Sunday, February 21, 2010

How I work on my MRP

(My MRP, by the way, is that thing I went to Malaysia to research and am now expected to turn into a knock-your-socks-off radio documentary)

1) Put aside an entire day to work on it.

2) Go to the gym, grocery shop, clean the apartment, read the paper and faff around on the internet.

3) Holy @#$%, it's 4:00 p.m.

4) Open the word document with my script


6) Mentally prepare myself to look at it

7) Spend 15 minutes making notes and thinking about what I need to do next

8) Make a few small changes

9) Decide I need to do in depth research on Malaysian sodomy laws in order to fact check a small point

10) Realize I can't do anything else without going back and listening to an interview


12) Spend 20 minutes mentally preparing myself to listen to the interview


14) Kick myself for 20 minutes for sounding like an idiot

15) Kick myself for not getting more sound

16) Actually write or rewrite the section

17) Make a congratulatory cup of tea and faff around on the internet some more

18) Realize it's 8:00

19) Panic

20) Blog

21) Repeat.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A thoughtful analysis of the 2010 Olympic opening ceremonies

I have one of those lefty, urban, ivory tower liberal arts undergraduate degrees they love to hate on Fox News. That means I can't open a newspaper or turn on the TV without analyzing how what I'm reading or watching reinforces or resists the gendered, racialized and class-based structures of power that underpin society.

Trust me, it's a curse. Sometimes I just want to watch Dr. Phil in peace.

I watched the Olympics opening ceremonies last night. And let me tell you, Canadian studies, women's studies and sociology departments across the country are about to have a field day. This is how VANOC decided the Canadian identity should be explained to the world:

A long, long time ago in the frozen and virginal wasteland called Canada, the Aboriginal Peoples who lived there put wolf pelts on their heads and danced around. Their dancing awakened the four great totem poles from their flaccid slumber beneath the snow and they shuddered to erect, majestic attention.

Immigrant communities joined the Aboriginal Peoples and danced with them in musket- and smallpox-free harmony. Some skinny women tottered onto the ice in six inch stilettos and, praise be the Olympic magic, sang songs without falling down.

More skinny women, clad in white Sexy Santa costumes, led the world's Olympic athletes onto the ice to join the dance. Then there were some crazy special effects where whales looked like they were jumping out of the ice and the dancers flew around on wires like Peter Pan and everybody was like, whoa.

Then some people fiddled and tap danced really fast. I left around this point, but I hear Wayne Gretzky lit the cauldron and not a hologram of Terry Fox, which is disappointing.

So I think VANOC's talking points about Canada here are the following:
- Everyone here gets along with each other and respects the environment
- We worship at the feet of our rulers, the Great White Penises of the North
- Canadian women are hot

Field. Day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Old new journalist encounters new new journalism; is bewildered.

I did a class presentation on Tom Wolfe last week and I stumbled upon this interview with Tom Wolfe. I still can't get over it. In case you're too lazy to click the link, here's how it goes:

"New York: Hi. I'm Tim from New York magazine.
Tom Wolfe: Hello, Tim. You don't do podcasts, do you?

[Brief pause for understandable disorientation.]

New York: No, but I do video stories. Why do you ask?
Tom Wolfe: Because I still don't know what they are. And I've never known anyone that ever watched one.

New York: You don't know what podcasts are?
Tom Wolfe: I have a vague idea. As far as I can tell, nobody ever watches them.
New York: They're just audio though.
Tom Wolfe: They check out, but they don't check in.
New York: [Mental double take.] Are you pulling my leg? You really don't know what a podcast is?
Tom Wolfe: To be honest, I don't know what it is. I know that you sit in front of a microphone and have a conversation, and some way or another, it comes out on a screen or…

[Pause for a brief explanation of the nature of podcasts and how, for example, one could download an interview with him and listen to it on an iPod or in while driving.]

Tom Wolfe: Oh, see, that part I didn't know.
New York: Do you think now that you know you'll try it out?
Tom Wolfe: No. I never wear earphones in the car."

That's right: The man went from a career built on uncovering trends and subcultures before they even existed and totally reinventing journalism in the process to being totally bewildered by new media.

How does that happen? Is it inevitable that at some point, you get stuck in your ways and miss huge cultural and technological changes? When it happens to me, will I know, and will there be anything I can do about it?

Dear New York Magazine: Please don't sue me for copying and pasting that interview.