A musical evening in Red Deer

I know what you’re thinking: Red Deer? Music? Honestly, what on Earth are you thinking, Geoff? You haven’t exactly had the most … inspiring of times in Red Deer. Okay, I admit, I’ve not got the best stories of this, our third largest city in Alberta, but it’s far from the armpit of Alberta. And I had good reason, y’know!

Back in July, during the Calgary Stampede, the Tragically Hip played the Calgary Roundup, the outdoor concert of the year. I had wanted to go, but I totally messed up where the tickets were sold (stupid me, I thought it was Ticketmaster), and by the time I’d realised it … it was too late. Sold out, and I was out of luck.

This is what brought me to Red Deer.

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Christmas Blitzkrieg

When I have those moments when I think I’ve gotten too old, and I think I’m starting to feel like my age, I’m thankful for sudden sustained bursts of activity that remind me that, really, I just lead a much duller life than I used to, and my exhaustion is usually due to lack of sleep than from trying to do too much.

Heck, it even makes me feel a bit young! Ish. Sort of.

Except for the prolonged yawning, anyway.

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Why Disney buying Lucasfilm could be a good thing

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that today’s news totally threw me for a loop. I, like almost no-one else, saw that coming. I, like everyone else, immediately wondered what was going on, and what could it mean?

The first thing that came to mind was that the last time a major media mogul sold a widely-loved empire to Disney, he died not long after.

Okay, so the deal fell through at the time. Bear with me on this, already!

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Bronze is still a medal

I had a debate with my neighbour the other day over the Olympics, and notably how Canadians are approaching our successes at the Games. I love having debates with my neighbour — he’s well-educated, open-minded, (loves beer), and is a pragmatist when it comes to opposing views (he explores ideas, rather than shooting them down).

He was perplexed that Canadians — media, especially, but also actual people — were jumping for joy at winning medals other than gold. The idea of not winning, but getting second or third, seemed utterly bizarre, let alone the jumping for joy we exhibit when we get a medal.

That was my point, though: it’s a medal. And yes, it’s worth celebrating.

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An evening with the crew of the Starship Enterprise

Calgary’s Comic Convention seems to be growing by leaps and bounds every year. While I’ve never been, I’d heard how Leonard Nimoy had been scooped a couple of years ago (they even managed to take him out to Vulcan — no joke). Last year’s event was the biggest, ever. This year? Well, “record-setting” isn’t the right term, really. When the Fire Marshall has to tell people to disperse, you’ve got a number of problems — good and bad — to work yourself through.

But in particular, this year was important, because they’d somehow managed to arrange for the first-ever complete reunion (and the first gathering in celebration of the 25th anniversary year) of the complete (original) cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And for one night only, they’d all be on the same stage in an event called “Star Trek: TNG Exposed“.

Like I wasn’t going to go…

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TV is dead. Long live the internet!

I feel like an old man. I can now look at my kids, and say with far too much vigour: “When I was your age…” I refer to, of course, having to get off my ass, walking over to the cathode ray tube-based television set, change the dial to UHF, and move the oversized dial that changed the direction of the UHF antenna…

I’ve lost you, haven’t I? I shudder to think how few of you have an inkling of what I’m talking about. Yeah, that’s how old I am. I remember when there were only a handful of channels, when almost all of the content was on ABC, NBC, CBS, CBC, CTV, Global, and a few independent stations (such as the awesome CityTV and the the extremely nacent Fox). I remember the introduction of cable. I remember having to wait for the summer reruns because I missed that crucial episode of The A Team that everyone was talking about in class the next morning. I remember when the season debuts were a big thing. I remember when missing a live televised event was significant, because it was gone forever.

It seems somehow just as bizarre a concept as the Spanish Inquisition.

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The end of the individual experience

A few years from now, my kids will be old enough to ask me questions that will require a lot of explanation. Like, for example, what the internet was like when I was their age, how I survived without a mobile data device, did I watch TV in black and white (interestingly enough, I did, but only because the TV was black and white), and what did I name my pet dinosaur (‘cuz, you know, every kid makes that joke of their parents).

One question I also expect them to ask is how I watched TV without having my computer in front of me, firing off notes through Twitter, Facebook, or whatever social media network will be in vogue in 5-8 years from now. I’ll look at their cute, adorable little faces, and tell them as seriously as I can: There was a time when we watched TV on our own. We went to sporting events in small groups, we went shopping without telling everyone what we were doing, and we could vanish for hours on end without anyone knowing where we were.

The idea that we exist solely as individuals is rapidly becoming extinct.

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I Believe

Dear Canada,

I must, in true Canadian form, say “I’m sorry”. I doubted. All I could see was fault, all I could see was mediocrity, all I could see was the world laughing at our attempts to be more than our humble selves.  I thought that Vancouver was the wrong place to hold the Winter Olympics (having lived there a couple of years, I know how finicky the weather can be).

And I wasn’t alone. Thanks to media mainstays, such as The Guardian and the Denver Post, and CTV’s frequently slipshod and amateurish approach, there was little reason for me to think otherwise.

I find myself, now at the end, relieved to be wrong, and fiercely proud to be a repatriated Canadian.

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The failure of the electric car

In our Inconvenient Truth world, popular desire is starting to change the way some companies think. We’re seeing large companies produce “green” products, such as biodegradable detergents, packaging from recycled plastic, and tables made from recovered wood. We’re asking our service providers to show us how they’re working to reduce their output, through paperless billing and electronic messaging.

A few years ago, the “hybrid” car was introduced, a shining new example of how to make vehicles more efficient, and spawned a new movement of environmentally-aware manufacturing. Today, Nissan stands ready to finally release the first mass-market all-electric vehicle, amping up the competition to become the centre of the environmentally-friendly transportation universe. I, for one, welcome the arrival of the electric car, long overdue from formal acceptance in North America. At the same time, however, I also curse its arrival because it doesn’t actually address a primary problem.

The electric car strives to perpetuate a bad idea: that we all need a car.

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2009, A Year in Review

The year past was one of the toughest ones I can remember. It’s been a year of extreme highs, some pretty darks depths; my share of awesome joys, mixed with an unhealthy dose of stress. And that’s not when you consider the economy, I might add — things are even worse when you roll all that in.

The year closed out on a more sombre note for me, in many ways. Much quieter, and I got to spend a lot of time with my family (which I cherish now, and cannot regret in anyway), but the future is a little less certain. I’m less concerned about that fact than I thought I would be, however.

On with the year that just was… Continue reading