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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - August 16, 2008, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C2 By Hank Stuever M ADONNA, OMG, you are 50. You have said again and again that you never read newspapers or magazines, even though you are always in newspapers and magazines, so this is in some way wasted space and energy. Then again, she needn’t be present for us to talk about her. This has always been the key element to how Madonna has spent half her life, deliberately deaf in the centre of the buzz. Madonna turning 50 is not about Madonna. As ever, it’s about the rest of us, who are always caught watching Madonna do whatever it is Madonna currently does, even if when whatever Madonna is doing is nothing more than growing old. “ So what are you going to do when you get older, Madonna? Are you going to be going on 50 and still get up onstage and shake your booty, like Cher? What happens when your body goes?” “ Then I’ll use my mind.” — From an interview with Madonna, in Vanity Fair, October 1992 . . . Here are 50 or so disconnected thoughts for and about Madonna’s half- century mark. Starting with the start, not with her actual birth ( on Aug. 16, 1958) but with her entrance into the collective consciousness: On a sweaty August morning 1.3 zillion years ago, some girls showed up at our back- to- school orientation junior year changed, with messy, bleachy, streaky hair tied in raggedy bows. Black plastic wristwatches and rubber bangles stacked around their tiny wrists. Black bras. Just a few of the girls, not all of the girls. The Madonna train had left the station. Even the sourest of us — Led Zeppelin fans, stoners, wrestlers, cynics, student newspaper editors — were on a Madonna train we did not know we’d boarded. You had to disregard a lot of good musical advice to go where Madonna was going. You had to ignore the professional critics and thoughtful guys in art class who wore Converse All- Stars and had R. E. M. and Elvis Costello albums, who begged you not to listen to that crap . People who hated Madonna never understood that some of us liked her just to make the people who didn’t like her even more apoplectic about the fact that she was getting more and more famous. Parked at the reservoir on a Friday night, Lucky Star came out of the stereo speakers of a Camaro or a Prelude and three or four people did the dance exactly as Madonna and her dancers did it in the video, every single step. That these brave souls were not pummeled by drunken jocks, that the cassette was not destroyed, signified that Madonna had broken through. The Madonna thing came, at first blush, with so much that was good: glad rags, vintage stores, granny sunglasses, costume jewels, trench coats — that Salvation Army insouciance, which, any real student of fashion and culture will tell you, Madonna had just stolen from everyone else. The Madonna thing came with clear directives: Express yourself, be yourself, winner take all. Some of us started going to a nightclub. A Madonna song would come on and half the people would stomp off the floor in a very defiant, music- snob form of protest. Those of us who remained, remain. “ Though I have fears, I think truthfully I’m going to live to be a very old age. If what I’ve gone through hasn’t killed me yet, nothing’s going to. That’s my ( bleeping) opinion.” — Madonna, to Vogue , October 1996 Nobody believed Madonna would last. No story about her ever neglects to mention that fact, the improbability of her success, the enthralling triumph of complete mediocrity. In my house, we maintain a secret archive of magazines on which Madonna appeared on the cover. It’s remarkable how many of them feature a headline to the effect of “ the New Madonna” and “ Madonna’s New Look” and “ Madonna Now.” Twenty years ago, feminist scholars went bananas trying to deconstruct her, interpret her as a text. The ivory tower vogued, as Madonna Studies showed that she was ( is?) the great liberator, showing the way to sex as an irrelevancy, then sex as a relevancy, then sex as an altogether different weapon, ibid and op. cit. , and on and on, until finally there was nothing more to say. Then came the articles in Forbes , Business- Week , Fortune : Madonna as the extremely shrewd CEO of Herself Inc. Then came Ladies’ Home Journal , with the angle of Madonna and Child. Madonna as human V- chip, shielding her children from, of all things, ice cream and popular culture: “ We’re a TV- and dairy- free house,” she told Ladies’ Home Journal in 2005. Since Kabbalah revamped her spiritual core at around age 40, Madonna became the sort of insufferably enlightened old lady who is only too happy to tell you what she’s too good for. She’s like those women you run into at play groups and the farmers market, only she is worth $ 600 million. We paid $ 200 to see Madonna in concert a few years ago. She sang Imagine by John Lennon. “ Please listen to the words of this song,” she ordered us. “ We have to change the world.” She said this as if the audience had never before heard Imagine or thought about the lyrics. When you give Madonna your money now, you’re buying a thrilling opportunity to bask in her audacity: You must listen to me. We must change the planet, together, each one of us. I have to get on my jet now. Fly, earth mother, fly. “ Even when I was a little girl, I knew I wanted the whole world to know who I was, to love me and be affected by me.” — Madonna, to People , May 13, 1985 Two out of three, not bad. We do all know her, and we are all affected by her. ( Yes, we are.) The love part is the hardest. She wanted to be loved ? Madonna is someone you have to hate in order to love. In Madonnaworld, scoffing is a value- added experience attached to pure fandom. Just watch a Madonna fan listen to the new Madonna album for the first time. There is such instantaneous loathing and fascination. You spend a week telling all your friends how bad the new album is, then a week later you magically decide you like it. The new songs take their place in a canon that stretches back into 25 years of half- hearted gym membership. Summer horribilis! She for whom there was never such a thing as bad publicity cannot possibly be enjoying her latest headlines, can she? The narrative is seemingly no longer in Madonna’s control. ( Unless it is. There is the possibility that she now masterminds her own “ bad” publicity.) The rumors ( denied) about an impending divorce from Guy Ritchie, about her luring ARod away from his family. Headlines about her younger brother’s tell- all book, Life With My Sister Madonna ,” No. 2 on the New York Times list. ( A summary, of sorts: She was always a you know what. She still owes him for these myriad homedecorating jobs he slavishly agreed to do; she is such a you know what; she didn’t give him a very nice room in the Scottish castle where she got married; she deliberately didn’t tell him about the Kabbalah prayer meeting at Demi Moore’s house.) The book has pictures of Madonna as a teenager, wearing a dress her stepmother made. It has pictures of Thanksgiving with the Ciccones. It is devastatingly unmythological. “ Listen, once you pass 35, your age becomes part of the first sentence of anything written.” Madonna, to Out magazine, April 2006 It becomes the last sentence, too, my love. A week or so ago, there were those death- mask pictures of Madonna, seen leaving a yoga class in London, gaunt and stranger than her normal strange, with Ginsu cheekbones and these throbbing veins snaking up and down the sinew of arms that have seen much mystical discipline. Every magazine in the checkout line desperately seeking sutures: What happened to her face?! Experts are called in, diagrams are made, and nobody seems to say, well, she’s 50 you know. She’ll be dead someday. We all will. When you get to heaven, what’s the DJ playing? Ray of Light ? Maybe, if you’re a Madonna anti- fan fan, you’ll get there and you’ll hear those synthesized chimes from the opening of Lucky Star , and it’s a Friday night at the lake, and it is always 1980- something, and it happens all over again. — Washington Post C 2 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, SATURDAY, AUGUST 16, 2008 ENTERTAINMENT winnipegfreepress. com Get away from it all at The Fairmont! Our Great Urban Escape includes:                                                           ! "                #        $   %        !                     &  %           For reservations, call             . www. fairmont. com/ winnipeg PLAN YOUR U RBAN E SCAPE AT The FAirmont & %             ' ( ) * +  , , -               %        #       . , / 0 , , 1 2 C ONCIERGE RECOMMENDS: THE 3    4        $    All Bananchine "  1  ) , For info visit www. rwb. org Back to School Shopping the Scene A trip around the world of entertainment Go to www. whatsonwinnipeg. com for a complete listing of entertainment events. Cartoonist Johnston decides not to retire THE creator of the popular comic strip For Better or for Worse has had a change of heart — literally and figuratively — and won’t be retiring after all. Lynn Johnston announced that, beginning Sept. 1, For Better or for Worse will be retold in a blending of repeat and new comic strips. Not long ago, Johnston, 61, had planned to retire this year and offer mostly reruns of her 29- year- old comic strip. But her life changed when she got divorced. “ At this time in my life, I thought I would be on a cruise ship to Panama or the Mediterranean, retired with my Tilley hats, my sneakers. But I’m a single lady now, and I want to keep working,” she said in a video posted on You Tube. Come September, Johnston said, For Better or for Worse will be a mix of old and new comics, but the new comics will be drawn in what she called a “ retro” style. Johnston will select material from her collection of almost 10,000 archival strips to help retell the Patterson family’s story, starting at the beginning. For Better or for Worse runs in more than 2,000 papers around the world, including the Free Press . — Los Angeles Times Titanic lovers hook up again in new film The Age of Madonna Touched for a very long time NEW YORK — It was more than a little awkward for Kate Winslet to film sex scenes with Leonardo DiCaprio in front of husband Sam Mendes, who directed the stars in the upcoming drama Revolutionary Road . “ I just kept saying, ‘ This is too ... weird,’” Winslet tells Entertainment Weekly magazine. “ And Leo was like, ‘ Oh, get over it.’ And I’m going, ‘ Yeah, a little reminder: You’re my best friend. He’s my husband. This is a bit weird.’” Mendes, who directed American Beauty and Road to Perdition , says, “ I will admit it was quite bizarre to direct my wife in how to make love. But it’s difficult whether you’re married to a person or not.” It’s been 11 years since Winslet and DiCaprio costarred in the Oscar- winning blockbuster Titanic , and Winslet says a spark remains between them. “ I hadn’t realized how much my chemistry with him since Titanic would still stick,” says the 32- year- old actress. “ It’s great to discover we can just slip right into it, like muscle memory.” They play suburban couple Frank and April Wheeler in Revolutionary Road , based on Richard Yates’ 1961 novel. It is slated for release in December, just in time for Oscar consideration. “ We knew that if we were going to do something again, it had to be something big and emotional,” Winslet says. “ Revolutionary Road is so painful and beautiful to read, simply because of the brutality of the honesty that Frank and April end up experiencing together.” Winslet was eager to bring DiCaprio on board, and set up a sneaky way to do it: She arranged a meeting with the 33- year- old actor in March 2007, but sent Mendes in her place. “ Leo and I have such a history together and I couldn’t imagine not being able to apply that to this story and these characters,” she says. “ So I played this very clever cat- and- mouse game to get my husband and then my best friend involved.” — The Associated Press MATT SAYLES / ASSOCIATED PRESS C_ 02_ Aug- 16- 08. indd C2 8/ 15/ 08 6: 29: 06 PM ;