Air Canada redefines Canadian map

Air Canada sent an email promoting their Canada East-West flight passes that piqued my interest. So I checked out the Eastern and Western offers and was proud to see that Manitoba (my home province) was included in both.

However, my glee was short-lived. When I tried the East-West flight pass, Manitoba had mysteriously dropped off the map (leaving only a shadow of its former self). In a related note, the Maritimes were dropped from that offer, too.

So what gives? Is Air Canada trying to say something about which provinces are wanted on the voyage and which are not?

I’d say it’s yet another example of our national airline not thinking about the consumer and missing the mark.

Brace yourself, if you want to see this in action, you have to go through a typical AC maze-like experience. You need to click here, scroll down to the site map, scroll all the way down there to search, type in flight pass, click on the first hit, then click on North America Pass. Typical AC, you can’t get there from here syndrome… (It was easier to click in the email link.)

Surf’s down

Today in the Globe and Mail, Keith McArthur (subscription required) writes about how the Television Bureau of Canada (TVB), an organization that ‘markets the benefits, values and effectiveness of the TV medium to advertisers and agencies’, wants to ‘protect the public’ from a new Chanel TV ad because it’s been deemed too racy for Canadian viewers.

Thank goodness we have their protection

But OK, you can view it here.

Personally, I think the ad is quite French (read sexy), with images that may even entice people to stop clicking for a second and watch. Regardless, it’s certainly tamer than many things on TV.

And in this channel-changing world in which we live in, something with a hint of originality and style, that harkens back to Jean-Luc Godard no less, is more likely to make us sit up, take notice and maybe even remember the product it’s promoting.

Now there’s a concept.

So why censor it? Viewers can do that themselves with a flick of the clicker.

Or better yet, as Peter Finch said in the brilliantly satirical, Network, ‘Turn off your TV…’

But still, a group of small-minded Canadian bureaucrats wrong-headedly believe they are here to deliver us from evil.

Who’s going to deliver us from them?

Keep it short(y)

I saw a terrific noir-ish movie this weekend. The Lookout is written and directed by Scott Frank (who also wrote the script for Get Shorty and Out of Sight). The film is smart, dark, witty, fast-paced and generally surprising, with excellent acting from the entire cast. And at 99 minutes it sped by. I wish more movies ‘cut to the chase’.

The reason I went? Johanna Schneller (subscription required), one of the Toronto’s more original film columnists, gave it a strong recommendation, highlighting the acting and noting that the project was passed around Hollywood for a number of years as the best script that no one wanted to produce.

So I found out where it was playing and went to a 9:20 show. I expected the theatre to be crowded, assuming that a bunch of people would have read the Globe and Mail, but there were no more than 25 patrons there (out of a city of nearly five million).

And it occurred to me that it wasn’t too long ago when a critic raved about or pointed you to an off-the-beaten-track movie, you rushed out to see it. And if you liked it, you talked about it and there was a real buzz (when that term was used ononmatopoetically – since 9th grade, I’ve loved that word).

And if you were doing PR for that indie film (like I used to do) and this happened, you knew you had done your job. You encouraged a reviewer to see a film, they liked it, wrote about it and the audience came. That’s what good publicity was all about.

But it looks like things have changed. Match me, Sidney.

From counter…to culture

It takes a lot longer for an idea to go from the fringes to mainstream acceptance than many people might think.

And because of that, once it’s reached widespread acceptance, the idea – any idea – can seem like old hat to anyone who embraced it early on.

Take global warming (…please). It’s only recently that the issue has ‘heated up’ in the media and general public’s minds. And that’s a good thing.

But go back some 40-odd years to when we were thinking about the effects of air pollution. You just need to replace one word in Tom Lehrer’s song ‘Pollution’, to make it as relevant today as it was back then: ‘So go to the cities, see the crazy people there. Like lambs to the slaughter, they’re drinking the water and heating* the air…’

*breathing

Kurt Vonnegut has come unstuck in time

Novelist Kurt Vonnegut, the ‘son and grandson of architects’, was born in Indianapolis on November 11, 1922 (Veterans Day in the U.S., Poppy Day in Canada). I read that he died in New York City on April 11, 2007 – last night.

That made me sad.

I didn’t know Kurt Vonnegut personally, though I, (like millions of his readers, I suppose) felt like I did. His short fiction, novels, plays and collections of essays opened my mind to new worlds, new ideas, new ways of thinking, new forms of humanity. He made a turn of the phrase delicious to read. He was bitterly funny, ironic, honest, smart as a whip and a truly original voice. And what stories!

I started reading his books in high school and have read and re-read them (many more than once). I remember the sheer joy I experienced when I heard about or stumbled across a new (or new to me) Vonnegut book. Whenever this happened, I felt like a kid on a roller coaster, about to embark on the ride of my life.

And it always was.

It was Vonnegut’s novels that inspired me to write. That shaped my approach to life. That taught me I could start a sentence with ‘and’.

He was a remarkable human being who will live on through his work.

Let me remember Kurt Vonnegut by quoting one of Bokonon’s Calypsos (from Cat’s Cradle):

‘Oh a sleeping drunkard up in Central Park
And a lion hunter in the jungle dark
And a Chinese dentist and a British queen all fit together in the same machine
Nice, nice, very nice
Nice, nice, very nice
Nice, nice very nice
So many people in the same device…’

So we are. So it goes.
Thank you, Kurt Vonnegut. And rest in peace. To borrow from Slaughterhouse Five, ‘Poo-tee-weet?’

Five things that bug me about the blogosphere (today)

I’m starting to get frustrated with certain aspects of the blogging world. So here are five things that really bug me:

  1. There are too many middle aged guys (and I do mean guys) trying to be cool kids. Sure be open, that’s a wonderful attribute. But for goodness sake, be yourself. Accept who you are. As the song said, “You’re not a kid anymore…” Disclosure: I fall into this category.
  2. Sometimes it feels like it’s more socialist out here than social. What I mean is there’s too much ‘power to the people’ retro-hippie-esque empowerment. I have yet to read the words ‘right on’, but it feels like they’re lurking below so many entries (like, hey man, we have a voice). And in that same socialist vent, there’s way too much sharing of junky stuff. Or, to put it another way, your links may not be that delicious.
  3. Can we have a bit less talk and a bit more listening? And as I said before, throw in a bit of editing, too.
  4. The blogosphere is not only too clicky (as in self-referential links), it’s also too cliquey (as in self-referential links). Again, it goes back to my cool kids point, too much emphasis on the in-crowd (personally, I’d rather have in-jokes).
  5. Twitter seems dumb.

Anything to add?