By Andrew Potter - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - 0 Comments
I posted this earlier today, I know it. I even saw it in my…
I posted this earlier today, I know it. I even saw it in my rss feed. And now it’s gone, so I’m posting it again…
I’m off to Beijing for a week, from this coming Saturday to the next. I’m being sent thanks to the tremendous courtesy of my full-time employer, the Ottawa Citizen, to kick the tires on the Olympic facilities and related infrastructure. The official itinerary includes a lot of visits to food inspection sites and sewage treatment plants; I’m hoping to put together an unofficial itinerary that will yield experiences that people back home might want to read about.
I was last in China almost exactly eight years ago. My father and I visited Tiananmen square on May Day, got shepherded around a mall by a pair of strange college girls from Harbin, and found ourselves chased through the hutongs by an irate rickshaw driver. Good times.
So back I go, to see just how much the place has changed. Apart from going back to Tiananmen, I plan to skip the usual touristy stuff (Forbidden City, Great Wall, etc.) Any and all suggestions on what to see, where to eat and drink, and where to go are most welcome, especially things I can do in the evening. Is there a nightlife? Any rock music? Cool bars? An arts scene? Any expats looking to find a place to watch hockey are especially encouraged to drop me a line.
I’ll be blogging plenty from over there — more info to follow.
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 9:12 PM - 0 Comments
Flipping y’all back to Colleague Wells, who put his Google-fu up against Peter Van…
Flipping y’all back to Colleague Wells, who put his Google-fu up against Peter Van Loan’s communications director, and – well, you can decide for yourselves who came out ahead.
By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 7:40 PM - 0 Comments
Since Paramount seems to have no intention of releasing the fourth season of Taxi (making this one of the most frustrating of the never-completed classic series on DVD: it had five seasons, three were released, and the other two won’t be), it’s up to YouTube archivists to give us this famous scene from a season 4 episode, where Elaine (Marilu Henner) has to take Jim (Christopher Lloyd) to a swanky party, and he hasn’t totally embarrassed her yet, until…
By Martin Patriquin - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 6:56 PM - 1 Comment
Photo credit: Le Messenger Verdun
Unlike, say, Maclean’s Magazine, Montreal’s Bar Le Stud isn’t…
Photo credit: Le Messenger Verdun
Unlike, say, Maclean’s Magazine, Montreal’s Bar Le Stud isn’t much of a family establishment. According to my colleague Richard Burnett, who has written a queer issues column since before Bill Clinton was caught, the Papineau Street staple is a “heavy duty denim cruising bar for bears, cubs and the men who love them.” So you can’t help but cast a hairy eyeball at the Montreal woman who went there for a drink with her pops one sunny afternoon last year, and you can’t help but feel for the waiter who had to point out to her, in no uncertain terms, that Le Stud was a denim cruising bar for bears, cubs and the men who love them. Translation: Get out, please, you’re scaring the bears.
Well, the woman filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, claiming she was discriminated against because of her sex. Yesterday, the QHRC decided Le Stud couldn’t lawfully bar Studettes from the premises. Yay human rights and all that, but wait: this city is teeming with women-only establishments; I can count three yonic-only exercise joints within stumbling distance of Le Stud alone. Shouldn’t they be hauled in front of the HRC? Shouldn’t I be able to change my live 30 minutes at a time as well?
Burnett, who is all for women in gay bars, thinks so. Even though he probably hasn’t seen the inside of a gym since Nixon was caught, he’s going to sign up to Curves et al., and raise human rights hell if they don’t let him in. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” he told me.
Or the bear.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 6:01 PM - 0 Comments
If this government has demonstrated anything, it is that it has little interest in being taken seriously
The Scene. Michael Ignatieff was begging the Prime Minister. “A bit of respect for the institution, please.”
It was to laugh.
A night earlier, the government members of this House voted against a Bloc motion pledging confidence in Elections Canada, the independent institution of Parliament charged with overseeing the democratic process in this country. The motion passed, mind you, but the opposition of 117 Conservative MPs is now recorded for history. (As an aside, the Conservatives have made much of opposition voting habits this session, but their own leader didn’t bother to register his official vote on this one.)
So… what exactly? So the Conservatives won’t recognize the results of any future elections here? So they’ll demand that UN observers be called upon to ensure Elections Canada isn’t fixing the results? What, specifically, are we to take from this government’s public expression of non-confidence in Canadian democracy? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 5:43 PM - 0 Comments
Uh oh. While Gilles Duceppe rarely disappoints when he ventures into English, his response to a reporter’s question this afternoon will almost surely win him a lawsuit, this Prime Minister so litigious about protecting his universally acclaimed image.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 5:27 PM - 0 Comments
…is seriously not popular with some of the country’s finest constitutionalists. But surely people who’ve read Pierre Trudeau’s constitution and — shudder — teach it for a living are part of the Vast Liberal Plot, no? Anyway, Kady has details.
SPOTTED! A LIVE GOVERNMENT STAFFER UPDATE: Funny how much more quickly one hears from ministers’ offices when one doesn‘t ask a question. From Peter Van Loan’s office:
I see that you’ve started to pay attention to the proceedings at the legislative committee on Bill C-20 (Senate consultations).
It’s unfortunate that you decided to start paying attention today Continue…
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 5:11 PM - 0 Comments
3:25:48 PM …
Well, after a scenic tour of the back hallways of Wellington Building,
Well, after a scenic tour of the back hallways of Wellington Building, I finally managed to find Room 214, mostly by taking the advice given to Alice in Through The Looking Glass of walking in precisely the opposite direction from that which logic and common sense would dictate. So here I am, at a meeting of the Legislative Committee on C-20, which is studying the government’s bill on the election of senators, which is about to hear from two constitutional experts: John D. Whyte, and University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes, who is sitting quietly at the table.
Although if you look closely, you can see that he is twitching with anticipation, which isn’t surprising, since he’s about to excoriate the Prime Minister’s plan, which, he says, is an underhanded plot to circumvent the existing constitutional amending formula, reform the Senate by stealth, and bring about the end of parliamentary democracy itself.
Wait, was that a spoiler? Because that’s his position, which should make for an exciting afternoon.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 4:19 PM - 0 Comments
And from her Opposition critic?
Indeed. Keith Martin, in the scrums today, on the…
And from her Opposition critic?
Indeed. Keith Martin, in the scrums today, on the CIDA minister’s decision to untie Canada’s food aid from any requirement that only Canadian food suppliers be used:
“It’s very important. The untying of aid is a good decision on the part of the government. Untying aid enables the World Food Program to be able to get the best bang for the buck.”
We offer this up, not to facilitate Tory nyah-nyah look-even-our-critics-have-nothing-bad-to-say — although of course this will facilitate Tory nyah-nyah look-even-our-critics-have-nothing-bad-to-say — but to congratulate Martin and to wish Opposition critics would take this sort of cue more often. (The Conservatives and Alliance and Reform were usually just as bad on this.) If you’re outraged all the time, you’re not Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
It started when Jay Black wrote a post at TV Squad positing the idea that the way to make television better is to apply the auteur theory, heightening the public consciousness of the idea that showrunners are the people whose vision shapes and defines a show. The notion being that just as the new consciousness of directors helped improve American movies in the ’70s, television will improve if the public and critics — and the executives, who eventually have no choice but to follow the public — are more aware of TV as art and showrunners as artists.
Then Kay Reindl replied at Seriocity, taking issue with Black’s points but agreeing that there should be more public awareness of important showrunners and the history of the people who make TV.
What I’ll add here is that the way movies and TV shows are written and created has more in common than we may always realize. The thing about movie writing is that it is not really an art form in and of itself. (There are a few screenwriters, like Charlie Kaufman and Paddy Chayefsky, who can write screenplays that represent their own personal vision that shapes the whole movie. This is incredibly rare.) Movies are usually written to fit the vision of whoever is in control of the project: sometimes it’s the director, sometimes the producer. (The auteur theory was really developed in part to combat the idea, popular in the U.S. and France in the ’40s and ’50s, that the producer was by definition more important than the director and that the most important movies were the big prestigious productions.) The majority of movie scripts have contributions from more than one person, and even the ones that have only one writer are not usually that writer’s personal work, because the writer has been given notes and suggestions by the person in control of the film, and the script will not be “ready” until it is the script the director wants to shoot. (If the director is the writer, the same thing applies, of course. He/she won’t be satisfied with the script unless it’s what he/she wanted as a director.) Attempts to evaluate an individual screenwriter’s work separately from the director or producer almost always go wide of the mark, because the script would not have been the same with a different director or producer.
The same thing applies to television. Except a little more so, because whereas some directors can write all their own movies themselves, almost no showrunner can write every episode of a TV series by his or herself. (Unless it’s one of those BBC things where there are only six episodes to write. Or unless you’re Susan Harris.) So the creator and/or showrunner of a series has to have a writing staff. But while the individual writers can have some input — and as Reindl says, it used to be more common than it is now for showrunners to actually teach their writers how to produce and take a more active role in production (Greg Daniels of The Office is one showrunner who still has a reputation for doing that) — ultimately, every episode that’s written, no matter who write it, is filtered through the sensibility of the showrunner, if only because the showrunner has to approve it, and that means, just as a movie writer is writing to please the director, the TV writer is writing to please the showrunner. Which means that almost anybody who writes for movies or episodic television has to accept having their individuality crushed a little; they’re not supposed to write in their own unique and personal voice, they’re supposed to mimic somebody else’s.
The auteur theory is really just a truism: if something is good, then there’s somebody in charge. But that’s always been true. It’s also true that a lot of bad stuff has somebody in charge, and that’s also part of the theory; we need somebody to blame, too. I doubt TV will get any better if we raise public awareness of auteur showrunners, though. After all, most of the great Hollywood directors did better work before the general public knew they were auteurs; what mattered was that they knew they were in charge, and so did their writers and crews.
By Philippe Gohier - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 3:35 PM - 0 Comments
The latest La Presse-CROP poll shows many of the same trends as the Le…
The latest La Presse-CROP poll shows many of the same trends as the Le Devoir-Léger Marketing poll from last week. Namely, that the ADQ is bottoming out and the Liberals are on an upswing. As Vincent Marissal points out, it’s not all good news for Jean Charest and the Liberals, but things have been far, far worse:
When you look at the numbers from the latest CROP poll, the paradox leaps off the page: in the last month, the satisfaction rate with the Charest government has fallen eight points, but the Liberals are up 4% in voter intentions.
By Andrew Potter - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 2:49 PM - 0 Comments
I’m off to Beijing for a week, from May 3 to May 10. Offically,…
I’m off to Beijing for a week, from May 3 to May 10. Offically, I’m going to kick the tires on the state of the Olympic facilities and tour things like food inspection sites and sewage treatment plants. I’ll be looking for other stories and things to do as well, so here I am asking for help. I was last in Beijing eight years ago almost to the week, so while I’ve seen the main sites, I’ll be looking to see just how much has changed. If you have any suggestions on where to go, things to look for, stories to dig on, etc., please let me know. If you know of an art gallery or restaurant I have to visit, let me know. If you are in Beijing next week and want to try to find a TV showing hockey, drop me a line.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 2:42 PM - 0 Comments
James Curran, who as of yesterday was days away from giving up on the federal Liberal party, still has enough fight in him to argue that this morning’s CROP poll is not bad news for the Liberals in Quebec. And indeed it is so, sort of: a quick look at the riding-by-riding results in Quebec from 2006 suggests that if the NDP vote doubles and the Conservative vote increases noticeably, while the Liberal vote holds steady, no sitting Liberal MP is in danger of losing his seat. Indeed, the Liberals stand to pick up a few seats (say, Ahuntsic) — about as many as the Tories pick up (say, Gaspésie). So there is no danger the Quebec returns will result in the Liberals being replaced as Official Opposition by anyone. Not by the New Democrats, and not by the Conservatives.
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 2:32 PM - 0 Comments
The relevant bit, from yesterday’s liveblog:
David Christopherson just asked a very …
The relevant bit, from yesterday’s liveblog:
David Christopherson just asked a very good question that produced an
even better answer from Fraser – the money quote, I would suggest.
There are certain statutory conditions that apply to all officers of
Parliament that give an “inappropriate role” to a minister or the
government itself. “My communications strategies aren’t going to PCO,”
Wait, why does PCO get anyone’s communications strategy? That seems odd.
Anyway, Christopherson is widely supportive of her position and
offers the services of this humble committee, if necessary, to force
the issue in Parliament. Yes, bow, that sudden breeze was a shot.
Borys wants to know about that PCO policy too, the one that requires
officers of Parliament to turn over their respective communications
strategy. Specifically, when did that come into effect? She doesn’t
really answer the question. It’s a draft policy and she’s not sure if
was part of the old policy.
And… that’s it. Huh. Definitely worth following up on that, I’d say.
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 2:17 PM - 0 Comments
Hey, remember yesterday, when I liveblogged Auditor General Sheila Fraser’s appearance before Public Accounts…
Hey, remember yesterday, when I liveblogged Auditor General Sheila Fraser’s appearance before Public Accounts , and it was almost a total write-off as far as actual news? Until she told the committee that the Privy Council Office has issued a draft policy that would force her office, and every other ostensibly independent officer of Parliament, to hand over copies of their respective communications strategies?
Apparently it might come up in the House during Question Period today. Wouldn’t that be fun? Especially after that whole sullenly-refusing-to-declare-that-they-have-confidence-in-Elections-Canada tantrum that the government threw last night, it seems like the perfect opportunity for the Prime Minister to reiterate his unwavering support for, and belief in, the independence of Canada’s parliamentary officers by declaring any such directive null and void.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 2:02 PM - 0 Comments
“In fact,” Stephen Harper said yesterday, making a cameo at Question Period, “the Conservative Party of Canada has never refused any documentation to Elections Canada.”
So back, once more, to the Elections Canada affidavit. Continue…
By selley - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 1:08 PM - 0 Comments
Must-reads: …Dan Gardner on tobacco advertising; Thomas Walkom on our elusive recession; John Ivison
Land of Confusion
The Supreme Court is anti-canine and has too few Newfoundlanders. Our recession is missing. The NDP suddenly isn’t so sure about biofuels. And the in-and-out affair remains beyond the comprehension of a notoriously pro-Conservative columnist. What a day!
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 11:16 AM - 0 Comments
Not much to add to the original lookahead, really (which is typical for a…
By Martin Patriquin - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 11:11 AM - 0 Comments
Photo Credit: Phil Carpenter/CanWest
Barring a transit strike, horrendous snow removal or a delicious…
Photo Credit: Phil Carpenter/CanWest
Barring a transit strike, horrendous snow removal or a delicious scandal, municipal politics are easily ignored. Montrealers seem to think so, anyway. Voter turnout was about 35 percent in 2005; Mayor Gérald Tremblay was elected to office by just 11 percent of Montreal’s population. The tedious machinations of running this city – and Tremblay’s less-than-Kennedyesque poise – obscures another reigning truism of Montreal city politics: Relations between the city and its unions are almost mythically wretched. ”There has always been a great volume of labour relations in Montreal,” CUPE president Paul Moist told me last year.
Both sides hustle for the public’s favour; you’d think doing so in a city in the grips of playoff fever, where even the cops have those stupid flags flapping from their windows, would be a no-brainer.
Not so much. Last week, the Tremblay administration demoted a captain and fined the firefighters’ union $500,000 for defacing city property with the unsightly bleu blanc rouge of les Canadiens. ”I have Habs fever, but I don’t put graffiti or paint in the windows of my house,” Tremblay told reporters. He then donned a cape and horns to declare war on his next targets: apple pie, rainbows and little fluffy kittens.
By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 10:32 AM - 0 Comments
I wish I could make fun of American Idol for doing Neil Diamond Night, but despite the absurdity of referring to the Laurence Olivier Jazz Singer as a career highlight, it can’t be done: Neil Diamond’s a talented guy. (“I’m a Believer” may be one of the most over-played songs, but it’s a good song and he wrote it.) Most of the songwriters covered on these “Theme Nights” are good songwriters — okay, I’m still not convinced on Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The thing is, though, and I know many other people have pointed this out before me, the song choices on American Idol may be linked with the show’s declining ratings among young viewers. (Mind you, a ratings “decline” for AI just means its ratings go from infinite to merely cosmic. But since they’re on a network that really doesn’t have many big hits besides AI and House, merely great ratings for AI are actually below Fox’s requirements; they need AI to carry their entire network.) It’s not just that these viewers rarely hear a contemporary song, they rarely hear a song that has much of an edge to it. AI always has to do a complicated balancing act between appealing to younger viewers — since it’s on a network that has no interest in any viewer over 40 — and its true identity as an old-fashioned family variety show. In the last couple of years, what seems to have happened is that more “core” Fox viewers have gotten wise to the fact that the show really is aimed at older viewers, and they’re slowly losing interest.
I don’t think there’s actually much that AI can do about that. Song selection on variety shows has always been a problem, because you need songs that can appeal to a broad range of viewers. It’s not like on late-night shows, where the musical sequences are short enough that anybody who doesn’t like this particular kind of music can go to the kitchen for a snack. (After the host introduces the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, millions of refrigerators are opened all across the world.) Mass-audience prime-time variety shows have to be as safe as possible in the songs they pick, which is why if you look at an old episode of Sonny and Cher you’ll notice that they’re also singing a bunch of songs from 20 years ago. Even Sonny and Cher were a little more contemporary than a song like “Teach Me Tonight,” which they sang at the beginning of one episode — and which, surprise surprise, has also been covered on American Idol — but a song from 1953 has a low risk of offending any large segment of the viewership. The question is whether AI has crossed the line where their low-risk song selections are actually turning people off, and thereby becoming a little riskier than they were supposed to be.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 7:42 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberal’s Ontario Assistant Caucus held a Wonderful Wednesday get together at the Metropolitan…
The Liberal’s Ontario Assistant Caucus held a Wonderful Wednesday get together at the Metropolitan Brasserie Restaurant and took the opportunity to bash Finance Minister Jim Flaherty with buttons. “Ontario: Flaherty’s to discover” and “My Canada includes Ontario” were a response to the Finance Minister’s comments that Ontario was “the last place” in Canada to start a business.
Power Liberals showed up like Glen Pearson.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 7:26 AM - 0 Comments
It’s true. Well, “polling true” anyway, and that sometimes resembles real-life truth: according to today’s big CROP poll, one-quarter of supporters of Mario Dumont’s right-leaning, politically incorrect Action Démocratique party at the provincial level in Quebec would have voted for Jack Layton’s leftie, politically correct NDP at the federal level. Mind you, Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 7:17 AM - 828 Comments
In a move to highlight job losses in Canada’s clothing manufacturing sector, apparel union…
In a move to highlight job losses in Canada’s clothing manufacturing sector, apparel union Unite Here greeted MPs outside their Centreblock entrance to inspect for “Made in Canada” labels. All MPs had been warned about the fashion checkpoint.
Andre Arthur passed the test.
Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, got the OK.