Monday, December 8, 2008

Trailer Park Boys finale

Unlike almost everyone else directing films in Canada, Trailer Park Boys' creator Mike Clattenburg actually does exhibit true film sense. He always knows where to put the camera, and has a dynamic style that clearly points to a bright future. I'm still waiting for the Great Canadian Feature Film (my own nominees to this point being The Rubber Gun and The Mask 3-D). Maybe Clattenburg will be the one to do it.

I'm a bit biased because years ago, I was Clattenburg's boss on The Bette Show. No, not the fiasco starring Bette Midler, but a sweet little 1998 CBC sketch comedy show out of Halifax starring Cape Breton's own Bette MacDonald, probably the single most talented person I've ever worked with. But the CBC typically dumped the show in mid-summer with no promotion, condemning it to die a premature death. It's too bad, because with Clattenburg on board, the show had real potential.

Clattenburg himself was a character, who drove this beat-up shitbox of a car like the kind driven by 60s TV detectives like Mannix, and he was married to this gorgeous make-up artist. He always looked high, too. Just after The Bette Show was pink-slipped, Clattenburg told us he was working on a new idea, about trashy guys who live in a trailer park. I thought it sounded promising, but when I saw the first episode, I was disappointed that the guys weren't sexy.

However, I wasn't surprised that it was a big hit. In the press release for their final episode, which aired December 7, 2008 on ShowCase, VP Tara Ellis gushed, "From the initial pitch for this unique series right through to the upcoming special, working on TPB has been an incredible high!" That's funny. I seem to remember a TV interview a few years ago in which Topsail, the production company, said that they practically had to coerce the broadcaster into airing the show.

What I liked about TPB was not the humour, necessarily, but the fact that it was raunchy and rude in an unapologetic way. Maybe ShowCase needs to be congratulated for staying out of the way as the Boys grew pot, shot things, and caused politically incorrect mayhem. TPB is a true anomoly in Canadian broadcasting, and even though I wasn't a huge fan, I will still miss it.

Proust and Company

Proust and Company is a new literary reading series created by Jeffrey Round, author of such books as A Cage of Bones and The P'Town Murders. I know, the idea of authors reading from their tomes sounds like a snooze, but the inaugural event, held in the apartment above Glad Day Books currently occupied by charming youngster Josh Bentley-Swan, was a blast. Who knew writers could be such fun? The wine flowed freely, and the atmosphere was more like a really good house party instead of an uptight gathering. This is what salons of old might have been, I though, like when Bram Stoker's wife would have everyone over on a Sunday afternoon to hear Oscar Wilde read poems as everyone drank absinthe or whatever.

Jeffrey got up and told a touching story about how he went to Paris and found Proust's tombstone, and how it inspired him. Then he introduced Michael Rowe, author of Other Men's Sons, which just won a Randy Shilts literary prize. Michael read a story about how, as a child, he felt like a little girl, a notion backed up by their two Latina servants, who joked that they should take little Michael to the sawmill to remove that unsightly penis. I'm assuming that in hindsight, he's glad that didn't happen.

Then Jeffrey introduced Beverley Stone, a lawyer who took six years to write No Beautiful Shore, a novel about a girl named Bride growing up in Newfoundland and discovering her attraction to other women. The crowd lapped it up, and later, Bev and Michael both signed and sold copies of their books. Throughout the evening, classy cocktail music was provided by the very good Geri Aniceto on vocals and Omel Masalunga on keys. I hope they'll be a fixture at these evenings.

Afterwards, I had fun drunken conversations with Glad Day owner John Scythes, who believes that syphilis is the significant and mostly overlooked factor in developing AIDS. John likes to pretend he's just a plumber, but most plumbers don't present research papers to a group of European physicians as he once did. I also had a fun chat with James Dubro, who makes it his business to follow every gay murder trial. Last year we bonded over the investigation into the death of my friend Harley Walker, who was stabbed by a trick. Now, James is busy writing about the death of Ross McGill, also found stabbed by a hustler. What could be more literary than that?

The next Proust and Company event will be held on February 7, 2009, at 8 PM, again in the apartment above Glad Day Books. Scheduled readers are Narine Holtz, author of The Skin Beneath, and S Bear Bergman, author of Butch is a Noun, and maybe, just maybe, Sky Gilbert will also show up to read from his works, as well.