Saturday, September 10, 2011

Canadian Money Well Spent?

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has outlived its usefulness and its worth in our media industry. People will argue that the CBC is a necessity to sustain a viable amount of Canadian programming to be made available to Canadians... but at what cost to us?
The CBC receives around $1.1 billion (yes, billion with a “B”) from our pockets every year to fund its programming... and not very good programming at that. Yes, there are many people that watch CBC or listen to CBC Radio, but I am not one of them (never have). In fact, most people I’ve talked to don’t either. So, where’s the worth?
I’m sure the $1.1 billion of taxpayer money allocated to the CBC could be put to much better use across Canada: Education funding is hurting to the point that many school districts have had to lay off teachers and support workers to make their budgets balance (yet, today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders); health care across Canada is barley keeping its head above water (but I guess ensuring Canadian content is more important than ensuring healthy Canadians); and the homeless population across the county keeps on growing (but they don’t have television or radio anyways).
In addition to its programming and broadcasting, the CBC has additional ‘side’ ventures it uses to generate revenue but will not release just how much. In fact, there are many things the CBC won’t release. I have read numerous articles from different news agencies about attempts under the Access to Information Act to acquire documentation from the CBC regarding various topics—including, but not limited to, its earnings and expenditures; unfortunately, most of these requests have often lead to nothing. Even though, according to Section 4 of the Act, any Canadian Citizen has the right to access government records, including those of Crown Corporations, so why hasn’t any of the CBC’s records been released to the public? A lower court has even ordered the CBC to release its spending reports (based on a submitted request), but it is appealing the ruling and have vowed to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, if need be. The really perverse thing is that we, the taxpayers, are the ones paying for the CBC’s appeals. Our money is funding the CBC’s fight to keep information from us that we have a right to know! It really makes you wonder what it is it’s fighting so hard to keep secret?? If the CBC really has nothing to hide, then releasing its spending/earnings documents shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Not only does the CBC spend our tax money, hide how much it makes, and not tell us where the money is actually going, but it seems to think it is ‘above the law.’ As of August 31, 2011, all Canadian broadcasters were ordered by the CRTC to cease transmission of all analog signals. The transmission of “over-the-air” television is to be only digital as of September 1, 2011. All broadcasters knew this change was coming for years, and broadcasters have complied with the order and have switched the signals to digital... all but one. The CBC applied to the CRTC for an extension and was granted a 1-year extension over the deadline and is still fighting for a longer grace period (something else we are undoubtedly paying for). Really? The CBC’s argument is that it cannot afford to change all of its transmitters from analog to digital—it just doesn’t have the money to do it. Um... what about the $1.1 billion it got this year? Where’s all that money? Oh, wait... we don’t know. Honestly, do you think if any one of the private broadcasting companies were to apply for an extension based on the fact that money was short, it would have been granted? Not likely. The broadcasters would have simply been told the change has been coming for years, and the deadline will be enforced.
Even thought the CBC is owned by the Canadian Government, it should act and be treated like any other company, organization, or business. If it can’t sustain itself then it should close up shop. All other television and radio stations have to live by the ‘golden rule’ of business—make a profit or no longer operate. Private broadcasters don’t get ‘free’ money from the tax payers—nor should they. The CBC should NOT either. Whether public or private, if the revenue generated does not meet or exceed the expenditures, then it is not a very feasible company, is it? If the CBC cannot bring in sufficient revenue, we (the taxpayers) should NOT have to make up its alleged shortfall. It should just close the doors, turn off the lights, and cut to ‘snow’—because I’m tired of my hard-earned money going to fund something as useless and money draining as the CBC.
But that’s just me...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tip-Top Taylor... Swift.

Next weekend Taylor Swift comes to Edmonton on her Speak Now World Tour to play TWO sold out shows, and yes, I have my tickets. I was lucky to get them, because both shows sold out literally in MINUTES! She is going to put on an amazing show, and with her coming, I just wanted to share my thoughts on her...
Taylor Swift is one of very few artists who is genuine and real. You don’t have to like her music to like and respect her, and I don't think she gets the recognition she properly deserves.
I became a fan when she released her single Love Story. I saw the video and thought she was an amazing and very attractive singer. As I saw more of her, I realized how different she was from most of the other singers. In Taylor Swift, I saw a real person and not just a “Hollywood cut-out” trying to get rich and famous. I saw someone really no different than you or me.
Unfortunately, with all the scandals, rehab stays, DUIs, or breakdowns other stars are having, artists like Taylor Swift barely get any kind of media coverage. And yet, she has still managed to become one of the most popular and well loved stars around the world... all with one simple trick—truth.
Taylor Swift is who she says she is. She is true to herself, but more importantly, her songs are the story of her life. In fact, she has been quoted many times as saying that when you listen to her songs, it is like you’re reading her diary. It’s her vulnerability and openness in her music (and in herself) that has made her fans more like her friends, and this is what made, and will keep, Taylor Swift popular and respected.
When you see Taylor Swift doing an interview or watch her in a behind-the-scenes clip, she is a normal person—one who hasn’t succumb to the “Hollywood Lifestyle” or changed who she is. You don’t ever see photos of her staggering drunk out of a club, because that’s not who she is. You don’t ever see her posing for provocative or suggesting photos, because that is not who she is. In fact, she was once quoted as saying that she doesn’t wear skimpy or revealing clothing in her real life so she won't just for a photo-shoot. Again... a real person who is not gong to ‘bend over’ for "Hollywood."
I’ve watched interviews with her, and they all go the same way and leave me with the same impression—even if singing didn’t make her famous or wealthy, she would still be do it. True artists don’t do what they do because it makes them rich and famous; they do it because they love what they do and want to share it with others.
It is unfortunate, however, that some artists let the fame and fortune get to them and change them—usually not in a good way, either. There are numerous artists that I’ve really respected and enjoyed only to watch as the corruption and greed take over—destroying all respect I once had. I’ve read stories about artists spending $50000 a month on their hair and make-up, dropping a quarter of a million dollars at a club for a birthday party, or buying a $30 million house. Really? For what possible reason would one need a house that has twenty-two bathrooms?
But then, you have an artist like Taylor Swift. Sure, she has a couple of nice homes but nothing over-the-top. She stays very close with her family, and keeps a very level head. In fact, she just recently bought her parents a new house—a little costly, but not excessive and not wasteful... I mean it's her parents. They have and continue to support her and her dreams, so now she is just giving them a "Thank-You for everything" gift from the heart—that’s what I would do.
The most defining point, however, when talking about Taylor Swift is how she acts towards and interacts with her fans. They are more important to her than the fame or the fortune. Whenever you see her around her fans, she treats them like they REALLY are her best friends, because in her heart, they are. She talks to them (not at them) and honestly listens to and hears them. She respects them and treats them with such. No matter where she is or what she’s doing, she will take time to stop and ‘mingle’ with her admirers. This is what makes an artist truly amazing.
Not only does Taylor Swift respect her fans, but she also deeply respects her peers. It’s sad that quite often, however, this respect is one sided. Taylor Swift may win many ‘fan-voted’ awards, but she doesn’t win that many awards that are voted on or decided by the ‘industry.’ Fortunately, I don’t think this matters to her, though. I mean, it’s the awards that are chosen by the fans that are, or should be, the most important to an artist. No matter, even when you see Taylor Swift lose an award to another artist, you can see she is genuinely happy for the person who won. Not once have I ever seen a look of disgust or displeasure on her face when she didn’t win. Sadly, I can’t say the same for many other artists.
In fact, this past Sunday was the annual Teen Choice Awards. A fan-voted award show in which Taylor Swift won five awards in addition to the Ultimate Choice award, which is basically the top honour for this award’s show. When she accepted the award, you could tell it wasn’t the award itself that mattered to her. It was that the fans chose her, or more importantly her ‘stories,’ to receive the award. She was truly touched and humbled that what she has to share is so loved by those she shares it with.
Another example of Taylor Swift's humility and sincerity was when Selena Gomez performed Love You Like A Love Song, which won "Best Love Song." Taylor Swift lost the award for “Best Love Song” to Selena Gomez, but what did she do while Selena was performing the song live? She was right there in the front row, with a big smile on her face, dancing and singing along with Selena’s performance. Sound like a sore loser to you? Nope.
Many artists roll out songs written by whomever and record the songs they believe will get the most air-play or will sell the most albums. They are in it for the money, and as long as you’re buying their albums, they’re happy. Taylor Swift writes her own songs—songs that tell us about her life (both the good and the bad). Because the songs come from her heart, they are real. And because they are real, her fans easily relate to them and easily relate to her. All in all, a connection is created between Taylor Swift and her fans, and it’s because of this connection that Taylor Swift will remain highly adored and respected by people all over the world. Her fans are her friends, and friends don’t abandon you.
So, you don’t have to like her music, but you can’t help but respect her as an artist, because Taylor Swift is a true artist and sincere person.
But that’s just me...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's in a Name?

... quite possible your entire future!
Whatever happened to the simple and normal names people used to bestow upon their newborn child? The Matthews, Johns, Heathers and Sarahs seems to be of decades past, and the Bisons, Plutos, Starlites, and Saturns seems to have become the new trends. Unique? Sure... Normal? Not even close! I’ve noticed this growing trend of what some people call “unique” names... but I call it ludicrous (uh-oh, I may have just given someone an idea).

Edmonton’s Now 102.3 radio station discussed this just recently, and some of the names that people were calling or texting in (either their own names or names of people they knew) were beyond weird or crazy... in fact, some almost bordered on what could be deemed as abuse. I admit that some of the names brought forth may have been neat or cute for the first couple of years of a child’s life, but after that, I’m betting pure hell.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter and the Reading Revolution

In just under six hours... the time's come—the final instalment of the multi-billion dollar movie franchise Harry Potter will be released. It’s been ten years in the coming, and I guarantee it will be one of (if not the) biggest box-office event of all time; although the story of Hogwarts is coming to an end on the big screen, the story of Harry Potter is far from over. If you take away the ‘Hollywood,’ you’re left with a legacy that will live on—entertaining, enlightening, and educating—for years and centuries to come.
Eleven years ago, the then mostly unknown author Joanne Rowling was simply sitting on a train when amazing characters and a incredible story came to life in her mind. Back then, I doubt even she knew how much of an impact this was going to have on the world today and on the world of tomorrow. It was on this packed train heading back to London that a quiet, yet very powerful, revolution was born.
Now, the movies aren’t what I want to talk about. Don’t get me wrong, they are exceptional: the actors were chosen perfectly for the characters they portray; the special effects are unbelievable; and the production is close to perfect. Overall, they are movies definitely worth seeing and spending the money to own... I just find there’s no comparison to the books.
When the first book came out, I had no interest or desire to read it. The second one came out... then the third, and I still had no desire. It wasn't until my 3rd year at university that I was forced to read the first book for one of my literary classes. I admit I wasn’t looking forward to it, and I was confused as to why it was even on the reading list. By now, the forth book had just been released, and I have heard all the hype, but still... no desire. But something happened when I reluctantly began to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I wasn’t even half way through the book when I ran (almost literally) to the book store and bought the next three books. I was hooked. Over the years and three more books being released, I found my self walking my hallway at 3am reading, because if I stopped moving, I would fall asleep, and if I fell asleep, I couldn’t keep reading—as was the case with millions of other people.
Even though a half-dozen or so publishing houses turned her away, Joanne Rowling didn’t give up (incidentally, I wonder if those ‘brilliant’ people who said “no” and turned her away still have jobs... just sayin’) J.K. Rowling created something that transcends anything that’s been published in the past couple of hundred years. Kids who have never willingly picked up a book put down their gameboys, shut off their televisions, and picked up Harry Potter to read. These children, through Rowling’s seven books, developed a desire to read that may never have manifested otherwise. Parents who haven’t read a book since their own school days, picked up Harry Potter to read... rekindling a desire to read that was lost years ago. Grandparents (usually at the urging of their grandchildren) picked up Harry Potter to read... giving them new common ground with their grandchildren, thus, building a bridge over a growing ‘generation gap.’ J.K Rowling had unleashed an indescribable and amazing phenomenon onto the world.
I graduated university with a BA in English Literature. I studied Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, the Brontë Sisters, and many other literary greats, and would easily place Rowling along side these. The writing style of J.K. Rowling is so complex but so simple, which makes it even more complex. Children reading her books have no problems following plot lines, dialogue, or character developments, and yet, adults aren’t bored as they normally are with most children’s books. Her style and depth of designing plots, sub-plots, surroundings, and characters makes everything seem so real and so natural. Everyone is instantly absorbed into the world of Harry Potter—before you realize it, you feel as though you have personally known him for years.
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter goes beyond that of a book, or a movie, or a poster. She launched a revolution that has spread across the globe. The books have been translated into over sixty different languages, have sold over 400 million copies, and have touched the lives (in one way or another) of countless people. Educational institutions, from elementary schools to universities, have added Harry Potter to their reading lists; graduate students are doing theses on the series; and people have begun to pick up books again! Hundreds of years from now, students will be studying Rowling right along side Shakespeare or Dickens.
I would like to congratulate J.K. Rowling on bringing something to the world as powerful as Harry Potter. As a writer, I can only hope to one day produce something even a fraction as impacting as you have. You truly have changed and will continue to change the lives of millions of people as well as the literary world for many, many... many years to come. The story may now be over, but the saga will never end.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Welcome to That's Just My Thoughts

A big Welcome to my blog. It's been an interesting ride to get this up and running, and I hope you'll find it entertaining.
I am going to touch on everything and anything that crosses my mind. There really are no rules, no guides, and no limits to what I write about.

I'll probably touch on everything over time...
From Big Business to Show Business...
From Smart Plans to Stupid People...
From Scandals to Scams...
All in all, I hope to enlighten, entertain, or just make you laugh.

Each week will be something different - something unique - something to make you go... "Hmm?"
Comments are welcome (but please keep it clean and respectful).
Suggestions are encouraged (visit the Contact us page).

Have fun... Be smart... And enjoy!