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>All You Need Is….

>…a lawyer. Apparently The Beatles haven’t broken up or faded away, but exist as an entity neither animal nor mineral nor Rutle. So with a swipe of Ed Sullivan’s arm, here, straight from the UK’s Independent, are the Top Ten Beatles Lawsuits (current divorce cases not included):

10 1971: McCartney versus the rest of The Beatles
9 1981: Beatles versus Apple (Round 1)
8 1979: Beatles versus EMI (Round 1)
7 1989: Beatles versus EMI (Round 2)
6 1991: Beatles versus EMI Round 3
5 1989: Beatles versus Apple (Round 2)
4 1995: Beatles versus EMI Round 4
3 1998: Beatles versus Lingasong Music
2 2003: Beatles versus Apple Round 3
1 2005/06: The Beatles versus EMI (Round 5)
And the legal case that wasn’t… 2002 Yoko Ono versus Paul McCartney

For all the juicy details, check out “The courtroom hit parade: The Beatles’ top ten (lawsuits) “


>Cabin Fever Cure #1

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>Autumn brings with it the need to start nesting; begin wrapping one’s brain around the notion that one may well be stuck inside for a few months. Seeings as I live in a basement apartment, the idea of being six to ten feet underground is daunting. My plan is to make a dent in my “to see” lists of movies and books. However, there is apparently an even more anal method of passing the time: Library Thing. Yes, list-makers and alpha-orderers can revel in this beta version; indeed, I have begun my own database, but due to ISBN snags (likely a user error), I can’t seem to list the exact version and cover of the titles in question. Nevertheless, if you care to see what nestles in my bookcases, look up “misscarol.” Be aware, LibraryThing is not spouse-safe.

>Left Hand, Meet Right Hand

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>The RIAA is preparing to go back to school with its own “educational video” about copyright. Unfortunately, it can’t get its facts straight.


An FAQ-section question asks whether someone who has bought music has the right to ever upload or download music. The RIAA’s answer says that it’s okay for productive or scholarly works. The video’s critics say the response makes no mention of allowable uses for home recordings, even for individual use, which the law allows.

I hear Luba wailing “Break Free” in the background…

>Movie Review: Prairie Home Companion

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>Prairie Home Companion
Director: Robert Altman
Writer: Garrison Keillor

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to the sepia shadings of Prairie Home Companion, brought to you by the makers of ensemble films, Robert Altman, and homespun tales, Garrison Keillor. This endearing, charming, and disarming film will cure what ails you: loneliness, cynicism, or aching joints.

It is based on the real variety radio show that airs on Minnesota Public Radio, but can also be heard on American Public Media. Reminiscent of a time when radio truly kept people company in rural areas when money was low, the film takes place in the theater that housed the radio show (on WLT) since the beginning. It has been bought by a large corporation that will knock it down for parking. The show that is the movie is the swan song.

Prairie Home Companion waxes nostalgic on days gone by in its old-time format, old-tyme music, and the cast with of Boomers approaching their sixties. Indeed, the singing/acting torch is passed from Meryl Streep to the capable Lindsay Lohan. Another nice touch is the comic relief threaded by the suitably restrained Kevin Kline as Guy Noir.

Altman has comeback from Gosford Park, of which despite two attempts, I could not get through more than half an hour—even with Clive Owen. (Too Upstairs, Downstairs for me.) He structures Prairie Home Companion in this signature style (many stories in a small setting) but Keillor’s down-home feel grounds the film nicely. Pay attention to the details, for everything is not as it seems.

Wartime’s “Greatest Generation” (of which Altman is a member) will get the most from this; I think they will better understand what “theatre of the mind” meant to people, be they city or country dwellers. While Prairie Home Companion is a gentle satire, it reminds us that something is endangered. That we must wake up to homogenization before everything becomes paved corporate.

In the spirit of torch passing, the Internet plays a similar role that radio did: it is a source of information, and way to keep in touch with far-flung family. Echoes a time when grown children left the farm to find work in the cities. Plus ca change.

>Book Review: Black Swan Green

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>Black Swan Green
by David Mitchell
Published by Knopf Canada

Britain’s David Mitchell is a master of structure as he proved with 2004’s Cloud Atlas. His newest novel, Black Swan Green lovingly uses this similar framework to tell the story of young Jason Taylor.

Set in Thatcher’s England, the thirteen-year-old leads us through the episodes of his life: fights, wars, girls, cigarettes, parents, books. There is nothing weird or angst-ridden about them; indeed, they are extraordinarily ordinary. But they are magic. Jaw droppingly so.

No mistake, this isn’t a coming-of-age story. (No doubt someone will dub it so.) Nor is it merely a story. Rather, like Mitchell’s previous Cloud Atlas, and number9dream, Black Swan Green is an intimate spell cast over the seeker who cannot come away unaffected.

I can’t say this enough: David Mitchell is a genius and I have yet to experience a glitch of his wand. Please, read and absorb this book.

>In a Word, #^$%*!

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>The U.S. Federal Communications Commission, the American version of the Canadian Radio, Telephone and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), while not as dithering, has proven to be just a priggish.

Documentarian Ken Burns has just finished The War, a film about soldiers’ experiences in the Second World War. It includes, funnily, some profanities. So, in its infantile wisdom, the FCC has issued a edict on naughty words. In other words, war is (bleep).

The only two ways audience-supported broadcaster PBS can air this show is either 1)bleep out the profanities and digitally obscure the lips (for the benefit of the visually impaired), or 2) air the program after 10pm when Junior is in bed. PBS has chosen option number 2, as reported by the New York Times.

Mr. Burns, perhaps best known for his prize-winning series “The Civil War,” insisted that “The War” would be shown in the preferred time slot of 8 p.m. He said he was “flabbergasted” that FCC policy was being applied to documentaries, particularly when President Bush himself was inadvertently heard using vulgar language, broadcast on some cable newscasts, at the recent Group of Eight summit meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia.

(For those who missed Bush’s cuss, it was “shit” as bleeped by the Beeb and revealed by the Ceeb. I, for one, am shocked. Naughty prezzie.)

At first glance, one would think Burns was being unreasonable. Ten o’clock seems like a reasonable hour at which to broadcast The Wars. But it isn’t. One audience for documentary is the uninformed, among whom are children. Sure, it’s highly unlikely that kids will want to watch this; hell, their parents are more likely to chew their nails over The One than over The National. But the opportunity to watch a program that informs current affairs (i.e., Iraq, Lebanon, Afganistan) is critical.

This also raises the question of why PBS is following FCC guidelines. Well, first it needs a licence. Second, and more important, is funding. While viewers donate money to the station, it must also get funding from the CPB which accounts for 24 per cent of its budget. This is not an insignificant chunk. While there is some foundation and corporate support, PBS relies on what seems to have become a politcally influenced body (See the Washington Post articles and FAIR piece below.)

This leads us to donating. I’ll be transparent: while I’d love to give money regularly to my local PBS affliate, WNED, I can’t afford to. I have done the equivalent in the past (CKCU, CIUT, WFMU), but those salad days are on hold for now. At some point, I do plan to support the quality programming on PBS…and hope that they will still be there to accept it. I encourage you to watch this great station, and if you can afford to, support it. It serves as a model of what the CBC should be. (More on that later.)

1)Paul Farhi, “PBS Scrutiny Raises Political Antennas,” Washington Post, April 22, 2005.

2)Paul Farhi, “Public Broadcasting Targeted by House,” Washington Post, June 10, 2005.

3)Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, “CPB Funding Threatened…Again,” media advisory, June 8, 2006.

>Grow a Brain

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>So U.S. president George Bush has vetoed a bill for federal support of stem cell research. His rationale?

“This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others,” Mr. Bush said at a White House event where he was surrounded by 18 families who “adopted” frozen embryos not used by other couples, and then used those embryos to have children.

But, it’s perfectly ok to drop bombs on them, though. Bush is also quoted as saying:

“These boys and girls are not spare parts,” he said.

Just cannon fodder.

from the Globe and Mail



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