July 03, 2009

Pt 1: H1N1 Flu Victim - Health officials from 40 countries -- including Canada -- are wrapping up an international conference on the H1N1 or Swine Flu pandemic today. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 80,000 people have been infected with the virus worldwide and at least 337 people have died from it.

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Pt 2: Vampire Culture - We started with a sampling of some of the most famous vampires to ever skulk across the silver screen... from Bela Lugosi's classic, 1931 depiction of Dracula ... to Gary Oldman's 1992 take on the same character and of course Tom Cruise as the Vampire Lestat. Over the years, vampires have undergone many transformations... incarnations that, some argue, reflect the anxieties and fears of the society they spring from.

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Today's summer guest host was Mellissa Fung.

It's Friday, July 3rd.

Al Franken, the creator of the Stuart Smalley character on Saturday Night Live, is expected to take his seat in the U.S. Senate next week, after the Minnesota supreme court upheld his victory by 312 votes.

Currently, Franken told supporters, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, 50.006 percent of the people of Minnesota like me."

This is the Current.

H1N1 Flu Victim

Health officials from 40 countries -- including Canada -- are wrapping up an international conference on the H1N1 or Swine Flu pandemic today. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 80,000 people have been infected with the virus worldwide and at least 337 people have died from it.

Keeshtin Fiddler and his father, Chief Adam Fiddler, live on the Sandy Lake First Nation in northwestern Ontario. Keeshtin Fiddler was diagnosed last month with the H1N1 or Swine Flu virus.

H1N1 Flu Reality/Perception - Sandman

So far, the majority of cases of the H1N1 influenza have been mild. To put things in perspective, at least 25 Canadians have died from the virus. Each year, between 4,000 and 8,000 Canadians die from seasonal influenza, depending on the severity of the strain.

But according to Peter Sandman, there is still a lot to be concerned about. He's a risk communications consultant and he says that health officials haven't been doing enough to communicate the real dangers associated with the H1N1 pandemic. Dr. Sandman was in Princeton, New Jersey.

H1N1 Flu Reality/Perception - Low

But Donald Low has a different view of the situation. He was the Chief Microbiologist at Mount Sinai University in Toronto during the SARS outbreak in 2003 ... an outbreak that put a severe strain on Canada's health care system and put the entire country on edge.

Dr. Low is now the Medical Director of Public Health Laboratories at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion. He was in Toronto.

Vampire Culture

We started with a sampling of some of the most famous vampires to ever skulk across the silver screen... from Bela Lugosi's classic, 1931 depiction of Dracula ... to Gary Oldman's 1992 take on the same character and of course Tom Cruise as the Vampire Lestat. Over the years, vampires have undergone many transformations... incarnations that, some argue, reflect the anxieties and fears of the society they spring from.

Today, Vampires are experiencing another renaissance. There are the young, sexy vampires from HBO's critically acclaimed TV series, True Blood. There's the hopelessly romantic "Edward" from Twilight... a hit movie based on a series of young-adult fantasy books. The stuffy, cape-wearing Dracula who turns into a bat is long gone. Some of today's vampires have even sworn off real blood and switched to the synthetic stuff. So vampires really do live forever ... at least in popular culture.

For their views about what our ideas of vampires say about us, we were joined by Veronica Hollinger. She teaches in the Cultural Studies Department at Trent University. She's also the co-editor of Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture and she was in Toronto. And Elizabeth Miller is one of the world's foremost Dracula experts. She's the author of Dracula: Sense and Nonsense and she was in Toronto as well.

Last Word - Vampires

Stay with us on CBC Radio One. Coming up next, it's The Late Show with Gordon Pinsent ... a program about the extraordinary lives of several ordinary Canadians. This afternoon at 1 o'clock, 1:30 in Newfoundland and parts of Labrador, it's Wachtel on the Arts. And tonight at 10 o'clock on CBC Television, it's The National.

And of course no discussion of vampires would be complete without an Interview with a Vampire. We couldn't find a real one, for obvious reasons, so we thought we'd give the last word to Toronto resident Mark Shessel. He is a Live Action Role Player in his spare time. And one of the characters he transforms into is a vampire he calls, Philip Lancaster.

The Current's Dominic Girard sat down with Philip Lancaster to find out what he thinks about today's vampires. We ended the program with some of that conversation.

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