Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

John Paul II: 1920 - ... what? Still?

I'm certain producers at various major broadcasters and 24-hour news networks wish nothing but good health and long life to the Pontiff. And yet, his tenacious grip on life is beginning to get expensive:

"It was 1996 that I went to Rome myself to negotiate roof rights," said Marcy McGinnis, senior vice president for news coverage at CBS News. "Every broadcaster in the world has a rooftop or balcony lined up."

Indeed, a case of what broadcasters dubbed "rooftop envy" swept through the Vatican in 1996 when the Pope underwent surgery to have his appendix removed and TV networks swarmed the area, striking exclusive deals with the hotels and private homeowners whose buildings and balconies overlook St. Peters Square, to lock in their live shots.
And it's not just the cost of renting rooftops. Equipment sits ready to go, hotel rooms are rented out of fear that the day the "Big Story" happens, there will be no room at the inn. A decade of people waiting for him to die - that must be very comforting to His Holiness.

All of the major networks have long had their shots lined up and their rooftops secured, but the longevity and surprising vigor of the Pope throughout years of ill health ... have put some of those arrangements in jeopardy.

When CBS News arranged for its rooftop, for instance, it struck a 10-year deal, figuring that would be more than enough time to ensure a spot for the Pope's death and funeral. But that deal is set to expire next year, meaning that if the Pope pulls through his current bout with illness, CBS may be forced to renegotiate the rights at somewhat of a disadvantage, considering that it has already fully prepared the rooftop for broadcasting on the fly.
I'm sure, despite all the money invested, that the networks will show appropriate restraint when the Big Story arrives, and won't intersperse the sombre reflection with attempts to sell me frozen pizza and drugs that allow me to sustain an erection.

Perhaps I've just tapped into the reason that God keeps His Holiness alive - She entertains herself by screwing with broadcasters. Or just likes the building owners in the area:

"Some [broadcasters] have been investing for almost up to 10 years, and have spent hundreds of thousands of euros. One block of flats has earned so much that the owners have been able to restore the building thanks to the proceeds."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Hurry! Harrrrrrd!

For two months every year, the CBC puts aside its regular prime-time programming and offers the NHL playoffs. That won't be happening this year. How fortunate, then, that this marks the first year the CBC has purchased the broadcast rights for the big three curling tournaments - the Scott, the Brier, and the Worlds.

But here they go screwing it up. They're only offering one draw a day live, and a second late at night on tape delay, farming out the morning and evening draw live coverage to The Score (mostly a sports-headline service) and Country Canada (a secondary CBC service with half a million subscribers nationwide - as opposed to the eight million households with access to TSN).

People are pissed. I heard someone from CBC's communications department say they've recieved more calls on the Scott (lack of) coverage than they did on Don Cherry's most recent major gaffe, and as many as they get when they screw with the schedule for Coronation Street. (That is actually not a joke. Apparently, the Corrie fans are hard-freaking-core.)

Honestly, that episode of Marketplace couldn't have waited a week? You couldn't have shuffled each show's schedule forward three weeks over the three tournaments, and allow the new episodes to leak into April? Even Mansbridge normally has to wait for the hockey to finish each night in April and May - are you telling me Rick Mercer can't move his holidays around a little?

Why is the CBC so bad at making lemonade?
I'm not signing anything until I read it or until somebody gives me the gist of it.

Frank McKenna says we've already signed up for US missile defense. Whoops!

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Greatest Canadian. Er, song.

As part of the CBC's current effort to keep us from noticing there are no hockey broadcasts this winter, they've reprised and extended their summer radio success 50 Tracks, this time sticking to exclusively Canadian songs.

If you're not a big CBC radio service listener, allow me to summarize - over the summer, former Moxy Fruvous dude Jian Ghomeshi gathered together panels of musical experts to nominate, by decade, songs that were "essential" in some way. It was a neat little show, at least in part because it was freed of genre restrictions, which comparable lists prepared by commercial radio stations are not. The final list itself was interesting enough in the end, if not exactly the one I would have produced.

So, the show was successful enough to have earned another go (and a television audience as well), but since you can't keep arguing about the same songs, the rules had to change - now, Jian and panellists are trying to isolate the fifty essential Canadian tracks. Not entirely surprisingly, more of the list is being back ended to the 70s and forward, because Canadian content regulations have been so successful in promoting Canadian music since then.

Enough background. This week, the first of two for the 1980s, has selected the top, most essential, greatest Canadian song of that decade. F'n North-West Passage, by Stan Rogers.

How appropriate - when I hear the song, it's inexorably linked via the soundtrack of my life. I can remember high school dances, the sting of rejection, the nearly equal sting of my first tastes of rye whiskey... it wouldn't be the same without the deejay spinning Stan's memorable dirge. And influential? I can rememeber just as I was graduating high school, when the early-'80s wave of Canadian hair bands gave way to old men singing sea shanties in four-part harmony. In fact, our grad theme song was Barrett's Privateers.

Look, I'm not saying the song is bad. It just feels like one of those artifical efforts to create a national identity, when in fact our identity is probably more accurately wrapped up in (and I say this with no pride) Loverboy and April Wine.

It doesn't fit. If Anne Murray's Snowbird doesn't qualify as an essential Canadian track (and it did not), there's no way Stan Rogers should be there, leaving "I'm an Adult Now" out in the cold along with "Rockin' in the Free World".

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Daily Show shout-outs

Last night, Jon Stewart was good enough to spend the first several minutes speaking directly to me. It included a long and clever story about blogging, which you can find discussed a few different places, including sites specifically mentioned.

More importantly, it began with words of condolence to Canadians who would be missing hockey. Not that Jon cares, he declares - he watches more curling. "Do NOT cancel curling."


Update, Friday morning: Another shout-out, this one not so friendly. Presented with the knowledge that there's three trillion barrels of oil in Athabasca, Jon wondered why they didn't invade here. "Wassup, Calgary? You want a piece?"

Jon's right, the invasion would be even easier than Iraq - after all, the roads are better. But I don't think the US would care for the insurrection. We've got no hockey on television, so finding people with nothing to live for won't be as hard as Jon might think.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Dammit - I was going to quit fireworks for Lent

Today marks Ash Wednesday and Chinese New Year. I'd like to remind readers of Bear's holiday proposal last year.

Gung Hei Fat Choi, everyone!

Update, shortly thereafter: I see he hasn't forgotten it, either.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Some fun for Friday

Wild Rose Forum at 1pm on CBC radio will be asking, again, if the problem in the gay marriage debate is really just one of language.

Guess what, Don. It's not. Pretending it is allows people motivated by bigotry and fear to have a socially acceptable out.

If you happen to have some time between one and two this afternoon, feel encouraged to call or email the show and share your views. The number is 1-866-468-4422. E-mailing is best done threough the webform on the show's main page.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The island of Progressive Conservatism

Sometimes, I really miss living near downtown Calgary, quite aside from missing a walkabout by Kevin Smith a block from my old apartment. There's something about the place that seperates it from most of Calgary, with its car-addicted suburbanites living in oversized houses on undersized lots. It's not so seperate that it votes other than Tory, in various forms, but they still get something different from their MPs.

When I lived there, back in 1993, there was an important gay rights vote before the House. My Reform Party MP, Jim Silye, was the only Reformer to vote in favour of the bill. Years later, the Tory MP, Joe Clark, rode as the Grand Marshall of Calgary's Pride parade. And now, the MP for the slightly realligned riding of Calgary Centre-North, Jim Prentice, stands to be one of only two Alberta MPs to vote in favour of the Civil Marriage Act, and the other, Anne McLellan, is compelled to vote in favour by being in cabinet.

Good for you, Jim Prentice. It takes a certain amount of bravery to stand against your leader, even in a free vote.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

More heat than light

It was and is easy for me to pick sides in the gay marriage debate, given what a vehicle for homophobia the debate has become. And, no, I'm not claiming that all opponents of gay marriage are homophobic, just that the homophobes seem to be the loudest voices among the "no" side.

Don't believe me?

Just before Christmas, Wild Rose Forum hosted a discussion on the place of religious language in public discourse. At least, that's what they claimed the discussion was about - what it was really about was that the guests that day didn't care for gay people.

This jewel of a sentence has colonized my brain: "The gay lifestyle is one I don't agree with." Huh. Well, first of all, since being gay isn't a declarative statement initiating a debate, I'm going to assume that "agree with" means "approve of." I'm more concerned with the subordinate clause - "the gay lifestyle." What exactly is that? What does "the gay lifestyle" involve? Does the preacher who said it object to the frequency and quality of touring former Broadway musicals? He probably objects to the sodomy, but I don't think it's the form of the sexual activity per se that he's talking about when he's "disagreeing" with the "gay lifestyle". (If it is, tough luck, buddy. It's been forty years since then Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau decriminalized sexual activities between or among consenting adults, and we're not going back.)

This preacher was objecting to something else. There is a word being studiously avoided by both sides of the gay marriage debate. It's a word that man probably finds interchangable with "the gay lifestyle". I hadn't given much thought to it myself, but researching this post has led me directly to it. The subtext rapidly became text.

The word is "promiscuity."

Why does Stephen Harper risk making the new Conservative Party look like the old Reform Party, with weird declarations about polygamy? It makes perfect sense if you follow the unnamed logic - since gay men are by their very nature promiscuous, doesn't it follow that if you approve of gay marriage, you approve of non-monogamy? Won't we eventually have to acknowledge that choice in law by recognizing relationships that are polyamorous?

Solid logic built on a foundation of a crazy-sounding assumption. So why doesn't the gay community bring this assumption to the surface, so they can dispute it head-on? Well, because the assumption has a kernel of truth, and gay-marriage advocates don't particularly want to talk about it.

I knew about the assumption, but I always thought it was nonsense - like making assumptions about how two billion Asians drive because of the one who cut you off on Deerfoot Trail. Among my friends, gay couples seem as long-term (or not) as the straights among us, and if their relationships are sexually open, they aren't talking about that part to me.

Then I started reading for the post that stood in this place earlier today. I wasn't reading anti-gay tracts, and I wasn't reading clucking disapproval. Here's an excellent example:

Why then do present-day gay men believe that promiscuity is so central to who they are? - the answer is historical and ideological.


...Gay Lib and the gay rights movement which emerged in the 1970s were deeply distrustful of authority. In particular, gay men and lesbians had come to hate, with good reason, those who argued for any restrictions on sexual freedom.


...instead of following the traditional, hetero, monogamous model, gay men invented a new one, it which it was both our right and our duty to have sex with as many of our fellows as possible.
No wonder some people feel that gay marriage is an attack on old-timey marriage, which relies on sexual and emotional fidelity as a cornerstone of stability. Those are the relationships we prefer to see children raised within... that's the institution people want protected and encouraged as a building-block of our social arrangements.

Marriage or not, civil union or not, no one is asking for my approval of their sexual relationships, either in style or number. However, the more accepted and absorbed a subculture is by the larger culture, the less differentiated the subculture becomes. The Civil Marriage Act marks the beginning of the end of the closeted exclusion which feeds that subculture. True supporters of traditional relationships should become advocates for gay marriage, because there may be no faster way to encourage the alignment of the subcultural mores to those traditional values. At the same time, the radical gay and lesbian movement, the people who want to tear down the rotted institutions and rebuild everything from the ground up, should probably be loudly opposing the Civil Marriage Act.

Funny enough, if this became the actual split point in the debate, I'd still find myself on the side of gay marriage.