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|Thursday, December 27th, 2001: Over the Boxing Day holiday I experienced a bit of an epiphany about entertainment in this new jack millennium. I'm still figuring it out as I write this, but I'll try to be as succinct as I can...
December 26th began with me in line for Sam The Record Man's last-ever Boxing Day sale. It was a bittersweet affair, best illustrated by the response to a clerk trying to entertain us in queue, telling us about the huge savings waiting for us inside. He was clearly expecting to be cheered, but how could we, knowing full well that we were naught but vultures, about to strip the last remnants of flesh from the carcass of a once-mighty landmark for music?
Music was clearly Sam's biggest problem. I read in a CANOE story that same day that stated more folks were buying blank CDs than the other kind. Even after the fall of Napster, music sharing (piracy) is still going strong today. DVDs are, for the moment, a more protected format, but not for long...
Speaking of DVDs, the busiest section of Sam's was its movie department. There were enough copies of Pearl Harbor for everyone, but The Celebration, Dogma 95's blueprint for DIY cinema, was nowhere to be seen.
All this led me to wonder if, despite the democratization of the means to produce content, the actual value of said content hadn't slipped even a little bit. Think about the biggest Hollywood box office hits of the past year, then remove from that list any that were sequels, remakes or adaptations of some kind. Have any left?
All this was churning through my head until I finally got my turn at the Sam's cashier. Then it was off to buy my only big ticket Boxing Day item, a new gaming console (if you want to know which one, read beyond the fanboy alert at the end of this entry). It's getting hard to ignore video games when trailers for them and the machines on which they run are now appearing regularly in movie theatres and on prime time TV. And the industry is continuing to grow -- Did you know that since 1996 more revenues in the U.S. have come from video games than folks going to the movies? I guess I shouldn't have been surprised then, when neither the console or game I wanted was even slightly discounted for the post-Christmas glut. Indeed, many games and their hardware were sold out or getting close.
With this mass acceptance, it seems to me that interactive entertainment is where all the innovation is these days. So maybe my five months at nerd school wasn't such a bad idea after all. Now if I could only put it to use...
Sounds like a New Year's resolution, don't it?
[FANBOY ALERT -- STOP READING HERE IF YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE LATEST GAMING CONSOLE WAR]
I've come to the conclusion that the Microsoft Xbox is gay, not in the homophobic sense, but rather in the sense that it's best suited for gaylords. The Dreckbox certainly won't win over any female gamers with either its styling or its product, and female gamers are vital for this genre to get something it desperately needs -- respect! None of its current games are of any interest to me, either -- Shenmue II will apparently be an Xbox exclusive for North America, but not until late next year -- and as for the machine itself, I don't particularly want another hard drive or DVD player, thank you very much!
I opted instead for a Nintendo GameCube, solely so I could play Pikmin, my vote for the most original title of the year -- and apparently I'm not alone. Even if video games aren't yet able to make us cry, I felt more than a little remorse when I accidentally drowned my entire army of cute, multicoloured critters.
|Monday, December 24th, 2001: Here's hoping that all you lovely readers spend your holiday chowing down on lots of home-cooked food.
I've been slowly making my way through Diet for a New America, and found some enlightening info: Apparently the typical North American turd is composed of about 75% bacteria, meaning, among other things, that the stool is old and hard, sitting in your bowels for way too long and requiring excessive force to be squeezed out. This is exactly how people get hemorrhoids, which are actually burst blood vessels in your ass. Too much squeezing can actually make your ass veins go varicose!
I find this information quite timely, as a McDonald's franchise has suddenly appeared in the food court of my condo. Against my better judgement I supped there one evening, and what I ate stayed with me for way too long. At least there's truth in advertising -- there's more than a little McDonald's in everyone!
Sunday, December 16th, 2001: Today, some economic wisdom from someone who doesn't know squat about business fundamentals...
I had an audition yesterday for Ricola, and what bugged me even more than the weekend casting session was the tag-line for the spot, something like "Ricola, the sore throat lozenge you don't need a sore throat for". So what exactly do you need to enjoy the vapid, non-taste of this particular brand of placebo? Poor judgement?
Likewise, the slogan for that Pfizer show I did earlier this week also got under my craw: "Pfizer -- Beyond #1". How the hell can you go beyond #1? It's mathematically impossible!
I think what we're seeing here are two examples of unnecessarily aggressive expansion. Contrast these cases for a moment with your typical mom and pop convenience store. For a business like that to suddenly expand by aggressively buying out all the other retail space on their block would be foolish; nobody needs that amount of slightly overpriced convenience.
Similarly, Ricola should be content with only its sore-throated customers, and Pfizer can relax at least a little bit with whatever first-place ranking it thinks it has. If more companies concentrated on maintaining their businesses rather than expanding them, maybe our economy wouldn't be in such dire straights.
End of sermon. Amen.
Thursday, December 13th, 2001: I was expecting a flood of inquiries about Gorilla Productions, but y'all must have figured out it was a fake.
You are, of course, correct. It's actually one of my proposals for that CBC Innovations thing, a pitch for a show best described as SCTV for the age of the Internet. I could give you more details, but then you'd be able to steal 'em!
I just got back from a three-day gig to Vancouver -- photos are now available. Seven of us actor-types put on a show for Pfizer, then directed some of the employees in sketches of their own. I returned yesterday just in time to check in on my Conservatory kids, who have a 7PM show at The Tim Sims this Sunday. Check it out!
Sunday, December 9th, 2001: Well, this old dog has learned about as much HTML as he's able. So in the interest of you, my loyal readers, I think it's time to hand the coding over to the pros...
Gorilla Productions is a full-service production house based in the Toronto area. They're new on the scene and are hungry for business; I'm taking advantage of this and handing over the day to day management of my domain to them. If their own site is any indication, you can expect lots of bells and whistles to be coming this way!
Friday, December 7th, 2001: All my Toronto peeps are hereby commanded to grab this week's print edition of eye magazine. In it is a profile of Jenny Parsons, along with a listing of local comic book stores where you can buy her graphic novel about The Second City's trip to Asia.
You'll also see a lovely photo, taken digitally by yours truly!
This week, in between some corporate whoring, I'm working on some pitches for CBC Innovations. What it is is basically the CBC saying: "we're losing television viewers and we don't have a clue how to get them back. Maybe the Internet can help!"
In the spirit of sharing, you can download the details right here, then come up with a pitch of your very own:
Hell, it's not like the CBC is going to make any of us millionaires or famous!
Saturday, December 1st, 2001: Canada Loves New York, but New York couldn't care less.
After a decadent Soho breakfast with my brother Tom, we headed uptown to Broadway's Roseland Ballroom, the venue for the Canada Loves NY rally. Though we arrived a full half-hour before the event was to begin, there was already a line-up over five blocks long, five New York City blocks long!
Luckily, Tom spotted some friends at the head of the line, and we quietly joined them. Inside the building, we learned that over twenty thousand Canadians and ex-pats had shown up for the event, and that 53rd Street was closed off to accommodate those who couldn't get inside. There seemed to be no shortage of complimentary Roots ball caps, though, and every Canadian passing through the ballroom doors also received a complimentary CD. More on that later.
Here's what I think happened with the show: Celebrities who could have (and should have) been there most likely underestimated how big the turnout would be. Evidence for this can be seen in Brad Robert's surprised statement from behind his guitar: "Wow, I thought this was really gonna suck!". The problem is, it really did kinda suck. Where was Mike Myers, who spent all those years at SNL, just around the corner at 30 Rockefeller Plaza? Where was Tom Green, who hosted his MTV show just down the street? Instead we got the drunken lead singer of The Crash Test Dummies and some newfie songstress with a canned rhythm section?! Political correctness sure didn't keep anyone off the stage -- a male/female team of contortionists from Cirque du Soleil all but had sex on it!
Things were even worse outside. I left the ballroom to get some photos of the crowd on 53rd Street before the sun went down. But there was hardly a crowd at all. What must have happened is that the long lineup behind us must have found something better to do when told that the Roseland was full. On a December day in New York City where the temperature was almost twenty degrees, this is of course entirely plausible.
The few that did stay to hover around the video screen must have been embarrassed by all the New Yorkers walking by, oblivious to what was going on. I know I was. I heard a cop tell one of the locals that the Prime Minister of Canada was inside, after which hearty laughter was shared all around. At that point I took off my free Canada Loves NY cap and snuck back to my brother's place for a listen to my free CD. Then I got even more depressed -- look for an MP3 to be posted here soon.
No matter what the news told you, Canada Loves NY was a low point, at least for this country's entertainment industry. The organizers and volunteers should be commended for their hard and inspired work, but us showbiz types let them down. Shame on us!