Tag Archives: tv

Of a Girl and Her Overfilled PVR

Moving means lots of change.

Like, cable providers.

The good news is: My new apartment building comes with free extended cable TV. The bad news is: It means I have to cancel my Telus Optik contract and turn in my PVR.

Unfortunately, my PVR is jam-packed with programming I’ve not yet watched.

Just now, I was flipping through that dreaded unwatched PVR recording list and my little grey cells began hopping with thoughts.

Art by http://feliciamaystevenson.blogspot.com is very groovy.

Between my writing, what I read on the web, and the fact that I work with words on the job, when I have down time, I’d rather watch TV than read, but even with the amount I do watch, I’ve managed to amass a backlog of 211 programs on my PVR, with a huge chunk of that being movies that clock in at 2-hours-plus viewing time — everything from Das Boot to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Just looking at the fucking list feels like I’m giving life a cold, wet swirlie. And worse, the programs keep amassing! WHOOP, there it is — another way to suck two hours of my life through a straw.

It’s like I feel this obligation to watch it all, since this inanimate machine took the time to track it down and record it. Wouldn’t wanna hurt wittle Optik PVR’s feelings, now, would we?

These are the stupidities by which our lives are consumed. These illusions of obligations we allow ourselves to be controlled by. In a digital world, there’s no reason to have to watch it now. Once magnetic data, always magnetic data. These programs shall live to be seen again.

So, there I am, wondering when the hell I chose to get a series recording of Extreme Clutter when it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, needing to cancel my contract for my move and give the PVR back, with these hundreds and hundreds of viewing hours left unwatched, just MIGHT be a GOOD thing.

In many ways, that’s what moving is for me. It’s a great big reboot button.

POOF. Start over. Clean slate. Movin’ on. Lock the door, Henry.*

A more judicious start with a new PVR. A decided restocking of the bookshelves with a new list of Must Reads for my Slower Life that comes with Beach Reading Time and Park Sojourns a-plenty.

But how did I fall so far into the digital/physical realm of cluttered life like I have? How did I let it get so complicated?

More importantly — how do I prevent that from happening again, on The Other Side?

See, in moving, it’s close enough that a lot of people in Victoria are acquainted with people I know over here, and vice versa. There’s the social media there bridging the gap, too. So, before even moving, I know a bunch of folk want to have drinks or whatnot, and soon. It’s a little intimidating, actually.

Now, part of me likes this. Great! Peoples! Let’s have peoples. Everybody needs peoples.

But I also worry that I might just go from working/commuting all the time to having a life filled with appointments and get-togethers. I can’t just pivot from one kind of distraction to another.

Balance, grasshopper. Except, to be a writer, the balance needs to be askew. One requires a bit more of nothing time so they can juggle the words and ideas of their craft. And there has to be moments of doing nothing. Like, watching mindless television in which thoughts can go swimming in that big vapid head, causing a sudden desire to press pause and run off to write.

Works for me.

So, naturally, I’m concerned about the social/private mix before I even get there, because I do want both, but discipline is hard to have in the summer. (Again with the “Maybe not having 500+ hours of recorded content to watch is a good thing.”)

Or maybe I deserve a few months of enjoying life and being social in a slower place, after what’s been a long road of becoming gradually unhappy with my big city life.

It’s a good thing I’m keeping an open mind about everything, and it’s nice to drop by the blog and bounce a few of these ideological balls around, because I know some of you relate to these dilemmas.

It’s also good that I’m beginning to emotionally accept that I might not do that Good Wife season 3 marathon I wanted to have, or catch up with Modern Family or watch the rest of the horror movies I’d recorded in my “exploring gore” burst last fall.

This too shall pass. Let’s have a moment for the long-neglected PVR list. I’ll rent you, Where the Wild Things Are. We’ll be together again, Harry Potter.

Now just watch. Despite my attaining some kind of Zen/Big Picture life-lesson out of all this, some geek will come along with a remedy by which I can transfer my 300 gig Optik PVR box to that external hard drive I have, and I’ll be all over that like Oprah on a ham.

Because we’re nothing if not creatures of comfort.

Oh well. There’s always Netflix.

*Except digital people I haven’t met, no one in my life is named Henry. Fact!

My Ever-Evolving Definition of “Being Canadian”

I’m 37 and I’m still not really sure what “being Canadian” means.

We’re a hodgepodge of nations, Spackled together with generational waves of immigrants who land here, retain some of their culture, and absorb others, and blend it all together in a delightful Canadian cultural smoothie that has oddly distinct flavours throughout.

We’re a sum of all our parts, always have been, so, as the world ebbs and flows through times of geopolitical strife, those seeking Canadian citizenship have changed greatly over the decades. From Poles to Jews to Hindus to Cambodian and Vietnamese, decade after decade, we’ve seen changing tides, and it changes who we are.

In a way, that’s a large part of Canada, an ever-changing reflection of the world’s times and its migrating peoples.

Somehow, a line in the sand separates us from our American friends, known around the world as brash and outspoken citizens, and we’re known to all as the continent’s meeker, milder types.

I’m the perfect age for knowing that Being-Canadian-Then versus Being-Canadian-Now has morphed considerable over time. Our sense of national identity has shifted through the decades, which is part of why I’m unsure about what my national identity means at times. Add that my city is the youngest, fastest-changing city in this country, and my somewhat untethered identity kind of computes.

My confusion is compounded when I visit the United States. Cross the 49th, and it’s a country dotted heavily with billboards selling the military as a career choice, and Jesus as Saviour. A land seemingly built on agriculture is littered with fast food chains that barely represent the nation’s great produce. The richest country in the world, at one time, and it doesn’t even provide ongoing medical care to all its citizens. The class divide is like a fault-line cutting across every American city, and Detroit is a harrowing postcard of its industrial decline.

The USA seems a land that comes together as well as any in times of national crisis — like 9/11 and Katrina — and shows the world what a great people it has, but somehow doesn’t provide a social safety net because the belief of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” means no comprehensive safety net for you. It’s a place where socialism is a bad word, despite an “in it together” mentality that comes out with every natural disaster.

You step into Canada, and we’re in it together both in word and in deed, our income tax system is proof. We pay more but get more, but not as much as we once got.

There are problems here, too. Some native communities are like third-world outposts. Vancouver’s Downtown East Side has long been rife with drugs, poverty, homelessness, and an AIDS/HIV rate that once was among the highest in the industrial world, but that’s been changing a lot too. Environmentally, we’re even now committing great sins with our natural bounty, and our personal freedoms aren’t quite as flexible as they once were.

We’re far from perfect here in Canada. But every country is.

Beyond that imperfection, there’s the people, the land, and the humour.

I’ve travelled coast to coast in this country, I’ve lived above the 60-degree line of latitude. There’s no place in Canada that I don’t love.

But how do I nutshell a country that’s this huge? How does a country with 202,000 kilometres of coastline and 10 million square-kilometres of landmass, that’s the most multicultural nation in the world, with only 144 years of history get crammed into an easy-to-define class?

It’s impossible.

From the safe passage allowed to African-Americans during slavery to our shameful treatment of the Japanese in WWII to our not-too-distant slap on the wrist from the UN for neglect of native rights, there’s a long and storied history of Canada embracing human rights in an inconsistent way, but for every failure we’ve had, there’s also been a shining moment.

Today, we’re a country that generally embraces knowledge, human rights, culture, and good times. We tend to love nature and the world around us. Because it’s as expensive to travel to the other side of the country as it is to visit the rest of the world, we’re pretty well-travelled beyond our borders, so we know it’s a bigger world than just us.

Unfortunately, that also means our talent migrates, a problem we domestically call “The Brain Drain.” After all, other countries have more flash and money, like the UK and USA, and money’s a nice thing, since our taxes are high. We get it.

Fortunately, our talent deserves the global recognition it receives. Over the decades, our writers, singers, actors, and painters have been celebrated as world-class. We read more per capita than any other country and we write more, too. From Mary Pickford, Louis B. Mayer, and the Warner Brothers, early Hollywood was built by Canadians. Today, William Shatner is loved around the world and Jim Carrey remains one of the highest paid movie stars.

We’re definitely the mild-mannered types who say please and thank you, but our favourite sport involves black eyes, high-speed collisions, institutionalised fighting, and some of the most aggressive gameplay on earth.

With almost a tenth the population of the United States but only narrowly more land mass, Canada feels like a vast and empty land once you get outside the cities. Sprawling and impressive in its expanse, some of it, like the poet Robert Service once wrote, is so isolated and desolate that there’s “a silence that bludgeons you dumb.”

I’ve always believed that Canada’s geographical spread/disconnect and the long winters with long nights are a part of why we’ve been such an imaginative, artistic, expressive land. To bridge that expanse, we now use the internet more per capita than most of the world. It seems to be changing our sense of disconnect as the use of social media grows.

We’re a changing country, Canada.

In my lifetime, we’ve gone from thinking we were an international afterthought to seeing Pierre Elliot Trudeau spin his famous pirouette behind the Queen, netting international headlines, showing we had a sense of humour and a less subservient sense of self than we’d always had. Some were horrified at the disrespect to the monarch, but many others felt as though the shackles of Commonwealth submissiveness began lifting then.

The Constitution came home a few years later. By then, we were known for the Beachcombers, Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Gordon Lightfoot. Another television show began to get a lot of attention, and would influence Hollywood for the next decade — SCTV.

Bryan Adams would soon be singing about the Summer of ’69. Michael J. Fox would become the heart-throb burning up the silver screen. By age 13, I’d started feeling like being Canadian seemed to mean something more than had been let on to me.

We were starting to feel like we weren’t just the little sibling with hand-me-downs from the United States. Suddenly we were wanted at the party — our music, our books, our stars, our culture, our funny… our natural resources.

These days, our dollar has parity with the United States, we’re the world’s 4th-largest oil producer, and Justin Bieber is King of the World.

I don’t really know what “being Canadian” means right now. I suppose it’s time I find out what the ever-morphing national identity is right this minute, but that’s part of why Canada is so incredible.

We’re not one country. We’re not stoic, stagnant. Where the United States’ founding fathers intended their constitution to be an ever-evolving document, Canada has somehow managed to be an ever-changing land that continually reflects the people who are building it — and, as their faces change, so does ours.

I’m proud of that. We reflect the modern world as well as any nation can. I love what Canada represents in my foggy, identity-muddled brain — even if Stephen Harper is the motherfucking Prime Minister right now.

I’ll forgive you for that, for now, Canada. But sharpen up. If we keep making good beer and bacon, we’ll overcome him, too.

And The Hits Keep Coming

This is the kind of posting I would instinctively run carte-blanche on The Ditch, but I thought I’d say hi. Hi!

I’m having a horribly pseudo-Monday Tuesday that just keeps packing punch after punch. Waking up was all wrong. I woke up, And Something Felt Wrong.

But I, a true trouper, forged ahead. Sure, my jeans were worn a couple times already, but they would do. The laundry could wait. Breakfast, I decided, could not. I made myself ham, some supah-dupah² strong java, toasted me some baguette (bad, but so good!), and made a couple over-easy fried eggs.

One which I dropped immediately on the floor.

The floor I cleaned last night. Thus, egg was partially salvaged, and if you judge me, man, you’re gonna hafta walk a mile in my shoes of the day, I shit you not. You just don’t know, man. You just don’t know.

I got to the office and realized in total fear that I had forgotten to set the VCR (we don’t got no stinking TiVO yet, so keep that yap closed) to record the all-important, life-altering episode of Rockstar due to air this evening. MY GOD, I thought! I’ll have to do without lunch break, and no supper break, and rush over to job 2 ASAP apres job 1, I decided.

And then I worked like a demon. Sort of.

Work was a no-brainer until someone raised up the gates of hell about five hours into my shift, and whazzo, there it went: Hell in a handbasket. Suddenly, fires burned that needed putting out, rivers boiled, and phones rang. It was, I assure you, evil very incarnate. Oooh, evil.

But I coped. I coped and I coped and I coped and I got out of work two minutes late, hopped on the now-rain-soaked scoot and zipped across the downtown core to the plastic ‘hood of Yaletown. I scuttled my little hiney up to the TV monitoring station and threw myself onto the documentary with a vampiric intensity. Then, felled by the evils of a poorly written, badly edited script, I was forced to spend the next 105 minutes editing the mockery of a language called English, written by someone who’d clearly been a jester earlier in this life or last’s.

I rushed out, three hours to the minute, in the hopes of getting home just in time for Rockstar. And I did. It was 7:53. Then I learned it was on at 9, not 8. Doh. My bad. I still have 32 minutes left now.

A month or so ago, I couldn’t really get any work. WELL, that was then, this is now. My old job wants me, my new job wants me, my ESL students want me. (And presumably you people might even want me.) I can’t say no fast enough! I’m too tired for this shit — why can’t the money folk rear their ugly-ass heads next month, HUH? (And some will. This is something I’m anticipating, and I may make good on it.)

In between all that is this podcasting shit that needs to be taken to another level next week, now that I knows me how to record and all. And a website needs building. Blah, fucking blah! Oh, the chaos of it all! (See gear here.)

But next week will be more sane. I will cut back evening work to just tutoring, about four or so hours, and then I will work one weekend day. Presto, instant fascimile of that elusive thing called sanity.

Of course, I’m medicated, so what the hell do I know about sanity anyhow? Hi, I’m Steff, and this is my Fog.

(Heh.)

No, minions, I’m here to tell you that, despite Their Best Efforts, still I stand. Bitter and needing a stiff drink, but stand I do, and stand I shall. And, one day, I shall spend money I have earned on toys and things that I covet.

(I’m drooling over a 160gig external drive being advertised at Best Buy. Me wants. Me wants! Rowr. But I’m adding it to the list I have that keeps on growing a la Jack-&-the-Beanstalk. Magic!)

Oh, hey, and here’s a couple photos for you. Podcasting gear (shweet!) and the crazy centaur guy I saw at the Luminares festival this year (a celebration of light; which explains why he has a huge, glowing, red penis. I had asked him to pose for me, but he kept wiggling his glowing ember of a penis in my face, so it naturally looks motion-blurred. Yes, that’s one quick dick).

Sex Sells Insecurity

So there’s this new show and I’ve seen all of 60 seconds of it, but I have some taped and will be weighing in with an opinion. It’s ABC’s How To Get The Guy. Great, just what we need. Yet another show that teaches women how to pander to the men around them in the hopes that maybe, JUST MAYBE one of them will see her for the star she truly is, and then they’ll just let’er shine, baby.

For fuck’s sake, let’s just once have guys feeling like the desperate morons that need to pander to us, okay? Let’s stop having this whole “oh, woe is me!” and “be a bettah babe” mentality that chicks seem to suffer from, all right? There’s NOTHING wrong with you. Love’s a bitch and it’s better that it fails more than it succeeds, because then you GET it when you GOT it. Get it?

Men are great when they KNOW what they want. The rest of the time, they’re loveable fucking pains in the asses, and doing all you can to up your charm quotient and flirt like the dickens is probably gonna do sweet fuck all to knock some sense in his head, which is the part that really needs to transpire.

But since the media knows there’s only limited appeal to a reality show that has a bunch of Manhattan women lined up in the street with those giant plastic sledgehammers as they wait for the opportunity up and bell-ring the dude of their dreams with said sledgehammer, we just keep getting the same old crap spoon-fed to us in a new manner. How to snag a man. How to get laid, get happy, get a minivan, and get the fuck on. How to ignore the fact that it’s really the rest of your life leaving you feeling like you’ve got a gaping hole in your soul as you chase down a guy who’s ultimately probably gonna be a bad fix who’ll last you less than any classic seven-year itch.

God forbid we ever stop trying to solve our giant emptinesses with people around us, or that we stop blaming our failings on the people we’re in relationships with, because then what in the hell would the Hollywood types ever do with all those television scheduling hours that need to be filled with, gasp, content?

Besides, new evidence shows that the notion of “sexual chemistry” tends to be something schemed up by men within the first five minutes of meeting a woman, whether it’s there or not. How in the HELL is watching 15 episodes of an over-simplified “If you do THIS, you’ll GET him” man-hookin’ methodology gonna do sweet fuck all for you if men are even MORE simple than we’d ever nightmared anyhow?

Sure, there are tricks you need to know. How to grin, how to use body language to your advantage, how to talk, how to kiss. I’m just thinking it goes two ways. I’m hoping the media figures that the fuck out soon. There’re far too many clueless men out there. Let’s start empowering THEM for a change and see what that does to shake up the mix, all right?

(Besides, I have this theory that women overcompensate in the “hunt” for the man for the fact that they often don’t know what the hell to do with him to keep him one they got him. Sexual issues, et al, are probably areas that need to be explored more than the realm of how to get him onto a first date. That’s the easy part. Geez.)