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The old hacks who make The Ex-Press the glorious, old-school rag that it is.

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 ...

Remembrance Day Special: Paying homage to the ‘Moon’

Rod Mickleburgh traces personal roots to exhume the history of more than 1,500 Canadians who defied their own government to fight for freedom, and the losing side of the Spanish Civil War By Rod Mickleburgh I have more than a few books about the tragic Spanish Civil War. Yet I can barely bring myself to read them. Well, except for Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell’s bittersweet, affecting memoir detailing both the heroic commitment of those who fought for a republican Spain and the bloody witch hunt by hard-line Stalinists against those fighting with the anarchists. I just find it all so depressing. In addition to the millions of Spaniards caught up in the ferocious struggle, thousands of young idealists from all over the world headed off to Spain, fired by a zeal to fight fascism and support a democratically-elected government that sought to make progressive change. The issues could not have been more black and white. The conflict has been rightly labelled ‘the last ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Why I hate 21 Day Fix

Misty Harris longs to shed the dead weight of dieters from social media By Misty Harris I loathe 21 Day Fix with the fire of 1,000 Hades suns. Not because I’ve actually tried the fad diet, mind you; I have not. I hate it with the special kind of aversion reserved for things so repellent,* you know without a second thought that they’re not for you (think KFC’s Double Down Dog, or Donald Trump’s presidential bid).   Some background: 21 Day Fix is a “lifestyle” program marketed by Beachbody, the multinational responsible for P90X, Insanity, Focus T25 and other previous fitness/diet crazes. People pay to go on it, lose weight, then are given the option to become “coaches” – that is, recruiting others to buy into the program – in exchange for commissions and a company discount.   In summary: Friend goes on the Fix Friend posts fitness and food statuses five times a day on every social media account, and urges you to join his or her ...

Rod Mickleburgh toasts Canada Day with a sonic brewski, eh?

Crank up the Clairtone and celebrate Canada's birthday with a selection of songs curated by a discerning music lover indulging his many shades of plaid By Rod Mickleburgh Well, hello there, Canada. Another birthday, eh? Dominion Day is my favourite holiday of the year, a time for us all to set aside those petty differences over just about everything the you-know-who gang does in Ottawa, and celebrate being Canadian. My Canada includes a Prime Minister who loves hockey and gets excited about finding Franklin’s ships up north. It doesn’t include an ugly monument to “victims of communism” beside the Supreme Court of Canada, nor a massive Mother Canada statue scarring Cape Breton’s beautiful Highlands National Park, nor…(fill in 50 blanks here)….but never mind. Happy Dominion Day! What’s that? It’s now called Canada Day, you say? Pity! I usually celebrate Canada Day with a list of good old songs that best exemplify the spirit, history, beauty and character of this ...

Journalists aren’t the trouble with journalism…

But their bosses aren't doing much to help the profession's credibility in the face of increasingly desperate financial woes By Charley Gordon There is a sudden push on to convince the public that journalism is a good thing. You can understand why. It has to do with journalists who become senators. It has to do with CBC hosts and art dealers. Some media organizations, including both union and management, have started an advertising campaign called JournalismIs to help the Canadian public become aware of how important journalism is. Full-page ads, featuring the enlarged half-tone faces of prominent journalists have been showing up in newspapers, with cautionary messages. “With a few keystrokes you can sample thousands of opinions, afloat in a sea of information,” says one. “But as the volume increases, the accuracy and reliability of professional journalism is essential. Gathering and sorting the facts, weighing and interpreting events, and following the story from ...

Lest we forget the labour that birthed a province

Official school curriculum ignores the blood-stained history of organized labour, so Rod Mickleburgh offers a refresher on two violent events that unfolded on the waterfront By Rod Mickleburgh VANCOUVER - There were some grim remembrances last week for those dwindling few of us who consider the past travails of unions and workers worth preserving as part of our collective heritage. Their struggles and tragedies are as dramatic as history gets. Yet they claim very little place in what students are taught about the province’s history. We are getting better at changing history from just what dead white guys did long ago, even if I sometimes fear we de-emphasize these events a little too much in our schools. They did shape this country, and we should know about them. While John A. Macdonald, for instance, did some bad things (Louis Riel, treatment of First Nations, etc.), without his vision, strength of character and political acumen, parts of Canada might long ago have been ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Top 10 Excuses to See Magic Mike XXL

Misty Harris finds socially acceptable reasons to see summer’s bulging tentpole By Misty Harris With the Magic Mike XXL debut just around the corner, haters are dialling up the discontent to a full Nancy Grace. Their main critique is that while the Soderbergh-directed original was dark and provocative, the sequel appears to be little more than a big-budget manspoitation film.   Incidentally, this is the precise reason I’ve already purchased tickets. The tentpole is real, people, and it looks spectacular.   On that note, today’s Decoder lays bare the Top 10 socially acceptable excuses to #ComeAgain for Magic Mike. Haters, consider yourselves warned.   1. Supporting the arts: This time around, the dance portion of the movie looks to be as enhanced as Joe ‘Big Dick Richie’ Manganiello (if you haven’t seen the trailer, it’s as if Step Up and Flashdance had a baby and named it Ab Flex). Getting your culture on has never looked ...

On Truth and Reconciliation

Rod Mickleburgh listened to the testimony of former residential school students in September 2013 and saw the scars of a generation deprived of love and cultural self-esteem By Rod Mickleburgh (Thanks to Maria Tippett’s book, Bill Reid, The Making of an Indian, for some of what follows.) One of the early things I did after ending my daily journalism career of 119 years, besides endless Googling of past Montreal Expo games, was take in the Vancouver public hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in September, 2013. The experience was overwhelming. It’s one thing to read about the unspeakable tragedy of what happened in Canada’s residential schools. It’s another matter to hear former students testify first-hand, and in depth, about what happened to them and the ongoing, debilitating impact it has had on their lives and those of their families. No wonder organizers placed so many boxes of Kleenex among the seats at the PNE Agrodome. At the same time, you ...

Ornette Coleman’s death prompts a dramatic resurrection

Among the people at the bar in 1959 when the jazz revolutionary Ornette Coleman played his historic engagement at the Five Spot in New York was Charley Gordon, then a political science student who would have rather been a trumpet player. He worked that episode into a play, as yet unproduced. Coleman's death this week brought the play out of a desk drawer. This is a scene from A Different Drummer.   SCENE 1   A nightclub, jazz playing in the background. Rich and George  and a total stranger are sitting at the bar. Rich is drunk, talking to the Total Stranger.   RICH You know the way I am, first thing I notice is the drummer. But I don’t know who this guy his. He’s just driving like crazy. The horn stuff is odd, but I’m just fixating on him. I’m trying to figure out who this drummer is. I’m 20 years-old, right, and I read Downbeat, cover to cover, memorize the fucking thing. But I never heard of this guy, never saw his picture. I know ...

The Power of Makeup / Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup

Misty Harris plumbs two viral videos, and explains why cosmetics should be approached like sex