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You talkin' to me?

We’ve all got our cultural blind spots, those seminal works that have somehow managed to pass us by.

For instance, my friend and longtime Free Press contributor David Sanderson has never seen a single episode of The Simpsons. (Honestly, I don’t know how he understands anything I say; half my conversation is Simpsons quotes, which everyone knows is a perfectly cromulent way to conduct discourse.)

At this point, having outlasted 33 seasons, it’s likely a point of pride to Dave that he stays in the dark, with only an academic understanding of Springfield’s famous animated family. (Little does he know he’s also depriving himself of gaining second-hand knowledge of a trove of other cultural calling cards the show pays homage to, not least among them Cape Fear, Rear Window, Planet of the Apes and A Streetcar Named Desire. There are likely people who think the Tennessee Williams’ work really is a musical: “I thought my life would be a Mardi Gras / a never-ending party… ha!”)

David Sanderson has never seen a single episode of The Simpsons. (Fox)

One of my personal pop-culture gaps is Taxi Driver. When Free Press night sports editor Gilbert Gregory heard I’d never seen the 1975 Scorsese flick (though I’m familiar with the talking points and I have, of course, seen bartender Moe doing his best Travis Bickle on The Simpsons), he kindly loaned me his DVD copy.

That was five years ago. Maybe more. I have yet to watch it. In the interim, I have watched countless other movies. Thousands of hours of television. Last weekend alone I watched all seven episodes of the final half of Ozark’s last season.

In addition to all the new content I’ve sought out before devoting two hours to screening this classic of New Hollywood cinema, I’ve revisited shows and films that give me comfort. Aaron Sorkin’s underrated dramedy Sports Night? Let me quote it to you. Evergreen sitcom The Golden Girls? They will play Rose and Dorothy’s second-place-winning Miami theme song (“A great place to get a seafood meal…”) at my funeral.

I come by this trait honestly. My father was 19 years old when Singin’ in the Rain came out. He caught a matinee show at his local theatre in Sheffield, emerged, dazzled and blinking in the afternoon light, and promptly went back in and bought another ticket.

When he arrived home later that evening, his mother was apoplectic. “You were supposed to take Felicity Quince-Featherspoon to the Hunt Ball,” she said (I’ve made that name up but it was something similarly upper-crusty). But what country dance, what horsey, pearl-wearing girl could compare to the glory and genius of Gene Kelly in his prime?

I’m not holding out on Taxi Driver intentionally; I’m sure it’s renowned for a reason. Maybe this weekend I’ll fire up the DVD player and finally check it off my list.

But you know what else I own on DVD? Singin’ in the Rain… and it’s the 70th anniversary. Seems like a fine time to revisit it.

What shows or movies have you rewatched — again — instead of broadening your horizons? Let me know by hitting reply.

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson

What’s up this week

In honour of the 100th anniversary of Pollock’s Hardware Co-op, a North End institution, Winnipeg photographer John Paskievich will be part of a speaker series on May 10 exploring the history and vibrancy of the storied neighbourhood. The former longtime North End resident will be showing some of his iconic Winnipeg photos, old and recent, along with work he did in the former Soviet Union, Communist Eastern Europe, the Canadian Arctic and other locations. The free event takes place at St. John’s Library at 500 Salter St. at 7 p.m.; doors open at 6:30.

Take the A Train down to the Centre culturel franco-manitobain on Sunday, when the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra will pay homage to the big band music of the last 100 years — from the 1920s era of Buddy Bolden through to the Latin ensembles of the ‘50s to modern orchestral outfits — with a lecture/concert called Swingin’ in Time. Tickets for the show, which takes place at 2 p.m., are available here.

Both Royal MTC mainstage and Prairie Theatre Exchange wrap up their 2021-22 seasons this month with productions of The Rez Sisters and Outside Joke: The Improvised Musical, respectively. The former is an all-Indigenous production of Manitoba playwright Tomson Highway’s award-winning drama, led by director Tracey Nepinak; the latter is, as the title indicates, an improvised musical from the brilliant local troupe that will change nightly. Both shows open tonight: info is at RMTC and PTE’s websites.

Manitoba Theatre for Young People kicks off its season-ender, Alice in Wonderland, on Friday. The musical production features a blended Winnipeg/Toronto cast of multi-tasking musician-actors presenting a madcap adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic. Tickets are at MYTP’s website.

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East Coast comedian Shaun Majumder is at the Burt on Wednesday. The actor, probably best known for his time on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, was originally scheduled to play Winnipeg in February. Tickets start at $30 (plus fees) at Ticketmaster

East Coast comedian Shaun Majumder is at the Burt on Wednesday. (Aaron McKenzie Fraser photo)

Postponed: Owing to positive COVID-19 cases within the touring staff, James Taylor & His All-Star Band, with opener Jackson Brown, are postponing their appearance today at Canada Life Centre. The show will be rescheduled at a later date and more information will be released as it is available. Refunds are available for those who do not wish to hold onto their tickets.

In a press release, Taylor says of the much-delayed show: “This further delay of our Winnipeg concert was a hard decision for us to make. Our Canadian audience has already been so patient; some people have held onto their tickets for a long time. But if you will hold on a bit longer, we’ll try and make it worth the wait...”

 

Recommeded

Articles: Inventing Anna, Shonda Rimes’ adaptation of a New York magazine piece about serial fraudster Anna Sorokin, a.k.a. Anna Delvey, was a hit on Netflix, detailing the brazen lies and elaborate schemes of the fake heiress. Part 1 of a new Vanity Fair story uncovers the potential scammer on Rimes’ own writing staff: Elisabeth Finch apparently made up a rare cancer and milked her “experience” to get a job on the staff of Grey’s Anatomy, where her fabrications continued.

In light of a leaked report that the U.S. Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade, please read this 1992 Harper’s magazine piece by Jessica Mitford about her illegal abortion in London in 1938.  

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