Perhaps the most surprising thing to come out of last week’s delightful Deranged Sorority Girl episode of The Internet, was the students’ confusion over this whole web communications thing.
Gawker posted the hilarious email anonymously, and it might have all ended after a day or so of snickering and reposting, had the Delta Gammas not demanded their good name be cleared. Loudly. On their (open) Facebook page.
“Someone has to get this taken down,” they said, as if they’d never heard of the term gone viral. “It’s very embarrassing for us.”
Then they went on to publish many amusing details that Gawker was too discreet to run about the University of Maryland chapter, Becca’s role in it, and dozens of other things. All of which made it easy for the interwebs to track down Rebecca Martinson, her photos, and her Twitter account. Sadly, that has been deleted. As many readers have noticed, she really does have a way with words. A psychotic, potty-mouthed way, but still.- Read more
London’s National Theatre offers something more arts organizations should consider: art to do laundry by.
Although they don’t call it laundry theatre, the NT does wonderful podcasts, including interviews with actors and directors, discussions about theatre trends, and some performances. I just caught a short radio play featuring Dame Judi Dench, whose lovely comic timing makes doing housework a delight.
It’s part of the NT’s innovative digital programming campaign that includes broadcasting their plays to movie houses all over the world. Talk about extending your reach – the NT has turned itself into everyone’s local theatre and made the company a must-see for any traveller passing through London. That’s about 26 million people a year.
Given how cheap it is to make and distribute digital art, I wondered why more of Canada’s big city companies weren’t extending their own reach into small communities – not to mention the world. There’s some truth to the growing complaint that public funding for the arts serves only city dwellers.
Since theatre is the easiest art form to deliver in this fashion, I asked some artistic directors and playwrights why they hadn’t adopted the NT’s brilliant marketing strategy.- Read more
Essays are my favourite prose form so I welcomed a pop culture website offering a quirky, mostly American list of the 25 most interesting essay collections. Alas, they’ve put it together with one of those ultra annoying slide shows that so many of us hate.
So for your convenience, here’s my list of 31 essay collections – my choices plus Flavourwire’s 25 nominees -- featuring writers trying out an idea.
Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin. Two collections of essays about the meaning of life cleverly disguised as recipes. Colwin, one of my favourite writers, is often overlooked and I’m not sure why. Perhaps because her gentle comedies seem, like Jane Austen’s novels, too concerned with the domestic doings of women?
The White Album and Slouching Toward Bethlehem, by Joan Didion
My Misspent Youth by Meghan Daum
Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
Sex and the River Styx By Edward Hoagland
Against Joie de Vivre by Phillip Lopate
A Rose by any other name might be just as cute, but she won’t be quite as trendy.
Last month I looked at the curious baby-naming fads that have led to “Brooklyn” being a Top 10 choice for Alberta parents and North America’s ever-growing enthusiasm for names inspired by 19th century servants. Downstairs names like Abigail, Violet, and of course Rose, are all the rage with a certain sort of Upstairs parent.
It ran in Calgary’s Swerve magazine, which is one of my favourite outlets because my editor Val Berenyi is less an overseer than a partner-in-crime. On noting that “Mason” was ranked on the boy’s list she wrote a slyly funny hed for the sidebar: “As in the jar or the profession?”
And here’s the full list of Alberta’s chart-toppers. Boys: Liam, Ethan, Mason, Lucas, Jacob, Alexander, Benjamin, Noah, William, Logan. Girls: Olivia, Sophia, Emma, Emily, Ava, Chloe, Abigail, Lily, Brooklyn, Sophie.
B.C’s list is similar with Nathan and Owen replacing Jacob and Noah for the boys. And on the girl’s list there’s no reference to New York’s hipster borough but Isabella is still a Top-10er.- Read more
Mondays are infinitely more tolerable with the promise of a new episode of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a vlog series reinterpreting Pride and Prejudice for the Confessional Age.
This week we’re all waiting breathlessly for word of what will happen to Lydia now that George Wickham has used and abused her.
In December I wrote about the charming web series, which recasts the gentleman’s daughter in precarious financial circumstances as a SoCal grad student -- in precarious financial circumstances. Between student loans and the Great Recession devaluing her parents’ house Lizzie and her sisters are facing a crisis. And as her mother prattles on about averting disaster by finding rich husbands, Lizzie soldiers on gamely vlogging her life as her master’s thesis project in communications.
The series was already a big hit by internet standards – more than 140,000 subscribers -- and it’s getting a much-deserved boost with mentions in stories commemorating the 200th anniversary of P&P on January 28. Episode 1 has more than 700,000 hits. - Read more
As the enthusiasm for that crackpot campaign Buy Nothing Day dies down, I would suggest those misguided "activists" put their considerable energy into my version of the event, which actually builds a community: Buy Local Day.
Certainly spending your money at global corporate retailers that abuse their employees – hello WalMart! – is harmful to both you and your neighbours. And spending via credit cards adds huge, unnecessary expense to every purchase, as merchants have to pay for the privilege of accepting plastic.
I’m in favour of avoiding those things all year round.- Read more
The B.C. Supreme Court has granted Vancouver publisher Douglas and McIntyre a 45-day extension to file a creditors’ proposal, the company said in a news release.
D&M Publishers caught Vancouver’s book community off guard October 21, when it filed a Notice of Intention under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, which put the company under protection from creditors until Nov. 21. That period has now been extended to Jan. 4, 2013.
D&M is working with a trustee, the Bowra Group, to find an investor or purchaser for its assets and will be accepting offers until 2 p.m. November 26. The company remains in operation until then. - Read more
The pornofication of our culture proceeds apace with news that a New York court is deeply divided over whether pole dancing is considered an art for tax purposes.
The New York State Court of Appeals decided 4-3 that an Albany strip club, Nite Moves, is not entitled to tax exemptions that support the arts in New York, including organizations like the American Ballet Theater.
Before you breathe a sigh of relief, it’s worth noting that the New York Times quotes the dissenting judge approvingly, and suggests the court got it wrong. In the dissenting opinion, Judge Robert Smith argues that the majority decision rests on “a distinction between highbrow dance and lowbrow dance” that the state tax statute does not make.
“It does not matter if the dance was artistic or crude, boring or erotic. Under New York’s tax law, a dance is a dance,” writes Judge Smith.
Well then New York needs to write its tax laws a little more clearly, because while a woman lubricating a pole might be considered craft -- there's a market for this technique -- it doesn't come close to being art.
My tongue was planted firmly in my cheek when I wrote that if one Western jurisdiction established that there was no difference between lap dances and ballet it wouldn’t be long before strip joints everywhere were clamouring for public funding – and filing discrimination suits to get it.
With New York sitting poised at the top of that slippery slope we’re all just a teeny bit closer to the day when ballet lessons will put little girls on the fast track to publicly funded bump-and-grind emporiums.
I’d tell you I was joking, but having followed this story I’m pretty darn certain satire is dead.- Read more
It’s odd when someone we never knew dies and leaves a huge gap in our lives, but for many of us the death of writer Nora Ephron, 71, is like that.
Perhaps it’s because for almost 50 years Ephron wrote our lives while writing her own. Her death prompted my writer pals, male and female, to reminisce on their favourite works and what they’d learned from them about writing and life.
Heartburn, her hilarious and thinly veiled roman a clef about one half of Woodstein cheating on her while she was pregnant with their second child, taught us that writing well is the best revenge. Her husband, she wrote famously, was “A man who was capable of having sex with a Venetian blind.”
She was good at big, memorable comic lines like that but she also had a knack for spotting small, significant truths. That book taught me not to take it personally when, after a divorce, certain married friends drifted away. As Ephron observed, “Couples date couples.”- Read more
Thank the gods for UrbanDictionary.com without which I wouldn’t know what half the TwitterBabble means.
This week alone I’ve learned three new terms that are bound to come in handy. Where exactly, I’m not sure. But I lead a full and rich life, so you never know.
There’s thinspo, which is one of those words that makes writing fun. It means the pics of anorexic celebs that crazywomen use to inspire their own weight loss campaigns. It’s an abbreviation of an evolving portmanteau term for thin inspiration – thinspiration ergo thinspo. As in, “I keep a shot of that wooden actress from the OC on my fridge for thinspo.”
Then there’s stans – obsessive fans who usually follow the tackier celebs and will hear no word against their darlings. Like paparazzi it’s born of pop culture; in this case an Eminem song. As in, “Beyonce’s stans will hurt you if you suggest she could use some thinspo.”
Is there mad cheddar (big bucks) in knowing such things? I doubt it. I doubt there’s even the Kraft Singles kinda cheddar to be had.
But as we edge ever closer to the ice floes, I find these Internet blessings a comfort. Unlike the cranky old coots of earlier generations, we won’t be left to puzzle over the cat’s pajamas, phat girls, or why anyone would want to be gagged, with a spoon.- Read more