All the News That’s Fit to… Wait. What?

Don’t get weird, but I’m about to pull out the soapbox.  Are you ready for it?

What the hell is happening to the news?  I know this is not a new complaint as the past few weeks have been a perfect example of the stupidity that the 24 hour news cycle breeds. CNN has been on a loop about this lost plane, positing theories from terrorism to aliens as explanations to the unexplainable.  Oscillating blame from the pilots to real bad guys to simple mechanical failure.  No one really knows what happened, so lets create hours and hours of television and let everyone just guess.  Who cares if they contradict one another or even themselves.  Just keep guessing – that’s what news has become.

When was it that journalism got so sloppy?  Gone are the days of the hardcore editor sitting behind his desk, cigar stub hanging from his lips, yelling at the junior reporter; “But its not news kid!”  “Can you PROVE it?”  That guy must be rolling in his grave when he reads the headlines these days.  News is no longer based in just the facts, editorial has seeped into the mainstream news and opinion seems to be the default proof when the hard facts prove to be too elusive.

I know, I know.  Its not a recent problem – its been going on for a long time now.  And to be honest its bothered me for a long time.  But today just seemed to be the day that it broke me.  Scrolling through my news pages and twitter feed today I was struck by the posts by Christiane Amanpour reporting on the state of play in Crimea when right in the middle of all this REAL news there’s a post about a fight between Russia and the Ukraine being about who invented the recipe for Chicken Kiev.  I kid you not.  WTF is that all about?  Christiane?  Is that you?  Did you hire US Airways social media department to run your Twitter account?  Come on!  Of all the real true journalists left in this world, how can you mention the expulsion of the Crimean leader in one post and then a f%^&ing recipe in the next???

Christiane Amanpour tweets about Chicken Kiev and the crisis in the Ukraine.

Christiane Amanpour tweets about Chicken Kiev and the crisis in the Ukraine.

The next thing that got me today was an article in The Globe & Mail.  For decades, the Globe has been a pillar of Canadian print media.  This has been a credible national daily newspaper.  But lately they seem to be fixated on a potential real estate bubble happening in the Canadian housing market.  Weekly and sometimes daily for the past few months they have been the harbinger of doom for the Canadian real estate market and who knows – they could be right – but today’s article absolutely took the cake.  Today they published an article about a possible exploding bubble that could see a reduction in home prices of as much as 25% within a year.  Included in the article was a calculator so you could see just how much money you would lose if your house was to lose 25% of its value.  Filled with disclaimers, they included this calculator on their iPhone app.  To be fair it also allowed you to slide the scale of the percentage from the potential 25% loss to a possible 25% gain.   But still – HOW IS THIS NEWS?  By offering the quick click through to a calculator which defaults to the doom and gloom of a 25% loss in value seems to only perpetuate fear on something based in speculation and not fact.  Furthermore, isn’t the housing market based on speculation so if you continue to propose that there is a housing bubble about to burst and spoon feed this to the masses will this not become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

I work with the media so much and while some writers are great and actually check their facts, most rely on Wikipedia to check for accuracy.  Wikipedia?  Are you kidding me?  Granted, I work in entertainment and getting someone’s first album title correct is not a matter of life or death.  But these are the simple things that should be done right. Perhaps this is a symptom of our voracious need for news and information.  We crave it.  We breathe it.  We literally hold it in the palms of hands all the time.  We need news and we need it faster than ever.  There isn’t time to make sure that the news that’s coming out of our “trusted” sources is accurate or even good information.  Its just information that we are clambering after at an alarming pace.  I guess I have to blame myself for needing to read 20 news apps every morning and expect new and different information with each one.  Can I really complain when Christiane Amanpour has to fill column space with recipes?

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane

The Empty Gate.

The Empty Gate.

What is it with people when they travel.  Its like a switch goes off the minute they hit the security line-up.  They freak out and lose all sense of decorum and civility.  The guy who just rationally stood behind me in the Starbucks line-up is now at security pushing me through.  As I unpack every liquid, gel, electronic, shoe, jacket, sweater, piece of metal on my person – he’s filling the bins before I can finish.  Its no different all the way until we’re out of baggage claim on the other side.  What is it about air travel that causes people to completely lose their manners?

Maybe I’m a little grumpy but as I am just waking up with my first coffee following a completely packed red-eye on a 777, I think I have identified some of the main characters you encounter on when flying these days.  Here’s who to look out for:

1. The Premature Boarder – This is the lady who has camped out at the door to the gate in the hopes of being first on the plane.  Does she think there is a prize for being the first?  Like a nice chocolate waiting at her seat?  A bravo from the flight attendant perhaps?  Complimentary upgrade?  Um, no.  The Premature Boarder is flying economy, has no airline status, is not flying with small children nor is handicapped.  The Premature Boarder seems to be deluded into thinking that where you position yourself at the boarding gate matters.  First off – get out of the way.  Secondly, you are checked in and at the gate – the plane is NOT going to leave without you.  Find some patience and relax.

2. The Overpacker – Ok.  This Overpacker is not to be confused with my overpacking tendency.  This is not the person checking several large pieces.  This is the person with the oversized rollerboard, the massive duffelbag and some crazy souvenir piece of shit wrapped in bubble wrap.  The other variation on the Overpacker is the business traveller with the massive rollerboard and garment bag who refuses to pay checked bag fees and stows their luggage in the first overhead bins even though they are sitting in row 38.  Both of these people suck.  A lot.

3. The Seat-Grabber – This is the guy sitting in the row behind you that seems to forget that the seat back he insists on violently grabbing contains an actual human being that is nearly whiplashed every time he needs to check the overhead or take a pee.

Headed to 37,000 feet with some of your new best friends.

Headed to 37,000 feet with some of your new best friends.

4. The Recliner – The Recliner is just a dick.  You know what I’m talking about.  They’re the ones that push the seat all the way back the minute the landing gear comes up.  Thanks pal.  I love that your seat back is now in my face and that I need to contort my 5’5″ frame just to get to my bag under your seat.  Don’t even get me started about when the meal service starts.  Put it up you idiot.

5. The Under-Seat Stower – Dude.  Don’t try and shove stuff under your own seat. It goes under the seat in front of you.  Enough said.

6. The Anxious De-Planer – This is the guy from Row 38, on his feet and in the aisle as soon as you hear that little bing when the seat belt sign goes off.  He doesn’t have a tight connection but what ever he’s up to upon arrival is way more important than whatever you’re doing.

7. The Jetway Sloth – The Jetway Sloth is usually traveling with the Anxious De-Planer.  As they enter the Jetway, the apparent compulsion to GET OFF THAT PLANE ceases and they are now in no hurry at all.  Along with their friends they walk abreast and the minute you try to make a break for it and go around them they veer straight into your path oblivious to everyone else around them.  This happens several times in the span of 10 metres.

The Beloved Baggage Belt

The Beloved Baggage Belt

8. Baggage Claim Blocker – The BCB as I like to call them are often also traveling with the Anxious De-Planer.  Using trolleys and carry-ons, they take up valuable real estate at the baggage belt, usually located right at the junction where the bags come out.  They pick up every bag, inspecting carefully to see if its theirs.  They don’t discriminate, even though their bag is green they check the black and navy and floral printed ones too JUST IN CASE they packed a bag they forgot.  When their bag does finally come out, it has several colourful pieces of ribbon and yarn tied to the handle to help distinguish it in situations just as this.

Beware of these traveling characters and the havoc they wreak on your already taxing travel day.  When you do encounter them, know you are not alone in the pain of managing their abhorrent behaviour.  Keep your fingers crossed for an upgrade!



Come on Baby Light My Fire

Are you sitting down?  I am.  I need to when I tell this story.  All you R&R Mom regulars know that we just moved into our new house.  Brand new house.  Got that?  Good.  Well, on night 5 in said BRAND NEW HOUSE we were hit by a random arson attack.  Yep.  You heard me right.  ARSON.  Middle of the night some punks in our alley decide to set a car ablaze right next to our BRAND NEW GARAGE.  Our poor neighbors lost their BRAND NEW SUV.  Lucky for us the quick arriving Fire Department saved the BRAND NEW GARAGE from nothing more than some cosmetic damage.  Nothing like a little charring on the cedar siding and the BRAND NEW GARAGE DOOR.

Just a police incident, that's all.

Just a police incident, that’s all.

We were lucky, very lucky as things could have been much worse of course.  No one was hurt, the arsonists were dumb and seemed to leave plenty of evidence for the police and the damage was minimal (besides the obvious written-off aforementioned SUV).  The drag now is that we’re in the Insurance Vortex of claims adjusters and contractors and fire investigators and case numbers.  For example, our neighbour is working now with the car insurance to replace the vehicle.  She is fascinated by the statement “Can you drive the car?”  Ummm, yeah if its being pulled by a tow truck.  It was torched stupid!  The engine melted into our driveway and the front seat is just a metal frame.  I myself had a delightful (she says sarcastically) conversation with the Insurance Adjuster who basically accused us of having enemies out to get us.  Why thank you most professional smarty pants for suggesting what the POLICE have called a random attack as being something more nefarious and shaking my sense of security to sleep peacefully IN MY OWN BED!  I’m sure this is the case as the Arsonists also had it out for our BRAND NEW neighbor down the lane who lost his fence.

I can’t blame the poor insurance man.  He’s just doing his job (poorly).  The real bad guys are the actual bad guys.  The dickhead in my alley with the can of lighter fluid, up to no good.  We speculate what motivated this little scumbag to do so much damage for no reason.  Fortunately, they weren’t motivated by hurting people as the fires were far from where we were all asleep in our beds.  But still, if the fire department had arrived just a few minutes later things could have gotten much much worse.  What was the point aside from the thrill of watching someone else’s hard earned property burn?  The fact is that its just stuff, stuff that can all be replaced.  Its just the senselessness of it all that baffles me.  My hope for that deranged bugger is that they get the help they need to deal with whatever demons cause them to behave this way.

Regardless, lets not take the whole house “warming” thing so literally.  A nice banana bread would be a better welcome to the neighborhood gift.



Block Rockin’ Beats

I’m blocked.  I wish I wasn’t, but clearly I am.  I love to write and when I’m inspired I can write a blog post in 10 minutes flat.  But sometimes, its like pulling teeth.  I’d rather not write crap, but lately I’ve been in a writing rut and its been really hard to sit down and type like the wind.

What do I do?  Its everyday life that inspires me for topics.  But I guess lately I’ve just been too busy and stressed to see the comedy that everyday life provides.  So now what?  How do I reignite the passion?

Maybe I’m thinking about you too much.  It was easier to write when I didn’t think anyone would read what I had written.  But now those stats loom and the number of very nice people like you that actually read this thing is going up.  It was one thing when I thought I was simply entertaining my Mom (Hi Mom!).  But now that strangers are reading this, I feel a little exposed and self-conscious.  Well, then why did I start posting a blog anyways?  Right?  Geez.  I’m like Kim Kardashian complaining about paparazzi.  C’mon lady, get over yourself.

Maybe that is the answer.  Stop Kardashian-ing.  Stop thinking about anyone else.  Keep looking for the funny in the monotony of daily life and remember why I like to write rather than trying to write what people want to read?  Well, then I’m off to go find a good fart joke to inspire me…