Monday, November 24, 2008

Eat Fresh: Why Student Newspapers are Always Worth a Look

Hey, guys! Know what are always a good time? Student papers! Yeah!

Some people may feel that university student newspapers can be amateurish, irrelevant, sophomoric and perpetually dissatisfied -- and they can be! I'm not going to argue with you on this one, sometimes reading student papers can be a bit of a headache. But! Wherever I go I make a point of grabbing any student press I come across, alongside the more mainstream news sources, if not for alternative viewpoints then just for the high hilarity that results when a bunch of young'uns throw a paper together without corporate supervision.

That established, let me talk to you briefly about the Gazette. Published four days a week by the University Students' Council, the Gazette has been a fixture of the University of Western Ontario since its 1906 inception as "In Cap and Gown", a handwritten literary newspaper that must have just been adorable. And, like many papers, it contains an opinions section with space devoted to Letters To The Editor and a solicitation underneath for such letters.

Now, this isn't the funny part. (omg you guys they wrote the bad word for doodie in the newspaper lol oh man) We as a culture have been sneaking curse words into print for as long as we've ever realized that we could get away with it, and admittedly I speak from personal experience on this one.

No, the funny part about this setup is that students these days occasionally treat the Letters section the same way that people used to treat it in the days of yore -- as a great place to publicly complain about minor issues and argue with or ridicule others, which honestly is what the section was all about back before this whole 'internet' thing was invented.

Behold as I beheld, from the November 13th issue of the Gazette:

The pressing issues of our times, brought to the forefront by hardhitting analytical review! This letter also works way better if you picture its author finishing it by rolling her chair away from her desk, throwing her head back to the sky and screaming "SUBWAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY~!" like either James Kirk or Orochi Iori Yagami depending on how big a geek you want to be with the gag.

Now, I'm no big fan of Subway; I was willing to roll with them for a little while back when they had Jon Lovitz onboard, but when they dumped him from their ad campaign I went "pssh whatever" and gave up on them. Why are we picking on Subway when Tim Hortons and their stupid nonbiodegradable cups are a vastly more prominent, more frequent offender? She really likes double-doubles, I don't know, your guess is as good as mine.

(Tim Hortons cups make up twenty-two per cent of litter in Nova Scotia, and the grapevine alleges that it comprises one-fifth of Toronto's waste as well. Oh man, wait -- wasn't it in London where that one woman got fired for giving out a Timbit? Haha, holy crap, it was. Small world! Anyway, I digress.)

So was this the rallying cry that brought a coalition of likeminded ecofriendly folk together to fight the power and take a wasteful multinational conglomerate to its knees? Well, er, not exactly.

From the November 20th issue of the Gazette:

Ha ha! Ouch! Geez, dude. Psychology majors can be real dicks sometimes, I tell you what.

Student newspapers can be real quality entertainment sometimes, and I'm not just saying this as somebody who used to write for one. (I got so many CDs as a volunteer CD reviewer, my goodness. And some of them weren't awful!) Next time you're near a campus paper, no matter which campus it is, grab it and have a look at it; I would be shocked to hear that there isn't a single interesting thing in it, and sometimes you'll luck out and come across a surprise explosion of vitriolic overreaction like the above. Good times await!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What a Busy Guy (or, Long Time No See)

Hi, everybody! Good to see you again. You look good! Probably lots of interesting things going on for you lately.

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, it's been all kinds of hectic. Nobody even hears from me any more, most of the time; my little brother left a message on my Facebook account at one point just to ask what the hell happened to me.

What? Oh, nothing. No, no! Nothing that exciting, I'd hate to bore you. All I do now is schoolwork and sleep, it's sort of sad.

Oh! But actually, you know, now that you mention it. Remember that project I mentioned that I was working on with a couple buddies? Well, guess what was just released this past November Sixth:

Hecklevision presents -- Superman in: Japoteurs!

My goodness, look at that. Look at it! It has been completed, and the audio issues in the preview clip have been addressed, and now it is up and published and available. Ninety-nine cents buys a wonderfully animated, staggeringly racist Max Fleischer Superman short -- with our hilarious audio commentary already added and synched up beforehand, for your convenience and viewing pleasure.

Not to brag, but this is awesome.

Why, I'd buy that for a dollar -- and so can you! But, don't take my word for it! Have a look at the front page of the iRiffs site:

Top Short, baby! Yeah! Sales figures and peer reviews agree -- our Japoteurs iRiff is true value through and through, a dollar's worth as ever you've known it!

I'm not laying it on too thick, am I? I'm sorry, I've got a bit of a headrush going. Nothing perks a brother's attitude up quite like hitting the big time and being published in a brand new medium.

Ooh! And speaking of being published! (God, I'm good at segues.) Feast your eyes:

Uptown Magazine! Solidarity Forever!

With the conclusion of the sixteen-day sixteen-day press union strike that was holding up the papers back home, Uptown has resumed its publication schedule and includes a column of mine in its latest edition. Pretty cool, right? Pretty good times!

For consistency's sake, the column series has continued to bear the same name as my Winnipeg blog; the intention is still that I'll return there, once I've earned this Masters I'm working on, so I figured why not. Besides, no point in arbitrarily changing what works; even in my absence Slurpees and Murder has remained a very popular blog and a very popular title, certainly far more popular than I personally have ever been. (Now there's a humbling consideration.)

They don't mention me by name a lot back home, and they never did to begin with, but damned if the Slurpees and Murder tag isn't still making the rounds over there. To wit:

It was brought to my attention that the Comments Editor of the University of Manitoba campus paper, the Manitoban, went on at length a few weeks ago about the largely negative self-image of the city in a piece he titled "Enough with the Slurpees and murders".

I found this out through correspondence with a contact, and--what? Never mind how I found out. It was an... anonymous source. A tipster, placed very high up in the... political... okay, it was my mother. My mom emailed me to say that she saw a nice article in the school paper that mentioned me, and she clipped it out for when I come home. Yeah, yeah, yuk it up. That's not the point. The point is, it's nice to still be recognized.

I spent two years as a volunteer CD reviewer for the Manitoban, back in the day, although you wouldn't know it to visit the site. Their archives are down right now, probably due to the site redesign they've obviously done since I last looked. So with that said, I don't think anybody else remembers (or could now easily prove) that I wrote there, and it's neat to find out that my name popped up in the ol' campus paper completely independently of my input or my proximity to the city.

Okay, granted -- it isn't my name in there, it's the name of my blog. Such is usually the case. And the reference to my blog is indirect, though obvious and repeated several times for effect. And the article actually seems to be written in vehement opposition to my previous work, holding the combination of nouns as some defeatist self-esteem disease that threatens to permanently tank the attitude and the reputation of the city. Hmm. Whatever! I take my exposure where I can get it. The blog's been mentioned previously by musicians, activist sites and even legitimate newspapers; nothing wrong with being able to blot out "student publications" on the big metaphorical bingo card of media outlet shoutouts. I'm on my way, baby!

So, anyway, yeah. That's what's new with me.

My word, what a long post! I should get back into the habit of making shorter posts at more regular interviews, if only so people back home stop assuming the worst. In the meantime, I'll do some more schoolwork and then get out and enjoy the, uh... enjoy the weather.

The hell is even going on here. "Snowsqualls", yeah, okay. This town is screwed up, man.