Sneaky Preview

So last night we were watching the CBC Edmonton news, which included a story about the closing of Sneak Preview, a video store with good selection of older, esoteric, and hard-to-find titles. (The story line was about finding a copy of “The Last Picture Show” which padded a 30-second story to 4 minutes, but I digress.)

I didn’t notice this before but there was something missing in the story. The co-owner of the shop, who was interviewed in the story, has a second job — as a video editor for CBC Edmonton. Isn’t this a pretty clear conflict of interest? As a sometime student of media, it strikes me that if you’re doing a story on a co-worker – even if that story is about the demise of your co-worker’s second job — it behooves you to mention the connection. No?

Too Much Ado Over Radio 2

It’s been said that Canadians are slow to change. Ample evidence of this comes from this week’s reconfiguring of CBC Radio 2. I will admit it right now — classical is not my usual cup of tea. It’s pleasant background music, I suppose, but so is, for example, Buddha Bar. Consequently, I didn’t tune into Radio 2 very much before the “format change” (quotations to be explained later). Every time I did it was classical of some kind, or Vinyl Cafe with warm stories about the gentle shenanigans of Dave, Morley, and the Turlingtons — for the American readers, think Lake Wobegon but more (maple) syrupy — or some opera.

As of September 2, Radio 2 has reduced the amount of classical to 5 hours a week day, and added a morning and evening show. The hosts are no longer those who tut-tutted at Trudeaumania; bypassing those who were actually caught up in the PET fad, they went with people who were, well, conceived around the time Pierre took Barbra Streisand out on the town. In short, they’ve rejigged the station for an audience that might have been influenced by disco and synth pop, but who also want a dose of Mahler, Peer Gynt and Glenn Gould. They’re trying to convince a new group of listeners who loved Paul Potts’s Nessun Dorma that there’s a whole opera surrounding it.

The old have decided this is a bad thing. Continue reading “Too Much Ado Over Radio 2”

Velvet John Baird and Poker-Playing Dogs

Nobody else seems to have caught on to what would usually be an instant poopstorm, so allow me.

Edmonton is on track to win a bid for a National Portrait Gallery. See, the federal government, whose power base is the west, doesn’t like that all the good stuff goes to Ottawa, so they opened up the location of the NPG to private-sector bids in nine Canadian cities, including Ottawa. Turns out Edmonton is a favourite, with a bid to locate it in the new Epcor building downtown. There has been much debate over the “proper” location of a gallery, and I do not wish to wade into it; there are excellent arguments both for and against. However, Jim Gray of the Ottawa Citizen has some opinions on the matter, not least of which have to do with the quality and seriousness of an Edmonton-based gallery. In a story on the Ottawa bid, he writes and I quote:

The gallery would normally be the purview of Ottawa – you know, musty paintings of the Duke of Somewhere, Governor General Something or Other. But the most recent acquired collections in the spirit of Western culture at the Edmonton portrait gallery/P3 livery stable would be so un-Ottawa: Environment Minister John Baird in black-light poster; Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon finger-painted; and the prime minister himself, Stephen Harper, on velvet or whatever medium is playing well in Fort McMurray these days. Doubtless, they would all look good in the Elvis wing, certain to be the most popular exhibit in the Edmonton gallery besides the poker-playing dogs. Those cute little pooches always knock ’em dead with the dice-on-the-rearview-mirror set. Found art to be sure.

Pardon my (implied) French, but WTF?

The humble semicolon in transit

I’m a great fan of the ability for the English language to absorb, sponge-like, the words of other languages and even made-up words (blog, anyone?). I think it’s one of the things that has led to English being one of the dominant languages on the globe, even if it’s one of the hardest to learn. However, grammatical conventions are the glue that hold those words together, and I’m much less keen when conventions or style change them. When I was but a lad of fifteen, sitting in Mr. Thiessen’s English class, to end a sentence with a preposition was worth at least a lecture, if not the silent gleam in the eyes threatening out-and-out violence.

All of this is to introduce a story, apparently the most linked on the New York Times‘s website, on a now-rare use of the humble semi-colon in, of all places, subway advertising. Who would have thought that an article would wrap up two loves of mine — grammar and subways — in such a neat little package?

(PS – any grammatical errors in this blog post are due to my writing it at 7:45 in the morning.)

Get out the tinfoil hats

Why does the media seem to think that political parties should be rewarded for the smoothness of their campaigns? Why, for that matter, to large numbers of the public seem to take the same tack?

In 2004, the papers were full of doomsday opinion about the Tories. They were unable to stay on message. Various candidates popped up like carnival whack-a-moles to sell their latest version of a Canada all white English people could be proud of. Meanwhile, the Liberal campaign used every gaffe to its advantage and quite likely saved themselves in the process.

Now, in 2006, it’s like the media have simply forgotten the events of 18 months back. Harper is polished and on message, if not still more than a little robotic. The Liberal war room is in disarray, stumbling from one mistake to the next. We’ll probably have a Conservative government on Monday the 24th, be it minority or majority.

And what’s changed? Nothing. It’s the same leaders. More than 90% of all incumbents are running again. the policies are exactly the same as they were 18 months ago. Policy is what matters, and it’s all completely and utterly unchanged. The Liberals are still the centrist big-tent party (and if you want to abandon your current party, more power to you) and the Tories are the same “campaign to the centre, govern to the deep right” OldWhiteMen that they were before. Nothing has changed about the choice we make in a few days’ time. And yet the media’s all over the fact that these two candidates, the parties, the policies, are radically different.

I expected more, I guess.

It’s about time.

Finally, Tivo is available in Canada! I’ve been waiting for this for years! I don’t know much about the Bell/Rogers/Shaw/Star Choice PVRs and whether or not they have Tivo-like features, but at this point they are simply too expensive to invest in.

So I bought one last night off eBay and I should have it Monday.

One of the things that really appeals to me is the ability to run it on a home network, thus allowing me to burn DVDs of my favorite shows on my computer, as well as allowing me to watch TV on my computer. I know this isn’t earth-shattering stuff, but it’s pretty cool to me.

Hallelujah, the CBC is Back

CBC Radio will resume Wednesday. I know I’m at the low end of the age bracket of people who care, but it’s nice to have an option in the morning that isn’t braindead morning show morons or the right-wing invective that is most AM radio. And how about evenings, with the resumption of Paul Kennedy’s Ideas? Add to the news about the strike the application CBC recently made to add a FM transmitter in the city of Edmonton, and I am, as the Brits say, quite chuffed.

The only dilemma will be choosing between CBC and the books on tape for the commute.

And speaking of morning show morons, readers in Edmonton: have you seen the utterly tasteless ad for 100.3 littering billboards? Three hosts, two men who belong on radio and one woman who would probably find success in any on-camera media job. The woman is a ref, the men are Oiler players, one thinking “I’d Pec’a Her” and the other “I’d Prong’ er.” No class. None.

Peter Jennings

As a Canadian, if you were forced to choose a network news anchor, it was always Peter Jennings. Not for any rational reason, of course; it’s just, well, he was Canadian so he was trusted. On September 11, which I spent in a Lincoln Park apartment eerily quiet because the el trains that normally hurtle past the back window every thirty seconds were shut down, the unspoken rule was to watch Jennings and the shopping channel (which ran CBC Newsworld coverage for some inexplicable reason). His death today, and the fact that John “JD Roberts, Muchmusic gadfly” Roberts was passed over at CBS when Rather rode off into the sunset, means that for Canadians forced to watch the US news media, it’s now a crapshoot.

I should mention that Jennings was really a Canadian, as opposed to the fly-by-night Canadians we can’t help making up while we suffer our inferiority complex. Anyone famous who lived here for more than 12 hours will forever be identified in the Canadian media as “one of ours;” James Cameron comes to mind. It wasn’t until 2003 that he tried for US citizenship, and even then it was dual — unlike Jim Carrey, that turncoat. (Oops: the inferiority complex again.)

Mind you, not everyone is upset over Jennings’s death. I remember once hearing from a fellow grad student about Jennings’ anti-Semitic stance. Having not heard that one before, I made the mistake of asking for details, which led to a FAIR-worthy diatribe about the fact that ABC lets critics of Israel speak on average 4.7 seconds longer than supporters of Israel in their stories, which of course means they’re in on the anti-Zionist conspiracy. It all sounds a bit fishy to me, but what do I know? I’m just a protestant kid from Western Canada.