Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Manitoba Links Weekly: Thank You for Reading ManLinkWeek (ManLinkWeek 52)

As you can see, Nick Luchak really caught my good side, and I'm kind of tempted to just put this on everything. [via]

Hello and welcome to ManLinkWeek! I know I say this a lot lately, but please accept my apologies for the delay; I spent most of last week down in Orlando on library-conference business, when I wasn't somewhere in transit between Winnipeg and Orlando, and then of course when one returns to Winnipeg from somewhere else it takes a while to settle back into the -- well -- gloom of the place. (I wish I had a better descriptor, but man -- look out the window, and then look at a newspaper, and then tell me that this city ain't gloomy right now.)

Fittingly, then, today's ManLinkWeek opens with travel:

[ Portage Daily Graphic: Watch your speed: RM ]
Do you do any driving on the Trans-Canada Highway, and are you disinclined to give the province hundreds of dollars? Then be forewarned that the bridge east of Portage la Prairie is currently a construction zone, and that there's been some... confusion, from enforcers and enforcees alike, about the speed limit arrangements as late.

So for clarity's sake: the speed limit is 70, unless there are workers present, in which case it's 60, and unless the signs that say 70 are covered, in which case it's 100. Unless workers are present while covering the signs. Then it's 60. Unless conditions are such that the workers need to hold signs with a lower speed limit on them, in which case that's the speed limit -- but otherwise it's 70, except when it's 100, except when it's 60. Everyone got that?

Don't worry too much if you can't keep it all straight, the construction is only expected to go for... y'know, a year and a half. Two years at most. That ought to fly right by; maybe you won't even notice! Who do you know that drives on Highway 1? Probably no one, right? We don't even plan on plowing that road as often any more, that's how unimportant it is.

Also in Manitoba driving news:

[ CBC Manitoba: Churchill gas prices hit $2.17 a litre ]
[ Winnipeg Free Press: Churchill copes with continent's priciest gas ]

And accompanying that in the unfortunate-small-town-news file, albeit a little older and a little sillier:

[ Winnipeg Sun: Melita's banana takes a road trip ]
[ Brandon Sun: Heat causes Melita banana to peel ]
see what they did there, 'peel', do you see what they

The Melita banana will be out for about three months with an upper-body injury, shipped back to Calgary for repair after a nearby recycling depot fire damaged its back. I'm trying to picture what that scene must have looked like -- flames rising and raging directly behind a giant partially-anthropomorphic banana as it looms over everyone -- and, as funny or as heavy-metal as that setup sounds, there is the slight but distinct possibility that it might actually have been terrifying.

I can imagine one dude in Melita walking out onto his doorstep, staring motionless at the whole thing for a minute, and then quietly announcing -- to no one in particular -- "I picked the wrong night to try mushrooms."

Meanwhile, back into the city:

[ The Atlantic Cities: Experience Winnipeg on This Virtual Bike Tour ]
Winnipeg made the Atlantic Cities! For helmet-cam footage of someone's bike rides, granted, but... we sort of have to take what we can get around here.

And, unfortunately, it's all metaphorically downhill from there, because it's time for the civics update:

[ The Jewish Post & News: Katz and Sheegl should resign ]
[ Winnipeg Free Press: Chief taken off fire-hall project ]
[ Anybody Want A Peanut?: The countdown to Sammy o'clock ]
[ CBC Manitoba: Winnipeg mayor flips company back to city CAO ]
[ Winnipeg Sun: Katz sells Duddy Enterprises shell company back to CAO Sheegl ]
[ Winnipeg Free Press: Katz 'just doesn't get it' in shell-company saga ]
[ National Post: Winnipeg mayor dogged by questions surrounding contentious Arizona deals ]
[ Winnipeg Sun: Russ Wyatt calls for Winnipeg CAO Phil Sheegl to resign over land-swap dealings ]
[ CBC Manitoba: Winnipeg CAO under fire from city councillors ]
[ Winnipeg Free Press: No tossing CAO for now ]
And this is just this month. This isn't even the month's full scope on this topic! Never mind everything else, like the whole separate garbage saga, which was only resolved when the comp--what? It's not? Oh. Wow. Wow. Okay.

You know those year-in-review features that media outlets get up to? Those ought to be quite the sight a couple of months from now. I know that might sound silly, but hey, it's something to look forward to, right? Gotta have something.

To lighten the mood a bit, please enjoy this bathroom graffiti spotted in the University of Winnipeg Centennial Hall:

And, also to lighten the mood, here are reduced prices on booze.

[ Manitoba Liquor Control Commission: DISCONTINUED PRODUCTS BEING DISCOUNTED IN PRICE EFFECTIVE: October 22, 2012 (PDF) ]
Eh? Eh? Pretty good, right? Nowhere near as comprehensive as the last round of MLCC clearances -- during which I discovered that South African Shiraz is kind of disappointing, and that Italian Ciro is delicious -- but still pretty good. I can't say that I'm any real expert on rosé, but knock ten bucks off the prices of some bottles (!) and, yeah, you know what, sure, I'll try some rosé. (I am not a complicated man.)

In media news:

[ Spectator Tribune: City by city, a celebration of Prairie texture and dynamism: Spectator Tribune is live! ]
The much-anticipated Spectator Tribune finally debuted last week with a very solid cast of characters and a broad range of prairie matters; it all looks pretty promising, so keep an eye on it as it further establishes itself. (It's online-only, if you'd wondered.)

And, finally (very finally):

[ Winnipeg Free Press: Uptown magazine to be distributed as part of Winnipeg Free Press ]
[ Nothing in Winnipeg: ...And then Uptown Went Down ]
[ River City Radio Cure: Uptown Magazine: A Local Hero ]
[ Slanted & Enchanted (Uptown Magazine): I'm outtie 5000 ]
[ Facebook Events: A Final Farewell to Uptown Magazine ]
You've probably already heard, and I probably don't need to tell you, what's happening to Uptown Magazine; the name is being applied to the Tab insert in the Thursday Free Press, the wonderful and talented staff are being scattered to the winds, and for the first time in decades Winnipeg is without an alt-weekly street mag. Which is really sort of strange; the local campus-paper scene seems stronger and sturdier than ever, and the traditional-print mainstream actually has one more newspaper than it did two years ago (in an industry that, by some predictions, was expected to be boarded up by now), but in between the two there be dragons.

I'm doing my best not to dwell on it, because there was nothing to be done, but yeah, I'm pretty bummed out. As I'd tweeted when the news first broke, I'm not as disruptively or fiscally impacted by the closure and layoffs as the fine folk who worked there full-time; I was only ever a freelancer, and freelancers are disposable by trade, so to have as long a run as I did was far better fortune than I could have realistically hoped when I'd first got the opportunity. (It would have been five years, next month.)

But even knowing that there was nothing to be done, knowing that it was purely a mathematical calculation somewhere about X staffing costs and Y publication output against Z sales and advertising dollars, knowing (having always known) that freelancers are disposable by trade -- when a publication puts its trust in you to carry its flag as the featured weekly columnist, and then that publication folds within the year, it's just... I just, it... it's not easy. There have been a lot of times in my life that I've been not good enough, and it never gets easier to shake, and I hope you never know how it feels.

I'm doing my best not to dwell on it.

Anyway. I'd missed a bit of a milestone while I was off gallivanting through the South; this site turned six years old last Thursday, which is a very long time in internet years. It also just so happened -- and I hadn't realized this at the time, because I'm not particularly clever, but it just so worked out -- that I'd started the ManLinkWeek feature one day after the site's fifth anniversary. (That really does seem like a thing I should have noticed, but, well, nope. Funny, that.)

It hasn't been quite as rigidly weekly as I'd intended or hoped -- fifty-two ManLinkWeek posts in fifty-two-and-a-half-weeks, so basically a failure (though more consistent than our city's garbage pickup, for what that's worth) -- but it was a productive experiment, and people seemed to enjoy reading it, and it served to keep me busy during those times I needed something to be busy with.

When I'd started doing it a year ago, I was barely employed -- two late nights each weekend at a beer store and a triweekly column with Uptown Magazine -- and had a fair bit more time on my hands. Now I have a permanent part-time position as the Librarian for Herzing College Winnipeg, a second temporary part-time position handling policy documents for the Red River College Library, and a weekly column with Uptow... right, no. Right. (This is going to take me a while.) The difference a year makes! Busy, busy, busy.

Before anyone jumps to conclusions, no, this site isn't going anywhere -- surely you've noticed by now that you can't get rid of me that easily -- and, no, the site you like better isn't going to miss a beat. (I have the sneaking suspicion that it'll long outlive me.) But I'm down an Uptown gig, and I'm shelving the Manitoba Links Weekly feature -- at least for now, having run a pretty solid year's worth of it; there's no reason I couldn't start up a hypothetical Season Two down the road -- so I think I'll take a week or two off from writing anything longer than 140 characters or 400 pixels. Do some thinking and scheming, recalibrate a bit, try and plan a few moves ahead, see what I come up with. I have no idea what it'll end up being; I guess we'll see! I guess we'll see.

(Meantime, if you're hard up for local content in one place, there seems to be some sort of anonymous Winnipeg news aggregator being tested at the moment; it doesn't include any commentary, and I don't know whose it is or what its final product will look like, but I'd like to pretend that I helped inspire it somehow.)

Thank you for reading ManLinkWeek!


Anonymous said...

Wow James. I'm old enough to remember b4 the days Uptown. When it first came out it was a ray of sunshine in a (as you well know)gloomy scene. I literally read every single issue. This is a sad day for the Winnipeg arts community. You (& The Housecoat Diaries) were always the best part of Uptown. I will truly miss it. Keep writing James.. I'll keep reading!

James Hope Howard said...

Oh, wow! Every single issue, dang, I can't even picture that. (That'd be a lot of paper, cumulatively, if such a repository existed.)

Thank you so much for reading!

Emma said...

I'll miss ManLinkWeek!! From one library person to another, I really appreciated how you brought order and focus to the ever-growing Winnipeg blogosphere. I can only imagine how much time was involved in the production of one installment, so thanks for all your hard work!