Archive for August, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Praying for the best possible miserable situation.



Sister April and Brother Micael

I took this photograph of April and Micael at the T-bodies booth the afternoon of the Vancouver Pride parade last month. What a charming pair of siblings they are! Micael appeared in the inaugural, 2009 Manamorphosis calendar published by T-bodies Productions. The calendar featured photographs of a dozen female-to-male transgendered individuals. It was the first publication of its kind and beautifully done; I was proud to be a small part of it. You can also find Micael’s photo and those of other Manamorphosis models on some very cool playing cards. Micael is the 2 of spades. The photograph below shows him at a relatively early stage in his transition.


Report Indicates “They” Exist

A delightful headline. As my friend Michelle Stephenson said on her Facebook page: “Duh.” Bisexual men have seemed to go in and out of existence — as well as in and out of style — for a long time. There were years when the otherwise enlightened Dan Savage, for example, sounded an alarm that men who called themselves bisexual were *really* either heterosexuals temporarily experimenting or homosexuals too gutless to join their real home team. I imagine that true bisexual men have found this claim to be, in the main, discombobulating.

Helpless Attention

Once I have put time into authors or performers, I tend to stay attentive to them indefinitely, whether their appeal remains or not. Nothing by or about Jack Kerouac fails to attract my attention, for example, though disdain displaced my admiration for his work more than two decades ago. One might say that this is “like following one’s old girlfriends on Facebook,” though this analogy doesn’t work for me because I very much still admire these particular Facebook friends.

I once very much admired Shirley MacLaine, not just for the acting she did in “Irma La Douce” and “The Apartment” but for her writing as well. Her first memoir, “Don’t Fall Off the Mountain,” is charming and vivid and intelligent; her second, “You Can Get There from Here,” is almost as good. When her memoir “Into the Light” helped kick off the New Age movement in North America back in the late eighties, I was ready for it, and ready to like it, too. “Into the Light” was an important book, revivifying fusty late 19th-century occult ideas with technicolor language and action narratives (and with a very appealing narrator). I had already read many of the occult writers — Rudolf Steiner, Madame Blavatsky, Alice Bailey — because some good friends … what is the proper phrase to use here? … because some good friends of mine believed in their visions, or tried to, and I wanted to be able to talk with them about mystical worldviews.

I wrote a sympathetic but skeptical critique of “Into the Light” for Free Inquiry magazine. Within a couple of years I was known around the world as an expert on the New Age Movement, though I had no real interest in the topic. Thank you, Shirley.

MacLaine”s newest memoir, “I’m All Over That, And Other Confessions,” is a disappointment, though I am glad I read it. One can tell that there is not a story in it that she hasn’t told many, many times. The book *did* make me laugh out loud, though, once. MacLaine writes that Nikita Krushchev was not fond her her film “Can Can,” which he attended during a trip to America, noting to an interviewer regarding the movie, “The face of humanity is prettier than its backside.”

After the Soviet Premier saw MacLaine in “The Apartment,” though, he wrote this to her: “You have improved.”

English Bay today

Beautiful to live here.

Blogging under the wire

My summer classes completed their final online posts last night. I’m very happy with how our blog turned out.

“Six Days on the Dark Side”

“Stanford Magazine” revisits the “Stanford Prison Experiment” conducted by Psychology Professor Phil Zimbardo back in 1971. The experiment is as notorious for what happened to its human subjects as it has been useful in understanding “the central role of power in our lives,” to use Zimbardo’s phrase. The experiment was approved by Stanford’s Human Subjects Research Committee, and in 1973 the American Psychological Association said “the prison study had satisfied the profession’s existing ethical standards.” Such standards, alas, no longer exist today, having been replaced by much more restrictive ones, which err, so to speak, on the side of doing as little harm as possible to people.

You can take the Research Ethics Tutorial required of Canadian professors and students these days.

Student-created TV program to air on Shaw TV

Addendum: View the completed “Guns and Gangs Symposium” video here.

This was a bear of a project, but it worked out nicely. In the credits I’m called the “community producer.”

The news release:

Teen-produced video on gang issues to air on Shaw TV

(SURREY)  A video on gang issues co-produced by Surrey students is expected to become a model and an educational tool for the community after its airs on Shaw TV this weekend.

The video, dubbed “Gangs & Youth Views from a Lower Mainland Symposium”, will appear on Shaw TV, Channel 4, on Saturday, Aug. 13 at 11 p.m. and on Sunday, Aug. 14 at 9 p.m. [The late showing times are due to the program’s mature language.] It was developed through a multi-year collaboration between Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Acting Together – Community University Research Alliance (AT-CURA) project, Shaw Communications, Inc., Surrey School District and Surrey Safe Schools.

It was created earlier this year by students who received media training from Michael Keeping, director of Urban Rush and Studio 4 at Shaw TV, and were then given the reigns to conduct interviews, do camera-work and complete voiceovers for the show.

Students interviewed Jay Dobyns (pictured above), a former U.S. undercover agent who spent two years infiltrating the Hells Angels, Rob Rai, assistant manager of Surrey Safe Schools, and Corp. Doug Spencer, a SCBC Transit Police officer with experience in over 1000 gang investigations, in segments of the show exploring the realities of gang involvement and risk factors for youth.

It was a first for the Grade 10 through 12 students, who had never received media training before. During training workshops spanning several weekends, they learned story development, interviewing, lighting, filming, voice-over and editing techniques while they delved into the gritty issues of gangs and youth involvement. The final video is a product of the students’ own broadcasting talents and gang-related questions.

The video initiative piggybacks upon AT’s own goals of researching the prevention of youth-related gang violence and supporting positive youth-related community initiatives. AT’s collaborative work and unique focus on positive youth strengths have been driving forces of the project since it began in 2009 following a federal research award.

“We hope to get it as viral as Rebecca Black,” said Bob Basil, expert communications collaborator for AT. “That would be unexpected, but delightful.”

The video will be made available worldwide via YouTube, and Shaw has permitted its use for educational purposes in all school districts throughout Canada.

“Nothing could have made me happier than to see that the students put in hard hours when they could have been out playing video games or watching TV, let alone getting into trouble,” said Basil. “I was humbled by the motivations of these students.”

Basil, who made the initial connection between AT and Shaw, worked side-by-side with the students as they developed media skills and co-produced the video.

“People can look at us as a model for future collaborations and know that it will work,” said Basil.

“When we started, we hoped it would work. We put it to the test, and it turned out beautifully.”

Vancouver Pride + T-Bodies booth

Jack and Shayne of T-bodies

Jack and Shayne of T-bodies

The Vancouver Pride celebration is one of my favourite days of the year. I spent some time with my friends at the T-Bodies booth. Jack and Shayne were showing off and selling their 2012 Manamorphosis Calendar. This is their third calendar, and my second appearance in one (see below), this time on the back cover’s credits section as a long-term supporter of this project. It is a huge honour for me.

The vibe yesterday was wonderful. Sunset Beach was filled with elation and creation.

Beautiful Girl Painted

Beautiful Painted Girl