Monthly Archives: October 2009

Trouble with the remote


Having settled in front of the moron cabinet for a well-deserved evening off, engaging in entirely passive recreation, I’ve noticed something profound:  We have the media we deserve.  If you believe North Americans are kind, generous and supportive, then a short sweep through the current offerings should change your mind. 

Considering that Canada has been sucking the business end of the thousand channel pipe for more than a dozen years, one would think that we have a diverse and fascinating range of entertainment offerings.  Yes, the Doc Channel exists, but how many times can one person watch The Parrots of Telegraph Hill without longing for an early demise? 

The problem is, as always, money.  Advertising agencies buy time on a station or channel based on the audience numbers.  If you have 1,200,000 people between 18 and 59 years of age paying attention to the program, then a 30-second commercial might very well be of interest to at least a small portion of that audience that will sign up for, buy or try whatever it is the ad agency is flogging for whatever client.  Fair enough, that’s how advertising has worked since the advent of the newspaper and moveable type:  The media has the attention of a group of people for a length of time and ad agencies give the media money for access to that group of people.

Where it all goes pear-shaped is market segmentation.  Our media has changed dramatically in my lifetime.  There used to be two or three newspapers, a handful of radio stations and at most four television channels in any given market.  Consequently media had to appeal to a mass audience, which explains why Ed Sullivan was popular.  If you didn’t like the plate spinning Serbians you knew that Senor Wences would be on later and you waited a few minutes to get your entertainment fix. 

Today, we have the attention span of a ferret on amphetamines.  If we don’t get that shot to the joy button in a few seconds, then we punch the remote and go someplace else. 

For this I look at the Children’s Television Workshop, creators of Sesame Street.  The CTW mantra was to keep the young’uns from getting bored by doing something/anything visual at least once every three seconds, tickling the visual cortex of our brains, keeping our attention up so we could learn about near and far, brought to you by the number 6 and the letter M.  We’ve bred at least two generations on the three second rule, which explains why media has become so segmented:  We demand stimulus and if we can’t get it right now, then we’re changing the channel.

Which leads us to our thousand channel universe of hyper-segmented media offerings, where there is absolutely nothing on worth watching.  We’re producing more media than ever before in the history of the planet and there is barely a tenth of a percent that is actually watchable for more than five minutes without wanting to do damage to someone. 

Many years ago, 1978 or so, at a radio station conference I attended, a noted speaker, media futurist John Parikhal, observed that radio was becoming a mood drug.  You wanted to feel upbeat, you listened to a particular station.  You wanted to relax and unwind, you listened to another station.  Parikhal’s thesis was that radio stations that offered a wider range of mood options would have larger audiences overall and consequently, more revenue. 

He was right of course, then the lab experiment got loose and mutated.  If you want to feel superior, watch any number of the reality shows that include challenges and catfights.  Wish to be awed by technology that give you a gee-whiz moment with violence?  There’s a half-dozen channels for you.  Want to watch food-porn?  There’s a whole slew of offerings that are utterly respectable in polite society. 

Convention porn?  About half the offerings on our local provider are of that nature, but mainstream advertisers haven’t quite made the leap.  “This hour of the Bangkok Biker Babe Strap-On Channel brought to you by La-zy Boy:  If you’re going to buff the bishop all evening, then there’s nothing more comfortable than a durable and washable recliner from La-zy Boy….”

Which leads us back to getting the media we deserve.  Just as an experiment, take your remote, start at channel 2 and hold down the up arrow.  See if there is anything you actually want to watch by taking a two-second slice of everything that is available.  So far, my favorite channel is still the Lobby-Watch channel.  If only we lived in an apartment building.

The buffet is full of food, but none of it is food you want to eat. 

Advertisements

Mo-vember


I have decided to join a global movement that is bringing much needed attention to prostate cancer.  I’m doing this by growing a Moustache this Movember, the month formerly known as November. 

My commitment is to grow a moustache all November to change the face of men’s health and I want you to join me.  The funds we raise during our Moustache journey go to Prostate Cancer Canada.

What many people don’t know is that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to afflict Canadian men with 25,500 diagnosed and 4,400 dying from the disease each year.  Facts like these have convinced me I should get involved. 

To join my Movember team called ITS-Mo go to http://ca.movember.com/register/20340

Once registered you’ll be sent all the information needed to get donations and get growing as part of my Movember team. Learn more about Movember by watching the Intro Video at http://ca.movember.com

Together we can change the face of men’s health.

Bread II


Some folks wanted to see the result of the previous post.  Here they are:

DSC_0049 

 

And they tasted good.

Bread


For many years I made most of my own bread for our nuclear family unit.  Not every day and not all the time, but often enough.  There is something satisfying about creating an essential food from nothing more than flour, salt, sugar, yeast, time and effort.  Moving to Toronto, I stopped making bread for the duration of the stay, but now that I’m back home, I’ve returned to the craft.

Bread, in its many forms, is delightfully schizophrenic.  In some ways, it is rudimentary cooking.  In other ways, it is black magic of the highest orders in the deepest circles of hell, plus physics and chemistry.  The fun part is you can’t tell where one starts and the other leaves off.

There is also the schism of technology:  The Breadmaker Machine.  I’ll confess, I own one, I have used it and it makes a perfectly acceptable loaf.  However, I tend to use the technology for the initial proofing and mixing, then take over from there.  Breadmakers are a fine substitute for a proofing box that home kitchens don’t really have these days.  Yes, I know, there are antique proofing boxes and likely there is a YouTube how-to video of a guy in Idaho who make a seventy-loaf computer controlled, two-axis rotary proofer out of an Atari video game console, five sheets of Coroplast and a lawnmower engine.  I don’t care and don’t send me the link either.

I don’t approach bread making as ‘gastro porn’:  My flour isn’t from some organic farm in Wetaskiwin, only ground between stones of a certain provennance from a quarry in Delft, with yeast cells raised free-range, thawed 4,000 year old iceberg water and sugar from organic fair-trade, eco-responsible cane, dehydrated by Caramelite Nuns in Haiti.  Sorry to all the foodies out there, I won’t reach your standard of anally retentive.  I actually make bread

I could easily write another 2,000 words about the emotional giving and receiving and deconstruct the social pathways of hand crafting and appreciation of the cultural variances that cross socioeconomic markers.  Or, I could just make some nice baguette loaves that we will share with guests later today.

There will be butter of course and since it is our Canadian Thanksgiving, there will in all likelihood be gravy.  Possibly a sandwich later with dressing, cranberries and some thinly sliced white meat with a dusting of cracked pepper and salt.

So, in a round-about way, we get to thanks giving.  I’m giving thanks that I get to do this today.  Best of all?  It will taste great.

Mason Baveux Catches Up, Again


There have been several changes in the personal life that have prevented my posting in the last few weeks.  First off, I’m in mid-move from Toronto, back to Ottawa, unloading three and a half years of detritus and preparing to hand off the keys at the end of the month.  Second, I have a new job in Ottawa, still in the high-tech sector.  There has been a number of back and forth trips, shuttling belongings and getting into the swing of a new job.  Which isn’t an excuse, just the simple reality.  Which is why I’ve given Mason Baveux the password again.  May The Deity have mercy upon us.

 

Davey say I can do some more bloggery, so’s I sharpened up the pencil and got me some new carbon paper, so’s I can keep a copy.  You never know ya know so that if Hollywood comes lookin for someone to fix up some writin, I can do’er up a treat.  Davey even put that Winders Live Riter on the ‘puter for me, so’s technically I don’t need no carbon paper, or a pencil, but, I’s always writ her out longhand, then typed’er up, so’s why change now?

Seems our Canadian troops have been gettin’ killed regular, havin the IUD’s blow up under their LAVs over in Afghanistan.  Now this is something what pisses me off.  Not that our Boys and Girls are over there, as I think there doing something important and good, but that they keep gettin killed.  I think someone should be remindin the Afghanistans that we’re not over there to get in their business, except to keep them from killin each other long enough to turn over Osama Bin Laden.  Oh, and to do some Democracy.

Maybe we shouldn’t be there no more.  Seems they don’t want to turn over Osama and they don’t want to stop killin each other.  And they said ‘shove you Democracy up your arse, friggin infidels, unless there’s money on the table, then we’ll take off the hats’

Well, if they don’t want our help, don’t want to stop killin each other and won’t sit down to talk unless we build them a well, five schools, a hospital and give’em all Facebook accounts, then we should pack it up and go home.  Ya can’t help someone what doesn’t want help.  Frig them.  Our soldiers are worth more alive in one piece, than any nine of them you care to mention.  One of the lads has a nephew over there twice and says they change sides about every 20 minutes, depending on whose got money or food or the family held hostage.  Ya can’t work with crazy people. I know this fer shure.

Harper is doin his electioneering again.  This time arsehole’s got an ad what says Iggy is a lyin gravy-sucker whose going to run back to Harvard if he’s not made Queen in the next election this fall.  Iggy hasn’t been listening to his advisors, and in his television commercial actually cracks a smile.  Iggy looks like he’s a before picture advertisement for the British Dental Association.  Meanwhile Jack Layton is wanderin around inside his head, listenin to the voices again.  Gil Dousheppe is still in existence, with actual Members of Parliament workin for the Block Cuebec.  Oh and there’s Betty May, for the Greeners.  Jeezus Henry Christ, we need another election, like we need ingrown intimate hairs on the rear porticulus.

Oh and Daveys gone and took a job in Ottawa, so he’s moved back there and out of the apartment in Mississauga.  Just as well too, as he never did care much for Toronto.  Can’t says I blame him, as the nicest think about Toronto is the 401, goin East or West, the 400 North or the QEW Southbound.  Not to say that theres anything wrong with Toronto, except the traffic, the housing, the stores, the weather, the taxes and most of the people. 

You see on the news there that Barry Obama, the missus and Oprah went to Copenhagen to get the Olys lined up for Chicago in 2014.  Then the Oly folks said “No way we’re goin there.  Rio’s be it this time.”  I’m all for Rio as we’ll see some of the shapely competitors in Brazillian bathing suits, which would be enough to get me through the winter of 2013 just thinkin about it.  As for the Brazillian Wax, I’m all for it.  Especially the Carnuba, as that whats gives you the shine when you buff it.  Davey just told me a Brazillian Wax isn’t quite what I’s thinkin it was.  I suppose my comment about the buffin’ still applies tho.  Just a different buffin for the muffin. 

Anyways, Davey says I can write some more later, but he’s finally got his stuff unpacked in Ottawa and can find his toothbrush, so he’s set.  Seems a nice family of Muslims bought most of his furniture from Toronto on the last day of Ramalangadingdongdan and he didn’t have to move too much back.  Just a van full, which is about right.  I’da helped him move, but with the back problems and the disability, about all I could do was offer spiritual support.  So’s I did.  I took his bottle of Bushmill’s and drained’er, as liquids are heavy to ship and glass can break. 

But you’ll be glad to know I recycle, so the landfill is one glass bottle less today.  I tossed the empty onto the GO tracks from the apartment.  Once a year the Scouts come by and clean up the ditch near the transit, so the glass will get picked up in April next year.  I might not be a Greener Keener, but I do my part and always bring the empty 2-4 bottles back to The Beer Store.  That’s where the keep the Beer don’tcha know.