Alter-nothing!

This article by Matt Welch in the Columbia Journalism Review is worth reading. It is about Weblogs and how they are beginning to “deliver on some of the wild promises about the Internet that were heard in the 1990s.” However, it is most notable for the first part, where it slams the so-called “alternative press” for being more conformist that the mainstream press.

No kidding. Visit any medium-size or larger city in North America and pick up their alternative weeklies (aka, “cultural tabloids.”) They all have the same pop band write ups, the same anti-Hollywood/pro-indy movie reviews, the same sex columns, the same anti-globalization rants, the same prostitution ads in the back, and the same editorial cartoons.

In Montreal, on any given week, Hour, the Mirror, and Voir all have the same band or pop icon on the front page. Hour and Voir are both owned by Communications Voir, Inc., Canada’s largest alternative media corporation (who are involved in mergers and acquisitions, just like the big guns), and the Mirror — itself incorporated under dubious and possibly illegal circumstances which have not yet been settled in court — is now owned by Quebecor, a huge media convergence corporation.

Not that I’m against their pop culture, anti-globalist, so-called alternative points of view. I’m just bored by the sameness and predictability of it all. It would be really nice to have a truly independent newspaper in this town (and in every town) that was free of dogma, a paper that achieved its editorial balance (itself a nebulous concept) by mixing up its editorial point-of-view. Something that challenges both the left and the right — and the middle!

As for blogs, Welch argues that their proliferation offers four things: “personality, eyewitness testimony, editorial filtering, and uncounted gigabytes of new knowledge”.

Now if only there was a robust and reliable way to index them.

Relaunch!

Welcome to the new blork blog. I still have a lot of tweaking to do to make this version as functional as the old one over at blork.org, but I’m working on it.

I hope to someday migrate this back to the blork.org domain, but don’t sit on your hands waiting for it. Please update your bookmarks to point here.

Coincidentally, after spending much of yesterday on the migration of to TypePad — which is hosted by TyePad — the server for the old blork.org blog went down. Just, like that, right on cue — phhht! — down it goes, dragging the likes of mikel.org, billegible, and the new forum with it, as they are all hosted by the same ISP.

In fact, the server went down while I was looking at it. I had an FTP window open on one of my folders, and I noticed it was behaving strangely. Then — phhht! — it was gone! Over the next minute or so, all of my folders in blork.org just vanished!

Hopefully it will come back soon, because all of my photos are still hosted there, which is why the relaunch is short on images. New posts will likely have images hosted at TypePad.

Reason to listen to CBC Radio #234:

People like to joke that all Hollywood movie previews are done by the same production crew, using the same earnest but formulaic narrator:

In a time…
When [situation that describes a norm…]
One [man/woman]…
[Behaviour that defies the norm]…

This reminds me of how TV shows used to begin in the 60s and 70s. Back then, advertising was important, but not to the extent it is now, so they were not always trying to squeeze every second of advertising time in where ever they could. As a result, TV shows took a couple of minutes to begin (unlike today’s 5-15 seconds).

A show would begin with some bad and too loud orchestrated music made worse because it was blaring through a cheap two-inch speaker on the front of the ol’ Philco-Ford television. Then some stern but enthusiastic-sounding man’s voice (and it seemed to be the same man for every TV show) announced the name of the show:

The FBI!
or
Mannix!
or
Cannon!

Behind the voiceover you would see fuzzy images of men in hats (60s) or loud shirts (70s) chasing bad guys and smoking cigarettes. The music would continue to blare and the announcer would say “Starring…” and would list the star’s names while their images appeared, looking either heroic and intense, or kicked-back and smiling (from having caught the bad guy). There would be three or four stars, and then there would be the “guest stars.”

I figured out that a “guest star” was basically a B-grade television actor who couldn’t get a regular gig on a series, yet was known enough to be able to make the rounds on a per-episode basis, showing up as a bank robber on one show, a DA or maybe a crime victim on another, and so on. Often there would be one “special guest star” but I could never figure out what made them so special.

By the time they cycled through all the stars’ and guest stars’ names, and showed various men in hats or loud shirts driving big cars on big California roads while chasing bad guys and smoking cigarettes, several minutes had passed.

One of my favorite shows of this era was “The FBI” (1965-74) starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. I liked it because it taught me that all American federal agents are virtuous, and because I loved to hear the stern but enthusiastic man say “Starring Efrem Zimbalist Junior!” I couldn’t even imagine how such a name would have come about, or even how you would spell it. It was the most insane name I had ever heard in the eight or so years I had been alive.

I thought it was particularly nuts because if he was Efrem Zimbalist Junior then there must be an Efrem Zimbalist Senior out there. My God, two of them! At some point I decided the name must be fake, some kind of nom de tube, because by then I had learned that nobody in Hollywood uses his or her real name. The “junior,” I decided, must be an affectation (another word I couldn’t then spell).

Tonight, however, I was listening to CBC Radio late night classical music in the background and I’ll be damned if the announcer didn’t talk about some piece of work having once been interpreted by the famous violinist “Efrem Zimbalist” (no junior). So I Googled around a bit and discovered that Junior is indeed the son of Senior, and that Junior was a known film and TV actor since long before “The FBI.” Apparently, junior has spawned another, Efrem Zimbalist III, who works as a high-falutin’ publishing executive.


Reason to have a blog #462:

So you can write about such utterly useless trivia and maintain the mistaken belief that by doing so you make it somewhat useful.