STEPHEN HARPER MAY HAVE BRIBED DEAD MP… IN OTHER NEWS, HE EATS CHILDREN TOO

I learned a long time ago that there’s three things every person must do in their lives before entering politics.

First, the sage-like wisdom of Monty Burns: “Family, religion, friends… these are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.” Ditto politics. 

Second, you have to learn to demonize opponents and uphold the mantra of “perception is reality” because the pursuit of power is just too enticing for many people, including deluded young people that actually think mainstream political parties care what the youth wing thinks. Trust me, I know. The Liberal Party is a perfect example of this. Young people become policy wonks and party zealots to the point that they’re even willing to help tear the party apart to support some rich, well-connected old guy that might become a party leader (and thus, a job on the Hill).

Lastly, just like Wolverine, you have to have the ability to heal fast from injuries inflicted by douches across the floor and know that if you take politics too seriously, you’re toast.

So the high school clique war that is Parliament Hill nowadays, going on the attack with unsubstantiated rumours and conjecture is fair game. Perception is reality, right?

I’ve got no love for Harper, don’t get me wrong. I think the man’s running a minority government that acts like it has a majority and feeds off the narrow-minded regionalism of this country. But still, doesn’t the idea of accusing someone in office based on what one person said with no proof whatsoever seem kind of, well, FUBAR?

Let’s get one thing straight: politics isn’t run by ideas. Politics is run by technology and timing nowadays. Ideas are reserved for graduate students. Getting the killer blow in before the next news cycle and the sharpest headline so the blogosphere can go buckwild with page views and five cents per CPM is what matters now.

So there’s really no honour left in working in politics. The more and more political parties in the House of Commons push the agenda of attack, the more separated Parliament becomes from the ordinary Canadian. Most sensible folks want leaders that actually uphold democracy, not create a tribal, siege-like mentality to the process of debate.

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OSCAR STUFF

So this largely unnoticed event called the Oscars went down last night. I heard it was alright.

Well actually, this year’s Oscars were pretty good – better than recent years, that’s for sure. Jon Stewart was in The Funny Mode with amusing monologues (far, far better than The Queen of Lame Ellen DeGeneres) and in a super-competitive year like this was, almost every film deserving of an award got something to go home with.

Even though I was rooting for Ellen Page to win Best Actress, it was nice to see Marion Cotillard win instead of Julie Christie. Seriously, is it just me or did Christie look bored as hell during most of the show? She smiled exactly once – right when Cotillard was announced as the winner. Besides, it’s better for Oscar to actually reward younger folks and pass the proverbial torch to a new generation (I think Away From Her is a good movie, but it’s not worthy of an Oscar). Good on Oscar. Not so good was having Jessica Alba’s frowning mug on TV during the pregnancy award. Boo.

Also, who doesn’t think that couple that won for Best Original Song (in a movie no one has ever heard of) is potentially the cutest couple in Oscar history? Nice to see some real earnest, heartfelt thanks in a town drenched in cynics. Also, thank the Academy for awarding Diablo Cody for the Best Original Screenplay. Nice move there.

All in all, it was a pretty good Oscars. Keep the format the way it is, keep Stewart and never bring DeGeneres back ever, maybe cut down on all the “looking back” segments of Oscar history next year, and have more Helen Mirren, Cotillard and Anne Hathaway next year. I can’t suggest those people enough.

DEUS EX MALCONTENT

A story making the rounds on Valleywag today involves a New York City-based blogger named Chez Pazienza, a.k.a. Deus Ex Malcontent, being fired from his job at CNN yesterday due to his non-work-related blog.

Truth be told, this blog of Chez’s may be the best insider, no-bullshit blog about the television news business I’ve ever read. He has the guts to say what so few of us are willing to say about the nature of TV news nowadays (at least in America, although Canadian TV news isn’t much better). Exploitative, pointless at times, diversionary, the visual equivalent of eating bon-bons day in, day out. Thank God someone finally had the courage to say it, even if it did cost Chez his job (I doubt he’s going to have problems finding work, what with all the media attention he’s getting).

All I’m going to say if you’re going into TV news: pray and get a parachute, it’s going to be a very rough landing.

YES WE CAN

This video has been making the rounds online in just a few days, but it’s already drawing in a great deal of attention: a distinctly pro-Obama video by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, featuring a whole lot of people like John Legend, Scarlett Johansson, Herbie Hancock, Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls and many, many more.

Obama’s time truly has come.

DEADLOCK

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So yesterday’s Super Tuesday result only proved what we already know about this year’s U.S. Presidential race: the Republicans are now virtually certain to have John McCain as their candidate, and the Democrats… well, who knows. Clinton might have taken the two sweetest plums – New York and California – but Obama took a larger proportion of states and seems to have much larger cross-the-board demographic appeal than Clinton. It’s hardly over. The Democratic race is very much still on.

Unlike Clinton, do you not get this strange, almost Kennedy-esque feeling whenever Obama speaks to a crowd? Sure, he’s about as slick as they come now and he’s got the proverbial golden touch when it comes to connecting with ordinary people, but really, this guy truly is something special. Clinton’s going down. I can feel it.

EXPLORING CULTURAL MEMORY

Last night at a friend’s house I had an exchange with him over his love of, dare I say, old school 80’s music. This guy, whom has just turned 41, is a very smart guy with immaculate taste in music (far, far better than the average musical consumer). I kind of got on him about his general immersion with stuff that’s old – rather, stuff when he was a teenager. I sort of called him out over the idea that people look back on their past musical interests with nostalgia and that contemporary tastes are crap. It’s funny how people look back on music fondly, but are less likely to appreciate their own personal heritage and development in a broad stroke. Music is an immutable aspect of everyone’s past and connects you to a time and place that may or may not have existed in your own cultural memory.

There’s a line in Chris Rock’s comedy album Never Scared that I’m paraphrasing here grossly that pretty much underlines how most people explain their relationship to music: “Whatever you were listening to when you started getting laid is what music you’ll love for the rest of your life.”

Maybe so. Still, as people get older, there’s a tendency to view whatever constitutes contemporary pop music as crap simply on the basis of the Abe Simpson logic: “I used to be with it, but what it was changed and now sounds weird and scary to me.”

Music today is far more complex, diverse and has a far wider range of media outlets to chose from when it comes to new bands and sounds. Top 40 Radio is effectively D.O.A. and the Web is now completely in charge when it comes to dictating grassroots cultural tastes. So the music world is an immensely complex place now and corporate decisions from the top dictate a lot of who gets played on mainstream, traditional media outlets.

So do we really remember music as being “better” in our neat and tidy memories, or are we becoming less and less able to simply discern what is good and bad in our digital music era?