The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Newspaper’

Posted by Matt on February 9, 2011

Might be taking a break from the novel posts for a little bit. I guarantee you that it will be finished by the end of the month, or your money back.

Let’s get back to other fun: AOL is buying the Huffington Post. What happens when a desperate corporation with nothing to give to society at large combines with a ‘news’ website known mostly for pushing psuedo-scientific garbage championed by rich cunts? Apparently, some sort of Shit Voltron, here to use its magical Sword of Low-Quality to smite anything resembling journalism. Whoddathunk.

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Posted by Matt on November 20, 2010

This is great; it’s every edition of the university I am currently attending’s yearbook, which ran for almost 60 years. After spending 4 months working at museum, I really am starting to appreciate local history like this a lot more; we all go through the phase, especially when you live in a smaller city like Brandon, where you think it would be more interesting anywhere but where you are. And while I’m not advocating the idea that Brandon, Manitoba (pop. 41,511) is secretly the hippest place in the country, there’s always got to be something there worth seeing.

So with this stuff now online, you can now see 6 decades as they appeared in the second largest city in Manitoba, and how all the kids used to dress and pose for pictures that are now viewable on the Internet.

And yes, we at the newspaper are currently trying to do the same thing for our history. The thing is 100 years old, after all.

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Posted by Matt on September 27, 2010

Because I don’t feel like doing another write-up, here’s a review I wrote for the newspaper about the Flaming Lips concert I went to last week:

Oklahoma-based psychadelic rockers the Flaming Lips are famous for putting on a one-of-a-kind concert, and I can report with confidence that this is the case. It is DEFINITELY the case.

The opening act at their Winnipeg concert, Haunted Graffiti, were able to set the mood pretty early on. Although they are certainly a more straightforward rock band than the Lips, their use of keyboards and harder sound created a similar vibe, as did its strange frontman, who was entertaining in spite of the fact that I couldn’t understand a thing he said.
The Flaming Lips themselves started strong and never let up during their dozen-or-so song set, which pulled primarily from their three 2000s albums, but also included a classic from the 90s, She Don’t Use Jelly. Everyone was on game, and not even short technical difficulties hurt the intensity the band put into every song, nor ecstatic mood of the audience. Frontman Wayne Coyne kept the place jumping by spending a moment between songs to talk to the audience and encourage everyone to join in.

As for the show itself… it is probably the most visually entertaining thing I’ve ever seen on stage. Every song brought in new, weird effects; confetti gushed down at any given moment; there were women in yellow shirts and hats dancing on the sidelines for the entire show; large balloons were bounced around in the audience for a whole hour; and the band members interacted with the visuals displayed on the giant circular screen. Coyne himself went out of his way to entertain, first by jumping into the floor audience in a giant bubble, and following it up throughout the show by, for example, sitting on the shoulders of a man in a bear costume, or using giant hands to reflect laser lights onto two disco balls. Of course, words can’t really do the show justice: you really need to see it to get how crazy and awesome it was, and to know the feeling of how entertaining it was just to anticipate what could happen next.

So, as one can tell, the Lips show is everything you’ve heard it was, and probably more. And it’s not just for the sheer sense overload provided by what’s going on stage, either; there’s a genuine love of the music there. Coyne repeatedly talked about how much happiness he finds among the band’s fans, and it’s easy to see where he’s coming from when you see a large group of people singing along to Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and Do You Realize??

Here’s some videos from it:

I also saw the Arcade Fire last week. It was also a good concert.

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Posted by Matt on March 10, 2010

Here I stand before you, Enemy of the Internet.

A few months back, I decided to rip off Weekend Web and other things I like to read on the Internet. To give it a local flavour, I decided to pick on my city’s (in)famous web portal.

This is the result of that.

They vary in quality. It took me a bit to start finding the really good stuff.

But anyway, the reason why this is important, aside from the fact that I finally got off my ass and posted those articles online, is that I’m also being noticed by the victim. The admin comparing it to eavesdropping on people’s conversations in a public space seems to be off-base, unless he doesn’t understand how the Internet works. It’s also different in that IT ISN’T FUCKING CREEPY.

Posted in In My Life, Leinks, Nobody Cares, Writin' & Other Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on February 8, 2010

Just a bit of self-congratulatory, but one of news articles made it onto the Canadian University Press newswire, the first time it has ever happened. I think it’s pretty cool. By the way, it was this article.

Posted in In My Life, Leinks, Nobody Cares, Writin' & Other Creativity | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on January 31, 2010

In slightly more than a week, I take a train for the first time in my life on a trip across the northeastern United States and to Montreal. Quite exciting, this vacation magic.

I will soon have to add Nestle to my enemies list soon, unless my news article about their concerned letter to the university is safe and non-inflammatory (I don’t think it’s inflammatory, but they might not have wanted to have the thing discussed publicly at all. Well, the administration gave me the letter in their meeting minutes package, and I have never been in trouble for printing what they gave me in there.) These are the journalistic issues I face every time I actually decide to do whatever small-effort reporting I can instead of just copy-pasting CBC stories.

I mean, we’ve barely had any complaints. We had to correct some minor things in an article or two, but that was months ago. We only recently got a complaint from someone who thought a stupid comedy piece we printed was offensive to the obese. We’re been pretty clean so far, I guess. Maybe further editions of my new Weekend Web-rip-off articles will get us some complaints.

Why am I so obsessed with complaints? For one, we are a student newspaper. If we can’t be rebellious pranksters, then who can be?

Second, The Quill has had a history of insanity. From the paper being shut down and printed independently for a few months, to the former President of the university refusing to talk to them because they printed an ill-advised statement he made to them about campus security, our paper has been involved with tons of shit. And, I don’t know, I feel responsible for keeping the tradition going.

Posted in In My Life, Writin' & Other Creativity | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on January 21, 2010

I’m baaaaaack.

The trip was interesting. Don’t know how much I participated in the things the conference was about (I went to a few of the presentations, and had to sit through the last half of the big final meeting where the press group’s constitution was amended. I essentially voted yes on everything, not giving a damn. Not that most of that was all that important, nor would my vote have swayed the decision either way). I heard some interesting things, though, and met some of the staff of other newspapers, who were fun to talk to and hang out with.

Edmonton is a pretty great place, and it was made better by the unusually warm weather. We didn’t do much while there, but I did drive through the city center (seeing the variety of local stores, clubs, architecture, etc.) We went to some comic stores, too. I’d never been to the really big nerd clubhouses that I’ve read about on the various comics blogs, and these met all the expectations that I had set for them. Big, with a huge variety of comics and trades, filled with unusual merchandise and old action figures. I now understand the glory and the awfulness of them. More of the former, though, but only because I had never been there before, I’m sure. Got some books I wanted (including one of the annoyingly unavailable X-Force/X-Statix trades), so the trips were overall very profitable.

Of course, there was the prerequisite trip to the West Edmonton Mall, which is every bit as large, glorious, and scary as I seen. To sound completely confusing, it both felt larger and smaller than I imagined. I mean, it’s really huge, and filled with many a thing. We traversed it in a few hours, although we didn’t see absolutely everything. We did, however, see lemurs, who lived in a habitat not far from the aquarium and Columbus ship recreation. That was completely unexpected, and amusing. Lemurs!

It was good to see the thing from the inside finally, after 10 years. Now I will have a bit more experience with it to help some of my ideas (one of which involves the mall, or a reasonable facsimile).

So yes, I had fun going out of town, aside from the long, claustrophobic car trip.

****************
Watched all of the first season of Mighty Boosh now. It isn’t quite as consistently good as the next two series, as it was still finding its footing and doesn’t have all the main cast developed (Bollo was only a bit player), and some of the stuff in it felt like half-baked versions of what would later be developed. But the comedy is still there, and many of the episodes are pretty great, and it has characters sadly absent from later series (Bob Fossil, who does make a comeback in series 3, and Matt Berry as Dixon Brainbridge, a truly great villain/asshole). My favorite episode is probably ‘Jungle’ (which features another one of Rich Fulcher’s insane characters who gave me probably the biggest laugh of all 8 episodes), although they are all pretty good, overall (especially in the last half).

It’s also probably the least frightening of all three series, although it’s strangeness is still in full-force. So if ‘Eels’ gives you nightmares, I can tell you there’s probably nothing here that will have the same effect (maybe ‘Charlie’).

Now I feel complete.

****************
A wrestling-loving friend of mine recently showed me Ring of Honor videos. As a promotion, I think it’s a pretty nice alternative to the big guns. It’s incredibly low-tech, and seems like an indie league with better lighting. But the wrestling is good, the wrestlers sell their gimmicks incredibly well, and Jim Cornette! So yeah, the examples I saw left me with good impressions on the whole thing.

Here’s the thing about wrestling: It’s carnival entertainment that often appeals to the lowest common denominator. But it can be fun, especially when you get some guys who create good cartoon personas for themselves and know how to keep a fake fight interesting. Basically, I see it in the same way I see kaiju movies: they are a silly good time that often appeals to the side of me that likes colourful characters beating up each other.

That said, most of modern wrestling is problematic. The WWE has no clue what it’s doing anymore, making dumb decision after dumb decision, wasting talent, having its flaws (including certain personalities being favoured over others for blatant and stupid reasoning) and now facing an avalanche of bad PR because of the ever-growing list of dead wrestlers. However, at least they show some sign of competence compared to the only real big budget rival in town, TNA, who have bought off many great people, have some promising performers, but who can’t do anything write. Wasting time with backstage story filler, including nonsensical gimmicks (even during non-gimmick matches), and having a large number of boring or confusingly short matches. It’s a train wreck, and even as someone who knows wrestling only from a peripheral view, I can tell that.

And that’s why ROH is kind of a breath of fresh air. It’s straight-up wrestling, and it gives the viewers what they want. It seems able to draw the most entertainment from this often bloated redneck industry.

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I am an idiot

Posted by Matt on November 18, 2009

Oh boy, I’m going to have write things about the past decade, aren’t I? The decade where I was reasonably intelligent for only half of it, and even that’s debatable.
I could write about the Hamsterdance Song, I guess.

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Resurrected

Posted by Matt on November 12, 2009

I wrote this near the end of last month, but we couldn’t fit it into the issue. Since it’s no longer even remotely timely, I’m not going to try to get it published again. So here it is, my dead editorial about a story that no one cares about anymore:

******

The latest big story hitting all their major sources a few weeks ago: something might have happened, but actually didn’t! This warranted up-to-the-minute reporting on all the major American networks, front page updates on all the news sites, and follow-ups on the story even after it turned out that nothing really happened.
That, in capsule, was the saga of the Colorado Balloon Boy, who was not in fact floating away in a loose weather balloon, but was instead hiding in the attic. Before that was discovered, however, CNN breathlessly followed the balloon that might have been carrying the kid but was not. All cameras were pointed at the skies of Colorado, watching that silvery craft slowly make its way across the wild blue yonder. And the people wondered: was he in there? Was he okay? Did we just see him fall out? And then the balloon landed, and they found nothing in it. And then they found him in the attic. Riveting.
This of course led to more questions and more coverage. What were the child’s parents doing? Was it a hoax? Should this family be prosecuted? All the while one important question seems to be lost in the shuffle: who cares?
The Winnipeg Free Press article about it the next day (which, to their credit, was not on the front page) provides some good insight: “One minute, President Obama was on the television, speaking about the rebirth of New Orleans, the usual array of citizenry behind him. In the next, he had been shoved aside by a live breaking Grimm’s fairy tale”. The rest of the article went on with that fairytale reasoning, but the lede is of more importance. This is what the news was about that day. This is what resources and airtime was spent covering.
Why does something that would fit better in one of those ‘Oh, how delightfully strange!’ filler articles that might appear in the middle of the paper (or, at best, the front page of the local paper of the kid’s hometown) suddenly become a breaking story? Was it because the family had appeared on that cultural touchstone Wife Swap? Was it because it was a slow news day? Or has the whole news business simply gone off its rocker? I can tell you one thing: it wasn’t the second reason.

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Quakes

Posted by Matt on October 22, 2009

I’ve spent the last two nights editing the layout of a newspaper. Grueling, annoying work – but I got it done. And hope never to do it again. Well, okay, I’d be willing to do it again – with a bit more help and input, rather than being abandoned by the rest of the crew to suffer this ordeal.

I spend way too much time second-guessing myself to get things done quickly. Oh well, if it looks like shit, everyone will tell me and I’ll learn from it.

In lighter news, I saw the premier of the new Venture Bros. season (thanks to a handy program that guards my IP and thus lets me watch all those American video sites). They’ve set up a lot of interesting stuff for future episodes, and I can’t wait to see how they pan out. Plus, the first episode has Nazis (“Nein, we’re not!”) trying to clone Hitler from a dog descendant of Hitler. And they screwed with the timeline of the episode, and it’s always fun to see an experimental story succeed.

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