GEORGE CARLIN REMEMBERED

I have a heavy heart today. One of my heroes, George Carlin, is dead.

To truly understand the impact one comedian – a subversive, hilarious, downright inflammatory voice in a sea of banal, unfunny Dane Cook clones – had on the American cultural ethos, one must look at some of his finest one-liners. I think his words, not mine, illuminate the wisdom he offered through comedy. Even though he’d probably loathe all the platitudes media commentators and other professional pundits are dishing up today, his work is right there with Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks as sharp, insightful, scathing critiques of American life.

Here’s some of his more memorable quotes, curtosy of BrainyQuotes.com:

At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom.

Dusting is a good example of the futility of trying to put things right. As soon as you dust, the fact of your next dusting has already been established.

I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me – they’re cramming for their final exam.

I would never want to be a member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood.

If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.

When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat.

Religion is just mind control.

Rest in peace, you old codger.

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THE FILM CLUB

Recently, my boss at my work loaned me a book called The Film Club. It’s written by David Gilmour – the former host of Gilmour On The Arts on CBC Newsworld and a writer of various pieces of fiction.

He writes in a very breezy, accessible style. It’s the kind of book that’s not just about the magic of films and their ability to bring people together. It’s also about the relationship between fathers and sons, the inescapable and complicated bond they share between each other.

Still, there’s a sequence in the book that really sends me for a loop. David’s son, Jesse, has a girlfriend at one point named Chloe. She goes to school “in Kingston, Ontario,” for economics, later switching to Business Administration. This is all literary code for Queen’s.

It’s unnerving to feel like part of your past is being relived in print, but needless to say, Chloe reminds me an awful lot of many people I knew at Queen’s – some good, some bad. Chloe bores Jesse incessantly with her careerist prattle; there were a lot of people, men and women, at Queen’s like that (myself included at several stages of my complex, troubled evolution in Limestone City).

Chloe eventually dumps Jesse because she feels he’s not going anywhere in life and that he’s got loser friends. Worse, she dumps Jesse in a very irritating, fake fashion – it’s all false-friendly, sniveling, “bye-bye Jesse” on the cell phone while she’s in a bar.

I can only imagine the shit-eating grin she has on her face later.

I knew a lot of people like Chloe at Queen’s. The sense of smug self-satisfaction, the arrogance of knowing your class in life all too well, the entitlement that comes with attending a place like Queen’s.

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t change anything. I would still have gone to Queen’s in 1997 if I had had a chance to do it all over again. There were some great aspects to Queen’s, stuff I’ll always remember and appreciate.

But it’s hard to reconcile my hindsight on the place with my current state of being. Queen’s was a cold, competitive, brutal place at times. There were many people far, far too satisfied with themselves and their opinions. There were many vivid memories of witnessing how anything and anyone that was different from the mainstream at Queen’s was looked upon suspiciously and with veiled (and not-so-veiled) contempt at times.

Bear in mind: not everyone and everything was like this at Queen’s. But the Jesse-Chloe story arc only re-affirms what I already know. Even when it comes to love, Queen’s makes it hard. Queen’s and other elite institutions make it possible to engage in denial.

You can deny your origins, deny your place in the class system in Canada, deny even your heart – as long as it gets you further up the economic food chain.

IPHONE MADNESS AND ONE SWEET DIATRIBE

So today’s the big day – the second generation iPhone debuts today at the WWDC 2008 in San Francisco, presumably (of course, Steve Jobs could pull a homer and not even release the new iPhone today…). Engadget is liveblogging the event.

DIATRIBE: My old newspaper has posted some front covers from this past year’s volume of issues. Just to give you an idea of how far this newspaper has come since its debut in 2001 (jeez, has it been seven years?), check this cover out…

Wow. That’s pretty much all I can say. Effin’ A!

iPHONE UPDATE: Wow – the 3G iPhone has been announced. It looks incredible – some amazing new features, GPS tracking and a much slimmer design. And the price point! $199 for an 8 GB phone, $299 for a 16 GB phone. Best part: that price is fixed globally, so Canadians will get an affordable iPhone!

July 11th the new, 3G iPhones debut. Very, very cool stuff Apple.

OBAMA AND MAD MEN’S SEASON PREMIERE

What a relief last night.

The never-ending psycho-drama that has been the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination race is finally over. And I couldn’t be happier – Obama’s finally vanquished Hillary Clinton.

Now the real battle begins. Expect this race between Obama and John McCain to get exceedingly nasty in the next several months. If you think the Swift Boating that got dumped on John Kerry in 2004 was brutal, you haven’t seen anything yet. That being said, McCain’s hardly a sure bet to beat Obama at this stage in the game. Interesting fact I read the other day: did you know that an overwhelming number of past Presidential nominees with war hero backgrounds didn’t win the Presidency? Just saying.

MAD MEN: Very exciting news – Mad Men’s second season will premiere on AMC on July 27th at 10 p.m. Woo-hoo! Finally!

One very strong rumour is the show is now taking place in 1962 – two years after the election of JFK as President. Roger Sterling is apparently still working.

And, here’s a few photos from the set that magically made it onto the internets:

Interesting look for Betty – she seems to be moving into 60’s-style fashion more now and has a riding outfit on. Wonder what this means for her marriage to Don…

A beard? And Peggy’s hair has changed and she seems to have a prominent place at the copywriting table now. There’s also the little issue of Peggy’s child at the end of the first season. What’s really interesting though is IMDB listing another Olson woman in the cast – is this Peggy’s sister?

Stay tuned – thanks to Basket of Kisses for the link.