No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Monday, June 23, 2008


It was no secret on the Toronto set of The Love Guru that Mike Myers was basically a complete and total tool. Sad news for those of us who bought into his lovable hoser personality. And, interestingly enough, it seems karma may finally have gotten to the erstwhile Austin Powers. The Love Guru made less than $15 million at the box office last weekend and finished fourth, behind Steve Carell, a more-animated-than-normal Jack Black and a cranky Ed Norton. That's not good for a guy who was once the biggest name in comedy. The brutally unfunny promotion on American Idol didn't help his cause and neither, it seems, did the movie itself. Here's the opening paragraph of Dana Stevens' review on Slate:

"There are good movies. There are bad movies. There are movies so bad they're good (though, strangely, not the reverse). And once in a while there is a movie so bad that it takes you to a place beyond good and evil and abandons you there, shivering and alone.

Some Things are Inevitable...

... but that doesn't make it any less sad. Yes, the nomination of a black man for president is apparently a boon for white supremacist groups feeding off of fear. It's astounding really. Not as astounding as Fox News referring to Obama's wife of more than 15 years as his 'baby mama'. Not quite as charming as all the Hilary's a bitch comments, but heartening just the same.

Makes me glad I'm not an American. Until I remember how much closer to a minority President than we are to a minority Prime Minister.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

David Sedaris has a new book of essays coming out. And in fact, the humorist, This American Life commentator and all-around cool kid, has himself been the subject of much spilled ink recently. (What do you call it when it's online? Spilled pixels?) The subject of all that journalistic focus? The truth, or lack thereof, of Sedaris' brutally funny tales.

See, Sedaris writes non-fiction humour. He's been very open about that fact that he embellishes. In fact, he suggest that the very fact that he is a humorist exonerates him from any quibbles about truthfulness. Humorists exaggerate. That's what makes them humorists. But in the post James Frey era, some folks are pretty testy about anything labelled non-fiction that isn't the literal truth.

Yet even the most 'honest' of memoirs contains a veil of inexactness, bias and half-remembered moments. Unless there were tape recorders in the room, we'll never know how much any memoir is 'real'. I'll admit when reading Sedaris, I've occasionally called bullshit. Some tales are too outlandish, push a little too far. Yet his best work, his funniest pieces, are also the most true to life. True, I don't know. But honest, that's a sure thing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

CTV 1, CBC 0

Sometimes I love the CBC. As a publicly funded national broadcaster, they air stuff that would otherwise never get a national broadcast. They aired Exotica, for Pete's sake. Un-cut. When's the last time you saw Atom Egoyan on ABC? They aired Kids in the Hall. Back in the day, they started that bastion of maple-flavoured Canadian-ness, Hockey Night in Canada. Plus there are no CSIs of any kind on the good old corp.

Other times, though, they really do suck. Their painful attempts at sitcoms are just brutal (this category of broadcasting is also known as all CBC comedy not featuring Rick Mercer). They allow Brian Williams hours of air time during the Olympics despite the presence of the eminently more entertaining Ron MacLean. They constantly reprimand Don Cherry for being Don Cherry, which is especially irritating given that they hired him to be Don Cherry and that they garner big audiences and ad revenues because he's, well, Don Cherry.

So it's kind of hard to feel bad when they get their ass handed to them. Like, when they lose the Olympics to CTV. Or, more to the point, when they piss off the composer of one of the most famous theme songs in history to the extent that said composer sues them, then plays hardball when its time to renegotiate the rights to the song and then sells the song to CTV in the end anyway. I love the Hockey Night in Canada theme song*. I guess CTV loves it too. Sometimes being a business operation that has actual shareholders is what it takes to see a smart business decision.

*Note this love is only increased by the fact that it has never been featured as a paso doble on Dancing with Stars, unlike the Monday Night Football theme. E'gads. I love Dancing with the Stars. I love Monday Night Football. I just didn't need to see them together in one spandexy package...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Fuss Over GM

The gnashing of teeth has only just started.

Yesterday, GM announced that they would be closing 4 truck plants across North America and were looking at discontinuing or selling the Hummer brand. (At which news the weary hubby asked - 'But what will people use to compensate for their tiny penises if there are no more Hummers?').

The big news here in Canada was that one of the plants closing would be the Oshawa truck plant, throwing some 1,000 people out of work (up to 2000 people, according to some reports). Problem is, though, that earlier this year, the Ontario government gave GM a cushy $175 million loan in return for assurances that GM would keep Ontario job losses to a minimum. Now the union and Queen's Park are calling foul.

It is sad. Oshawa is a GM town. Twenty years ago, GM employed some 20,000 people in Oshawa - accounting for a huge proportion of the city's population for a single employer. Now, it's down to 9,000 people. And make no mistake, it will decline further. In the 1990s, the Big 3 US car-makers responded to the rise of Asian imports by making a big bet on big vehicles - SUVs, minivans and pick-ups. While Honda and Toyota were focused on lean engineering and hybrid technology, Detroit was banking on the suburban SUV. Which seemed to work - for a while. Soccer moms everywhere were driving kicky SUVs. But the advent of gas that costs over $1 per litre eventually put the brakes on the SUV market. Who can afford to tool around in a gas guzzler these days?

Some would say that GM should have seen the increase in gas prices as inevitable (some people like me, for instance). But they made a strategic choice, it backfired and now they have no choice but to change direction. Oil will not get cheaper. Big cars are not the wave of the future. So plants like the Oshawa truck facility - where GM manufactured Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra - are pointless relics.

And as for the money McGuinty and friends want refunded from GM? Well, I say let GM keep it. The deal was that they'd keep job losses to a minimum. And by refocusing the company, that's exactly what they are doing.

But if your kids ask you for advice about what they should do when they grow up - I'd suggest you tell them to look at anything other than manufacturing. The era of well-paid, unionized factory jobs for life is over - for Canada anyway - and it isn't coming back. Recently, for the first time, the number of retail jobs in Canada exceeded the number of manufacturing jobs. The shift to the service economy continues.


Obama is the nominee - and Hilary's left the door open to be his running mate. While I worry that an Obama-Clinton dream team ticket might be every bit as unelectable as Clinton-anyone-else ticket, part of me gets an unseemly pleasure from the notion of the red state hissy fits that would ensue at the mere thought of the US being governed by a black guy and a woman.