Saturday, October 24, 2009

To Do: Ta Da!

I love lists. I use them everywhere: to organize my day, to weigh out how I feel, to make goals, to rank shit. Hell, I'm using a list right now, in that very last sentence. Man, I do love lists!

I'm clearly not the only one who adores a little em-dash action: the writing team over at Cracked is hooked on lists, too. As is Columbus, from my current favourite movie, Zombieland. And Craig has a whole list of them. They're everywhere! Run! Run!

Does anyone else suspect that we're all just way too busy these days? I can cop to feeling overscheduled, that's for damn sure. But it's not just me: more and more of us are working two jobs, have multiple homes, volunteer, exercise, and need to track other people's schedules in addition to their own. It's nutty!

I'd harken back to the Good Ole Days, but I'm not entirely sure when those were. The 1930s? Sure, a nickel could get you a steamliner trip to Liverpool and a cup of coffee once you got there, but the whole damned country was unemployed. That's time-consuming. The 1950s? Because I love ironing and ugly houses so much? Even toys that are supposed to make life easier (the cell phone: ooh, so portable!) end up being annoying (like when your phone stops working after you drop it in a toilet). I would argue that the single greatest household, helping-hands style device to come out of the last hundred years is the vibrator.

Which is why I love the list. It's portable. The format is endlessly variable. I like to marry it to the index card (in a small, tasteful ceremony, of course), which is my favourite piece of office stationary. The List + Index Card formula often makes for excellence. I write down people's phone number and head out the door. I write down the title of a book and check it out later. I write down my to-do list and then I do it. I'm not attached to a book. If I'm feeling especially racy, I'll open up that little love match to a third partner - the Bulldog Clip - and create a little booklet. That's pretty advanced, though: don't try that one at home.

The moral of the story: we need lists. We love to organize our thoughts, and listing create priority. There's nothing better than looking at a to-do list at the end of the day, each item with a careful line through it. Well, maybe there's something better...but I'm going to have to utilize one of those handy little devices to get there.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

TV On The TV

Only getting two channels on my crappy TV means that I don't have a ton of choices when it comes to the company I keep while eating dinner. (And yes, I eat dinner in front of the television. I live alone. Human voices are a luxury in my house.) I get CBC, terrible reception on CTV, and SUNTV, which seems to program Boston Legal 24 hours a day. While I do love me some Jimmy Spader, that's a lot of Boston Legal. One might say too much. I say too much.

So, between the Boston Legal and the other channels, I watch a healthy diet of TV. When I was a kid, my mom put me on TV rations: an hour a day, to be discussed and agreed upon beforehand. Since all I wanted to watch was Dinosaurs and Blossom (those hats! And Joey Lawrence! What more could an eight-year-old ask for?), my predetermined television schedule was a bit predictable. Oh, and humiliatingly enough, I was banned from watching Full House. It apparently made me "smart alecky." How rude, indeed.

Anyway, now that I'm older and not even a bit wiser, I've taken up a tepid love affair with Canada's Broadcasting Corp. Sure, the logo looks like an exploding pizza, and the programming is hit or miss at best, but I kind of love it.

For example: I know everyone's been all "Battle of the Blades is super lame" (what's up, John Doyle), but in a meta sense, it makes for interesting TV. It's so Canadian, it's practically a totem pole wrapped in an Hudons' blanket wrapped in a beaver tail. (Mmmmm....) Hockey + figure skating + Maple Leaf Gardens + elimination round! = deliciously hokey TV. More successful are their attempts at comedy/dramedy. I have a totally embarassing part of my heart set aside for Little Mosque on the Prairie, and according to my mom, Being Erica is basically my life, dramatized. Plus, their news coverage is generally great, and they air stand-up comedy. Love it!

Canadian television can be so embarassing. There's something about the costuming, the quality of the lighting, the accents, the dearth of people of colour - it somehow still feels like tokenism, even though Toronto is super multi-culti - and the earnestness of the whole thing. Knock-off shows like So You Think You Can Dance Canada totally feel kid-sibling sometimes, and it's not helped by the cheesy sets.

On the other hand, I like that the CBC promotes a uniquely Canadian thing. Leaving out the wretched Heartland, the shows are generally funny, sweet and don't take themselves too seriously. Not overly heavy on the moralizing, the best ones pay attention to the homespun vs. big-city tensions that actually affect Canadians, while remaining character driven. Would I like more funny sugar in my Canadian-TV coffee? Absolutely. Is there something strangely old-school about the way the shots are framed? Yeah, sometimes. But barring the loss of all my brain cells - the only way I could sit through entire episodes of Shatner chewing on the scenery - the Canadian alternative, and the CBC, are an admirable respite from CTV's mindless lineup of crime shows and dance-offs. Thanks, dudes. If you bring back The Simpsons at five, I'll be all set.