Friday, March 31, 2006

Feeling: Write

You Only Live Once. Or Is That Twice?

It's been a while since I felt this way. To be precise, it's been 393 days since I felt this way.

February 25, 2005—the day I last wrote something worth reading. Almost hard to believe my mediocrity lasted that long. Sure, in the last year, I’ve probably written some passable pieces. Stories that read right, but to me, don’t feel right. I couldn’t figure out what was getting in the way. I tried to work it out, but there were no answers to my questions.

Then came today, really, my last chance of the semester to write something good, maybe even great. I’m not sure if I hit great, but what I’ve written is good for me, because the story fell into place. The quotations found themselves in the right paragraphs. And the ending made sense.

My story hasn’t been edited, and so, it still might be considered amateurish crap, but I know better. I was ready to concede this year, write it off, and say, like a certain Toronto hockey team, better luck next year. I was ready for someone to bag me, tag me and toss me into the morgue. But just when I felt hopeless, roughing my hair, wondering if I could actually write again, I tried once more. And then, a breakthrough.

Sure, on the surface, I might sound overdramatic, but I write to an audience of writers and I know each one of you has had the same feeling.

I’m not sure when the story will be published, and with this post, I’ve probably over-hyped it, but when you write something that puts back the swagger in your step, the grin on your face, and the cool breeze ‘round you, it needs to be shared.

A link is coming.

And thank you for reading. I don’t say that enough.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Round Up

The Post Where I Summarize Some Things From The Week

And so goes Week 11. Not as busy as I thought it would be.

On tap this weekend, two Eyeopener stories to finish writing, a resumé to update, a letter to write, and some other shit that's getting too long to talk about in this sentence.

But the year is almost finished, and then it will be four months of summer spent in an office. Today, I also signed up for a 13-hour shift in said office in two Sundays. Still not sure what I was thinking.

My Was-Conscious-In-Class record through this week is 44-23 (66 per cent), which isn't great for the average student, but I haven't been able to stay awake in class since first year, so it's a passable record.

Laura, who woke me up in most of my classes last semester, was back in Toronto today. Great to have lunch with her, and get caught up. I'm going to try to work out some excursion to London this summer.


Right now, I've had Richard Ashcroft's solo albums on a seemingly endless loop. Ashcroft, best known for "Bittersweet Symphony," is, and I have said this before here, probably the most under-appreciated singer/song writer in music today. I've never heard him played once on Canadian radio or on MuchMusic.

If you (whoever 'you' is) wants a free sample, I got something that'll do the trick.

Book Review

Seems like an interesting book.

Britney Spears

A clear sign this blog may be headed to hell is that I'm writing about Britney Spears. If you have been fortunate to miss the story about her nude sculpture, below, then you're lucky.

Here's how Britney Spears responded to the sculpture on her website:

"Just like the false tabloids, Daniel Edwards got it all wrong," wrote Ms. Spears. "I delivered Sean Preston in the hospital, as everybody with a computer knows. I realize there are a lot of people who envy me for how rich and happy I am, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they confused making babies with delivering them.

"I admit I was in that [doggy] position when Sean Preston was conceived, but only because I was too drunk to stand up like Kevin prefers. Furthermore, we weren't doing it on a bear rug. I was wearing the rug because we had just gotten back from a costume party."

That sounds about right.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Transcription Says

Tale Of The Tape

The last couple of days I've been busy transcribing a tape of a person I'm profiling. Maybe I'm a bit self-conscious, but I sound like an idiot on this tape. My questions sound amateurish and it sounds like my tongue is in the way when I speak.

Wish I Had Taped

Ian Brown was one of the guest speakers in Reporting today. Brown, by a wide margin, was the best guest speaker in three years. That's probably because he spoke in funny anecdotes.

He also gave a lesson on the four things that make a great story. And that lesson was more valuable to me then all of the talk from guest speakers about journalism's future. As long as storytelling exists, journalism, in some form, will, too.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Expired Subscription

I Am Michael Crobit

Back when I was dead set on going into the magazine stream (boy, do I talk about the streams or what?), I subscribed to Masthead--the magazine about magazines. Then I decided to remain in print, which also meant that I'd let the subscription to Masthead expire. I did and it did in December. Access to the magazine's online subscriber content was denied starting that month, and I didn't care--I had been barely keeping up with the 24-page mag each issue anyways.

Funny thing happened, though. Next month came, I got an issue. Then the next month, another issue. And on. Today, I got the March/April 2006 issue. But it doesn't make sense. My print and online subscription was tied together.

But I may have figured out the source of my free issues. It seems to be a mistake by someone in circulation. All of my issues since the first one I received have been addressed to one, Michael Crobit. I never bothered telling the magazine different, and so it appears, the while Michael Czobit's subscription has expired, Michael Crobit's subscription is good at least through March/April.

Weather Man

Fine, sunny day out there in Mississauga, and I assume Toronto. It's even brought out some weird ones from hibernation. On Lakeshore, I spotted a prostitute strutting. Or at least I thought it was a prostitute: high heels, wacked-out hair, make-up done by a slob, mini-skirt 12 inches in length, torso exposed, looking like cheap meat. But maybe I'm totally off-base. Maybe that's the new hot look.


Monday, March 27, 2006

The Rambler

Thoughts Without Order

The school year is coming to an end. I'm on Week Eleven, and most of my assignments should be finished within the next 10 days. I can't say I'll miss any of it.


In Love & Sex today, we handed in our essays (mine was shoveled from a bull's toilet) and we had a discussion about homosexuality. The professor peddled facile arguments for and against homosexuality. The overlying theme was that homosexuals are persecuted, which was no revelation.

I can't understand a person who would judge someone based on that person's sexual orientation. Get on with your fucking life and stop worrying about someone else's.


In Love & Sex today, I obviously didn't listen to the lecture. Instead I read an article on racism written by some loser from the white supremacist website (that's not a link to their site, btw). The argument in the article is that whites are asked to kill their own race to help other races, and this is wrong. I'll admit, the writer makes a compelling argument until you realize that he's out of his fucking mind, which takes little time to realize.

Stormfront's goals are summarized below:

Most of the members of Stormfront say that they are opposed to any form of "race-mixing" between the human races and support various forms of racism. The articles posted there often denounce non-white immigration and strongly advocate such views as white nationalism, white supremacy, white separatism, anti-Semitism, anti-Islamic sentiment, and anti-homosexuality and such feelings as white pride.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't say there's been a lack of success for any of those goals. For me, there is only one race on earth and it isn't defined by skin colour or religion. But I'm an idealistic fool.


You see those three stars above? I got slammed in one of my journalism assignments by an unnamed professor, because she said a newspaper likely wouldn't use them. Funny, I remember the Globe, the Star, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times using them. But see, those papers live in the Here and Now.

This is another reassurance that a move to online was a good idea where I can avoid old conventions and writing stories that read like boring wire copy.


In Love & Sex today, the prof said that Ryerson was an enlightened crowd. Oops, sorry for making you spit your drink all over your computer.

Most of my non-journalism courses have been plagued by a lack of intelligence and enlightenment. And those are the better ones. Worse, after listening to a conversation between some first-year journalism students in my Punishment class, I think the lack of intelligence has spread to the freshmen j-skool crowd.


When do I shut up? Right now.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

End Game

Toronto's Season Dies On HNIC

After an agonizing 70 games, it looks now--for sure, without a doubt, no asterisk, no ifs, no buts--that the post-season is out of reach for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Except, after losing twice to the Habs this week, the Leafs are only seven points out of the final playoff spot and there will be a small contingent of fans who will still "Be-Leaf" (three weeks ago, someone outside Union was selling t-shirts with that on the front for $5).

But I'm through giving my time to this season's team. I've been a Leafs fan since I was eight. I've stood by the team's unsuccessful playoff runs, horrible trades and awful drafting. But I've been loyal too long to totally give up on them. Next season (Leaf fans always bring it up) is the team's chance to get young and get rid of the old players, who the fans may love, but have failed to win.

The team seems to be on the brink of self-destruction. Summer comes, it'll be time to make sure the job has been done.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Oh, Fantasia!

But How's She Gonna Read The Script?

If you haven't heard, then I'll tell you. Lifetime, obviously one of America's classiest TV stations, is making a film about Fantasia Barrino--the inspirational American Idol winner.

It's "the story of how she overcame sexual abuse, poverty and illiteracy to win the Fox TV talent competition's third season, create a double platinum album and grab four 2006 Grammy nominations."

Fantasia will play herself, which finally makes Paula Abdul's claim true that Fantasia is a movie star. You might cynically think that Fantasia has no acting skills, but there isn't a need to worry: she's been putting on an act ever since season three of Idol.

I assume that most of the film will be culled from her fantastic "auto"-biography, Life Is Not a Fairy Tale. It's a novel, er, I mean non-fiction thriller that I couldn't put down. Two parts heart-warming, eight parts vomitocious. I've read it twice, though, and it's taught me quite a bit.

The main thing I've learned is that all of my problems can be solved by winning a televised singing contest. It's a goal that I'm working towards today. You might cynically think, "But, Mike, you have a horrible singing voice." To that, I would reply: "It didn't stop Fantasia."


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Concert Post

Richard Ashcroft & Coldplay

Ashcroft opened with a 55-minute set. He played mostly from the last Verve album and his new CD, both of which are very good and worth a listen. Midway through his set, I had the feeling that the audience probably didn't appreciate Ashcroft despite his indisputable talent. It wasn't until he performed "Bittersweet Symphony," the final song of his set, did everyone stand, cheer and sing along. Great opening act.


It's not often I get to see a music DVD before it makes it into stores. And when I say "not often," I do mean never. But tonight was different. After a week of, let's face it, spoiling myself with really great music, it came to the main event--the band I wanted to hear more than any other this week, Coldplay, who were filming this concert and one tonight for an upcoming DVD. Martin apologized for the cameras, said the band had auditioned audiences in many cities, and was afraid that we had come in number one.

Coldplay played a 95-minute set, and captured great moments and a great crowd for their eventual DVD. There were some things that won't make the cut--Martin changing his shirt on stage midway through the set and him swearing, admitting he had no more b.s. stories to tell.

Sitting 12 rows from the stage was, undoubtedly, a great view. You felt the music and the atmosphere. Best of the week. Hell, best I've ever seen. I'll be getting that DVD, yeah.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Concert Post

James Blunt

James Blunt has only been a major British act for a year or so, but his performance at Massey Hall would fool you into thinking different. In an 80-minute set, he played to and off the crowd expertly.

Blunt played most (if not all) the songs off his debut album, several b-sides, one cover and a brand new song. And if the new song is to be on his next album, a sophomore jinx is something not to worry about.

His most powerful performances were his piano pieces, including "No Bravery." On "Goodbye My Lover," he told the audience that he was losing his voice, perhaps to coax the crowd into singing along to give him a boost. The crowd did on that song, and continued to throughout his set. Another fine performance was a psychedelic, rocked-out, blues rendition of "So Long Jimmy."

In between songs, Blunt was a good comedian and a better host. The applause Blunt received was appropriate, and the encore call was among the loudest I've heard.

Next up in Toronto for Blunt, I would think, is a bigger venue, say the ACC. On the basis of this show, Blunt is ready.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Concert Post

The Arctic Monkeys & Oasis

The night started with the Arctic Monkeys playing a 35-minute set featuring most of the tracks from their debut album. The band was tentative for a couple of songs but warmed to the crowed quickly. The set received a good reaction, but I could tell this wasn't an Arctic Monkey-crowd.

Oasis's set lasted more than 90 minutes. Hearing "Wonderwall," "Don't Look Back In Anger" and "Champagne Supernova" with 19,000-plus people singing along is something every Oasis fan should experience. Their set was solid, and there was little doubt who the people came to see.

The Globe said it was a risk for Oasis to have the Arctic Monkeys open for them because of the possibility that the Next Big Thing, as it was, would steal the show. The Arctic Monkeys's opening set was good enough for me to forget that Oasis would be coming up later.

Before Oasis started playing "Rock 'n' Roll Star," Liam Gallagher dedicated the song to a "breath of fresh air, the Arctic Monkeys"--proof that Oasis was not playing in fear and they were comfortable as being the big band from the 90s. (And hell, a Gallagher endorsement can go along way with Oasis fans.) The Arctic Monkeys will be the Big Thing soon. But, at least, not today.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Suicide Note

A Word Or Two On Suicide

Standing in a crammed GO Train makes me reflect on suicide. No, not mine--I'll be here for a long while--but other people's suicide.

Last night, my taxi drove along Lakeshore. I saw a collection of lights, cop cars, fire trucks and ambulances. It was a real spectacular display. I also saw officers covering up with white sheets what I presumed to be bodies. The story.

This morning, my GO Train was cancelled because of the continuing investigation. Instead, I traveled on the aforementioned, uncomfortable, sardine-can-commute.

If it's a person's prerogative to commit a selfish, thoughtless act, such as suicide, I have no problem with it. Of course, I also have no respect for that person. The 'heroic' suicide doesn't exist; suicide is a true coward's last act.

But if you're going to go the coward's route and take your life, why choose the train as your instrument? Ever heard of an overdose? Or, in Canada it's quite easily achieved, white death? I hear it's a wonderful way to go.

I get it: these two people crushed on the tracks have their message finally heard. They inconvenienced thousands of people. Cool. But the end is all that matters. And in the end, we're still breathing; they're just an inch in a newspaper and a few sighs.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Way

Filming today from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thank you for your cooperation.

A film crew was filming the film, The Way, at BCE Place today - I'm repeating that for no reason.

The Way is a made-for-TV movie: strike one. Also, the plot that IMDB provides is this: "An influential New England gang loses its mob boss and turns to witchcraft to handle its criminal enterprises."

Okay, since when was New England known for its gangs and mob bosses? And second, witchcraft? Are fucking kidding me?

There should be a committee in place at BCE Place to ensure that horrible "films" like this don't get filmed there. This movie is a disgrace, and that's just its concept, not considering the horrible acting and dialogue that surely will be a part of this film.

My pre-review: 0 stars.


Course Selection

A Look At My Choices

Tomorrow kicks off My Enrollment Appointment, when I choose, for the last time, a course to take at Ryerson (and do click on that to see the new Ryerson homepage - I like it).

Despite being listed, the documentary courses aren't actually available to print/online/mag students, because we don't have the prerequisites needed.

Here are my choices:

ENG 700 Great Journalism

A fourth year seminar on selected twentieth century journalists who have not only reported on but been actively involved in and sometimes affected the world around them. Their work is marked by stylistic experimentation as they explore the boundaries of conventional journalism and search for prose forms capable of expressing the complexity of contemporary life. (PR)

Lect: 6 hrs.

This seems like it would be a fun course to take. I've even heard good reviews about it, but the problem is it asks for quite a bit of reading. Like 10 books in 13 weeks. And some of them, like Thompson's The Great Shark Hunt, are fantastic, but they're also long. And I'd have to write one final exam. If I don't take this course, I'm finished writing exams April 18, which I've said before because I like to repeat myself.

JRN 802 Investigative Techniques

This course assists students in gaining the necessary skills to create investigative pieces for publication on a freelance basis for traditional and new media, including The Ryersonian and other mastheads. It emphasizes the use of documents and computer-assisted techniques, the Internet, website creation and online journalism skills.

Prerequisite: JRN 16A/B or JRN 16 or JRN 50A/B or JRN 50 or JRN 53A/B or JRN 53 or JRN 57A/B or JRN 57.
Lect: 3 hrs./Lab: 3 hrs.

This is another choice I've looked at. The title makes me want to take it, and the description makes me feel I should take it. The problem: I'm lazy. And this course calls for a ton of work, which I could bring myself to do. But do I really want to put myself in that position? Um, good question...

JRN 803 Freelance Writing

Deals with the differences in structure, logic, and philosophy between reporting and article writing for magazines. Among subjects covered are the in-depth interview, the cross-check interview and the research involved for both; pre-story, preparation and development, finding the “angle” or point of view; anecdotal and other writing approaches; making the “think” piece readable; the use of facts and examples to balance and substantiate opinion and statement; logic, clarity, structure, drama, humour, and rhythm - the architecture that breathes life into a story. Also covered are the pitfalls and rewards of staff and freelance writing, the development and selling of ideas, how to tailor stories to editors’ specific length and market requirements, how to “fix” or rewrite your stories; what you should know about primary and secondary markets.

Prerequisite: JRN 16A/B or JRN 16 or JRN 50A/B or JRN 50 or JRN 53A/B or JRN 53. Antirequisites: JRN 56A/B, JRN 56, JRN 54A/B, JRN 54.
Lect: 3 hrs./Lab: 3 hrs.

The last choice sounds like a rehash of things we've learned in other classes, mostly in the feature class last year. And I believe secondary markets are usually ones overseas. You write for your primary market, say Toronto, but also sell your story to a publication in Europe -- the two markets are not in conflict with each other. But I could be wrong and primary and secondary markets could be something totally different. Regardless, I won't be enrolling into this one.

It's down to ENG700 and JRN802: which will I choose? Have some thinking to do.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saturday Star

Thoughts On Some Stories In The March 18, 2006 Edition Of The Saturday Star That I Read This Morning

First up is Rita Zekas's departure from the celebrity beat: thank god.

I cant' stand Zekas or her column. It's absolute crap, and she looks like a fool with the sunglasses in her photo. If you didn't bother to read her sign-off (and I certainly do not blame you), then you missed that she's moving to the shopping beat. She's going from an ultra important beat to a more meaningful beat. She's making the world better, one column at a time.

Second up is Geoff Pevere's nomination for a National Newspaper Award.

Among other things, Pevere has been nominated for his fantastic obituary of Hunter S. Thompson. I remember the article well, because I interviewed Pevere a few days after the story was published. In fact, my interview with him was rescheduled so he could write the article. A little known fact about the obit is that Pevere wrote it in four hours. And it doesn't read like it was.

Last up is the Raptors's improbable come from behind victory.

With five minutes left in the game, the Raptors trailed 94-78. They won 97-96. The Raptors are still a bad team, but it shows that sometimes, they're worth putting a book down to watch.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Dan Brown

Pre-Order Yours Today

As you might know, Dan Brown's publisher is in a plagiarism lawsuit. The latest is here.

I haven't read Brown's book (despite owning it), but I believe him when he says Holy Blood, Holy Grail was only one of 39 books he used in researching his novel.

But the lawsuit is not what this post is about.

The Da Vinci Code will make its mass market debut at the end of this month after more than three years since its first publication in hardcover. The mass market edition comes in time for the movie release.

What I don't understand is why Chapters/Coles/Indigo is telling people to pre-order the book.

Are you telling me that bookstores might suffer a shortage of paperbacks of The Da Vinci Code, one of the best selling novels ever? That The Da Vinci Code, which will be sent on skids to most book stores, will be gone like that--like it was never there?

Come on. A pre-order isn't necessary when there will be walls lined with the Code.


St. Patrick

Today You're Supposed To Get Drunk

As you know today is the day you wear green and pretend your Irish. You go to an authentic Irish pub and corrupt your liver. It's written in the tradition of St. Patrick's Day.

But I'm the voice of descent, here to kill the party.

I've never understood this holiday. Maybe I don't pretend I'm Irish enough or maybe I just don't need a saintly excuse to drink. Whatever it is, I can't say I've ever celebrated St. Patrick's Day. Hell, I don't think I know anyone Irish. Okay, I'm sure I do, but I don't know - you know what I mean?

When I saw a line-up that stretched around the corner of an Irish bar near where I work, I wondered what it is about alcohol that captivates these people to line-up to get drunk. I'll never get it. I always thought you don't set out to get drunk; it just sort of happens.

Today, Slate points out that St. Patrick as we know him is no different than the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny (Santa Clause is, of course, real).

A lie isn't going to stop drinking to St. Patrick, so cheers and watch the glasses go.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Reverse Decision

This Time, It's For Real

It appears I'm nothing more than a flip-flopper. I've changed my mind several times on whether to go to online or stay in print. But today, I declare a decision has been reached.

I'm not sure exactly why I've spent as much time as I have making this decision. The old rule from last year still applies: it doesn't matter which stream you're in. My decision last year was based solely on which stream would offer the least amount of work. That's the truth. Whether print actually does have the least amount of work, who can say for sure? No person has ever completed all three streams.

My decision for next year is based on a number of reasons. But I will cite only two here.

First, my ideal Ryersonian, as detailed in another post, is me obviously dreaming. There's no way as managing editor or not that I would actually get to change the tired, boring, ineffective, doomed-forever-and-always to be boring, Ryersonian style.

Second, I'd rather have fun in my final year, and considering the paragraph above, fun won't be an option in print.

Raise its hand, the online stream wins this bout. And there are no rematches.

Throw The Radio Out The Window

Pink has a new album coming out in April. It's called, "I'm Not Dead" - no, that's only what we wished.

The Drought Is Over

I told Kaitlyn this week that I was taking notes in Philosophy of Love & Sex. She asked if they were actual notes or just quotations for this blog. Surprisingly, I'm taking actual notes.

But Kaitlyn's question made me think back to the last time the professor of that horrible class last said something brow raising. And I couldn't remember when that was. Had the professor reformed her ways? Was she now saying things that made sense? Or was I not paying attention to her inane comments?

The answers to those questions come from today's class:

"I'm so glad to hear about this new group. There's so many. There are bisexuals, heterosexuals, homosexuals. Now there's a group, they're asexuals. Such people are possible people."

"I think the moral of the story is..."

"The fact that you stopped moaning makes it pretty clear."

"There's lots of things you can do besides humping. We don't just do it like dogs, right?"

I know, it's only 16 more hours, but someone, please save me.

The Weekly Stats

Awake record through March 16, 2006: 37-18 (67%)

2 essays left
2 features left
1 profile left
2 articles left
2 exams left


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Um, WTF?

So, Yeah, This Has Been Edited Because I don't Even Know What The Hell I Was Saying

I think I need an editor. One who tells me immediately when I've written non-sensical rubbish. The one that reacts six hours later, well, he's fired.

Not sure how many people read my non-sensical rubbish, but I apologize. Unless the thought eases your worries, I wasn't under the influence of anything. Really.


"Whoa, Did You See That Dunk?" "No. Actually, I'm On Page 63. The Book Is Really Gettimg Good Now."

After a day of working the phones and praying that there'd be a voice on the other end, I went to the Raptors game. Obviously, I expected the Raptors to lose (and they don't disappoint) because they had won two games in a row before tonight's game. But a free game is a free game, and a change of pace from working the phones.

And while this is the Raptors, and we all know how woeful they are, I was bit surprised to see what happened. No, not a comeback victory--Sunday's was a fluke. But in my row, a girl was reading a book. This book.

Fine, it's the Raptors. They're horrible. But reading a book? Come on, you don't need to go to a basketball game to read a book. I'm guessing she's the kind of person who pulls out a flashlight in a theatre with the film rolling to read Tribute magazine.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My Ryersonian

If I Was Making The Decisions ...

At some point, if The Ryersonian wants to be the number one paper on campus, it will have to decide who is its audience. Is the audience 25 journalism professors and instructors or is the audience 20,000 students? If it's the latter, then the paper needs change.

In my three years at the school, I've gone from reading The Ryersonian weekly to bi-weekly to monthly to sometimes to never. Why? Because most of what the paper has produced is birdcage material. Reading The Ryersonian is like being at a funeral and you want to be in the casket. This is no reflection on the people who have worked at the paper, but a reflection on the final product.

To fix the paper, in theory, is simple.

The Ryersonian aims to be the paper of Ryerson University record. That's a nice thought, but it's not what students want. That's evident in the number of Ryersonian issues left on the stand in comparison to The Eyeopener.

What The Ryersonian needs to do is embrace the fact that it is a tabloid and that it needs to play by a tabloid's rules. Sensationalism is in. Loud and large headlines are in. Fun is in. This also means giving the writers their voices back. The Ryersonian shouldn't read like boring wire copy.

Next semester, The Ryersonian has the best chance for a real relaunch. With the Online Stream's website, the day-to-day Ryerson events won't have to be covered in huge detail. Most Ryerson news can be covered in briefs. The website isn't The Ryersonian's competitor, so full-blown coverage as it is now in the paper would just be repetitive.

Instead, The Ryersonian needs to produce short feature stories a la the relaunched Maclean's. The great thing about Maclean's right now is that while being a week behind the news, it finds new angles to frame stories. Also Maclean's publishes investigative pieces--another thing The Ryersonian must produce.

These short features and investigative pieces shouldn't be exclusively Ryerson-related: they should be issues that are important to students anywhere.

Also needing to be revamped is the editorial page. Editorials should be ones that lead to debate, not yawns. Related to this is the inclusion of columns. How many? I'm not sure, but with the goal being to bring readers back to the paper each week, a column can help the cause.

And that is my real goal--bring reader's back. Serialized features and weekly departments would find their way into the paper. And perhaps something like a crossword or a game of sudoku. I'm not sure how much it would cost, but to add one or both of those would ensure that at least some people would pick up the paper on a weekly basis.

Finally, The Ryersonian needs to promote itself better. That includes better placement of newsstands and that includes promoting the writers and stories for the first time.


Post Script: It may seem that with this, I've made my decision to go into print next year. But nothing is decided. If I go to print, I want The Ryersonian to change. And to do this, I'd probably need a high position on the masthead (not to mention the confidence from everyone else working on the paper).

If I'm being realistic, though, I have doubts on whether I'd have the votes to become managing editor. And in that case, I'd rather go to a stream where everything is new and there is no history of being an unreadable publication.

Post Post Script: By the way, these are only my ideas now. I'm sure working with everyone else on the masthead, we'd come up with more and better ideas that achieve the goal of increased readership. There's no point of producing a paper that is technically professional if nobody reads it.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

At Work

Late Night Observations In The Morning

My eyes were beginning to burn and the caffeine was wearing off. It was after 1 a.m. And then I started thinking.

There's a group of people in a department that I work with that follows special guidelines. It's as if these select individuals feel if they don't ooze machismo, they won't fit in.

These people walk around with this fierce swagger, like lineman ready to run you down. And it's particularly sad, because there's no need for it. To work in this department means nothing. It doesn't make you more or less of anything. But these people think their inclusion in this department is a sign that they need to exude an unbearable amount of testosterone. The truth being, who they would label a "wuss," probably does a better job.


I was occupying my time between putting stories up by watching Saturday Night Live. The show, as you know, is awful. I heard it used to be good. I overheard someone laugh about the musical guest being the Arctic Monkeys. The person dismissed them without knowing anything about them.

And I thought then, "I hope when I'm in my mid-60s, I'm not out of touch with What Is Now." But I could be wrong. He could have been 58 or 59.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Wish List

The Latest And Greatest In Awesome, Must-Own Trinkets and Gadgets

If you're like me, then you obviously demand that all of your birthday and Christmas gifts come from the Hedonics catalogue. And sure, my birthday may be months away. And then Christmas is another month after that, but I've already started my wish list this year.

What's that? You want to know what's on it? Fabulous, 'cause I thought I'd share a bit.


Smiley Forest Faces... Give Your Trees a Personality!

Now you can give your favourite tree a fun, wacky expression with these Forest Faces and add a whimsical personality to the trees in your garden or backyard. Crafted of weather resistant resins, each is tinted to blend with natural tree bark and has a wire loop that lets you mount each piece with a small nail or wood screw.

Commentary: I have many trees in my backyard. But they look so sad. I definitely want at least eight of these. Is $20 too much to put a smile on tree? Hell, no!


Monitor Food from up to 100 Feet Away!

Now you can monitor the grill or oven while lounging or working in the yard. Our Remote Cooking Thermometer & Timer monitors the temperature of grilled and roasted meats from anywhere in or outside the house, up to 100 feet away, then alerts you when it's done. Never overcook your food again, simply carry the receiver with you. Requires four AAA batteries (included), measures 4.25" x 2".

Commentary: You're probably cynically thinking why the hell would you barbecue from 100 feet way? Well, just imagine the convenience of being able to cook your dinner in between taking a stroll around the block? You're being double productive! And the $50 tag is a steal


Be the Life of Any Party with our Portable, Lightweight Baby Grand

This fully functional electric piano rolls up to a compact size for easy travel... even backpacking. Now you can practice & play anywhere you go. With 16 instrument sounds, 10 demo songs, 99 rhythms and 3 full octaves of playing range, the Roll-a-Piano gives you the flexibility to create your own tunes when on the move. Equipped with a built-in speaker, volume control and headphone output. Whether your taste runs to ragtime or Chopin, popular or oldies, these are the ivory keys for you. Requires four AA batteries, not included. 24"L open; Rolls up to a compact 5" x 5".

Commentary: Do I even have to explain this? Tell me you've never felt the urge to bust out a piano from your back pocket and play a little tune and I'll call you a liar. Seeing this is music to my eyes.


Wall Safe

Here's one place even the smartest thief is unlikely to look...even if he knows that you have one. The hidden wall safe installs into any wall and looks identical to all the other electrical outlets in your home... only you know which one is a safe. This personal vault conceals 2"D x 2.5"W of space to secure money, jewelry, or other valuables. Simply insert the special included key to release the locking bar and gain access to your valuables.

Commentary: I feel so Batman thinking about this. Why would I trust a bank with my valuables when I can put them all in a 2x2.5 hole in my wall? Huh? Yeah, I'd be nuts to ever consider going to a bank again. My pocket change and fake pearl necklaces will always be safe!

So, what do you think? If I just got one of these, it'd be my best birthday/Christmas gift ever.


Don't Exist

The Leafs Playoff Hopes

Last night I was looking through a book my sister gave me for Christmas. It's about the Leafs top 50 moments in team history. Flipping through the pages, I quickly realized nothing from this season will ever make a second-edition of the book in my hands.

The Leafs, simply, have been piss-poor.

Their season began as a disaster, and then they recovered. They fooled everyone for a couple of months. Made fans and broadcasters believe they were an actual Cup contender. But the act lasted only so long. Now, they sit seven points out of playoff spot, with a playoff spot being a remote, wish-upon-a-star possibility.

Last night, I didn't watch the game. Not because I've wised up to the fact that the Leafs of '05/'06 are a hopeless cause, but because the game was LeafsTV. Instead, I listened to the game on the radio. Yes, I know. My obsession with the Leafs is reaching new lows.

The game was tied, 1-1, through overtime, and the two teams (the other being the Islanders) went to a shootout. And the Leafs couldn't manage a single goal on three shootout shots. Not one. In fact, they haven't scored a shootout goal on the road this season. It's sad and it's pathetic.

Tonight, it's the Tampa Bay Lightning's turn to disappoint Leaf fans. I'll be watching at work knowing I shouldn't bother.

A Couple Of Notes...

The Leafs play at the ACC tonight. In eleven days, Coldplay will play the arena. I understand that both of their concerts on the 22nd and 23rd will be filmed for an upcoming DVD. This is mildly cool news: go to the concert and own the DVD!

It's March Break for public school kids, which means the Eaton Centre will be a disaster zone for the next seven days. I'll have to avoid it along with all other malls.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Miscellany

And I Want You To Know/I've Got My Mind Made Up Now/But I Need More Time

Could I please make up my mind? Now?

Just one post below, I wrote off online. I said later it was a sinking ship. But somehow, that ship is being patched up in my mind. Could I take the plunge?

This is after an excruciating copy editing class. I forgot everything I learned last semester, and couldn't figure out the in-class assignment. So I faked it. And I got by. But for me, I want to learn how to do it right and not just rely on b.s.-ing my way through the work.

'Cause sometimes that doesn't work.

Oh Be Joyful

For the last two-and-a-half years, my strategy for taking all of my exams has been to bullshit my way through 'em. It's worked magically up until the Philosophy of Love & Sex mid-term.

My mark on the exam, which is shamefully low, was my worst since I nearly failed my first two math tests in Grade 12. I eventually recovered, and pushed my average to the mid-80s from 55.

To do that in this course, I will need to be near perfect in my essay and final exam. Normally I don't fret about journalism course marks -- as long as I've learned something, it's good. But there's no way I'm letting a crap (non-journalism) course like this sink my GPA.

Breaking News: The Trading Deadline Was Boring

If anyone foolishly watched the seven hours plus of NHL trading deadline coverage, I feel sorry for you: this was one of the most uneventful deadlines in years.

The only blockbuster deal was made on Wednesday night. The trades today were relatively small and not interesting. And that's not because the Leafs didn't make any deals besides replace an old defenseman with an older one.

None of the deals made today will change what happens in the playoffs. Deadline deals rarely do.

Number 7

My team, AC Milan, continued its winning ways in Champions League play this week. And Sheva scored his eighth in eight games. It was the winner.

Is Scientology The Answer?

I received a flyer for The Church of Scientology of Toronto last week:


The Church of Scientology of Toronto offers for limited time free intelligence and personality tests. Your IQ, personality and aptitude determine your future. Know them. No obligations.

Interested parties, go here.

Magazine Rack

I read far too many magazines. I could list them, but who’d be interested in that? Really, the list is long. Long.

But one of the magazines I’ve found interesting lately, New York, is available free online. And not just one or two stories, but the whole thing. Gotta like that.

Cowboy Cool

I was just talking to Laura the other day about cowboy boots. And now this article pops up at the New York Times.

On a somewhat related note, I wish I had more free time now so I could watch Sam Peckinpah's The Legendary Westerns Collection dvd boxset I bought last week. My good friend Pevere gave the thumbs up on this set.

Quotation of the Night

"You guys bonded and almost became friends."
--Ryan Seacrest on American Idol.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Online Stream

The Decision Is Made

After months of waiting, we finally got to see the plans on paper for the online stream. I know if I applied, I'd probably get into the stream with no trouble. But, just because I can, doesn't mean I will.

Here's where the stream lost me:

Online internship: you’ll work for six weeks at an online (or wire) information service such as Reuters and CanWest Interactive. These will be set up by the instructor, based on input from the student.

I don't have any desire to work for free at a place where I wouldn't learn anything new.

Last year, I was almost certain I would be leaving the print stream to go to the online stream. But I was also certain, at some point last year, that I would be going to the magazine stream. That didn't happen. And neither will a move to the online stream.


Still Awake

Surviving On Less Than Three Hours Sleep

Last night at work, 20 minutes before midnight and the end of my scheduled shift, I found out that the person who usually replaces me at that time was on vacation. This meant my shift would be a little longer – like two hours longer. That’s fine, because I will be paid for the OT. But the problem was that I have class at 8 a.m. on Mondays. And because I take the train, I have to get up at 5 a.m.

I got home and to bed around 2:30 a.m., and woke up just a little later at my usual Monday wake-up time.

Going into a three-hour philosophy class could have created problems for me, as far as staying awake. But I think I only closed my eyes once in what became a shortened class. Not sure how long my eyes were closed, but on less than three hours sleep, I survived the first hurdle of the day.

The second hurdle is coming up in 30 minutes. But it being my favourite class, I don’t think I’m going to fight the Sandman. I’ll go down for the count.

The Oscars

Part of my shift last night was covering the 78th Academy Awards. I’ll be quick here.

First, I think Jon Stewart was all right, but nowhere near his capabilities.

Second, of the nominated films for best picture, I had only seen Crash. I liked it, so I’m glad it won.

Third, it was a huge plus that the ceremony finished in three-and-a-half hours. I was expecting a marathon, but that thankfully didn’t happen.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Street Meat

Bye, Ernie. I Really Didn't Know You.

The Ryersonian gets scooped, again!

And that was on the front page, too.

So, you're probably wondering how a story about a hot dog vendor makes A1 at the Star? I understand the story is part of the paper's initiative to cover minorities in the city. This minority group, of course, is street meat vendors. They are a seriously under-represented group in Toronto's news coverage.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

End: Nigh

The Last Days Of School

I had a look at the final exam schedule today. Actually, for me, it's the final final exam schedule, because after this semester, I'm finished writing final exams. There may be tests, but no more final exams. Ever. That's right, I'm going to say it again, because it feels so good: April 18, 2006 will be the last time I ever write a final exam.

Of course, this good news is somewhat hampered by the fact that the exam is Philosophy of Love and Sex. And it's at 8 a.m. And the night before, I'll be at the Franz Ferdinand concert. And I know I won't study for the damn thing.

Loose Ends

29-12: my record of staying awake in class after this week.

Quotation of the week: "What do you think makes rape a bad thing?" Philosophy of Love and Sex professor, today.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Stephen Brunt

A Guest Speaker Worth Listening To

In reporting today, Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail was our guest. Of all of the guest speakers I've had to (for the most part) suffer through, Brunt was the most entertaining, captivating and re-energizing.

What I mean by re-energizing is that while Brunt has been in the business for more than 20 years, his enthusiasm for journalism hasn't turned into bitter resentment for his profession.

After listening to him for two hours, I was able to put aside my problems with journalism, put aside my problems with the journalist's lifestyle, and feel that I can do this thing for some time.

The last time I felt this way wasn't too long ago. It was, shockingly, in a Critical Issues class when the Star's Richard Ouzanian was a guest. I seem to get down on journalism more quickly looking through the kaleidescope of gloom and doom that is the Critical Issues course.

I'm not looking to save the world, which according JRN301, should be my job.