Dolly Parton, who's been twice nominated for best song Oscars ("9 to 5," "Transamerica") is apparently a stellar singer at any speed. If you listen to slowed-down versions of her songs, you can hear her other voice, a mellow masculine croon that still sounds like something you'd crank up on your iPod. What other unearthly secrets does she possess? I learned from MetaFilter that Roger Ebert has gone on the record about Parton's magical powers:
"In Dallas for the premiere of '9 to 5,' I had an uncanny experience and on the plane home to Chicago I confessed it to Siskel: I had been granted a private half-hour with Dolly Parton, and as we spoke I was filled with a strange ethereal grace. This was not spiritual, nor was it sexual. It was healing and comforting. Gene listened, and said, 'Roger, I felt the exact same thing during my interview with her.' We looked at each other. What did this mean? Neither one of us ever felt that feeling again. From time to time we would refer to it in wonder."
Another fun fact: Director James Cameron ("Titanic," "Aliens") has decided to permanently relocate to New Zealand. He will apparently set up shop there to work on his "Avatar" sequel, but has also bought a house and signed papers declaring his intent to stay on as a resident.
In the "news of the weird" department (as if we weren't there already), a children's theater in Plano, TX, has landed in hot water for launching an all-white production of the musical "Hairspray." The musical -- which is based on the film by John Waters, and which became a film in its own right, starring (*sigh*) John Travolta -- is a lighthearted look at race relations in 1962 Baltimore, with several major characters who are black. The production also cast a skinny girl as Tracy Turnblad, stuffing her in fatsuit padding to "round out" the character. I know it's just children's theater, but can you believe this mess? Somewhere out there, John Waters is probably laughing.