Showing posts from October, 2016

This election call may be recorded

In these late days of the U.S. election campaign, Lev Manovich has been swirling around in my memory.

I met Manovich in print during my time in the University of Alberta's MACT (Master of Arts in Communication and Technology) program. I was intrigued by the way media made a generation ago, in my case, clips of the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, were brought back to a kind of life. Loveable video and audio of Cookie had been mashed together with infamous video and audio of Stephen Duckett refusing to talk to news reporters, and, voila, I had my research project, courtesy those remix artists. 

Manovich, a new media theorist and computer science professor at City University of New York, made a point about the avant-garde aspect of digital media's moment. In the original avant garde movement of the 1920s, artists sought new forms and new ways to represent reality and see what is out there. 

"The new media avant garde is about new ways of accessing and manipulating informatio…

Seamus and Shelagh

In a poem whose name I do not remember, Seamus Heaney corrects those, including himself, who would rush to write. The bastion of sensation, he says. Do not waver into language. Do not waver in it. 
For Heaney, the bastion of sensation, the room from which he built, was the scullery. Know it cold, he advised. 
In our house, the kitchen is the bastion of sensation, and Shelagh is its poet. She knows it cold. I try to protect it by recording her kitchen words. This is the collection to date. 
Nothing really smells like brown sugar. Is there anything better than a lime? Is there anything better than a lemon? Is there anything better than an orange? I love parmesan cheese. Look at an onion. Just look at it! I love the smell of cilantro. It's the smell of mushrooms. I have discovered the mushrooms are the key! I love mint. The smell of mint. That's it. Can you smell the squash? It smells great. Wow! Smell that! Fresh basil! It's so pretty. Flakey salt is the best. When you come upstairs you ca…


An 83-year-old woman was killed while walking in a crosswalk in west Edmonton last week.

For her efforts, she was rewarded with a couple of curious streeters in a first online  Edmonton Journal story. 

Streeters, in the reporting industry parlance, are quotes from people who don't know what they're talking about. Okay, that's the critics' view. But the truth is the critics are often the very same reporters assigned to get streeters to fill out their stories with quotes that can add colour and personality—and length—to their news accounts. Streeters can be entertaining and they can be informative and they can be startlingly out of context. 

Startlingly happened in the account of the woman's death. Here was the first reported fact in the story: 

An additional fact came next. The woman was not in the wrong place, according to police.

After the officials were interviewed for the facts known at the time, it was time for the streeters.

It's worth making an obvious point. W…

My Strange, Wonderful, Wonderful, Strange Bike Ride Home Today

What a collection of short stories I rode through today as I pedalled downtown Edmonton.

First, the very predictable blow-through-a-red-light move from the driver of a big shiny pickup. The prospect of obeying the law was simply too much:

The encounter at Jasper and 101 St left me with a few thoughts and questions. 

For those wondering what an Oregon Stop is, this was it—performed elegantly by a two-ton behemoth in front of a pedestrian. Those who would make the story as car versus bike are blowing smoke. It has always been a story of the unexpected consequences of overprotected vehicle drivers versus the law. Instead of a licence plate, or in addition to a licence plate, wouldn't it be neat if the postal code of the driver was visible? Does he live in the downtown neighbhourhood he's disobeying the law in?What, if anything, does Starbucks think about the infraction? They live right there. Do they live there?Would it be a good idea to have laws that permit the registered owner of…

Field of Memes, 2016

Buckle up, baseball fans. 

Last year about this time I filed a headlined image or two after  Blue Jays post season games. It was called Field of Memes, a nod, of course, to the now departed W.P. Kinsella. 

Tonight, the Jays hosted the American League Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles. Marcus Stroman cruised through the first three innings and then got roughed up in the fourth by a two-run shot from Mark Trumbo, which erased the 1-0 lead written by Jose Bautista's solo homer in the second inning. 

Defence by both teams was solid. Offense was provided by the Toronto fan who hurled a foaming beer can at Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim as he corralled a fly ball in the seventh inning. Hey, tweeted, horrormeister Stephen King, whatever happened to polite Canadians? 

The Jays repeatedly refused to win, hitting into inning-ending double plays and demonstrating, as if fans needed more demonstrating, that small ball isn't how this team is built. That point was then driven home i…