Friday, September 28, 2007

Public Versus Private

Seems I've been a bit lax of late, as this is my first submission to blogland in a week. I have in fact been doing some writing the past few days, but it's something that will not see any sort of public release, as it's strictly for my entertainment. (I'm sure there is someone someplace who might actually like it, but pretty much everyone else wouldn't.) On the other hand I'm hoping this will help me get certain other writing projects back into action.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Whither Hollywood North?

The growing strength of the Canadian dollar, which briefly reached parity with the US dollar today and may soon stay at or surpass parity, may be good news for consumers. But its a major problem for export oriented industries, such as the motion picture and television industries.

The weakness of the Canadian dollar versus the US dollar prompted a huge growth in the filming of projects by American studios in Canada from the mid '80s onward. Not only did they gain the advantage of each US dollar going that much farther in Canada they had a access to a workforce that spoke English with an accent that could pass for American and filming locations that could be transformed into American settings with just a bit of prop work. But the rising Canadian dollar has chopped those advantages in recent years, and the industry is already seeing a slowing down of American projects. With the Canadian dollar reaching parity the fear is that existing projects won't be replaced by new ones.

It also has the potential to hurt production for the Canadian domestic market as well. American programs tend to generate the highest ratings in the Canadian market, and are cheaper to buy than a Canadian production. The strengthening Canadian dollar will exacerbate this problem, as American programs become even cheaper for Canadian networks to buy, and this is likely to strengthen the resistance by Canadian broadcasters to putting money into more Canadian made programming. It is also likely to hurt foreign sales of material originally made for the Canadian market.

Some connected with Hollywood have in recent years complained about Canadian productions taking work from them, often accusing Canadian jurisdictions of unfair subsidisation. But the hit Canadian production may take from the strong dollar may not benefit them as it might have in the past, as there are more American jurisdictions making their own efforts to attract productions.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Links Updated.

I've just made a minor update to my link listing. Randy McDonald has decided to rename his Livejournal A Bit More Detail, and now the link to it reflects that change. I also decided to sort them alphabetically, at least for now.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Goodbye SFN.

I received an e-mail today announcing that the Saskatoon Free-Net will cease its e-mail service on December 31st and will shut down all remaning online activities by June 1st of next year. Frankly I'm surprised the SFN stayed active this long. The ever increasing number of Canadians with things like high speed internet service, free e-mail sites with gigantic caches of memory per user, and the growth of blogging made the SFN pretty much obsolete. It had become little more than an e-mail hosting service in recent years, and presumably has seen less and less traffic as fewer and fewer people made financial contributions. But I'm sure many Saskatonians will be a bit sad to see it go as it was their first access to the Internet. It certainly was for me. The only good thing about it fading away is that a bunch of losers who have my SFN e-mail address in their spam lists will get it all bounced back at them for a while.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sony Canada Says No To Shortwave.

Back in the early '90s I did quite a bit of shortwave listening. Once the Internet came along it began to suck away my time, and that, combined with the noise that the computer generates when I have it on, resulted in my receiver becoming largely a clock radio. But of late I've been interested in picking up a cheapy shortwave or two for some audio mangling, and that got me poking around online tonight for info them. I spent a good time here reading receiver reviews getting a bit nostalgic for the hobby again. But when I visited a couple of Canadian dealers that offer shortwave receivers for sale I noticed that neither carry Sony products. Curious, I checked out Sony's Canadian site. To my surprise nothing was to be found. Sony has long been in the shortwave biz, with some of their portables having reached legendary status in the hobby, such as the ICF2010. Apparently Sony has discontinued most of its shortwave product line, but a look at the US Sony site showed the SW7600GR was still available in the US. I guess Sony Canada wasn't getting enough demand for those products to keep even one model in stock.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Unhappy Breakaway Day!

If you live in the universe in which Space: 1999 is set today is the eighth anniversary of the Moon being blown out of orbit. Its funny to think of watching the series when I was 8 and 9 and the year 1999 seeming to be so far away. And here I am, writing this and the year 1999 is 8 years ago! Slow or fast, before you know it the years slip by.

The series arrived at both a fortunate and an unfortunate time. Fortunate because when in first aired in the fall of 1975 there was little competition, with Star Trek being limited to syndicated reruns and very little new science fiction being available. Unfortunate because it arrived a year too early, with the series being cancelled and the last episodes being aired in many markets just as Star Wars appeared to launch the late '70s sci fi boom, a boom that the series wouldn't be able to take full advantage of.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Public Stupidity.

Today there were a couple of protesters in front of Saskatoon City Hall. "911 Was An Inside Job!" stated the sign carried by one. Having other things to do I didn't bother to get closer and find out what version of the theory they believed in. Not that it really matters, the theories that have been widely publicised are all equally full of holes and far more baroque than any credible "the US gubmint did it!' theory needs to be. Whoever these people were they apparently aren't making much of an impact if only two of them showed up. And why they would be out there protesting in the first place is beyond me. The City of Saskatoon has no influence on or connection with Canadian foreign policy.

Joe Zawinul, RIP

Unfortunate news to report. Austrian jazz great Joe Zawinul has died at 75 in a Vienna hospital. Zawinul was one of the most influential European jazz musicians of the post war period. During his stint with Cannonball Adderley in the 1960s he wrote the hit "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" and was an early exponent of the use of electric piano in jazz. He was a participant in the late '60s Miles Davis sessions that resulted in the pioneering jazz fusion albums In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew, writing the title cut of the former and contributing the (then) album side long cut "Pharoah's Dance" to the latter. In the 1970s he formed the group Weather Report with veteran tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, which saw considerable success and saw Zawinul as one of the early and major promoters of synthesizers in jazz. He remained musically active until his recent hospital stint, having toured earlier this year with his current group, and having recently appeared as the cover story in Downbeat magazine.