The Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist
Or, Learn to Love Christmas Music in Just 15 Songs
By Misty Harris
“I don’t care about a war on Christmas but I could totally get behind a war on Christmas music.” So said my friend Shauna Wright, a Someecards writer who’s brilliant and funny even when she is wrong. Christmas music, you see, is simply misunderstood. Like spotting a pit bull at an off-leash park, people recoil at its appearance thanks to years of media conditioning, and in doing so, are denied the chance to make a real emotional connection. DO NOT DENY YOURSELF LOVE, PEOPLE. There are countless reasons to love Christmas music – a genre I defend in this month’s Pop Culture Decoder. But for those who need extra help learning to love the much-maligned genre, I offer these 15 songs to kick-start the holiday reprogramming. The Christmas Song by Mindy Gledhill God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan O Come, O Come Emmanuel by The Piano Guys I ...
Pop Culture Decoder: Christmas Music
Christmas music is more maligned than soul patches; Misty Harris jumps to its defence By Misty Harris
Every holiday season, the masses profess their hatred of Christmas music with a level of zeal normally reserved for discussions about politics, refugees, or Starbucks cup designs. As with hearing police sirens in a song on your car radio, the genre has a way of unsettling even the most mild-mannered of folks. I, however, am not one of the masses. Call me punk rock but I LOVE Christmas music – so much, in fact, that it’s virtually the only thing I listen to between mid-November and Boxing Day. Cut me and I’ll bleed tinsel. Why, you ask? Allow me to decode. * Happiness: Admittedly, most holiday tunes lack complexity in terms of lyrics, melody and variety of plant life. But like Hugh Hefner bedding women in their 20s, Christmas music isn’t there to impress so much as to belabour a point: Fa la la la la (la la la la)! Surrendering to its unshakable optimism ...
Pop Culture Decoder: Sexy Halloween
Why the media recycle the same damn story every October By Misty Harris
Halloween is surely the most frustrating night of the year for actual hookers – and the riskiest one for men seeking their company. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention in the last two decades. And yet. Every October, it’s the same thing: newspapers, media sites and TV news stations all clamour to report on the sexualization of Halloween. While they aren’t necessarily wrong in identifying this phenomenon, it’s hardly news. At this point, “sexy Halloween” falls into the same class as Nicki Minaj’s butt: significant, but nothing we haven’t seen before.* So why does the media keep recycling the same story, year after year? Let’s decode. Low-hanging fruit: We all know that sex sells. And in reports on the tawdriness of Halloween, sexual imagery is practically a journalistic requirement! Not featuring photo evidence would be akin to reporting ...
Pop Culture Decoder: Mom Boobs
Laying bare the effects that parenthood can have on the pointer sisters By Misty Harris
You know how after performing a lot of hard work, you exhale all remaining volume from your chest, slump over and just surrender to gravity? The same goes for breasts after having a child. My breasts, anyway. Like weary warriors retreating from battle, they have been deflated. First, there were the rigours of pregnancy, which saw the twins change size more times than Jonah Hill. Then there were nine months of breastfeeding a tiny human, who paid them roughly the same respect a cheetah does a gazelle. And, finally, there was the post-nursing weight fluctuation, which saw my lady lumps take on so many different appearances, they’ve been cast in the next Transformers movie. But because this is a column about decoding, specifics are needed. With that in mind, let’s abandon all propriety and break down the reasons that “mom boobs” are a thing.* Biology: Although breastfeeding ...
Pop Culture Decoder: Cosmetic Dermatology
Misty Harris suffers the horrors of Thermage so you don't have to By Misty Harris
I always intended to grow old gracefully, like Audrey Hepburn or a chunk of parmesan cheese. Things did not go as planned. Around the time I turned 30, a collection of creases made camp on my face – the human equivalent of rings on a tree – and proceeded to mock my age every time I looked in a mirror. Now, I’ve never thought of myself as vain, but I also never thought I’d look between my eyebrows and see skin pleats that resembled a vagina. So there’s that. This is how, about four years ago, I wound up forking over nearly two weeks’ salary for Thermage – a cosmetic dermatology procedure that proved so traumatic, I’m only just now able to discuss it. My consultation went something like this: A physician identifying himself as Dr. Bob* (in the grand tradition of quackery, he omitted his last name) escorted me into his office and asked me to describe my “most urgent” ...
Interview: Juliette Binoche laughs off fear of aging
The Clouds of Sils Maria features the French siren in the role of an aging actress agonizing over her latest job: playing the role of the older woman, instead of the ingenue, in a revival of the play that made her famous. Binoche says she wasn't afraid to tackle a reflection of herself, but she did push director Olivier Assayas to face what she calls a "fear of actors... particularly women."
By Katherine Monk
In an age of ubiquitous celebrity, Juliette Binoche is an old-fashioned movie star. It’s more than the Prada blouse that seems to flow over her curves with loving deference, and more than the elegantly honed features that allow her to look both pretty and strong simultaneously. The French actress who emerged in the wake of The English Patient has a presence that moves through a room like precious perfume, a tingle mingled with an essence. Binoche brings her intoxicating powers to every role she’s ever had, from Lasse Halstrom’s Chocolat to Michael ...
Pop Culture Decoder: Pregnancy
Misty Harris deciphers why society is obsessed with pregnant women By Misty Harris
People love pregnancy news, which is perhaps why the tabloids are constantly making it up (a good rule is that even if “multiple sources” confirm a celebrity pregnancy, the story is not to be believed unless one of those sources is the woman’s pee stick). To observe this cultural obsession is to assume that having a baby is a kind of superpower – which, in a way, I suppose it is; pregnant women are like NFL players in their capacity to get away with almost anything. As for why the intrigue prevails after all this time, well, that’s a question for this week’s Decoder. Let’s make like Amanda Bynes and jump into a breakdown: Housing a human is badass: It’s impossible to overstate the awe factor of knowing that a living being is growing inside someone; just ask the producers of the Alien movies, who are probably still counting their money. Regardless of ...
Affirm a rose-tinted outlook with strawberry lemonade
A day digging in the garden and redesigning the backyard beds demands a thirst-quenching quaff, so squeeze some lemons and squish some berries for a sweet take on a standard
By Louise Crosby
A perfect day for me this time of year starts with a drive south out of the city, a Jesse Winchester rock and roll tune blasting out the windows. I am in a very good mood because I am making yet another trip to the garden centre for another plant specimen, a variety of bush or tree that will have been analyzed to death. How big does it grow? How much sun does it need? Where will it go? The re-design of the back garden, triggered when a large diseased maple tree was taken down last fall, is well underway. I finally have more sun to play with. So far I have planted the following this spring: a Maypole Colonnade flowering crab, the kind that grow up rather than out in a spread; a Salix Hakuro Nishiki dappled willow standard; a weeping larch; a cute little Bailcarol spirea; a Spring Delight ...