Steve has been gone for a week. My house has not been so clean since...well, since the last time he was gone for a few days. It's really nice.
I packed up his crap into boxes. His papers (strewn across the table and the floor) went into one box. His clothes (spread over the couch, the footstool, the table and the dining-room chairs) went into another box.
I swept and mopped. And surprise! The floors are still clean.
I washed the table. And surprise! It's still clean.
Most surprising of all, Michael now throws his garbage away and puts his dirty dishes away. It really is quite a sight. The first time this happened, I wasn't sure what was going on. Now I'm not sure if I can continue any other way.
THIS BLOG HAS MOVED
New posts on snowcoveredhills.com:
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Steve has been gone for a week. My house has not been so clean since...well, since the last time he was gone for a few days. It's really nice.
Posted by Megan at 6:15 PM
Michael and I are going trick-or-treating tonight. He and Daniel have determined a secret route that will be disclosed to The Mommies at the very last minute, lest there be a breach in their security preparations. The Mommies, you see, are the weak link in the plan. There is a more-than-decent chance that we will wimp out before the boys are ready to go home. This could endanger the mission.
I felt that my showing at the Haunted House last weekend was impressive enough that I should be let in on the secret, but Michael does not agree. I believe that he is biased: after all, I was not the one who bolted for the door as soon as it was in view, leaving my comrade to be attacked by Death Eaters and potentially pulled into an open grave. This is apparently a technicality.
Through keen observation and subtle spy work, I have been able to deduce a few things about this secret route:
- It has been designed to maximize the amount of candy the boys will get.
- It includes Steve's parents' house over on the other side of town.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I have a well-documented appreciation for music from the 1980s (probably more than the era deserves), but these videos are just terrible. Did we really think this was good? I didn't have a TV when I was a kid, so I'm seeing a lot of these for the first time.
Young 'uns: When I was your age, MTV actually played music videos, and Ozzy Osbourne was a washed-up has-been.
Reader-submitted question: Are you making up the reader-submitted complaints?
I wish I was. They're very real. However, I will admit that I usually edit them for length or clarity. In some cases, I will roll similar complaints together. I only do this if they are about the same thing and are making the same point.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Reader-submitted question: Can you please write about people who use no capitals at all? This problem is particularly apparent in electronic mail correspondence (shift key, anyone?).
Oooh. Yes, I can definitely write about that.
I think this is a holdover from the days when electronic correspondence was just for personal messages. E-mail used to be like text messaging or IMs (where I confess that I sometimes make typos or miss the shift key). It went off into the air and nobody would ever see it again.
Those days are gone, and e-mail has replaced the formal memo. Some offices do almost all of their work by e-mail. It's stored for years and deleted according to a schedule. It's forwarded to your boss's boss and then over to someone else and up to her boss.
This is what Russell Smith, in his quest to demonstrate his solidarity with the common man, calls "a grammatical Pascal's Wager": "I advocate knowing these rules just as I advocate knowing how gentlemen of forgotten social classes used to tie their shoelaces, not because I endorse such pernicious class systems, but because as long as they are there they are going to get you in trouble, and you might as well know about them." Thanks, Russell. You've really helped.
I think Russell is trying to say that when you don't use capital letters, you make your business correspondence look like it might have been copied from a 14-year-old girl's MSN log. This is forgivable when your message is "wanna go for lunch?" but a bit of a problem when your message is "upon review of your file, i have determined that there are reasonable grounds to proceed with a class-action lawsuit against dr. smith. also, i believe that we should pursue punitive damages. what do you think? plaintiffs rawk!".
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I am very lucky to have Michael. You see, I am not particularly maternal. I love Michael so much it hurts, and I am very fond of most of my friends' children, but I do not feel this way about all children. I don't have Steve's natural patience, and I cannot stand bratty kids.
I have three friends with bratty kids. I can say this without fear, because 1) they do not read my blog, and 2) even if they did read this, they would have no idea I am talking about their sons. (Why is it always the sons?) They believe their children are little angels who are just a bit more energetic than other people. Steve could probably watch them for an hour or so and suggest that they talk to their doctors about some sort of hyperactivity disorder, but I am not nearly this generous.
For this reason, I am hesitant to say that my son is a well-behaved kid. I know that all moms think their kids are perfect. My secret fear is that everyone I know thinks Michael is a little terror and is just refusing to tell me. I worry about this because I do the same thing with my friends. "Ha! Ha!" I will say. It always comes out exactly like that, because the nervous laughter is all I can muster as I watch the other child destroy the living room. My friend, on the other hand, always smiles indulgently and makes a remark about how cute her son is.
I can't handle this. My heart starts to pound and I have trouble catching my breath. A few times, I've come close to tears. I cannot address Bratty Child directly, because I will start to yell or maybe even spank him. Hitting children is illegal, so this is definitely not a good plan. I cope by cracking down on Michael. Yes, this is unfair and I hate myself for it. When the bed breaks because Bratty Child has been jumping on it after being told to stop, Michael goes down on accessory charges and is forced to represent himself. He goes in time out, while Bratty Child has a much better lawyer and gets off with probation, meaning he is free to jump as much as he wants while his mother tries to reason with him.
When we leave my friend's house, I hold Michael tight, cry a bit, and tell him I love him.
Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: He said/He said.
I'm sure you've seen newspaper or magazine pages with one opinion on the left side and an opposing opinion on the other side. They are intended to provide well-rounded coverage of an issue, and generally, the people who write the columns have roughly equal amounts of relevant experience or education. They are able to give the reader some insight into the thought processes on both sides of the argument. This is a valuable public service that contributes to democracy.
Name of Paper Withheld, on the other hand, is above all of that. They are desperate to cover the bike-helmet issue, and fortunately for them, they have two people who are willing to provide opposing viewpoints on the topic.
Dr. Alex Hoecshmann has been working in our emergency room for three years. He believes that helmet legislation is essential. On the other hand, the paper's former editor believes it is "silly political grandstanding".
This is so ridiculous that I almost wonder if the former editor has fallen out of the current editor's good books somehow. It seems like a journalistic "fuck you", but I'm not sure that the current editor is able to come up with anything quite this clever.
In any case, we are treated to he says/he says couplets like this:
EDITOR: When pressed to defend their arguments, proponents of mandatory bicycle helmet laws will compare egg crates to seat belts, but there are no crash test dummies to support that analogy. At best, limited statistical analysis in jurisdictions where helmets are mandatory suggest there are fewer head injuries to cyclists, but that’s far from conclusive evidence.
DOCTOR: Any decision on this should be based on facts, not on personal opinion. Cycling is the leading cause of head injury in children, accounting for thousands of hospital visits a year in Canada. Half of all cycling related deaths are due to serious head injuries. However, a proper bicycle helmet can lower the risk of serious brain injury by almost 90 per cent. This means that people riding bicycles without helmets are potentially 10 times as likely to end up in a coma or in a persistent vegetative state should they get into an accident.
EDITOR: I haven’t heard of any epidemic of head injuries or deaths among cyclists in [name of town withheld], but that’s no proof that such a plague isn’t lurking over the horizon.
DOCTOR: Since starting my work here as an ER doctor three years ago, I have seen far too many people brought to Emergency with head injuries that would not have happened if they had a helmet. Some of these people have been changed for life, and a few of them are dead.
EDITOR: Learning how to control a bicycle is a lot like defensive driving. Seat belts and air bags will reduce injury, but the best strategy is to correct bad driving habits.
DOCTOR: Many organizations, including the Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and provincial medical Associations, have come out in support of mandatory helmet legislation. The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that
each province or territory adopt mandatory helmet legislation for all ages because it works.
Does this look like a mean joke to you? Or do the people at Name of Paper Withheld think this is contributing to readers' understanding of the issue?
I'm almost afraid of the answer.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Something very odd happened to me yesterday.
Someone I know -- who wanted everyone to know that we are friends -- asked me a question: "Megan I have to ask, what's with the Hasselhoff thingy?!?"
This was following my discovery of this photo:
I think you'll agree that this is the type of image that needs to be shared with the world. Fortunately, I found it through Facebook when I added the David Hasselhoff application, so I really am able to share it. I'm not keen on applications, but this one adds a constantly-changing Hoff photo gallery to your profile. Even better, you can pick the photos that appear. The Princess wisely added only the ones where he wasn't wearing a shirt, but I wasn't able to show that much self-discipline.
I know you already thought David Hasselhoff was incredibly sexy, but the porn mustache might put him into an entirely new league. People probably hit puberty because of this photo.
So I wasn't sure how to respond to this question. It's not a reader-submitted question, because clearly my Facebook friend doesn't like me enough to read my blog.
Fortunately, my friend Holly rose to the occasion: "I think it has been well established that when it comes to the Hoff, there's no such thing as a limit to the sexiness. It's all unexplored territory. Just when you think you've hit the boundary, something wonderful like a mustache pic turns up."
Yes, indeed. This is the difference between real friends and Facebook friends.
UPDATED: My "friend" just posted this message: "I'm sorry but I can't do the Hasselhoff thing but I can see how you would like him." Remember that we haven't seen each other since 1995. I think I just got dissed.
I am Canadian! Are you?
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Posted by Megan at 8:58 AM
Friday, October 26, 2007
Dear Uncle Matt,
You know a music teacher? Does she play guitar? That's pretty cool. I was hoping we could get one at my school. Daddy is gonna talk to the vice-principal, but if you know one, that's good too. I don't know how much they pay teachers, but I think it's a thousand dollars. But we have two thousand fifty dollars at my school.
Transcriber's Note: Not quite. Name of Town Withheld teacher salary scales are available near the end of this document. The Category column refers to the person's years of post-secondary education. A person with a four-year bachelor's degree is in column 4. The Step row refers to the person's years of experience.
I like that idea. Can Mrs. Berry really get Mr. Smith to come back? If you see him while you're in Edmonton, please tell him we need him to come back.
From Michael because Uncle Matt might think it's not fair if I say Love Michael
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Okay, so you know what? Mr. Smith is not at my school any more, and it is not fun to sing the school song now. It is just like a song on the radio. Nobody wants to sing. He played the guitar and he is just better by lots. Now it is boring. It's like singing from people that's not even real.
My dad is a teacher and he knows my principal. So I called him and he is gonna talk to Mrs. Berry and she is gonna get Mr. Smith back! I sure hope she can get him back.
Our duly-elected representatives at City Hall are, once again, hard at work reviewing bylaws. You will recall that they are working on bylaws that would punish people who cut down trees and who idle their vehicles. You will also recall that they recently voted down a proposed anti-spitting bylaw because it might unfairly target homeless people.
The latest proposed bylaw to come before city council would have required all cyclists to wear helmets when operating a bicycle. I should have known that this would not go far, considering that its goal is to protect humans rather than trees. When they voted against the bylaw, councilors gave the following explanations:
Councilor Paul Falvo: Residents don't like being told what to do. (Um...this didn't stop these guys when someone suggested banning shopping bags.)
Councilor Lydia Bardak: She needs to vote with her left-leaning liberal side. (Yes, this is shocking. I'll pause here so you can pick yourself up off the floor.)
Councilor Kevin Kennedy: This bylaw might discourage people from riding their bikes. (OH YES HE DID.)
I personally used to believe that helmet bylaws were bad for our society. I felt that if a person was dumb enough to go without a helmet, he should have his DNA removed from our gene pool before he was able to reproduce, perhaps in a tragic accident involving a left turn from the right lane. Yes, this is my left-leaning liberal side. Perhaps Councilor Bardak and I can be friends.
That was before I read that one benefit of a helmet bylaw is a reduction in bike thefts. People who steal bikes don't usually have helmets with them, so bylaw officers are able to stop them and return the stolen property to its rightful owner. As an annual victim of bike theft, I am now in favour of the death penalty for people who ride bikes without helmets. I also believe there should be a toll-free snitch line that could be used to report bare-headed cyclists. Not only that, but I would be willing to be implanted with a GPS device that could send my coordinates to the bylaw office at all times to allow for faster tracking of people who don't wear helmets.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Reader-submitted question: You're so afraid?
Don't think for a moment that I don't know what you're up to. I'm just considering how to respond. You know I only created that label for you fetishists, right? I'm starting to think that giving in to your not-so-subtle requests is not good for you.
It's probably more efficient for you to simply download whatever you want to listen to, or to buy a CD if you're of (ahem) the "older generation". (Hi, Dad! I hope you got to Newfoundland safely!)
On the other hand, I think I understand what's motivating this. Although some of you are bored silly by videos, I always like to see which videos other people have posted on their blogs. Not only do you have a wide variety of songs to choose from, you have to pick a very specific version to post. It's very interesting to see which versions you choose and think about why you might have selected that one out of dozens of others. I'm sure that I'm usually wrong, but it's fun to imagine anyway.
This is, again, an oldie and there are a lot of versions floating around. This one happens to be my favourite: even though my older readers may prefer the original, this one strikes me as having just the right amount of pathos. To further drive a wedge between the fetishists, I don't know WHAT Ms. Nicks is thinking here. She looks incredibly bored, and I think it distracts from the rest of the performance. What, she can't handle singing backup for once?
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
From the way the media’s been screaming about it, you would think Jo Rowling had called a press conference to announce that Dumbledore is gay.
Ms. Rowling has been on an international tour to meet with fans. This is nothing unusual. At these appearances, she takes questions from fans. This is also not unusual. I always enjoy reading the transcripts of these question-and-answer sessions, because they add to my understanding of the books. For years, there were things she held back, but she’s now answering every question fans put to her.
It’s truly pathetic, but there’s much more information in the fan sessions than in any “mainstream media” story about Ms. Rowling. If I read a profile of the author in Canada’s Newspaper of Record, I’m certain to find the Shocking! News! that Harry appeared in her head while she was on the train, and that she used to write in coffee shops, and that she never, ever told anyone how the books would end. (See, this crap just writes itself.)
On the other hand, it was through fan interviews that I learned that Hermione goes on to work for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and that Harry becomes an Auror. That the broken two-way mirror would turn up in book 7, and that the “look of triumph” would be “enormously significant”. That certain characters got their names for specific reasons, and that they have blue eyes. Oh, and that Dumbledore is gay. Someone asked Ms. Rowling a question about his love life, and she answered it.
I’ve been reading that this revelation has cheapened everything she has written. Apparently, the Harry Potter books are "no longer a harmless little kids’ series" (shouldn't that be "little-kids' series"?). I cannot help but think that anyone who ever thought they were harmless or for little kids could not have read the books. Characters are tortured and murdered. Book 1 begins with a double murder, attempted infanticide and child abuse. These are not books for little kids, but not because there are hints in the last book that one character is gay.
Naturally, the latest revelation is all over the news. It’s odd, because the look of triumph was much more important (within this unimportant fictional series), but who ever claimed that journalism was about important things?
Monday, October 22, 2007
Reader-submitted question: Are you the same person who runs 9 Gram, Reject the Koolaid and Gifted Typist?
OMG like NO! I am like super compettitititve and how cuold you even think that I was like those blogs? They are tottally different then me adn if you cant see that then I really don't know what are you thinking.
I do udnerstand one thing though becuase all those people are ALSO super-super jelous of Rebecca Eckler. She is like an amazing star who gets lots of book deals and we are patethic people who just write on the internet. Yes, were one of THOSE annoying poeple.
but OMG has anyonne seem my son? I was like answering all of the reders ubmited questoins about how do I get my hair looking so super awesome (Answer: I use this relaly expnsive stuff on it. Like, each bottle costs $179 and to even be allowed two buy it you need to be a memebr off my country club. I jjust KNOW you noticied because everyones been asking me about my hair. It is super-super hott!) and I suddenly noticied then he was gone!!! Gaa!
So this is REALLY going to cut into my day. I was like on the phone with a friedn talking about my new fignernail polish when the police officer asked me for like a photo so they could search the neigbhourhoon! Like DUH aren't you the cops? So I was like looking for a picture of my son even though what is the cops job except to have pictures of kids? and it was SO SO hard becasue the cop was super hot so I needed to find a picture of my son with ME in it so he would look at me to (I just KNOW all you yummy muummies out these know just wahat Im taling about!!!) but alot of the pictures are from BEFORE i had my awsome new hair stuff so that was super hard. but thank goodness my friend from the fingernail polish actually had a new one of me so that was totally ok and even better I got her to email it to me AND the super hot cop so now he has my adress AND and super hot picture of me! so you see it all truned out good in the ned.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
What the hell is a strap wrench and why is Lydia getting beaten with one EIGHT TIMES whenever she misses a pill or raises her voice?
Please, please, someone tell me this Christian Domestic Discipline thing is a sick joke. I cannot stand it any more.
Lydia's feeling really good, because she now has a list of things about herself that she needs to improve. Sometimes she doesn't do enough housework, or she doesn't sleep enough. Also, Lydia has a big attitude problem. Fortunately, her husband is determined to beat these things out of her, and they are making real progress. Even though her kids have been sick and she has been very stressed, she has only raised her voice once in the last nine days.
WHY did I subscribe to this woman's feed?
More about CDD.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Today's Episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Extraneous Capitalization.
You Probably Know What I'm Talking About. Not Just Eckler's Fondness For One. Word. Sentences. But Something Even Worse: Sentences With Randomly-Capitalized Words.
A reader sent me a special request about this yesterday. She cannot stand these offenses against grammar, and actually took notes about the lousy signs as she was riding home from work. A few of the worst:
- Positions Perfect for University and College Students
- Avoid the Back-to-School Parking Crunch
More Services from Strathcona Station
Try a Local Bus Route
- "All Your Automotive Needs" (Is this a cruel joke?)
Losing her Children last Week apparently woke Britney Spears up to the Fact that she needs to Change her Ways. It turns out that all this time Britney had no Natural Maternal Instincts. Really? I thought using your kid’s head as an Ashtray was as natural as Breast-Feeding. Who knew?
Okay, so I don't maintain a celebrity blog, so I don't actually edit anything like this. The documents I have to edit usually end with "before turning the gun on himself". Or, to be more specific, "before turning the Gun on himself".
If Little Miss Know-it-All can teach you nothing else, let it be this: Punctuation marks and capital letters are not mere decoration to be sprinkled into a document to make it look important. There are actual rules that will tell you how to use these things. Even if Russell Smith, grammarian for the common man, has claimed that they amount to "mystifying thickets of technical language", the rules still exist.
A good rule of thumb is that you need a reason to use a capital letter. You do not put capital letters on words to show that they are important. You only put them on the following types of words:
The first word in a sentence. Like this. Or this. See how easy that was?
Emphasized words. LIKE THIS, YOU MORON.
Proper names and titles, but not general descriptors. A proper name refers to one person. JUST TO ONE PERSON. For example, Dan might be a lieutenant. That would make him Lieutenant Dan. Or Jody might be a doctor. That would make her Dr. Jody.The same rules apply to proper nouns: it's just a bridge unless it's the Golden Gate Bridge or some other bridge with a name.
Countries and languages. In Canada, we speak French and English, and we go dutch on french fries and danishes. See what I did there? A word that's capitalized in one context (languages) can be un-capitalized in a different context (general descriptors).
The major words in book, play, or song titles. "Return of the King" and so on. Usually in this case, you don't put capital letters on "a", "of", "to", "the" and so on, unless it's the first word in the title.
Names of days or months. Do you really need an example here? I suppose if you don't know how to use capital letters, you might.
People who actually get excited about grammar (unlike SOME wannabes I can think of) know there is a seething underbelly of discontent about the use of capital letters and punctuation in brand names. For example, did I buy my jeans at GAP or at The Gap? (Answer: Neither. Their pants are made for women without hips.) But Michael plays with Legos, not LEGO brand blocks, and Glen doesn't live in "Saskatchewan!".
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Naturally. Also, the views expressed here are not my own, but those of CBC/Radio-Canada. (Naturally.)
I have a question for the guitar experts out there (I know I have at least one reader who fits this description): Is Mr. Buckingham really playing two parts on one guitar? I have read that because of his "fingerpicking" style, he can play the rhythm part with his thumb and the other part with his other fingers. I find this hard to believe, but the quality of these YouTube videos isn't good enough for me to be able to tell by watching him play.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Reader-submitted question: Doesn't CBC's blogging policy only apply if you can be identified as a CBC employee?
Yes. Now the question becomes whether a person can be identified as a CBC employee. There are really dangerous implications here for all bloggers. This is a corporation that exists in large part to promote freedom of speech.
Please take a look at some examples:
- Robin states in several places on his main page that he's a CBC employee. His profile links to the CBC Blogging Manifesto.
- Cin's now a freelancer, but she was a permanent employee until a few months ago.
- Tod runs the official CBC blog but has a blog of his own on the side.
- Paul often writes about life at work.
- Susan works for Info AM, just a few steps away from my old desk at CBC Halifax, and blogged about her summer here in town.
I see no significant difference between Guidelines 1.0 and Guidelines 2.0. I also don't see anyone other than CBC management suggesting that employees' Facebook pages are representing the MotherCorp. Yes, there will be the occasional idiot who steps way over the line and needs to be pulled back. You deal with that guy by facing the problem head-on, not by telling all of the staff to put disclaimers on all of the comments they post to their friends' blogs.
Now, hands up: Who wants to guess where I work? I've never said where I spend my days, but you could figure it out if you put your mind to it. You could say the same about just about every blogger. Even when we're careful, there are always clues about our day jobs on our blogs. We're upset about the new carpets, or we have a few too many friends who know a lot about beekeeping, or we know a little too much about vaccination, or we take an unusual interest in grammar. At what point is a person identified as a CBC employee? This is a slippery slope. It also really bothers me that CBC management would be leading any charge to gag employees. They should be fighting to defend freedom of speech, even speech they don't personally like.
First of all: The views expressed here are not my own, but those of CBC/Radio-Canada.
Please click here and look at the dancer. Is she moving clockwise or counter-clockwise? Does she ever switch and go the other way?
This is apparently a left-brain/right-brain test. The Herald Sun says that most people will see the dancer going counter-clockwise, but I see her going clockwise. Other people say they see her STOP and spin the other way. (What!?)
What do you see? Post in the comments box, if you dare. And remember: the views you express in my comments box are not your own, but those of CBC/Radio-Canada.
Posted by Megan at 1:05 AM
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Reader-submitted complaint: I see we've (and by we I mean Megan) gone back to selective posting of reader-complaints. There is considerable context to the conversation that has gone unreported. I think this may be done to provoke this kind of response.
I had already been mistaken for the capitalist, it was quite reasonable for people to think that I would be the lawyer who would pay too much attention to language.
As for the Tibetan Monks comment, now who is humour impaired? I was assured that NOBODY thought I was the lawyer. HMMM, nobody? Really, can you speak for the mind of everybody, including tibetan monks?
My, oh my. Three complaints in one! I dare not break them up, for fear of being accused of leaving out context.
You are right. I suppose I do post complaints selectively. Mostly, I am guilty of putting silly post titles on them, or of rolling similar complaints into a single post. I also edit them a bit, which I think is what’s behind the concern about context. A twenty-minute discussion just doesn’t work well on the Internet, so I am forced to cut through the details. Isn’t that what you complainers are really after, anyway? In some cases I’ve had to choose between similar complaints, mostly of the “I need another picture of the Hoff with his shirt open” variety.
Again, you are right. I should probably be more specific when I say that I happen to know a lot of lawyers. Yesterday, for example, I spoke to nine of them. I should probably confirm to all of my loyal readers that when I say the word “lawyer”, it does not necessarily refer to any individual person who is still in law school and who I only see during the summer.
No surprises here: you are right. Although I monitor my web stats closely and have never received a visit from Tibet, and although I don’t know anyone from Tibet, it is possible that a monk from that country has subscribed to my feed and figured out that I know someone who is in law school. I cannot speak for the mind of everybody, perhaps especially Tibetan monks. I should not presume to know what they think, and it was wrong of me to attempt to do so.
Sorry, I'll be right back. CBC management has accidentally glued its thumb to its tongue.
OK, I think everything should be better now. I should have known this would happen. Once they cut their budget back, they no longer had as many lackeys, I mean journalists, to score them more expensive drugs. Glue-sniffing was the logical next step. The advantage of this new system is that they can continue to churn out paperwork without actually accomplishing anything.
Remember the CBC blogging
policy “guideline document” from a few months ago? The one that pissed everyone off royally and was immediately withdrawn? Don't worry: CBC's got a new “Self Publishing and Self Expression on the Internet” guideline. (Apparently, CBC has also decided that hyphens are not grammar.)
WARNING, CBC EMPLOYEES: Do not post anything on this blog. Or on my Facebook page. Don't even IM me. All of these things can get you in trouble with your boss. If you are stupid enough to ever post anything on the Internet, CBC wants you to include the following disclaimer: “The views expressed here are my own and not those of CBC/Radio-Canada.” Seriously. Also, you need your supervisor's permission to have a blog. Seriously.
I can't believe how monumentally STUPID these people are. Is this some sort of joke for April Fool's Day that just took six months to get through the bureaucracy at the MotherCorp?
I am trying to imagine what kind of sane employer would EVER endorse a person's personal blog. The whole point of a personal blog is that it doesn't represent the company. No boss wants to have anything to do with a personal blog. From the boss's perspective, the more you can distance yourself from the company, the better. The company doesn't want anything to do with videos of your kids, jokes about Paris Hilton or tributes to 1970s-era guitarists. Endorsing the blog would make your boss responsible for its contents.
We bloggers need to stick together for the sake of freedom of expression. I have an idea. If you have a blog, please include these words in your next post: "The views expressed here are not my own, but those of CBC/Radio-Canada". It would help if your post is about something really inappropriate or disgusting, like your C-section or that stuff you pick out of your toenails.
Monday, October 15, 2007
So apparently I suck.
A while ago, I asked Michael if he wanted to take skating lessons. He said no. Stupidly, I did not sign him up for lessons anyway, and now I am The Mommy Who Cannot Be Trusted.
You see, Daniel is in skating lessons, and any moment that Michael is not with Daniel is a moment wasted. I should have anticipated this. It is all my fault. We are too late to register him for skating, but I think at this point Michael will be better off learning from his father anyway. They both have hockey skates. There is an outdoor rink just across the street and a lovely arena about a mile away. It should work out well. The point is to have fun, right? RIGHT?
So now the big question is whether we will screw up just as badly on skiing lessons. Michael is leaving nothing to chance this time. He has specified that he wants to learn to ski, and that means he wants to take skiing LESSONS, and he wants to take those lessons with DANIEL. Did I hear him? Remember, he wants LESSONS. He doesn't just want to go skiing like he did last year. And he wants to be with DANIEL when he gets lessons. I've got that, right? Maybe I should write it down.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I hesitate to put the "religion" label on these Christian Domestic Discipline ("CDD") posts, but that's the label the practitioners have put on themselves, so...
Our buddy Lydia (the one who is required to ask for a beating every night before 9pm) has a friend. And not the sort of friend who would be helping her with a safety plan or finding a secret signal that could be used to call the police, but a friend who is helping her "normalize" wife abuse.
I don't know why I even look at these things.
Joannie has a really loving husband, especially when she's tired after a long day of working and taking care of the house. He helps her fall asleep by beating her. On Friday, he was even more loving than usual, because she was extra stressed. He beat her extra hard, and when she told him it hurt a lot, he beat her even harder. Then he had his way with her. What a loving husband. It's always nice when sadism and family violence can mix together so smoothly. He should write books like the ones Lydia is now selling. Then even MORE people could think that this is a religious obligation.
Best of all, Joannie's husband is passing this loving lifestyle on to the next generation. Their grandson lets Mr. Joannie know when she needs a beating. Her serious crimes include:
- Paying one of her daughter's bills
- Buying candy
- Being tired
- Getting upset about the constant interruptions when she's trying to work
- "Refusing to shut up after a warning"
More about CDD
Saskboy has an interesting observation from the SaskBlogs party (this is likely the first time Saskboy has used the word "party" in its non-political sense). The average age of bloggers and their readers tends to be mid-40s.
Now, before you Americans accuse me of protecting sources, I will 'fess up and say that Kate from Small Dead Animals is the person who provided this stat. There. Now you mouth-frothing liberals can go search for statistics that would give the opposite impression and triumphantly report your findings. Yes, please go away so the rest of us can blog in peace.
This stat is very interesting to me, mostly because it confirms my own impressions about the blogosphere. However, I have to be honest: It's no surprise that most of my readers are "older", although I'm now at an age where I don't think mid-40s is "old". Like most people, I identify mostly with people in my own age range or situation in life. Most of my friends are either in their thirties or have small children. The people who read my blog are mostly people in their thirties or with small children. Although I'm always hearing about the youngsters on the Internet, I have almost no readers in their twenties, and the ones I have are mostly family members.
My co-workers tease me about being a young'un with a blog. (Actually, I can't be sure if they're teasing me about the fact that I have a blog or about the content of the blog: people who come here quickly figure out that I am a nerd.) The truth is that I don't really identify with the kids on MySpace, and I don't think of that as blogging, anyway.
UPDATED: Welcome, Saskatchewan bloggers. Please feel free to look around and stay a while. I welcome comments, even from strangers (you couldn't get much stranger than my regular readers, anyway).
Posted by Megan at 11:50 AM
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Reader-submitted complaint: Can you say somewhere that I wasn't the one who complained about your disclaimer? I'm not actually a lawyer, everyone! Not yet, anyway!
I don't think anyone thinks it was you. Well, I could be wrong: I do have some readers who are a bit weird. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.
Reader-submitted complaint, continued: Tibetan monks might think it was me.
Okay. Let the record show that the person who complained about the disclaimer is an honest-to-goodness graduate of a law school. He's probably thrilled that his keen legal arguments have so much traction here on the blog.
Reader-submitted question: Fetishists?
Well, you see, this was a bit of a meta-blogging joke from Prudence McPrude.
Do you think I don't see what you're up to?
I live to serve my committed fans, even those of you who really should be committed. I'm going to give you what you want.
I shouldn't have to choose between them, but it happens that I'm a bigger fan of Lindsey Buckingham than of Stevie Nicks. This is because I am a liberal atheist who hates all religions other than Isl-- wait a minute, that can't be right. It must be because I like guitarists. You see, guitars were a big part of my upbringing. My dad plays guitar and other stringed instruments, and two of my brothers learned to play when they were teenagers.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Take your time. Wait for the dark of night.
(Okay, so I'm just having fun with the fetishists now.)
Today's episode is about our favourite would-be grammarian, Russell Smith. Russell is still trying to convince people that he actually knows something about the English language. His latest column does not disappoint. A reader sent it to me at work on Thursday, possibly to test a hypothesis involving the explosion of my head.
In typical form, Russell begins by explaining that he is super awesome and quickly moves into a discussion about how some part of the English language bores the hell out of him. Today it's hyphens, but tomorrow it'll be capitalization or the meaning of the word "that". You see, Russell is a grammarian for the common man. He has explanatory passages marked in reference books. Apparently, while he was reading these books, he missed the explanatory passages about semicolon usage, but now I'm getting distracted.
Russell does not worry about vagaries, and has declared hyphens "not grammar". Well, this is really quite helpful. The next time I'm confused about the English language -- perhaps the use of question marks in declarative sentences -- I will simply proclaim that it is not grammar. That way, I can make as many stupid errors as I want while looking down my nose at anyone who would dare to criticise me.
I don't follow Russell's columns closely enough to be able to say this with any degree of accuracy, but I am willing to bet twenty dollars that he has recently misused a hyphen in print and that a reader pointed out the error. It is the only possible explanation when a so-called (note hyphen) grammar expert suddenly claims that hyphens are silly. And when the "expert" is Russell, betting on a grammatical error is a sure thing.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Reader-submitted question: Is Glen the Capitalist?
Short answer: No.
I see where this came from, though. Glen has virtually disappeared from the comments box, while the Capitalist has been popping up more than usual. Also, I've talked about the Capitalist being my brother, and over on Glen's blog I'm known as "the little sister".
Glen and I are very much like siblings. When I first started working for him, people asked if we were related. Apparently, we look, talk and think alike. We are a little TOO similar, and I'm convinced that our relationship is ultimately unsustainable. There's no way we could keep it going every day for the long term, so it's probably a good thing that he's not my boss any more.
Glen is away at law school. It is very difficult and tiring, so he hasn't been around much.
The Capitalist really is my brother. He works tirelessly in the Alberta oil fields in the name of capitalism. Although one of my other brothers initially objected to the name I gave him, nobody blinked when I started calling Nate the Capitalist.
Nate has always been very good with money. When we were kids, his bank account was always overflowing. We used to try to outbid each other for the lawn-mowing job: "I'll do it for ten dollars!" "HA! I'll do it for NINE!"
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Danny has won. See those blue squares? They each represent one PC politician in Newfoundland. The three red squares and one orange square represent the opposition.
Excuse me for a moment.
Okay, I've recovered.
I absolutely adore Danny Williams. I could listen to him talk all night. He has a unique ability to inspire people, even from a distance.
Newfoundlanders have always been proud, but Danny gave us something to really be proud of. Our biggest problem used to be that collectively, we always expected someone else to fix our problems. We needed baby bonuses, and then 10 weeks of work and 42 weeks of unemployment insurance, and then some other government program. Danny has shown that it doesn't have to be that way. We already have all of the resources we need to be rich. We can do it ourselves: we don't need a hand-out. And we don't need to put up with any more corrupt politicians.
Until tonight, I would never have imagined that a victory speech in Newfoundland would include the words "I promise you four years of no hand-outs". People cheered when he said this.
Here in the NWT and Alberta, Newfoundlanders are known as the hardest-working people an employer could hire. There are lots of us here, especially in Name of Town Withheld and Fort McMurray. We came to look for work, but we still feel ties to the east coast.
Danny's fascinating to watch, because he's an entirely different sort of politician. He's been placing ads in papers across the country as part of his campaign to take the prime minister down. The spending scandal in Newfoundland never touched him. He appears to be unbeatable.
UPDATED: A reader's perspective.
Posted by Megan at 8:22 PM
Monday, October 08, 2007
Reader-submitted question: Seriously? Somebody took exception to your blog disclaimer?
My readers are very -- how shall I put it? -- diverse. They fall into a few broad categories, though:
1. People who surfed in and stayed. People like Miss Lyndsy and A. They found me through some other blog and liked me enough to come back. I love these guys, although I don't know who most of them are because they almost never leave comments. This question came from a person in this category. Finding and keeping this type of reader is the key to increasing a blog's audience.
2. Family members. People like the Capitalist, the Princess and the Philosopher King (AKA Torq, but I prefer the name I gave him). They've been here since the beginning and they'll probably stay right until the end. We make fun of each other, but it's not intended to be mean, it's just a continuation of our real-life relationships.
3. Friends. People like Cin, Amy H and Seriously Frivolous, along with a whole bunch of people you don't know because they never post comments. This group is pretty diverse, but many of them are current or former journalists. I told most of these guys about the blog when I started to write, but some of them found me through my Facebook profile. There is some overlap between this category and the next:
4. Lawyers. I happen to know a lot of people with law degrees, and some of them are people I consider good friends (I don't hand out my URL to the Law Society). People like Karan S, Karen L and Stephen. This is really a sub-group of the last category, and I normally wouldn't give them their own heading, but it is relevant to this reader-submitted question.
There are people who will argue that when I give you an orange, I should specify that I am giving the orange together with its peel, juice and seeds, and that I accept no liability for any injury you might...OK, I can't keep that up. If I keep going, I'll get another reader-submitted complaint arguing that I wasn't clear enough, and should have mentioned that I make no guarantees as to the orange's freshness, sweetness or juice content, and that further, acceptance of the orange creates no obligation on your part, either real or imagined.
Yes, someone contacted me about my disclaimer, although I am pretty sure that it was intended in good fun. Disclaimers are not bulletproof but are usually put up to distance the writer from his job or other activities. For example, a person who keeps a blog might also be a member of the SPCA and write about his dog from time to time: this does not mean that he is blogging on behalf of the SPCA. Nowadays this is usually obvious, but there are still a few people out there who like to create trouble for bloggers. They pretend that they can't tell the difference between the writer's volunteer work (perhaps the SPCA is trying to set up a public off-leash area for dogs) and his personal blog (perhaps he confides that he won't use the off-leash area because he has a big dog yard). SCANDAL!
Disclaimers won't hold the Forces of Evil off, but they are usually enough to let normal people know that a personal blog is, well, a personal blog.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Here's the list of bloggers who participated in the delurking exercise this week. I really need to rename my blog so it starts with a number or an "A". Nobody's going to scroll all the way to "R" in a list this long. I hadn't thought about alphabetical rankings when I picked out the name. A few ideas:
- Although I'm not making plans, I hope that you understand there's a reason why
- And now it's gone, it doesn't matter anymore
- Although it doesn't matter, you and me got plenty of time
I guess I'll be sticking with the title I have.
Reader-submitted question: So did that weird, creepy, and rude guy who posted stuff on your property get elected?
Heh. You're right, I missed a follow-up to the election. Having never met the guy, I cannot say that he is weird or creepy (although that's certainly possible) but he was definitely rude when he called our house.
As you might have guessed from the relative lack of teeth-gnashing and garment-rending, Jeff Groenewegen was NOT successful at winning our riding, despite an impressive effort that included opening doors to dump propaganda, posting signs in strategic locations that implied support from individuals, and demonstrating his intimate familiarity with property law.
Our new MLA is a charming woman named Wendy Bisaro. Wendy's been in local politics for 20 years, and I think she will be an excellent MLA. She started off on the school board (long-time readers will know that I have a keen interest in the way our schools are run) and then moved to our city council. I should note that she is NOT one of the people who pushed for the tree-protection bylaw or lobbied for more understanding and less punishment for crack dealers.
Well, I suck. I missed my blog's first birthday. I should have had a commemorative post: this is a blogging tradition. Instead, I was so excited about NOT dying from cancer that I did a Little Miss Know-it-All post instead.
And that's not all. I also failed to acknowledge my 10,000th visitor. From the way I ignore blogging traditions, you would think I'm not even a member of the online community. I totally suck. Why am I hitting myself? Why am I hitting myself? Why am I hitting myself?
I will do my best to rectify the situation. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Fun with Google Analytics.
As I've mentioned before, I know every single sexual fantasy you have while you're on my site. (Perverts.) Most of you have my site bookmarked or come through another blog: I'm cross-linked with just about everyone in the list on the right. About a dozen of you are "feed readers", and a few of that group click over to the blog whenever I post something new. I know who you guys are, because you usually land on a recent post.
But I also have visitors who come in through other blogs that have linked to individual posts. Other people spend time looking at older material once they get here. You might be surprised at the top posts:
I couldn't make this up if I tried.
I know where the top post is coming from: Cute With Chris linked to me about six weeks ago (scroll all the way to the bottom of that page). I still get about ten visits a day through his site. Many of his readers stay to look around the blog, so I provided some links that I thought they might enjoy, including my Hoff shrine.
You'll note that although all of the Hasselhunk posts are popular with readers, there is one post in particular that is very popular. I had a feeling that was going to happen. It's only natural.
Some of the others are odder. Someone from Oregon keeps coming back to the Christian Domestic Discipline entry. I'm not sure what to make of that. And then there's the person from Name of Town Withheld who keeps coming back to the very first post I ever wrote about schools. These people are making me nervous, especially since they apparently have those pages bookmarked but don't appear to be interested in anything else I've written. I'm not sure if they realise that this is a blog that gets new content every day. Or that I have their IP addresses logged.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Reader-submitted question: Do you know what that song's about?
I was going to do this a few days ago but got distracted. Karan's post reminded me that I should be responding to you guys. I love the questions, and I even like the complaints. Keep them coming. You're quite an interesting group.
The question is about this song. I am starting to think that I've stumbled upon a group of underground Fleetwood Mac fetishists. At the slightest reference, you guys go nuts.
I like to do poetry analysis, but the problem is that the only person who really knows what the song means is the original author, in this case Lindsey Buckingham (the guy in the video). I'll have to begin by noting that I really don't know that I'm right, and don't have the same certainty that I have when discussing hyphen misuse. The strict answer to your question is "no". However, I do have some ideas.
The context is important. Although the video I posted is a duet, the original song was sung by Mr. Buckingham with other members of the group as backup. In case you've never heard it:
(I prefer to use actual music videos or live recordings, but the ones I could find were all either poor quality or several decades after the original, so they wouldn't be the best ones to use if you've never heard the song before.)
To me, this sounds like a snarky, nasty break-up song. The singer's bitter and confused about the end of a relationship: his significant other wants to move on, but he's not ready to let go. In fact, he's still desperately enamoured. He's confused and hurt, because he has no idea why the other person would want to get out of the relationship. We don't really know what the other person thinks, because we never hear her side of the story. I say "her" just because the song's sung by a man: you can't tell from the lyrics whether it's about a man or a woman.
Thanks for your question. I'm not sure if this is the answer you were looking for.
Reader-submitted complaint: Megan, reading your blog, I have to note your disclaimer has a hole in it. Maybe you're expressing the opinions of some organization you do NOT now, nor have ever had any affiliation with.
What are you, a lawyer?
I suppose this is possible. Likely, even. Wait a minute, what's this leading to? I don't have time for a deposition, and I can't afford to hire my own lawyer. Now I'm second-guessing myself.
What I mean to say is that over the course of hundreds of posts, it's quite likely that I've said something that happens to match the official position of any number of organizations I'm not affiliated with.
Hmmm. Maybe that doesn't make sense. Maybe I've accidentally used a word that you are planning to use in a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against me, my ISP, Blogger and the Apple corporation. I definitely can't defend myself against something like that. I'm the little guy here!
I put the disclaimer up a few months ago when I started to get more hits. It's your standard-issue "this is a private blog that's not related to my work" disclaimer, although I've tried to have a sense of humour about it. I think it's pretty clear that this blog isn't related to my work, but nowadays people tend to put disclaimers on their blogs. Disclaimers definitely aren't bulletproof, but in general, it's better to have one than not to have one.
I wrote my disclaimer myself after thinking about the type of people who would be likely to feign confusion about the purpose of my blog. I did not discuss it with legal counsel, so it probably does have a few holes in it that could be exploited by people with no ethics, intelligence or basic sense of human decency.
Oh God. I need a lawyer.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Reader-submitted question: Feed?
I know most of you don't read this blog through a feed, and I'm happy about that. When you come directly to the blog, you get all of the content: comments, links, labels and so on. It's the full experience.
However, you can subscribe to the blog in a reader. That's what the little orange box below my disclaimer is for (right over there on the right, if you're actually on the blog). If you click it, you'll get all of my posts whenever I finish them, although there seems to be a five-hour delay most days. This "feed" will come directly to a central reader. But don't click it!
Writers seem to love subscribers, and I think this is because once you subscribe, you'll get all of my posts. You can't forget to come to the blog one day, or change computers and lose all of your favourites. This would be perfect for my ego, except that it gets rid of all of the things I like about Web 2.0. Feed readers don't post comments or participate in reader polls. They miss any changes I make to the menu or to the template (they don't know that I'm pink for October, for example). They don't always get the video content, either. It is more like writing in a newspaper than on the Internet: my information goes out and never comes back. I might as well be writing for the federal government if nobody's going to be able to talk back. (Attention, Forces of Evil: I do not write for any kind of government, so don't even think about filing a lawsuit because you don't like the things I say on the blog. You are just going to have to accept that some people have different opinions than you do.) The whole point of being on the Internet is to allow you guys to be part of the blog. You ask how I'm doing, send me questions and drool over sexy photos of David Hasselhoff.
I read today that some people don't post comments because they are intimidated by bloggers' extreme coolness. This was presented by the "lurker" side with no hint of sarcasm; otherwise I would automatically dismiss it. Anyone who thinks bloggers are cool is clearly not reading this blog. For pete's sake, I'm an expert in comma usage. I'm not cool, although I can see how a person could get intimidated by the videos of David Hasselhoff wearing a blue pleather jumpsuit with zip-off sleeves and dancing like a person with a nervous disorder.
I am a bit of a hypocrite: although I prefer it when people come directly to the blog, I subscribe to a lot of feeds. Most of the blogs I read don't publish every day, so I have them all on feeds. That way, I don't have to go to each blog individually to look for new posts when they only put up a post or two a week. I only go to these blogs if I want to comment on something the person has written or to read the comments. I pop by all of the blogs I read every few days to check out the comments other people have posted (you can't get comments through the feed). I read a few blogs that post new content every day, and I visit them directly each evening before bed.
Feeds are not for everyone. There is no point in subscribing to feeds if you like to visit sites individually or if you only look at a few blogs every day. I have about 50 subscriptions: too many to visit every day, but it comes to about 15 posts a day, which is fairly manageable.
Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: I'm reporting live! No, I'M reporting live! Get out of my way!
Well, the election's over, and the only thing left for Little Miss Know-it-All to do is analyse the media coverage. I'm going to be nice, for the most part: reporting on elections is hard. Well, it's really easy in one sense. Election stories are easy to tell, because there's a clear winner and a clear loser. Someone always comes from behind and surprises everyone, and someone always is overconfident and goes down hard. Great stuff. But it's live TV and everyone's stressed and emotional. It goes late into the night, and everyone's tired. Plus, there are a ton of annoying people from Toronto who descend on your sleepy little studio and insist on taking over because they know SO MUCH MORE ABOUT JOURNALISM, and they always screw up royally. Wait, maybe that's just the way things work here.
I love, love, love watching elections. The Newfoundland election's coming up in a few days and I'll be ordering pizza so I can stay in front of the TV. (Go, Danny!) I watch CBC and have my computer nearby so I can refresh the latest poll results. Yes, I am a loser.
There was a bit of a snafu during our election when it was announced that one person had won a riding by eight votes before all of the results were in. The chief electoral officer rushed to clear up the error, and reporters were all over her. Television and radio were both reporting live at the time, so we were watching on TV as the host "threw" to the reporter a few feet away. And listening. Also listening. We were listening to the TV reporter argue with someone about needing to interview the chief electoral officer right away, in just a few seconds. The camera angle changed and the reporter introduced his victim -- I mean interviewee. Over his shoulder, we could see who he was arguing with: another reporter, who was seizing the opportunity to ask the first question! That scoundrel!
Both reporters were determined to get the very first live interview. They asked their questions at the same time and pushed their microphones in the woman's face at the same time. This video's worth a look. Neither was willing to wait the sixty seconds it would have taken for the other to finish. Both were desperate to be first. Remember, they both work for the same corporation, but in different media -- they were not competing with each other in any real sense of the word.
Does it always have to be about being first?
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Greetings, mofos. I know you're out there.
I can't pull that "mofo" thing off. It just feels wrong. My parents read this.
Today is The Great MoFo Delurk. If you come to this blog or another participating blog, please leave a comment.
I know you're out there. I see you:
Actually, I see you as you really are. I know what you're looking for, you freaks. Did you have fun with your Google search for "HPV perverts"? Or "JPod Jesus"? Or "wife sex addict"?
You guys are definitely weirdos, but you're MY weirdos, dammit.
Most of you don't leave comments, but I'm encouraging you to delurk, just for today. Revel in your weirdness! Link back to your Beachcombers shrine or your YouTube channel. If you've found a webpage that you think other people would like, post the URL in the comments box.
Posted by Megan at 7:37 AM
DAVID LETTERMAN: Have your friends treated you differently since you've been out of the slammer?
PARIS HILTON: Uh, people think that I was really strong that I went through it. But I've moved on with my life, so I don't really wanna talk about it any more.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Yeah, see, that's where you and I are different. Did you make any friends while you were in jail?
PARIS HILTON: I'm not answering any more questions about it. I'm here for my clothing line and my movie and my perfume.
DAVID LETTERMAN: A person in your position could serve now as an exemplary role model for youngsters. And there's a lot of trouble in the world for kids. They have to be very careful. They might see you and think my gosh, if it can happen to someone wealthy and famous and powerful, it might happen to me, so I better straighten my life out.
PARIS HILTON: Exactly.
DAVID LETTERMAN: Yeah, and do you get correspondence like that from teachers and kids and clergymen and stuff?
PARIS HILTON: Um, going on to the next question.
OFF-CAMERA VOICE: I love you, Paris!
PARIS HILTON: I love you too! *blows kiss*
DAVID LETTERMAN: Nice. Someone you met in prison?
Posted by Megan at 7:04 AM
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
There are only six possible characters in any news story. When you watch the news or read the paper, look for one or more of these guys:
The harried small-business owner. He's too busy to talk to the reporter, but he'll do it after heaving a heavy sigh. He's usually under some sort of pressure from the uncaring authority (see below). Maybe he's being forced to ban smoking in his bar, or he's had to lay off all of his staff because the feds discovered that they were all illegal immigrants, or the health inspector is forcing him to refrigerate his special sauces. Either way, you should feel very, very sorry for him and possibly even spend some money at his business. But don't think it's an ad! IT'S DEFINITELY NOT AN AD, GET IT? The fact that you suddenly want a hamburger is completely unrelated to the story. Look for this guy walking somberly with the reporter just before the camera pans up to the sign above his door.
The ne'er-do-well. Just because you only see him in mug shots and walking into the courthouse in slow motion under RCMP guard, that does NOT MEAN HE IS A CRIMINAL. That creepy music just happened to switch on while the reporter was talking. It shouldn't make you assume that anyone is a bad guy. If you think this, it's a decision that you personally came to after hearing both sides of the story.
The angel. Ideally, the angel is under 25 and very attractive. He or she can become the face of an entire movement. You cannot ever suggest that the angel is not telling the truth or is in any way responsible for any problems that he or she is dealing with. There are two types of angels that appear in news stories (the third type of angel is the reporter himself for having the courage to report on the story):
1) The out-of-commission angel: This person is a hero, usually with an amazing story. The details are truly incredible and often in-credible. Think of Jessica Lynch firing her gun until she ran out of bullets or Cassie Bernall telling the Columbine shooters that she believed in God. Who cares if these stories aren't true? They SOUND GREAT! Let's get her face on a T-shirt -- she's gorgeous! The best part is that all of the people who would be able to say that the story's not true are dead or unavailable.
2) The down-on-her-luck angel: This type of angel can be very unattractive. She might go a week or so between showers. Maybe she wears radishes as earrings and lives in a van down by the river. This angel's able to talk, which makes everyone very uncomfortable. You see, she's usually not really an angel. Usually, she's at least partly to blame for whatever misfortune has befallen her. And she seems to attract a lot of misfortune. Her background needs a lot of scrubbing and selective camera angles. Don't worry, though: You'll only see her on screen for a few minutes at most. The reporter can't put up with her any longer than that; besides, it's all he needs to illustrate his story about the meanie social worker who won't help the angel score her teddy bears that are secretly stuffed with cocaine.
The expert. He's (yes, he's male) only called in to give credibility to someone's claims. He wears a suit and he sits in front of a wall of big heavy books. If he has no books, he's shown typing at a computer or near some symbol of authority. He might have a stethoscope around his neck to prove that he's a doctor. If he's a professional expert, he's very good at giving simple sound bites that lead to only one conclusion, like this: "That's definitely a foot bone. I can tell from the tiny cracks on the left side. No need to excavate the rest of it. Your work here is done." If he's never been on TV before, he will usually say something like this: "I'm not sure. It could be a foot bone, but it could also be a tibia. We need to dig up the entire bone and examine it before I'll be able to make any definitive conclusions." Then he will never be invited to go on TV again.
The uncaring authority. Usually, this is some poor sap who works for the government, possibly the social worker who isn't letting the angel get her cocaine-filled teddy bears. It doesn't HAVE to be the government, though: it can be anyone in any position of power. This person is usually shown typing at a computer just before he explains why the angel or the harried small-business owner can't get everything she wants. For example, it is usually the uncaring authority's job to explain that the angel is not being denied an apartment because she is gay, she is being denied an apartment because it's a pet-free building and she refuses to give up her cat. It's possible for the same person to be cast as an uncaring authority one day and an angel or maverick the next. This is because reporters think you are stupid.
The maverick. This fellow's dangerous to The Man. Fortunately for the reporter, anything a maverick says is 100% true. He's shown with the sick and the downtrodden. He is the only one who cares. Best of all, HE KNOWS WHAT IT'S LIKE ON THE INSIDE! He's worked with the uncaring authority! He has great stories and he's always criticising the uncaring authority with fabulous zingers: "It's really important for doctors to treat patients. I know someone who didn't get treatment. I'm the only one who cares!" Or: "The church is destroying itself. I know someone who's an atheist. I'm the only one who cares!" Case closed! The maverick can be on TV or in the newspaper any time he wants. Like the down-on-her-luck angel, the maverick can sometimes attract a lot of misfortune, but this is because he is the only one who is willing to speak the truth. The Man's afraid of him! THAT'S why the uncaring authority never takes him seriously! He either ends up living in a van down by the river or retires quite happily in his million-dollar mansion on the nice side of town.