Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A wacky and terrible game of "Would you rather?" on Winnipeg Transit

Stairway to Hell.

The more you drive, the less you take the bus, and the fewer great stories you have to tell.

I give you my favorite scene from Repo Man (the payoff is at 2:23):

I take the bus most every day, which means I have a backlog of 10,000 stories - one, great long-winded story for every bar in town. Totally worth the $3 bus fare.

The best and worst story ever

My favorite story is about the greatest - and worst - thing I saw years ago on one of those classic Winnipeg Transit buses with three, steep stairs leading up to the fare box. 

A woman at the top of the stairs dropped her bus ticket, so she bent down to pick it up. Behind her was a guy ascending the stairs while talking to someone behind him. He turned his face around as he took the next step, but it was too late - and the rest of us were treated to a display of full face-to-butt contact, like a horrifying twist on the old Reeses ads:

Which would you rather not?

So, I've told this story about a million times, and it's slowly morphed into one of those "Would you rather?" games, where I end by asking, "So which one of these people had it worse - the person who suddenly had a face in her butt, or the person who suddenly found his face was in a butt?"

The responses really run the gamut, but men tend to feel sorry for the guy and women tend to feel sorry for the woman. But my favorite is my friend's response:
"It wouldn't be so bad either way if you wanted to do it, but if you were forced to do it - either one would be terrible."
Truer words were never spoken. Thank you, friend, for the philosophy, and thank you, Winnipeg Transit, for the memories.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Scenes from a mall: the great underwear incident

It happened here. 

True story:

As I walked with my friend through Polo Park mall on our way to see a movie, a pair of old, balled-up underwear fell out of his pant leg and landed on his foot.
Me: "What the hell is that?!

Him: "That's not mine!" 
He kicked the gitch off his foot, and it landed a few feet away in a depressing pile of shame.

We continued walking to the movie theatre in silence, leaving the sad and abandoned briefs behind us.

After the movie, on our way back through the mall, we returned to the scene of the crime. There, we saw a janitor sweeping up my friend's disavowed underwear into a dustpan.

The janitor had a beleaguered look on his face; had there been a camera, I'm pretty sure he would have shrugged, looked directly into the lens, and sighed: "It's a living."

"Are you sure you don't want to go get your gitch?" I asked my friend.

'It's not mine," he said.

And we never talked about it again.

Friday, March 25, 2011

10 thoughts that crossed my mind at the Residents show last night

1. What the F is this?

2. Isn't music, by definition, something that should be listenable?

3. There's a fine line between avant-garde and a waste of time.

4. If I leave now, I could still see what happens on Idol.

5. Where the hell are the giant eyeballs?

6. An old-man mask wears out its welcome in about five seconds.

7. Who are these "humans" in the audience and why is this noise causing them to experience "pleasure?"

8. I wonder what's going on with the nuclear power plants, Libya, and Sheen.

9. Loaf of bread, quart of milk, stick of butter.

10. Why does this band hate me?

Get out of this theatre, you damn kids!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'd like to teach the world to write good

"Them that do nothing" = grammatically questionable.

Show me the greatest student work in the world, and I'll show you the teacher who doesn't want to mark it.

It's that time of year, when the pile of assignments waiting to be marked is higher than my blood pressure and the roller coaster of a school year flies off the tracks and leaves everyone needing Prozac, heavy drugs, and group hugs (thank you, Rent).

At Red River College, our students have just finished, or are working on, some of their heftiest assignments of the year - the PR proposal, the group magazine assignment, the Manitoba Travel Project, the Independent Professional Project proposal, the video montage, not to mention the harrowing shovel-snow-off-Kenton's-roof assignment.

In the history of civilization, no one has ever worked this hard. The Egyptians who built the Great Pyramid? Slackers! Ask a student, any student!

I recently finished marking the PR proposal; if the standard one-page assignment is a sprint, the PR proposal is a marathon - an unholy 20+ pages of promotional-plan badness, bound and gagged at Staples, wrapped with a black bow, and sealed with a kiss of betrayal.

It's a beast to write and mark - but it does accomplish its task of separating the men from the boys, the wheat from the chaff, and the cream from the cud (the rule of threes works, because you end with the hilarious one!).

Like the little girl with the little curl on her forehead, when the PR proposals are good, they're very, very good, and when they're bad, they're...not as very, very good.

What's the difference between good and otherwise? I thought you'd never ask!

How to write things goodly:

1. Read for typos

Pick a typo, any typo. Then correct it.

As any Great-West Life employee knows, the only way to proofread accurately is to read your work out loud while someone else follows along. It's painful, but it works. Going for drinks afterward helps.

If you don't know how to write, you need to find out quickly. Hire a tutor, ask the teacher, go online, and write, write, write all the time. Eventually, you'll figure it out.

2. Cut out unneeded words

As a writer, you should aim to make the greatest impact using the fewest words.

Here are the signs that you can edit your work a bit: you can remove these offending words and your sentence becomes more efficient without losing its meaning:
  • "Be able to" - "I will be able to promote my ads on Facebook."
  • "All" - "The people will all chase Frankenstein out of town."
  • "Both" - "I like both Heinz Ketchup and Relish." 
  • "Close proximity" - She works in close proximity of Charlie Sheen." 
  • "In between" - The ham is in between two pieces of bread.  

3. Avoid words that have no meaning
  • "Unique" - Do I need to go there again? I wrote all about it here. "Unique" is the word and work of the devil. 
  • "General public" - It's only the name of an 80s band. You have a target audience, market, or public that you aim to reach. If you're aiming for "the general public," you'll have no focus and you'll waste your client's money on a useless campaign.

4. Fix word usage

The correct word is in brackets:
  • The amount (number!) of Facebook followers
  • The people that (who!) work there
  • The poster images contain (include!) pictures of fudge. 
  • I'm walking towards (toward!) Safeways (Safeway!). 
  • Safeway treats their (its!) employees like crap.  
  • I like food as well as (and!) beverages. 
  • We will utilize (use!) Facebook to break up with our girlfriends.

5. Keep verb tense consistent

She has cook for me when I hangs the posters tomorrow!

When you write a sentence, ask yourself: Did your action happen in the past? Is it happening now? Will it happen in the future? Then use the handy chart to choose the correct tense!

6. Don't oversimplify how ads, new media, and PR work
  • Don't use lame verbs, like "offer" and "provide" if you actually want people to enjoy reading your ad and take action after they do. It wouldn't work on you, so don't insult your readers by using it on them.
  • In a rationale, avoid explaining the way ads, PR, and new media work like this: "People will see our Facebook page and hear our radio ad, and then they'll attend our event." If only it were so easy.

7. Avoid passive sentences

"Posters will be hung. Pamphlets will be printed. An event will be held. Facebook updates will be executed. Mistakes will be made."

To make these lines better, assign responsibility: "I will hang posters, print pamphlets, update my Facebook status, and make no mistakes."

And now: a drink will be consumed.

Monday, March 21, 2011

30+ unforgettable sayings and slogans from the world of music

Do I have time to think about it?

1. I saw rock and roll's future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen. - Jon Landau

2. Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters. - Bob Dylan

3. Maximum R & B. - The Who

4. Rock isn't music - it's a disease. - Mitch Miller

5. Give peace a chance - John Lennon

6. The Beatles are more popular than Jesus. - John Lennon

7. I Want My MTV - MTV

8. Ready Steady Go! - British TV program

9. If it ain't Stiff, it ain't worth a fuck - Stiff Records

10. Kill For Peace - The Fugs

11. Gabba Gabba Hey! - The Ramones

12. I Hate Pink Floyd - The Sex Pistols (see photo, below)

13. Disco Sucks - Rock and rollers

14. Choose Life - Wham!

15. 4 Real - Manic Street Preachers (carved into arm)

16. Slave - Prince (written on face)

17. The Sound of Young America - Motown Records

18. Cool as Fuck - Inspiral Carpets

19. We Will Rock You - Queen

20. Fifth-Generation Rock and Roll - Sigue Sigue Sputnik

21. Frankie Say Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood

22. Kick Out the Jams, Motherfuckers - The MC5

23. Elvis Lives - Elvis fans

24. The New Dylan - Rock critics

25. Three Days of Peace and Music - Woodstock Music Festival

26. Duty Now For the Future - Devo

27. We love you Beatles, oh yes we do. - Beatles' fans

28. Masterpiece? - Promo for Elvis Costello's Imperial Bedroom

29. The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World - Rolling Stones

30. Kill Ugly Radio - Frank Zappa

31. Hey Ho - Let's Go! - The Ramones

32. The Day the Music Died. - Don McLean (singing about the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens).

33. Yeah, yeah, yeah. - The Beatles

Any more? Include 'em in the comments!

Now available at the boy's husky section at Sears.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I've dissected this year's IPP presentations and found a pulse

Del Barber from Chris Gaudry on Vimeo as presented at #IPP11

Quincy, we've got a pulse.

I recently sat down with my first- and second-year students to give this year's IPP presentations a post-mortem, just like Jack Klugman and so many CSI investigators have done before me.

As all of planet Earth surely knows by now, the IPP is a year-long course at Red River College in which CreComm students develop an original and meaningful project that they propose, complete, and market on their own in order to graduate.

So last week at the Convention Centre Presentation Theatre, this year's graduating students made their 10-minute presentations on the outcome of their work. Projects included promotional, creative, documentary- and research-based stuff in the form of video, audio, print, performance, and new media.

Here is some of the feedback; as always: I don't name names. And remember: these are just individual opinions; not everybody in the room agreed with every one of these comments.

The good
  • Timing was "like clockwork."
  • Good venue.
  • No Q and A made the show move along quickly.
  • The Tweet Pit and #IPP11 hashtag.
  • Phenomenal presentations.
  • The hosts.
  • Presenters who moved around.
  • Audience engagement.
  • Efficient transitions.
  • The presentations ended strong.
  • Great backstage facilities.
The not as good
  • Red River College logo wasn't in the brochure.
  • Not as many performance-based IPPs this year.
  • Missed the intimacy of the Park Theatre.
  • Wi-Fi - that we couldn't use.
  • Too many "thank-you speeches," like the Oscars.
  • Tell us where we can buy your book or see your film.
  • Professional presentations aren't a bad thing, but a little dull after a while.
  • Too much "advice to first years" and "trials and tribulations."
  • Bad lighting.
  • Parking - expensive and hard to find.
  • Intrusive music that played off presenters.
  • Presenters who ignored music cut-off and went overtime.
  • The cold temperature in the room.
  • The front rows were mostly empty - should have pushed people toward the front of the theatre.
  • Weak prizes.
  • The "specials" at the restaurant were regular prices.
  • Inside jokes.
  • No free donuts?!
  • Hold the presentations and panels later in the year.
  • Get instructors to slot the presenters, not classmates.
  • Hold a film festival to screen the video projects.
  • Spend less time on thank yous and more time on the meat of the projects.
  • Bring in more former students to show their IPPs in Thursday speaker slots.
  • Make the PR proposal assignment the IPP proposal assignment.
  • Get Twitter handles from presenters in advance of the presentations.
  • Have a greater diversity of hosts.
  • IPP organizers should present first.
  • Make it more of a networking event.
  • Invite the RRC Advisory Board.
  • Make the visuals match the presentation length.
  • Change up the presentation format.
  • Let everyone tweet.
  • Present the presentations online via streaming.
  • Sell naming rights.
See you next year at the Tim Hortons Roll Up the Rim to Win IPP Presentations of Love '12!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Follow the live tweets from the IPPs (#IPP11)

If you can't join us for the IPPs at the Convention Centre Presentation Theatre, join us online.

We'll be tweeting live from the Tweetpit (hashtag #IPP11) at this year's Independent Professional Project Presentations, Wednesday to Friday, March 9 to 11 at the Convention Centre Presentation Theatre.

The IPP is a year-long course in Creative Communications at Red River College in which students develop an original and meaningful project that they propose, complete, and market in order to graduate.

At the IPP Presentations, students make 10-minute presentations on the outcome of their work. Projects are promotional, creative, documentary- and research-based and in the form of video, audio, print, performance, new media – and more!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

13 new words to help make sense of these troubled times

See #2 on the list. Boooo!

1. Beerache - aka "hangover."

2. Boo Angel - Aqua Books' statue guardian of catcalls and wolf whistles. See photo at the top of this post.

3. Chorn - Short for "chornography" - the addiction to cleaning one's house.

4. Enginuity - How Google made and makes billions.

5. IPPed - What you did when you missed your IPP deadline. Speaking of: join us at the Independent Professional Project presentations, Wednesday to Friday, March 9 to 11 at the Convention Centre Presentation Theatre. Admission: free!

6. Medi-Ogre - A person who gets grouchy after having a bland day.

7. Noodlebonker - A child of headbanger parents. 

8. Peek-a-shoe - A shoe with holes in it.

9. Statastic - What a person who loves numbers says when he or she sees them.

10. SheenWow - A super-absorbent towel with Charlie's face on it. CreComm grad Jarrett Moffatt is probably working on it.

11. Starbucker - One who obsessively seeks association with baristas.

12. Touch├ębag - A distasteful person who loves one-upping others.

13. Yayngel - Mortal enemy of the Boo Angel and the statue guardian of hoots and hollers.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

IPP Presentations next Wednesday to Friday, Convention Centre

The most dreaded letters in the CreComm alphabet: "IPP".

Find out why next week at the Independent Professional Project presentations, Wednesday to Friday, March 9 to 11 at the Convention Centre Presentation Theatre.

Everyone is invited to attend, and admission is the low, low price of free.

The IPP is a year-long course in Creative Communications at Red River College in which students develop an original and meaningful project that they propose, complete, and market in order to graduate.

Next week, students make 10-minute presentations on the outcome of their work. Projects are promotional, creative, documentary- and research-based and in the form of video, audio, print, performance, new media – and more!

This year, we will have first-year students tweeting live from the big event (follow the Twitter hashtag #ipp11).

See you there, homies.



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I bombed my Oscar picks - I blame Mel Gibson

 Ms. Paltrow?

The Oscars had part of my attention. The minimum amount.

I got 14 out of 24 correct on this year's Oscar picks, which means I achieved the high, high score of... 58.3 per cent or a "D." Red River College doesn't give "D+," so I can't even give myself that little emotional boost. Boo.

I don't hate the outcome of the awards, but I did hate the awards show. My observations/tweets:
  • Actors sure loves actors. "Mel Gibson. Your vulnerability is truthful, raw, bare..."
  • Franco and Hathaway have all the sexual chemistry of Rosie O'Donnell and Nathan Lane with none of the jokes. 
  • Two-person monologues suck.
  • A little Billy Crystal is better than a lot of Franco. 
  • Kirk Douglas was the hippest thing about the show, and even he wore out his welcome.
  • Creepy and awkward speeches are creepy and awkward.
  • Canada doesn't bleep "fuck." The U.S. does. I'm proud to be a Canadian!
  • You know there were a million crew members from Terminator: Salvation foaming at the mouth when Christian Bale won the Oscar. 
  • The Star Wars theme livens up even the most dismal of wakes.
  • Best costume designer, meet Toastmasters.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow and Edgar Winter: separated at birth. 
  • Jeff Bridges sucks marbles. 
  • Spiel is the best Berg.
  • They should take Natalie Portman's award back for the Star Wars prequels.
As Roger Ebert so eloquently tweeted:
"The worst Oscarcast I've seen, and I go back awhile. Some great winners, a nice distribution of awards, but the show? Dead. In. The. Water."