Sunday, February 24, 2008

Six Six Six Six Six Six

This was a really great article. (link). I love such predetermined writing constraints. Especially when it's done this well.

At Least I'm Clear on the Fact That I Haven't Saved the World

Within the past week, I purchased a pair of hand-sewn, organic, fairly-traded jeans. I'm not sure if this makes me a slightly better person, or a total douchebag.

Disco Six Six Six

I watched episode six of jPod a day or two ago. For the first time ever, I laughed out loud. Someone asks Steve’s son Conner what his favourite videogame is, to which he replies

Playing my mom against my dad.

Very sharp. Cowboy also had a fairly good triplet of crustacean, libation, penetration, although the line felt a little rushed and a touch forced.

I was excited when a reference was made to hot coffee, the x-rated mod for Grand Theft Auto. I was disappointed that this reference was then explained twice over the course of the episode. The problem here is that a pack of videogame coders wouldn’t have to explain what hot coffee was to each other. There must be another way to bring the audience up to speed – it’d be funny if they paused the action and told the home viewers to go Google “hot coffee” and “grand theft auto” while the rest of the jPoders stared at the screen and waited. Or they could not explain the reference much at all. (To the show’s credit, the GILF reference went unexplained.)

Klownsly, or whoever, made another appearance. I wasn’t super excited to see the clown character again, but there was a great scene near the end of the episode where Kaitlyn and the clown (they’re on-again-off-again boyfriend/girlfriend) talk about their shared dysfunctional bonds. It was a good moment, and it “sold” me on their relationship, something that has been missing, in general, in the show. Often times the audience is simply told the situation (Kaitlyn dropped out of school) without providing any convincing proof of a character trait or plot development.

Carol continues to be the best thing on the show by an order of magnitude. Her delivery is so crisp, so Swiss-like in its precision, you could use her to teach a class on comedy.

I think there should be a moratorium on homages to the Say Anything ghettoblaster scene. I laughed hard when George Bluth Sr. did it in Arrested Development, but I did not chuckle so much this time, even though Steve’s off-key singing was a good idea. (They also didn’t use the Peter Gabriel song In Your Eyes, for better or for worse.)

I find that the computer animation sequences are rarely as funny as the build-up to them would lead one to expect. I also find that the computer animation invariably involves a number of people having to watch it and react, which is like a laugh track, and almost as forced.

I was super-pumped to hear Sons of Freedom during some of the biker scenes. I bought the two best songs from their album Gump through iTunes yesterday (which will earn the band about 30 cents per track, I believe). I also downloaded their first album for free through their website (link). I’m not a music journalist or anything, but god-damn is The Criminal a good song. Ditto the songs Mona Lisa, You’re No Good, and Call Me. I saw Sons of Freedom live, at the Town Pump (if I’m not mistaken), many years ago, and it was tremendously f’n good. Hearing SOF me feel fond about Vancouver again.

That’s saying something.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

jPod Episode Five Reviewed

At the risk of spoiling episode five of jPod: it was yuck. After achieving above-averageness in episode four, the show reverted back to what it does least well. Ridiculous plot twists that were unsatisfying and distracting, plus the usual tonal problems. The All-Tube click farm segments were pretty good, granted (All-Tube being a YouTube parody).

There was a moment when Carol (Ethan's mom) became frustrated at her dysfunctional family, and says, "Families are families and they're always messy." As I was watching this I nearly cried at the lost opportunity for her to say, "All families are psychotic." Which is, of course, the name of one of Coupland's books. Given that the first line in jPod the novel is: “Oh God. I feel like a refugee from a Douglas Coupland novel" this is the kind of meta-wink that might actually, you know, work.

On a side note, Ethan wears a Gama-Go t-shirt in this episode that I actually own. I bought it last March, for the record. Still, I felt somehow cheapened seeing it on TV.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Problem With Music


Oh this album?
Haven't you heard this? Yeah, I've had it for a while now. I thought it was cool at first, but now I can see how derivative it is. But if you haven't even heard it, there's really no point in even discussing it, is there?


(link)

Monday, February 11, 2008

jPod Episode Four Much Better

What a difference! Not perfect, still tonnes of exposition through dialogue, but episode four of jPod was better than 1, 2 and 3 combined. I'm guessing the direction made a difference -- better angles, better shots, more close-ups. Acting was much better too. Script was better too. The animated sequences worked as well.

Even the clothing they were wearing looked better.

And Cowboy kept his chest hair hidden. That alone improved the show 15%.

Why wasn't episode one like that? Why???????????

Free Editing Advice, Part 9

Since I've been pooh-poohing the Walrus lately, I feel I should start by pointing out that the December 2007 issue, which I finally got around to reading last night, was actually not too bad. Megan Griffith-Greene's "Let's Get Lost" piece looked amazing, Randy Boyagoda's piece about a dough duplicate of himself was great, the piece on addiction was good (although I'm biased, as I took a course at SFU with Bruce Alexander), Noah Richler's feature appeared solid (I skimmed it, and I don't really like him, but it was well-written and well-researched), the memoir about a husband's heart attack by Marsha Barber was affecting and Timothy Taylor's piece on the weirdo book collection was compelling. Granted, Ken Alexander apparently dropped acid before writing his editor's note about Wal-Mart and Port Elgin, but that's his new journalism perogative.

All that said, I felt the Imaginings in the December 2007 issue could have been one page instead of two. In fact, as I neared the bottom of the first page, I was confused, as I thought it was building toward a conclusion, not another full page.

The first thing you’ll see is my edited version. After that, the original article, with the appropriate strikethroughs. (And before you ask, I have no real explanation for my compulsion for editing the Walrus, save for the fact that these edits take no real time on my part and appear, at least to me, necessary and obvious. Give an editor a pair of digital scissors, and he or she will see every problem as a set of loose threads in need of trimming. The danger of this blinkered and reductive view of the world can be summarized in the old German proverb “I cut it three times, and it’s still too short.”)

The Death of the PlayDate

Dear Unborn Child,

The other day, my yoga teacher was talking about reincarnation, and suddenly it occurred to me that you might be wondering why you haven’t been born yet — or, to be perfectly honest, why I’m not having you. I know it’s a little late to be telling you this, but if you’re half as brilliant as I always knew you’d be, you gave up on me many menstrual cycles ago. Still, I feel I owe you an explanation, especially since I’ve read that kids tend to blame themselves for their parents’ shortcomings. (See? It’s no picnic being a kid anyway.)

I want you to know that my decision not to have you is nothing personal (“It’s not you, it’s me”), but has to do with the fact that being a kid these days looks only slightly less depressing than being a parent. I blame it all on the word playdate. Like a screaming baby on an airplane, the word acts as an aural contraceptive for me. I remember the first time I heard it as clearly as I remember hearing about the cancellation of Arrested Development. Playdate has the ring of death to me — the death of hope, fun, freedom, and pretty much anything worth looking forward to. The greatest oxymoron since peace force, playdate exemplifies the BlackBerrying of childhood, and everything about modern parenting that has caused vasectomies and tubal ligation to feature prominently in my sexual fantasies.

It’s not as if there’s a grammatical rationale for playdate. It’s not easier to say “Tyler has a playdate at Zack’s house at five o’clock” than “Tyler’s going to play at Zack’s house at five o’clock.” The only reason for it, other than to infect children with parental misery, is to convey the concept of a playdate, which is every bit as un-fun, antiseptic, and counterintuitive as the word itself: a playdate is what happens when two “caregivers” (retch) make an appointment for their kids to play together (dry heave).

Why can’t kids make their own plans? Because kids can’t stand on their own front porches without a helmet anymore, let alone run (what if they fall? ) over to a friend’s house (which friend? is the house childproofed?) to play (with matches? guns? vibrators?) on a whim (a gateway instinct leading to full-blown independence). Letting a child go next door to hang out for a while? You might as well suggest they build a crystal meth lab in a pedophile’s attic and then sell what they don’t smoke to the Hells Angels. And if you, my unborn darling, aren’t already counting your lucky stars in whatever dimension you’re living in, get this: playdates aren’t just for children; for toddlers and “first playdates,” parents are expected to come along, too.

Nobody believes me, but I walked to and from my downtown Toronto nursery school on my own when I was two and a half years old. I know it’s true, because when I asked my mom about it recently, she became very defensive. “We lived on a dead-end street!” she cried. “The school was just around the corner!” I also have a vivid memory of running home alone crying after peeing in my leotards. At three, I already had my own group of friends and — except for school and mealtimes — we ran around delightfully free and unsupervised. We not only learned the laws of the jungle; we made up a few ourselves.

Okay, so once my parents found me and a boy from up the street under the porch with our pants down. Who knows — maybe it was my idea? The occasional hard lesson is a small price to pay for freedom, and a very effective way to learn; I haven’t been found unclothed under a porch in years.

But thanks to the current atmosfear surrounding children and childhood kids must be constantly supervised by adults, and (preferably) driven everywhere (preferably in a sturdy Land Rover). And in the unlikely event that you (let alone I) survive your childhood, you may then look forward to climate change, overpopulation, terrorism, pandemics, iPod people, religious fundamentalism, nuclear/religious Armageddon, human cloning, a more barbaric and increasingly patriarchal culture and, even worse, the music being played on mainstream radio. This is not to mention mommy blogs, thousand-dollar strollers, and pre-conception daycare registration.

Given all this, a more obnoxious person than your potential mother — surely there must be one? — might ask: do you have to be a stupid idiot to have children? The question, I think, is clearly rhetorical.

Love,
(How shall I sign this?)
Almost-Mom

-------------------------------

Dear Unborn Child,

The other day, my yoga teacher was talking about reincarnation, and suddenly it occurred to me that you might be wondering why you haven’t been born yet — or, to be perfectly honest, why I’m not having you. I know it’s a little late to be telling you this, but if you’re half as brilliant as I always knew you’d be, you gave up on me many menstrual cycles ago. Still, I feel I owe you an explanation, especially since I’ve read that kids tend to blame themselves for their parents’ shortcomings. (See? It’s no picnic being a kid anyway.)

I want you to know that my decision not to have you is nothing personal (“It’s not you, it’s me”), but has to do with the fact that being a kid these days looks only slightly less depressing than being a parent. I blame it all on the word playdate. Like a screaming baby on an airplane, the word acts as an aural contraceptive for me. I remember the first time I heard it as clearly as I remember hearing about the cancellation of Arrested Development (now, that was a show worth reincarnating — and reincarnating for). Playdate has the ring of death to me — the death of hope, fun, freedom, and pretty much anything worth looking forward to. The greatest oxymoron since peace force, playdate exemplifies the BlackBerrying of childhood, and everything about modern parenting that has caused vasectomies and tubal ligation to feature prominently in my sexual fantasies.

It’s not as if there’s a grammatical rationale for playdate. It’s not easier to say “Tyler has a playdate at Zack’s house at five o’clock” than “Tyler’s going to play at Zack’s house at five o’clock.” The only reason for it, other than to infect children with parental misery, is to convey the concept of a playdate, which is every bit as un-fun, antiseptic, and counterintuitive as the word itself: a playdate is what happens when two “caregivers” (retch) make an appointment for their kids to play together (dry heave).

Why can’t kids make their own plans? Because kids can’t stand on their own front porches without a helmet anymore, let alone run (what if they fall? ) over to a friend’s house (which friend? is the house childproofed?) to play (with matches? guns? vibrators?) on a whim (a gateway instinct leading to full-blown independence). Letting a child go next door to hang out for a while? You might as well suggest they build a crystal meth lab in a pedophile’s attic and then sell what they don’t smoke to the Hells Angels. And if you, my unborn darling, aren’t already counting your lucky stars in whatever dimension you’re living in, get this: playdates aren’t just for children; for toddlers and “first playdates,” parents are expected to come along, too. (Now I understand the expression “I just threw up in my mouth.”)

Nobody believes me, but I walked to and from my downtown Toronto nursery school on my own when I was two and a half years old. I know it’s true, because when I asked my mom about it recently, she became very defensive. “We lived on a dead-end street!” she cried. “The school was just around the corner!” I also have a vivid memory of running home alone crying after peeing in my leotards. At three, I already had my own group of friends and — except for school and mealtimes — we ran around delightfully free and unsupervised. We not only learned the laws of the jungle; we made up a few ourselves.

Okay, so once my parents found me and a boy from up the street under the porch with our pants down. Who knows — maybe it was my idea? The occasional hard lesson is a small price to pay for freedom, and a very effective way to learn; I haven’t been found unclothed under a porch in years. And it sure beats the pants off a timed, fully supervised playdate, where bored parents with nothing in common beyond the belief in the natural supremacy of their own child scream, “Watch out!” “Use your inside voice!” and “Say thank you!” as they judge each other. (“Oh, thanks, but Amanda doesn’t eat ice cream. We’re trying to avoid diabetes.”)

Thanks to the current atmosfear surrounding children and childhood (a projection of the collective-unconscious guilt created by the financial infeasibility of stay-at-home parenting, which is the result of the prosperity gap — maybe we can talk about this another time? ), kids must be constantly supervised by adults, and (preferably) driven everywhere (preferably in a sturdy Land Rover). Babies are worse, of course. Giving birth is a yawn compared with the house of life-threatening horrors that is modern infancy. Every day, the media serves up another story to feed our paranoia — from the health risks of petting zoos (“Cute and cuddly — and loaded with E. coli!” ) to the selfish recklessness of sleeping with your baby (“Does Co-Sleeping Kill?”).

And [I]n the unlikely event that you (let alone I) survive your childhood, you may then look forward to climate change, overpopulation, terrorism, pandemics, iPod people, religious fundamentalism, nuclear/religious Armageddon, human cloning, a more barbaric and increasingly patriarchal culture (extremely religious people are reproducing faster than anyone else), and, even worse, the music being played on mainstream radio. This is not to mention mommy blogs, thousand-dollar strollers, and pre-conception daycare registration.

Given all this, a more obnoxious person than your potential mother — surely there must be one? — might ask: do you have to be a stupid idiot to have children?

But if you do get this message, please write back. I’d love to hear where you are, what you’ve been up to — the whole shebang.

Love,
(How shall I sign this?)
Almost-Mom


POSTED ON MYSOUL.COM: 01/09/07

Dear Almost-Mom,

Thanks for your letter. No hard feelings about your decision not to have me (not sure I get the whole playdate thing, but I’m glad you got it off your chest). Don’t forget, I chose you. I take full responsibility for my decision and am ready to move on.

Best wishes,
Almost-Child

POSTED ON MYSOUL.COM: 05/09/07

Dear Almost-Child,

That’s it? Four sentences? Still, you can’t imagine how thrilled your almost-mother was to receive your message! Hearing from you instantly changed my mind: I’ve decided to have you after all. I’ve moved to Montreal, where, thanks to subsidized daycare and ever-increasing federal transfer payments, I can make a better living as an unemployed mother than I could working full time in Toronto. (Vive le s√©paratisme!) I’m currently searching for an appropriate father/sperm donor and have already frozen enough eggs to hatch a whole Brady Bunch — and Alice! So please don’t move on — stay tuned for further instructions as to when to get your ethereal ass down here.

XXXOOOXXXOOO,
Future-Mom/M√®re-de-l’avenir

PS: I’ve set up a webcam here. Is that possible in your realm? I’m dying to lay eyes on you. By the way, my hair isn’t usually this dark. I’m seeing my colourist next week.

POSTED ON MYSOUL.COM: 15/09/07

Dear Almost-Mom,

Sorry, but it’s too late. I just accepted another offer — one I couldn’t refuse. To make a long story short, I managed to negotiate a guaranteed adoption by a major celebrity within ten days of birth (I’m hoping for Angelina, as Madonna and Mia are old enough to be my grandmothers). It’s nothing personal — who could say no to that lifestyle? I just hope I’m photogenic.

Good luck finding another candidate.

Womb wishes,
Almost-Child

PS: A bit of advice: enough with the TV references. Nobody under twenty watches TV anymore.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Instead of Simply Complaining, I’m Going to Try And Fix the Problem

I’ve always thought/hoped that Douglas Coupland’s work would translate well to television or film. Zany characters, unbelievable plots – what could be more perfect for the screen, big or small?

And so I watched episode one of jPod with some measure of excitement.

It’s difficult to convey how bad it was. Ditto episode two, and three, although to be fair, a few bright spots here and there.

As Dead Things on Sticks pointed out, the show should be half-hour, not an hour. I remember getting to the mid-way point of episode one and thinking “there’s *more* of this left to endure?”

Here, in brief, are a few things that are wrong:

* The basement cubicle set is hideous. It’s visually repellant, actually. Coupland is a furniture designer and artist. I realize he isn’t a set designer, and I acknowledge Canadian television shows have tiny budgets. But still. It’s gross down there.

* The show hasn’t figured out a style or tone, either visually or comedically. It’s sorta like Ugly Betty, except nowhere near as sharp or snappy. (And I don’t even like Ugly Betty.) jPod often features very broad comedy (i.e. episode two, Bree and the UK vice-president) combined with an attempt at being edgy, profane or downright nasty (Cowboy’s sister and the remote control vibrator). It’s like your mom telling that joke from the Aristocrats – it doesn’t work. The show will never have a mass audience, so it should be shooting for 30 Rock territory (clever, fast, a bit insidery), although how you sustain the pace of 30 Rock over 44 minutes is not clear to me.

* Re: above. The pacing of the show is very wrong, although part of the problem is the hour-format. There’s 30 minutes stretched across 44 minutes.

* Cowboy (Ben Ayres) is trying to be Job from Arrested Development. It’s not working.

* Bree (Steph Song) has no clue what she’s supposed to be doing.

* Kaitlin (Emilie Ullerup) doesn’t yet have a clearly defined character either, and also seems to drift around the show. And I hesitate to guess how long the romance between Ethan and Kaitlin will be dragged out (a la The Office???) before it’s consummated. Unlike the Office, their chemistry is wonky.

* Steve (Colin Cunningham) can clearly do physical comedy, but the show’s directors need to realize they’ll get more laughs the less grotesque he is. His spasmodic freakout in episode one was painful to watch.

* Alan Thicke is not the show’s selling point. Once you get past the realization that Alan Thicke is not being a nice guy, you are forced to admit that he isn’t helping the show much. (See, for example, the unwatchable Nazi dance sequence in episode 2).

* Kam Fong is a strong character in the novel, but not so much on the show. I realize that translating a novel into a television show will never please everybody, but his weak-ish characterization goes toward the style and tone issue.

Here are the bright spots:

* Sherry Miller, playing Ethan’s mom, is brilliant. You can give her garbage lines, and she’ll make them sound as funny as possible. And she can act the pants off everyone else on that show. I had to use imdb before I remembered she was on The Newsroom.

* Ethan (David Kopp) has a tonne of potential. (Actually, ton, as he hates the metric system.) But the scripts aren’t giving him any help. You can see him trying, but occasionally even he gives up.

* I have a sense that John Doe (Torrance Coombs) has deep reserves of hidden talent. His creepy eyes suggest that a shipping container full of darkness lurks behind his shaggy haircut. Again, he just needs something to work with.

So, why have I told you all this? What is the point of my carping and mild praise?

I’m glad you asked. Last week I began an eight-week course in writing episodic television. As part of the course, I will have to produce a spec script. So I’m going to write a spec script for jPod. This will do two things:

* demonstrate to me that writing for television is no doubt incredibly difficult

* make me part of the solution, not part of the problem

I read on Dead Things on Sticks (link) that episode 7 and 8 are really funny. Of course, by then it’s too late – the audience for the show, which is already starting to flatline, is never going to return. And why should they?

Still, I think it will be fun to try and write a spec script for a show I don’t like, and in doing so address the shortcomings of the show, rather than writing a script for something super popular. It’s probably the exact wrong way to approach the TV writing business, but I certainly don't care.

What You Missed in 2007

I just realized I did drafts of four blog postings last year that I never published. They are as follows:

* (Editing suggestions for the Walrus)

* (Trend spotting problems)

* (Sara Angel ‘leaves’ Chatelaine)

* (More Walrus editing suggestions)

What I Think About Some Things

Over the next few months, until the middle of April, I plan to blog about books I'm reading. I'm trying to finish my first novel, and as part of my fiction regime, I'm reading a lot of fiction. My entries will be short, and will be designed mainly to warn you away from, or steer you toward certain books.

* Middlesex. Way too long. Bursting with meticulous research on every goddamn page. I had to skim. Incredible writing, but the family saga wore me down.

* Absurdistan. Really good, but not mind-blowingly so. I'm going to read his first book (Russian Debutante's) and compare the two. Seems as though Shteyngart realized, two-thirds of the way through the novel, that he needed something to happen. I wasn't entirely taken with the last third or quarter of the novel -- the energy and momentum started to seep away. Still, an amazing writer, very funny, and worth checking out. [See also this assessment by the brainmachines at N + 1 magazine: (link)]

* Atonement. (spoiler alert). I really like that the first part of the book is longer and more uber-polished than the other parts, because near the end of the novel, Briony explains that she's spent 40 years (or so) writing the first part of the book. The rest of the book exists to allow for the Life of Pi like ending, which I have to say I was a little disappointed with. Not a must-read, but really good nonetheless.

* Lucky Jim. A little slow at times, and too much description of facial expressions. You know when you're watching a film from the 1950s and think to yourself: this story could be told so much faster because today's audiences are more visually literate and able to process narrative leaps and omissions more effectively? I felt the same way about Lucky Jim. I realize this is heresy, but it needs to be said. Plenty of funny stuff in the book, and worth reading to compare against those who are influenced by Amis, such as Russell Smith.

* The Crying of Lot 49. I couldn't get through it. Not even close. I realize this makes me a philistine.

That's it for now. More soon.

An Idea So Good It’s Worth Repeating

There are a limited number of great ideas out there, so I have sympathy for anyone in a profession that constantly has to crank it out. However, I would like to point out that the Globe’s new marketing campaign feels a little borrowed. Not stolen, exactly, but, well … here is a clipping from the Globe’s press release:

Globe and Mail Breaks New Marketing Campaign
Toronto – January 21, 2008 – The Globe and Mail today launched a new marketing campaign featuring striking graphic image advertising and unique installations in prominent public sites in Toronto and Vancouver.

The advertising runs with the tag line “Imagine Where The Globe Can Take You” and features singular images of items such as a green apple, a chicken, and a glass of water. Surrounding the items are potential headlines from various parts of The Globe and Mail. *For example, the headlines around the apple include Report on Business: “One millionth iPhone sold”, Globe Focus: “Adam and Eve Versus Darwin”, and “Globe Life Style: The ultimate apple cobbler recipe.”*
(emphasis added)

Basically, the same item generates three very different perspectives. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that resembles York University’s long-running and award-winning marketing campaign:

Weist Magazine

I received the March 2008 issue of the Walrus in the mail the other day. The cover is not very pleasing to the eye. The main image (cork into a bottle) is fine, but they decided to run a narrow strip along the right-hand side listing the main articles in the magazine. This, along with two large cutlines on the top and bottom of the image make for a incredibly busy and rather ugly cover. The Walrus usually features very good covers, or at least covers that are light on text and give the image prominence. I notice, for example, that the Walrus is now offering to sell reproductions of their cover art, which makes me wonder why the current cover looks so awful. As a subscriber, don’t punish me with cutlines – the magazine is already in my house, which means I’m going to read it.

Inside, however, is where the real typographical crimes are committed. Their Field Notes section, which used to be a two column affair, is now three columns (this change may have occurred a few issues back, I don’t pay that close attention). This means, unfortunately, that one of the best things about field notes (the little tidbits and illustrations that occupied the left edge of each page) have no room to breathe. The tidbits column is now so narrow that it can barely fit three words across. Incapacitated, for example, gets hyphenated to

in-
capacitated

There tended to be a smart, light tone to those tidbits, which I fear will be impossible to maintain now that they’re crammed into the column equivalent of a 150-square foot apartment. The magazine seems to have an unerring ability to remove anything remotely good and replace it with something much worse.

My other comment about the current issue is a more of an overall observation. The Walrus is turning into Geist magazine. This is not an insult (I just started subscribing to Geist again, as part of the buy two, get one subscription free through Magazines Canada) as much as a comment about their target demographic. If I were, for example, to point out that Teen Vogue doesn’t much appeal to me, that would elicit a “duh.” And in the same way, The Walrus is designed, edited and written for a 40 or 50-something CBC listener who owns, or has owned, a Volvo. This may one day describe me perfectly, so if the Walrus survives for another 10 years, I’ll be happy to resubscribe at that time. But for now, I’m none of those things. Consequently, I find it difficult to get much out of the magazine. The New York Times Magazine, as I’ve probably said before, manages to invite a wider range of readers, as does the New Yorker.

My main proof for the Geist-Walrus morph (hence the Weist headline) are the series of illustrations and captions by Charles Checketts in the March 2008 issue. Spread across the magazine, Checketts has drawn a variety of Canadian Celebrities (Eugene Levy, Strombo, Sandra Oh) with captions that 50-year old people will find hilarious. (Sample: “Alex Trebek collects his tears in a Tabasco bottle. He then sells said tears as a magical elixir, which, for all intents and purposes, it is.”) This is not so much unfunny (OK, it’s unfunny as hell, but I’m trying to be nice) as only-funny-for-people-of-a-certain-age. I’m not asking for Wonder Showzen here. But Geist already does this sort of thing – why duplicate it? Checketts’s drawerings don’t irritate me, so much as let me know, in huge, flashing, blinking lights that I should put the Walrus in the recycling bin, because its overall sensibility is not remotely close to my own.

P.S. The full page ad for Sunday Night at the Opera, from 96.3 FM, featuring Alexa Petrenko with a horrible Viking hat and a strained smile that will give children nightmares for weeks, only serves to confirm my suspicions that the Walrus, like the CBC, is built for people much older than myself.