Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ten things that crossed my mind at last night's Pixies show

Cough, cough.

1. Where is them Pixies?

2. I can't enjoy this music without knowing that Katie Couric has found gainful employment.

3. I feel a great disturbance in The Force; as though Montreal has been eliminated from the playoffs or Alderaan has exploded or something.

4. How does one exactly grow up to be a debaser, Mr. Francis?

5. I wonder what Seacrest and Probst are up to right now on Idol and Survivor. Seriously: those two don't get paid enough. Am I right, people?

6. That Black Francis sure knows how to have an ironic (not to be confused with actual) good time!

7. Yay: more B-sides!

8. Which monkey has gone to heaven? I don't see a monkey. Do you see a monkey?

9. Someone remind Kim Deal that the Pixies have played Winnipeg before.

10. I smell reefer. Stop the concert!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The greatest (moist pants) story ever told!

Roger Moore in For Your Pants Only.

Memo to Q: need rubber spypants.

When I was a kid, I was a huge James Bond fan. I didn't just love the movies: I thought I was James Bond. Even now, I'm one of those guys who has to sing the James Bond theme when I walk through a dimly lit underground parkade.

Pow! Dum-da-da-da-dum-da-da-da-dum-da-da-dum:

So you can imagine how I felt as a 14-year-old to be seeing For Your Eyes Only on opening day: only like the suavest and most debonair kid spy ever.

It was summertime, so when I arrived at the  Colony Theatre downtown, I bought the "best value beverage" - a six-litre Coke, shaken not stirred - and sat down in the only seat left in the place: smack dab in the front row.

I set down my drink on the seat between my knees - "for a second" was the plan - when the lid popped off, and the full contents of the cup poured down the front of my shorts.

With nowhere to run or move, I asked myself, "What would James Bond do?" So, I stayed right where I was, and watched the entire movie with wet drawers, which got progressively colder and more uncomfortable as the air conditioning set in.

After the movie, I took the bus home, shivering in my Coke-imbued shorts - just like James Bond did when he was a kid.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My 10 stock answers for "Why don't you have kids?!"

There's one. Run!

If you're lucky enough to one day make it to your 40s without having kids, you'll find that there's a certain segment of the population - called "parents" - who will demand an explanation of you.

When they do, sit back, smile, and use one of my stock lines:

1. I chose freedom.

2. I believe the position of whining bald baby has already been filled in my household.

3. I'm afraid they'd play with my toys.

4. I'm like Tarzan; with one yell, all of my genetic material comes back to help me fight the evil doers.

5. Can't afford to, thanks to all of the education taxes I pay for yours.

6. I can't hear you with this condom pulled over my head.

7. In order to have kids, you must have at some point had sex.

8. I do not want anything that Celine Dion wants.

9. Doesn't the world already have enough snot?

10. I'm waiting until I'm 80 to have them - no one expects you to change a dirty diaper when you're wearing one.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why isn't Talking Funny on HBO Canada?

Email from HBO Canada:

Dear Kenton,

I would like to thank you for your e-mail.  Here at HBO Canada, it is always a pleasure to hear from our subscribers and to address any questions or concerns that you may have.

Unfortunately, "Talking Funny" is no longer on our current schedule.

We were in talks with the producers of "Talking Funny" a few months back, and we were confident that he had acquired the broadcast rights to the comedy special. We were informed late last month that the rights were no longer available and we had to immediately remove it from our schedule. Although we have removed all mention of "Talking Funny" from our website, it is still reflected in Movie Entertainment magazine. Movie Entertainment magazine is put to press 2 months early, so unfortunately it was too late to remove the listing.

We apologize for any disappointment or confusion this may have caused you. Regardless, I have forwarded your comments to our Programming department for review.

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail us.  If you have any further questions, concerns, or comments regarding The Movie Network, please feel free to contact us by e-mail or toll free at 1-877-426-5551.  A Customer Care Representative is available to take your call Monday through Friday from 9am to 9pm EST, and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm EST. 


Customer Care Representative

Friday, April 22, 2011

What's happenin' in Chicago when we're there?

What isn't happenin' in Chicago while we're there?

Some other cool stuff, should you be looking to add to the itinerary (below):

Tuesday, May 3
Dobie Maxwell (comic)
White Sox versus Twins
Midwest Independent Film Festival

Wednesday, May 4
Jay and Silent Bob
Dobie Maxwell
White Sox versus Twins
Manchester Orchestra

Thursday, May 5
Of Montreal
Ted Leo
Gibert Gottfried
Auditorium Theatre Historic Tour

Friday, May 6
Afrika Bambaattaa
Colin Hay
Neil Young
Cubs versus the Reds
First Fridays: Bubbles at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Cinco de Mayo Festival

Next to Normal (Broadway show)
A Friend Called Fire (local band)
Blue Man Goup
Million Dollar Quartet (Broadway show)
Working (Broadway show)
Cirque Eloize iD 
Boat tours

Itinerary - now with more info!
Chicago Trip

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chicago Magazine's 22 best new restaurants

Chicago: it's my kind of - belch - town.

And for proof, look no further than Chicago Magazine's latest issue, pointing you to the city's 22 best, new places to hang out and chow down - perfect timing for the CreComm Chicago trip just one week and three days away. But who's counting?

Chicago's 22 Best New Restaurants

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Book of Rock Lists' Great Chicago blues record labels

Chicago makes me (and Buddy Guy) happy to get the blues.

In preparation for the big CreComm trip to Chicago, May 2 to 8, I give you the Book of Rock Lists' Great Chicago blues record labels:

1 - 3. Artistocrat, Chess, Checker

These record labels were owned by the Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil.

Aristocrat, their original, featured Muddy Waters, who moved with them to Chess, where he joined Howlin' Wolf as the label's initial big sellers.

Checker was the logical spinoff; its biggest star in the blues years was Little Walter, the singer and harpist who'd started his Checker career in Muddy's band.

4. J.O.B.

Co-owned by singer-pianist St. Louis Jimmy, J.O.B.'s most celebrated records were made by the great J.B. Lenoir. The label lasted only briefly during the fifties; its masters were bought up by Chess and lost in confusion since that label's demise.

5. Chance

The original label of J.B. Hutto and various Hawks also recorded Sunnyland Slim, John Lee Hooker, and for a time, Little Walter.

6. - 7. States, United

Junior Wells first cut "Hoodoo Man" for States; Robert Nighthawk was sister label United's most imaginative performer.

8. Parrot

Both John Brim, Jimmy Reed's sometime sidekick, and J.B. Lenoir recorded for this label.

9. Vee-Jay

Primarily a soul label, Vee-Jay made its blues reputation with the seminal Jimmy Reed boogie and Billy Boy Arnold's marvelous, "I Wish You Would."

10. Cobra

This was the leading player for the West Side blues players of the fifties, particularly Otis Rush.

11. Artistic

Buddy Guy (see video at the top of this post) got his start here.

12. Chief

Magic Sam's best early work was recorded for Chief, as well as Junior Wells' and the late Earl Hooker's.

13. Alligator

Current blues label doing a magnificent job of documenting what remains of the Chicago scene, especially through the fine albums of Hound Dog Taylor and Son Seals' music that it has issued.

Lifted from the out-of-print Book of Rock Lists, by Dave Marsh

Monday, April 18, 2011

Essential Chicago apps and tweeps

Time Out Chicago: the app

Incur roaming charges in Chicago? I don't mind, I don't mind.

Here they are: the essential apps and tweeps you need to be following on Twitter, in advance of RRC's Creative Communications student trek to the Windy City:

Chicago Tweeps:
  1. Chicago Tribune
  2. Chicago Sun-Times
  3. Red Eye Chicago
  4. Michael Phillips
  5. Chaser Chicago
  6. Chicago Art Magazine
  7. Chicago Magazine
  8. Roger Ebert
  9. Chicago Art Institute
  10. Broke Hipster
  11. Chicago Architecture
  12. Chicago Current 
  13. NBC Chicago
  14. Navy Pier
  15. The Second City
  16. Time Out Chicago
  17. Oprah
  18. The Field Museum
  19. ChicagoBites
  20. Threadless
  21. Shedd Aquarium
  22. Timothy O'Toole's
  23. Adler Planetarium
  24. Chicago Watch
  25. Rahm Emanuel
  26. Huffington Post Chicago 
  1. Chicago 2Go
  2. Chicago Map and Walking Tours
  3. Foursquare
  4. Yelp
  5. CBS 2 Chicago
  6. Time Out Chicago
  7. Chicago Way
  8. iTrans Chicago CTA
  9. Chicago Tribune
  10. Broadway in Chicago
  11. Police Radio Chicago
  12. Buster: Chicago Bus Tracker
  13. The Prairie Architect Around Chicago
  14. Urbanspoon
  15. EveryBlock
  16. Art Institute French Impressionists
  17. Chicago Gangland Tour
  18. Front Desk Chicago 
  19. Chicago Press Release

The Parliament Hill that dare not speak its name

 Oh, crap: I thought we were supposed to meet at Parliament Hill Donuts.

From the Parliament Hill Act, Statutes of Canada 1972, Chapter 11
"No person shall use the words "Parliament Hill" in combination (a) to describe or designate a property, place, site or location in the National Capital Region other than the area of ground in the City of Ottawa bounded by Wellington Street, the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River and Bank Street, (b) to identify any goods, merchandise, wares or articles for commercial use or sale, or (c) in association with a commercial establishment providing services."
From the song "Parliament Hill" (1972) by Nova Scotia's Angus Walker, "Canada's Prime Minister of Country Music:"
"It was party after party/Until we couldn't pay our bills/I hated it there/On Parliament Hill."

- From the legal mind of Norm Larsen

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A drunk's tale of woe from the Grove

Not the actual drunk guy, but a reasonable facsimile, presented here for comedic effect.

Drunk stranger's speech at the Grove:
"I got fired from my job today! For sexual harassment! And you'll never guess who supported me: all of the women I work with. Well, not two of them - but they're bitches."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

There is no off position on the Genius Switch

 Mr. Hackett: inventor of the Genius Switch.

I'm no genius, but I've got a Genius Switch.

And so do you!

In stand-up comedy there's a name for the Genius Switch: your "monitor" - the degree to which you are engaged in "the moment" while you're onstage.

Invented by "hilarious" comedian Buddy Hackett, a monitor score of 10 means that you're living completely in the moment, at one with your brain and audience.

A score of zero means your mouth is moving and words are coming out, but you're thinking about all of your personal problems, and no one is engaged in what you're saying, least of all you. Like when I teach!

I, me, mine, monitor

I once had the distinct honor to perform stand-up at the U of M in front of a group of drunk and disinterested students - my favorite kind!

As I neared what was surely going to be a hilarious punchline, a chunk of the audience stood up and headed to the door, knocking over chairs on their way.

I felt my ears get hot, and suddenly my mouth blurted out - with no participation from my brain whatsoever - "F--- you!"

Monitor score: 10

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A short story about trademark genericization

Big Mac: my nickname in high school. 

When I was a kid, I'd sometimes go to my friend's house for lunch.
Friend's mom: "Would you boys like Big Macs for lunch?"

Us: "Yeah!"
Cue the look of disappointment on our faces as my friend's mom served up a couple of thick, homemade patties, nails and shards of glass protruding through soggy buns.

"Stupid genericized trademarks," we said in unison, looking directly into the invisible camera that we believed followed us everywhere.

Writer's embellishment: 

The next day Ronald McDonald showed up at my friend's house with some legal documents regarding use of registered trademark, "Big Mac."

Thinking him a burglar, my friend's mom shot him in the back, killing him. Exonerated in a court of law, she continues to use the term "Big Mac" to describe her terrible hamburgers.

I'm bleeding. May I please have a Band-Aid in the genericized sense of the word?

Aspirin, Escalator, and Zipper called: they want their trademarks back.

These three trademarks have something in common: they're not trademarks anymore.

Nope: they're what are called "genericized trademarks," which is what happens to a perfectly good trademark when people start using it to describe an entire class of products, rather than the one intended by the trademark's holder.

After a period of genericized use, the trademark holder can lose the rights or only exercise them in a diminished capacity, called..."genericide!"

So, be a dear and pass the Band-Aids, Xerox, and Kleenex. Actually, none of these brands is a  genericized trademark, but they all came close and had to launch what Wikipedia calls "aggressive corrective campaigns" to assert their ownership of the terms.

Note the strange, alien children in this ad who call Band-Aid "Band-Aid brand." Way to brainwash the kids, legal department!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I shot an elastic in the air, where it lands - d'oh!

If I could only learn to give like a rubber band.

Not long after the puddle-of-pee debacle (see yesterday's post), I found an elastic band on the floor of my first-grade classroom.

As a child of six, I couldn't resist the temptation. I twanged it and it flew through the air until it came to a surprise and sudden stop against my teacher's eyeball.

She let out a muffled cry - probably something like Louis Braille did at age three when he poked his eye with a wayward pruning knife.

Louis, of course, went blind and invented the Braille System. My teacher kept her vision and got angry.

"Put your heads down!" she yelled at the class, and we did. "No one can go home until the person who shot the elastic band confesses."

We held our heads down to our desks for some time, and I started to imagine what it would be like to spend days and days at school like that. What would we eat? How would we go to the bathroom? Or sleep?

What if the guilty party never confessed? Oh yeah: I was the guilty party! I was about to fess up and put everyone out of their misery when the buzzer buzzed, and the teacher released us for the day.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: never confess.

The classroom, the puddle of pee, and me

The usual suspects.

When I was in grade one, some of my classmates and I returned from recess to find a big puddle of pee in the middle of the classroom.

Our teacher herded us into the hallway and unveiled her brilliant plan: she would let us into the classroom, one student at a time, five minutes apiece. Under her proposal, the guilty party would clean up the puddle with paper towels and the crime would remain anonymous. Truly, a win-win.

So, one by one we took our turn in the classroom. At the end of the onerous process, we walked back into the classroom together, and there we found - TWO puddles of pee.

The moral of the story? I have no idea, but I swear: I didn't do it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The three questions I ask the MTS telemarketer

When MTS telemarketers call me to up-sell, I ask them these questions three:

1. Why do employees get first crack at concert tickets, but not customers?
2. Why does a proud Manitoba company farm out its advertising to Vancouver?
3. Isn't it time to kill Morty the Bison?

It's a rollicking conversation; so rollicking that the MTS telemarketer who last called me closed the conversation by saying, "Well, I have to go now..." Was it something I said?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Extry! Extry! RRC students launch ePubs for iPad

 These are a few of my favorite ePubs.

 The ePubs have landed.

You can download them onto your iPad for free by clicking the links at the bottom of this post (instructions included!).

Red River College's CreComm advertising majors and second-year Graphic Design students have spent the better part of the school year working to write, design, program, and publish these interactive magazines (or ePubs) for the Adobe Viewer app on iPad.

The ePubs are targeted at college-aged students, include motion graphics and video, and feature ads for RRC and Berns and Black Salon and Spa (this semester's advertising client).

We're special! We believe that Red River College is the only educational institution in Canada with students producing interactive magazines for the iPad. So let's get on that RRC app already! OK, I'm calm. Let's continue.

The ePub project was funded by an award from RRC's Program Innovation Fund, which is designed to support technological innovation and continuous improvements in academic programming at RRC. I applied for it last year, and I thank them for giving it to me. They rule.

How to download your free ePubs

The ePubs are available for download by anyone with an iPad and the Adobe Viewer app. To download yours, simply follow these instructions:

1. Download the free Adobe Viewer app onto your iPad, as you would any app.

2. Click on the links on this blog post, below, and save the ePub files on your computer desktop.

3. Plug your iPad into your computer and launch iTunes.

4. Click on the iPad icon on the iTunes navigation bar on the left side of the iTunes screen.

5. Select "apps" near the top of the screen. You should now be looking at a menu of all of the apps you've downloaded onto your iPad. Page down below them, and you'll see the File Sharing menu.

6. Click on the Adobe Viewer app icon under File Sharing.

7. Drag your ePub files from your desktop into the Documents window under File Sharing.

8. Sync your iPad by pressing the Sync button near the bottom of the iTunes screen. Detach your iPad, select the Adobe Viewer app, and you're ready to enjoy...

Download away!
Some of these apps are awaiting the final proofread, design, and programming; I'll post updates as they become available.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Eleven new words to help you express yourself

Madonna: she was born this way.

Do you believe in love? Because I've got something to say about it - in 11 new words: 
  • Drunkle - Everyone has a drunk uncle. Let's cut to the chase and get to the great story you have about him.
  • Ex-concept - A formerly promising idea that turned out to be bad and is now doing time behind bars. 
  • Hairrible - Bad hair day. 
  • Jersday - Thursday, the day that you watch Jersey Shore. And one day before Friday, Friday - gettin' down on Friday! Partyin', partyin' - yeah!
  • Peanutbuttercupfingers - The automatic nickname for a person who drops something.  
  • Sadbandoned - Lonely and not lovin' it. 
  • Smellent -  Stinky and repellent.
  • Tipsy Turvey - The way a drunk walks. 
  • Tradigital - Back in the good ol' days, when the Internet was born.  
  • Zitto - A zit on the same spot on both sides of your face.

Chemical warfare tests over Winnipeg were as harmless as can be. Cough, cough.

10,000 Maniacs - "Poison in the Well"

Invisible chemicals. A conspiracy to hide the truth. A report saying it was all harmless fun.

The nuclear radiation leak in Japan has got me thinking about another famous case of poison spreading across an unwitting populace - except that the one I'm thinking about was intentional and initiated by the U.S. government.

And it happened right here in Winnipeg.

As articles in the May 15 to 29, 1997 editions of the Winnipeg Free Press reported:
"Zinc cadmium sulphide was released over Winnipeg between July 9 and Aug. 1, 1953 to initiate germ warfare agents. Winnipeg was one of 32 centres chosen, and only Dallas and Minneapolis were subjected to more tests."

"U.S. planes and trucks, and engineers stationed on roofs released six kilograms of the chemical 36 times on residential neighborhoods and fields."
Zinc cadmium sulphide is an odorless, colorless, cancer-causing agent, but a report commissioned by the U.S. Congress, paid for by the Pentagon, and chaired by Dr. Rogene Henderson in 1997 finds that - surprise! - the cancer-causing agent was "of such small quantity as to not cause any harm."

In fact, Winnipeg's city fathers were duped by the Pentagon into believing that the tests were intended only to "discover the behavior of smoke in built up areas" and would "provide valuable data for civil defence purposes."

This was at the height of the Cold War, so it seemed like a fine idea at the time - and like everyone was doing their civic duty by protecting Winnipeg in advance of the Russians launching a nuclear attack.

The City's health committee approved the request on Feb. 2, 1953, and in classic Friendly Manitoba fashion, we welcomed it with open arms.

According to the Free Press, the Henderson Report cites that "Civil defence and city officials and surrounding municipalities were cooperative, and considerable interest was shown by press and public."

Yes, I'm sure those "trace amounts of radiation" spewing out of Japan are nothing more than "a tear in a salty sea."