Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Manitoba Links Weekly: Popcorn, Publishing, Portage la Prairie Punk, and Pilfered Parrots (ManLinkWeek 10)

Tomorrow's edition of Winnipeg Internet Pundits will be a two-hour Christmas special, airing from 4:30 to 6:30 PM on UMFM 101.5. There will be retrospectives, musical interludes, the year's best segments, reflection on the past and future of our city, and even -- I'm not sure why I'm presenting this like it'll be a selling point -- brand new poetry. So tune in!

Ah, but first things first. ManLinkWeek hits double digits! Let's see what seasonal items are floating around out there in the big wide worl--

[Winnipeg Free Press: Free Press boasting of an online fire]
--oh, hey! Look what we have here. The Free Press' yule log was one of its most notable experimental forays into online features last year -- that and the live traffic circle camera, that still cracks me up remembering it -- so it's nice to see it make a return, now with the added benefit of being able to photobomb it from the News Café window.

As of this writing the stream also prominently features figurines of four Flinstones characters, with Melissa Martin adding the following in the comments section:

"For those who do not know the lore: last year, an anonymous reader sent us the Flintstones figures in an unmarked envelope to be added to the Yule Log."

It's times like these I miss working at a job where I had dual monitors. (Well, really more that I miss working at a job where my education meant something, but the dual monitors were a nice perk.)

You may recall that the Free Press log channel was originally launched as a reaction to Shaw's planned -- then shouted down and hastily unplanned again -- monetization of their annual yuletide log channel. I thought then, and I still think now, that Shaw was looking for spare change in the wrong place. If they really want to draw that bit of extra coin from their existing services, here's what they should (nay, need to) do: pick an unused number on their channel listings, charge retro enthusiasts like me a buck a month for it, and relaunch this format. Easy money! But, alas.

[eMCeeZ LoG: COMING SOON: Selkirk Avenue Banners]
These look like they'll be pretty nice; certainly nicer than their predecessors, although that's admittedly not so high a bar to clear. It's the little things, you know? It'll be reassuring to look up and see that somebody's taken the time to spruce up the place, rather than gazing upon the dilapidated remains of faded early-1990s(!) designs.

[mcnallyrobinson.com: McNally Robinson's Espresso Book Machine brews up tasty books on demand]
You may not know this about me -- especially for how well-kept a secret it is -- but I quite like books. The press coverage (see what I did there) plays up the potential for self-publishers, being very careful not to dwell on the concept of vanity publishing, but the additional ability to print off out-of-edition or public domain works means I can finally buy myself a legitimate physical copy of The Sunless City. Just to know I own it, y'know? I'd quite enjoy that.

Not that the vanityself-publishing angle isn't interesting as well; a lot of potential for mischief, therein, and I do also quite enjoy mischief.

[West End Dumplings: Celebrating Daniel McIntyre, OBE]
Did you know the full and proper story behind the Daniel McIntyre name? Because, man, I didn't. It probably helps if you're near the area or went to the school, though, I suppose; I lived near the Robert A. Steen Community Centre until I was ten or so, and that one's not really the most rewarding eponym to go back and research years after the fact. "Okay, he got to be the mayor for a couple of years, and then he died unexpectedly of liver cancer. Well, that's... that's something."

Y'know what would be fun? I'd mentioned above how a relatively inexpensive printing press opens worlds of mischievous opportunities; I think it'd be a hoot to gather a committee of people who write well but don't know the histories of Winnipeg's street names and neighbourhoods -- it would not be a difficult committee to staff -- and then have them all make up whatever bullshit sounds the most, or the least, like plausible explanations.

"Vital Justin Grandin (1867 - 1905) was a Winnipeg prizefighter and former Canadian middleweight champion, best remembered for his shocking 1893 upset of reigning four-year champion Miles Macdonell. Grandin capitalized on his sound technical background and patient outfighting approach to wear down the much shorter Macdonell, who was never professionally trained as a boxer but made up for it by being a real ornery son of a bitch. Grandin's cerebral counterpunching, smooth diagonal footwork and unusually pointy head earned him the nickname 'Bishop' from fight fans, a moniker he carried with pride until his sudden death by drowning at the age of thirty-eight. Local landmarks named in his memory include Grandin Street, Bishop Grandin Boulevard and -- owing to the poor hearing of the City cartographer -- Grant Avenue, by mistake."

Then put a reasonably convincing cover on it, print a handful of copies off every so often, and covertly disseminate those copies where they can cause the most consternation. Waiting rooms, used bookstores, charitable-donation fundraiser sales, deep within prize baskets at socials -- however best to spread them around without letting them fall into the hands of people who know better. The Robert A. Steen I know may have done little and died suddenly in his first and only term as Mayor, but the Robert A. Steen other people know can be the province's most infamous privateer, or the fatcat suspender baron whose empire crumbled beneath him after the First World War.

Or, y'know, maybe I have too much time on my hands. Hey, let's move on!

[Google Video: Death By Popcorn - The Tragedy of the Winnipeg Jets]
There are certain advantages to Google Video being the weird and sad abandoned experiment that it is, and one of those advantages is finding interesting and lengthy things uploaded as features during those quote-unquote "competitive" days when YouTube only allowed ten minute uploads. If you've never seen this l'Atelier-National du Manitoba hallucinatory collage of Winnipeg Jets history -- including an interview with Québécois rockers Les Dales Hawerchuk, Wayne Gretzky as the dread destroyer of worlds, funky local commercial intercuts, and the heroic intervention of [spoilers hidden] -- set aside an hour and some alcohol, I think you'll enjoy yourself.

[WITCHPOLICE: The Naked Midgets - Discography (1999-2005)]
Were you just now thinking to yourself about how your day was incomplete because you don't have three full albums of Portage la Prairie punk rock sitting on your computer? Well, cast those worries aside; the steadfast cultural archivists of WITCHPOLICE have you covered.

My personal favourite excerpt from the accompanying writeup by Naked Midgets frontman Jeff Darichuk is that "'Pink Glow Bracelet' and 'Cult Members Are No Fun' both made it to number one on MP3.com." Those were the days! You wouldn't know it now, but that meant something, back in... in... oh, god, I'm old. Oh. Oh, god.

[CTV Winnipeg: Staff at Pembina Highway pet store worried about stolen parrot]
To close out this week's list, what is this I don't even

I don't know if people shoplifting pets is a year-round problem or if it ramps up dramatically come Christmas time, but this kind of story always takes a second to sink into my brain properly. I didn't even know you could take the birds in pet stores out of their cages and play with them, although I guess they'll probably have to put a stop to that now anyway.

So, yes, this is a real thing, a customer at a Petland stuffed a live parrot into her handbag and then sauntered out of the store. A parrot has been shoplifted, and now it is on the news, so if you happen to see a parrot poking out of a bag please be sure to consider that it might be stolen. Know the risks and limitations of purchases made on the parrot black market! Only purchase your parrots from reputable parrot dealers!

This city, man, I don't even know sometimes.

I'll be back in this space before Christmas, I'm sure -- but please be sure to catch tomorrow's Winnipeg Internet Pundits year-end special, and be sure to be back next Tuesday for more ManLinkWeek!

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