This section is devoted to all the textual preferences that hold my interest--and as you can see, there are a lot of them. I've added my own little contributions to these areas here, but there are also a healthy number of links for your perusal.
Collectively, I must admit that these interests take up a lot of my time, and many of my friends have become such, in part, because of sharing them in common with me, but there's a lot more to me as a person than that, so don't assume you're getting the whole picture here.
Those who know me will tell you how often I make allusions to different aspects of popular culture. On certain days, my conversations will run like a non-stop source of obscure quotes and in-jokes only I understand, and some people can get quite confused when they don't recognise my references. In fact, even the name of my homepage didn't originate with me, but came from somewhere else. (Kudos to you if you actually know the specific quote and the scene it comes from.)
In terms of what I myself write about, there are no specifics--I write whatever I think of. Lists are something of a specialty of mine (I'm very geometric, I can't help it), so you can find plenty of ongoing projects here.
One of those projects is the study of fictional history, a pursuit that became such a defining specialty for me that I created a website devoted to fictional timelines which has since garnered me a great deal of (unexpected) public attention.
Now, I hate doing this because it's such an Internet cliché, but as some of my own content seems to be lacking, I have mostly links to offer in this section. Where those links are concerned, however, I've done my best to direct you to sites with the best and most informative content available online. (I was forced to use Lynx for six months early in my "online life," so you'll find through these links that I have quite an appreciation for text over graphics...)
I've also tried to highlight sites about aspects of popular culture you may not have heard of, those with rare information, or sites that have an unusual take on your otherwise familiar favourites. Please let me know if there are better sites out there.
More is being added here all the time, so come back, and come back often.
By far my most obsessive interest, Star Trek has at times been a very pervasive part of my life, to the point where my first kiss was at a Star Trek movie....
Nowadays, one of my favourite social outings is seeing each new Star Trek movie as it comes along every few years, and through a lot of careful planning, I was able to get a rather large group of my friends together to see Star Trek: Insurrection in Winnipeg's biggest movie theatre on opening night. (The outing for Star Trek: Nemesis, however, was somewhat less successful...)
I could go into a long-winded discussion about the many reasons why Star Trek fascinates me so, but you're waiting to get to the goods, so on to it.
You probably haven't seen this picture before. It's the Spanish ad for Star Trek: First Contact (available on video and DVD for those who have yet to see it). The main difference between it and the English ad is the addition of a Borgified Earth in the path of the Enterprise. The slogan in the upper lefthand corner reads, "Planet Earth:/Population 9 Billion/None Human." It's actually the cover of the invitation to attend the Spanish premiere of the movie on February 20, 1997, and was sent to me by a longtime friend of mine, Julio Escajedo, who lives in Barcelona. (Julio is a member of the Star Trek Club of Catalonia, and we share a number of interests, chief among them a fascination with the Borg.)
This is one of those cases where I wonder who makes the decisions regarding foreign advertising of American-made productions. There are clear differences between this ad and its English counterpart, but the reasoning behind those differences is unknown to me.
While you wait for me to come up with some contributions to the genre, other talented hacks have already put up some great stuff. Check them out.
This fixation has grown in recent years along with all the publicity, and with new friends I've made who were bigger fans of the original trilogy than I had ever been....
To be honest, the aforementioned group outing to Insurrection was in part a trial run to see if I could successfully plan such a trip for the premiere of The Phantom Menace in May 1999. I was able to get around fifteen of my friends together then, so I had little doubt I could get at least as big a group for the first new Star Wars movie in more than fifteen years. However, a combination of factors meant that my quest for tickets turned into something of a fiasco. It's a long story, so I won't bore you with the details, but at least I showed up on the local news....
What is it about this universe that makes it so endlessly entertaining? Well, I haven't tried to answer that question, but you should come look at some cool stuff. Luckily, there are a number of specialised Star Wars sites out there, so it should be much easier for you fans to find what you're looking for.
"Time will tell...it always does." Through almost forty years and eight incarnations, the Doctor and his TARDIS are like old familiar friends, no matter where they land. I have many childhood memories of staying up late on Friday nights to watch PBS airings of the series...admiring the Doctor's ingenuity and individuality, becoming attached to various companions, and thinking the Daleks were some of the coolest aliens on television.
If you're really curious, my favourite Doctors were the Fourth (Tom Baker) and the Seventh (Sylvester McCoy), and my favourite companions were Sarah Jane Smith, the second Romana, and Ace.
MTN, or the Manitoba Television Network, was an independent station located right here in Winnipeg. It was around for over ten years, and its goal was to be a "Very Independent" alternative to the Canadian and American national networks out there. For this and many other reasons, it also happened to be my favourite television station.
MTN aired most of the continuing genre series that I followed at the time, including all the new Star Trek series (ever since the premiere of The Next Generation) and everything from Earth: Final Conflict to Highlander: The Series (with the extra four minutes!) and its spinoff, Highlander: The Raven.
They also made some very cool commercials for these series, which most local stations never bother with (I'd love to meet their advertising people), and they didn't shuffle them around in their schedules, as stations elsewhere are wont to do. In general, they seemed to live up to their mandate as a station that set itself apart from the rest. They even answered viewer email quickly.
Given all these facts in their favour, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to promote this station's practices as best I could...until they changed into A-Channel, part of another burgeoning national network. Although many things stayed the same, despite the name change, that spark that made MTN special seemed somewhat diminished in the aftermath.
This is my tribute to MTN...Very Online.
That is all for now in terms of interests that I actually write about (or more precisely, those that date from my early childhood). Fear not, however--there are more choices than ever for you below.
Some of my other pop-culture hobbies are addressed in the following quick links:
There, that should give all of you enough choice.
It would be foolish for anyone to claim they don't like music, and I've never met a person who could honestly say so. Rather than listing every type of music that I like, however, I thought I should bring attention to the lesser-known artists who deserve to be noticed and avoid the obvious American acts, other than to point out that I like Coolio. (He's an Anne McCaffrey fan. How could I not?)
A particularly obscure singer who appeals to me is Damhnait Doyle, who you can see right here. I consider her one of the most beautiful women in music, and she has a unique blend of Celtic and Maritime influences which pleases me greatly. I became aware of her when her first single, "A List of Things," debuted on MuchMusic, and I've paid attention to her ever since. In 1997, she was among the "100 Canadians To Watch" in Maclean's magazine. (Coincidentally, so was a friend of mine, Judith Anderson.)
In May of 1996, after two false starts, Damhnait's tour passed through Winnipeg, and I was lucky enough to meet her. She signed my copy of her CD, Shadows Wake Me, and allowed me to kiss her hand. That was a great day.
Naturally, I have an affinity for Canadian artists in general, but most of the other Canadian musicians who catch my ear are also obscure outside our country--except for Sarah McLachlan, due to the wide publicity surrounding Lilith Fair. Those acts can generally be broken down by region or genre:
Out of Winnipeg itself, I enjoy Chantal Kreviazuk, the Skanadian Whole Lotta Milka, the beautiful Celtic harping of Danishka Esterhazy, and the "Celtic Rock" sounds of the Dust Rhinos.
The Celtic connection provides a good segue to the next genre category, Canadian Celtic Acts, most of which are from the Maritimes. These include groups like Great Big Sea and Leahy. Also from the Maritimes are solo artists such as Kim Stockwood and Melanie Doane.
Moxy Früvous doesn't really fit into any of the above categories, so they're in a class by themselves. Rounding out the Canadians are Québecois acts such as Lara Fabian, Nancy Dumais, and the semi-defunct Bran Van 3000. In turn, the connection between Canadian and European music is provided by groups like Mediæval Bæbes and Rasputina, whose members come from both places.
As for European music itself, I have a strange fixation on Scandinavian musicians, chief among them Ace of Base, Björk, The Cardigans, Whigfield, Aqua, and Robyn. For whatever reason, one of my favourite singles of all time (and probably my favourite video) is "Take On Me" by A-Ha, which was covered very well by Reel Big Fish and not so well by A-1. (The latter group should take note that using newer synthesizers alone does not constitute a fresh take on a song.)
By comparison, the rest of Europe is underrepresented, even with the incomparable Ophélie Winter. I also happen to like the Spice Girls. Is there a problem with that?
Although I spent a good deal of time in Australia, I didn't become that familiar with its music scene--although at least one artist I like, Natalie Imbruglia, happens to be from there, and I did grow somewhat fond of Killing Heidi during my time Down Under. Upon writing this, I noticed the unfortunate fact that I'm not too familiar with musical acts from other parts of the world, as it would appear they're even more obscure than Canadian ones. As such, I am most open to being enlightened about the international scene.
As far as I'm concerned, there is no distinction between pop culture and so-called "real" culture. They both have a powerful effect on society, and the former is just as legitimate an art form as the latter. Nevertheless, for convenience, I have provided a separate section here for other types of expression.
Chief among these in terms of influence on my own life is the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. The Fringe has had such an effect on my life, in fact, that I decided to give it a separate page on its own, which I am still in the process of putting together.
As someone with an English degree, I also feel obligated to elaborate on my own literary interests, but I haven't the time at the moment. Soon, I hope to have more to say regarding these aspects of modern society, with even more links to cultural sites that I find of interest. I hope you enjoy the experience.Smack Dab