Words that ought to be in the dictionary, ’08 edition

by Scott Feschuk

Let’s close out the year by reflecting on the personalities and events of 2008 and compiling the Third Annual List of Words That Ought to be Added to the Dictionary:

aniston verb the inability to just let it go already: Twelve years after the championship game, Roger still anistoned that untimely fumble.

bernanke verb to appear bewildered and helpless in the face of events. syn. paulson, flaherty, federline

blagojevich noun 1. one who commits a crime with comic ineptness: That blagojevich robbed a bank without a mask—or a gun! 2. a grown man who wears a marmot upon his head.

bush verb to long achingly for someone’s departure: After finding half a pizza in the crack of our sofa, my wife began bushing about my couch-crashing best friend.

cheney noun 1. a creature, rarely seen in public, possibly mythical, believed to feed exclusively upon kitty-cats and the souls of orphans. 2. one who successfully hunts the most dangerous game of all—man!

Conservative (orig. Canadian) noun one who advocates and strictly adheres to principles of free market political orthodoxy, right up until achieving power.

Read the rest here.

Sexist ad trends that refuse to die


This was a big year for women: The first serious female presidential candidate, the first predominately female state senate, the first female Top Chef. Yet the advertising world has not caught up to the advances of half our population and continues to use stereotypes and violence to prey on our most vile desires. Here are the worst of them — the trends that won’t die despite our cultural outrage, and personal boredom.

BONDAGE – This year Remy Martin debuted its “things are getting interesting” campaign that features a mediocre Website and a series of billboards/magazine spreads depicting women in degrading bondage positions. You may think, “hey this one shows two women, there aren’t even men involved, how can it be sexist?” But most of the ads (not available online) have men between the two women in controlling positions. And even without that, these women are obviously putting on a show for an outsider, not having a passionate lesbian love affair for themselves. These types of ads gain traction in cultural periods of female advancement — capturing the fantasy of “putting us back where we belong.”

Read the rest here.

Top Ten (Canadian) Exhibitions of 2008


Diana Thorneycroft Group of Seven Awkward Moments – Beavers and Woo at Tanoo 2008

Winnipegger Diana Thorneycroft, whose work was included in Domination and Desire, the exhibition I curated at the Nanaimo Art Gallery this Fall, hits the top ten at number 7:

7. Diana Thorneycroft: The Group of Seven Awkward Moments, Michael Gibson Gallery, London

Winnipeg photographer Diana Thorneycroft reinvented herself with this latest series, “The Group of Seven Awkward Moments.” Using reproductions of artworks by Emily Carr and Group of Seven artists like Tom Thomson as backdrops, Thorneycroft constructs and photographs witty dioramas that plunge viewers into a Canadian purgatory of accidents, disasters and moments of poor judgment. It’s Canadian history with a droll sense of humour and a surprising departure for an artist whose work has sought notably dark themes over the years. With these images, she joins Vancouver’s Myfanwy Macleod as a comedic master. Guy Maddin, watch out; you have hometown competition for remaking history.

Read the rest here.

What’s in a face?

Saving Face: Face transplants for the “socially-crippled”

Don’t look now, but a woman in Ohio has a new face. And the world has a new kind of medicine: socially necessary surgery.

The operation, announced yesterday at the Cleveland Clinic, was a face transplant from a corpse. Similar procedures have been done three times before, but this was the biggest. Doctors replaced 77 square inches of the patient’s face, from her eyelids to her chin. Go look at yourself in the mirror. That’s practically the whole you.

Medically, it’s a triumph. Transplants used to be mortally necessary and relatively simple: kidneys, livers, hearts. Patients got these surgeries because if they didn’t, they’d die. And though the surgeries were risky, the tissues involved were straightforward. The blood vessels that had to be connected were manageable in number and size.

Today, transplantation has advanced to parts that are less vital and sometimes much trickier: ovaries, uteruses, penises, hands, arms, and now faces. As surgeons venture closer to the body’s surface, two things happen. The recipient’s body becomes more likely to reject the transplant, increasing the need for drugs that suppress the immune system, which in turn raises the risk of infection and cancer. By some estimates, the price can be a decade of life. And the muscles, nerves, and blood vessels involved become ever smaller and more intricate. One doctor involved in the Cleveland transplant calls it “the most complex surgical procedure ever performed.”

Then why do it? Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and risk a patient’s life to fix a nonlethal defect? The Cleveland doctors give three reasons. First, this patient had facial damage that impaired her physical functions. She couldn’t eat normally, and she could breathe only through a hole in her windpipe. Second, faces, unlike kidneys, have social functions. “They are essential to our communication with the world,” argues Maria Siemionow, the doctor who led the Cleveland team. They convey emotion as well as speech.

Read the rest here.

More Madoff

Ripples Of A Fraud

Bernard Madoff outside his Manhattan apartment

One of the funds that invested almost exclusively in Madoff, Fairfield Greenwich, stands to lose 7.5 billion dollars, no small change. Given that, the Noel family may have to cancel Christmas celebrations.

Read more here and here and here.

And here is the Fairfield Greenwich group investment strategy outlined – note the use of modern art in illustrating their marketing brochure.