replied with a weary smile. "Actually, I’m a graphic designer."

"Cool. That’s cool," said the stranger. Suddenly there seemed to be no more conversational electricity. The question was answered, and in its wake, awkward silence. "Well, bye."

"Yeah, bye," said the woman, who continued walking through the park.

By now I’m sure most of you think I’ve lost my mind. But wait, please, the denouement is arriving in the next sentence. Rewrite the above conversation by replacing the inquiry about tits with a question about height.

"How tall are you?"

"I’m 6 foot 5."

"Wow. Six-foot-Five. That’s amazing. Are you a basketball player?"

Obviously asking about height and asking about the size of someone’s tits is viewed differently in our society, but as someone who is tall, after awhile the question is equally annoying. Last week, two different people asked me how tall I was. I ignored both of them. The first time, I overheard a teenage girl whisper to her friend "Ask him how tall he is" as I was walking through a local park. Because of this advance warning, I ignored the girl when she said, "Excuse me." I kept right on walking, after repeated attempts of "Excuse me." Steps before I was out of earshot, in desperation, the girl yelled, "How tall are you?"

The second time was a day later, when some guy on the sidewalk asked me how tall I was. I continued walking as well. To his credit, he did not persist.

You see, I’m over 30, which means I have gone through this song and dance about my height for at least 10 years, which is roughly when I stopped growing. Unless you are a cute little old lady, or a kindly old man, I will not humour your requests for information about my height. The seniors I treat like gold, let me assure you.

(I think, back in May, I promised more love, less bitterness and I’m doing my best to deliver. Just don’t ask me how tall I am, if that’s OK…)
Some quick hits:

* A novel in 88 blog postings:

* My suburbia article is finally on newsstands. (And, er, online.) Descant, the literary journal in which the article appears, had a launch on Wednesday at the Victory Café in Toronto. The turn-out was pretty decent, and, even better, as a reader, I received a cellophane-wrapped goody bag of organic vegetables. Drink tickets are more traditional, I suppose, but not very memorable. I will never forget receiving two ears of corn, a pair of apricots, a bunch of cherries, and one tomato for doing a reading.

* At a party on Thursday I was delighted to learn that the cab drivers waiting outside the Via Rail station are always stupid jerks. I thought it was only me – upon returning from an ultra-pleasant month in Montreal, I was jolted back to the arrhythmic rudeness (as opposed to the elegant rudeness of New York, for example) of Toronto within five minutes of stepping off the train platform. The details are dull, but the end result was my valve became immediately and severely irritated. Turns out the same thing happened to my friend Dave recently. I write this bile despite it being taxi appreciation week or day or hour or something today or yesterday or something. (On a related note, it’s clearly tourist season here in the center of the universe. I find it strange that people visit here of their own volition, yet I don’t wish to discourage anyone from innervating our economy. Although, when I recently overheard an American whigger on a cellphone telling a friend that "There was no ghetto downtown. Anywhere" I had to give pause.)

* Recent Onion A/V Club interview with Triumph, discussing how to beg before J.Lo: "I tried to play up how pathetic I was, which is not too hard if you're a 42-year-old guy crouched on your knees in the aisle of an awards show with a puppet on your hand. You do evoke sympathy."

* Smart article by Gord McLaughlin in this week’s eye about the dangers of being critical about the business of the dramatic arts in Canada. The shock ending is memorable and well executed.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

All Things Considered, I Probably Deserve That…

Last Saturday (July 31) I wrote about blogs for the Globe and Mail. I had originally pitched the Globe about attending a Toronto conference entitled Exploring the Fusion Power of Public and Participatory Journalism that was going to be held on Tuesday, August 3 and writing about the results. The Globe decided that a preview of the conference would be a much better idea. I mention this because doing a preview meant I had a little over a day to turn in 1,300 words. As a magazine writer, I’m used to a much slower pace.

If that sounds like the gentle eddies of an excuse forming, you’re sorta right, but a mistake is a mistake, regardless of the looming deadline. And so, I apologize for writing Matt Welsh, instead of Welch in my blog article. I have corrected the error in the version of the article that appears on my website. (See link in first sentence.)

Of course, the only thing worse than making an error is getting caught making an error. And inside today’s National Post (August 7, 2004), in a commentary column about covering the recent DNC, Matt Welch writes:

Not that I’m complaining, mind you. It’s always fun to have your work read, and any press is good press, as long as they spell your name right. (Psst! Globe and Mail guys! It’s W-e-l-c-h!)

Touché Welch. I mean, the guy has a website with the URL How could I mungle that one? (FYI: Mungle being a mixture of mangle and bungle, as opposed to a typo, which would be an even richer irony, given the whole mess.)

It is always a little scary hitting the send button for any newspaper article I file, because contrary to popular belief, there is nothing akin to fact-checking performed at any of the newspapers I write for. And since I know this, I tend to be as careful as I can. Still, as Jeff Jarvis (by way of Ken Layne) noted at the Fusion Power conference, "We [bloggers] fact-check your [Big Media’s] ass." And ultimately, that is a good thing. Except, of course, when the blogger pinches the ass of Bigge Media. I promise to be even more diligent from herein.

And I take some solace in the fact that, to the best of my knowledge, there are no errors in my article about the swing in the alley that appears in today’s Toronto section of the Post.

By the way, I feel it worthwhile to note that I received the swing article assignment on Tuesday, July 27. I mention this because a few days later, the Saturday Globe (bastards!) wrote about the swing. I do not wish people to think I get my National Post Toronto section ideas by reading the Toronto section of the Globe and Mail.

Rather than end this post with a mote of grace, I will instead conclude by mentioning Robert Fulford’s takedown of Edward Greenspon’s Saturday ramblings. As Fulford wrote today:

Greenspon’s "Letter from the Editor," which appears in a prominent position on Page Two, may be the most spectacular example in current Canadian journalism of a bad idea badly executed.


Editorial problems may excite him … but they’re no fun to read about. They’re dreary, even for people in the business.

In fact, Greenspon makes editing sound so deadly that it’s as if he were trying to discourage the young from entering journalism

Or at the very least, encourage them start a blog instead.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Manchurian Classic?

I keep reading about the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, and most articles refer to the 1962 film as a classic. As Louis Menand noted last year (September 15, 2003) in the New Yorker:

Most people probably think of the movie as a classic of Cold War culture, like "On the Beach" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" – a popular work articulating the anxieties of the era. In fact, "The Manchurian Candidate" was a flop. It was released in the fall of 1962, failed to recover its costs, and was pulled from distribution two years later, after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It turned up a few times on television, but it was not shown in a movie theatre again until 1987, which – nearly the end of the Cold War – is the year its popularity dates from. The true artifact of Cold War culture is the novel, by Richard Condon, that the movie was based on.