Thursday, January 15, 2009

Augh People Seriously

Weekly updates! Well, weekly-ish. I'll see if I can't give weekly (-ish) updates a try, at least until my academic schedule roars defiantly and drags me off into the night.

In the meantime:

Uptown Magazine! More bounce to the ounce!

I return this week with another fine column, and even despite my characteristic good nature and boundless optimism I am sometimes forced to ask myself just what in the stone damn is wrong with us. (As a species, I mean. I'm sure you're lovely, and I think it's usually pretty obvious what's wrong with me.)

The part about roughly half of all Canadians fifteen and older being staggeringly unable to name a single Canadian author is one of those rare times where I just run out of words to describe my exasperation; when the story originally dropped I was reduced to moving my mouth silently and holding my hands up in bewilderment any time someone asked me about it.

Seriously? A sample size of fifteen hundred and half of them come up with nothing? I'll cop to being a half dozen years or so removed from high school by now, but I clearly remember that they make a very specific point of putting their students in contact with the work of at least one Canadian author.

Which school does this, you ask? Oh, well, you know, ALL OF THEM


The news story linked above also insists on providing a short list of authors that nobody named, because the National Post exists to make me angry. Okay, I am reasonably willing to accept that nobody mentioned Leonard Cohen, what with him being known best as a singer and second-best as a poet. (Wait, do people even still acknowledge poets as 'authors'? Poetry is so dead now that it makes pinball look like a viable medium.) But, ye gads, Lucy Maud Montgomery? Michael Ondaatje? Well okay I guess Anne of Green Gables is only a definitive cultural institution, and it isn't like Ondaatje has ever earned a Booker Prize or won five Governor General Awards or seen the movie adaptation of The English Patient win nine Academy Awards or--

I actually won a game of Trivial Pursuit once by coming up with Michael Ondaatje as the answer to the last question; granted that we were playing the Canadian edition, but shut up that is not the point here. The point is, how in the world have so many people lived their lives in this country to this point without encounting a single Canadian author they can remember by name?

You couldn't remember the line about a Canadian being someone who knows how to make love in a canoe, or who the really old guy was that rolled a joint with Rick Mercer on the CBC a while ago? You never heard the story about the crazy author in Newfoundland who shoots at American planes flying overhead? You never had any Gordon Korman books in your school, or those lame Scholastic flyers that had maple leaves plastered on every available Canadian book? You weren't anywhere near a radio in 1993-94 when Moxy Fruvous made it big by singing a bunch of author names?

"Who's a funny fella? / W. P. Kinsella!"

"Who needs a shave? / It's Robertson Davies!"

Oh, that's gold and you know it. Don't give me that look.

And! And, this knowledge isn't even the lowest of the low points of human accomplishment mentioned in the column I wrote for this week. Bite down on something, this one is going to hurt.

Perhaps you may have initially believed, as some incredulous London listeners may have when I told the story, that I was completely making up the part about people phoning in to 911 with whatever ridiculous bull pucky popped into their heads at the moment. But, ha ha, nope! Behold as I beheld and hear as I heard:

Winnipeg Police Service - AM or PM (CTV Winnipeg Presents: 911 Calls, 2009)
[alternate link | source]

That is majestic, isn't it? Holy smokes. (More calls are available alongside the CTV report, but there is really no topping that one.) The aforementioned Winnipeg 311 line is set to launch this Friday, and I can't decide whether I envy these workers their upcoming jobs or not. I know I would end up going completely and irreversibly mad if I had to put up with people like this all day -- and I have worked a lot of unfortunate customer service jobs -- but at the same time my unkillable curiosity is just longing to hear all of the otherwise unbelievable shit that is no doubt going to come over the wires right from the second the service starts up.

Anyway! Enough on this for now. I have class bright and early tomorrow morning. And since I just now discovered that Les Dales Hawerchuk will finally play Winnipeg -- while I'm not there to see it -- I figure I had better just go to bed before I end up punching holes downward through my desk. It has been a... long day.

Until next time, true believers!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just saw this, I'm totally going.