Posted by Somebody's Mother on 6:57 a.m.

CBC: Bring Back On the Road Again

On January 27th, CBC’s On the Road Again broadcast its last show. At the end of the the show, Wayne Rostad announced that the CBC had decided that this would be iOn the Road Again’s last year. Both my husband and I were stunned and did what we always do when our television says stuff that it shouldn’t – we yelled back.

Yes, On the Road Again has been on television for twenty years and it is vaguely possible that the show is out of date. Rostad’s songs approach a level of hokey-ness that many of us are incapable of handling. I may have a low threshold for corn but I think the sad thing about the cancellation of On the Road Again has more to do with where our society has gone as opposed to where the show has gone.

From seven to eight o’clock every night, there are back to back shows that do no more or less than advertise celebrities and the projects that they are coming out with. We are inundated with information about their movies, records, marriages, babies, drug abuse problems and of course their divorces. All of this stokes the industry that is larger than life and that keeps us happy when we are too tired from a long day at work to do more than absorb the latest about J-Lo, Britney and the queen of entertainment shows, Paris Hilton. More importantly, these shows keep us buying the records, movies and the products that the shows advertise.

On the Road Again has done something different. Every week for the last twenty years, Rostad visits ordinary people who do extraordinary things. This is pure unadulterated feel-good stuff that is not glamorous. Some of these folks are wacky in every sense of the word but most of them are inspiring as people with a passion for something and the will to carry it out.

There is the octogenarian who sends a weekly column from Old Crow, Yukon to a newspaper in Vancouver and the artist who uses every day articles to create beautiful sculptures. We’ve seen a Haida artist who tells the story of her people in the blankets that she creates and the calligrapher in Whitehorse who has an unabashed love of the written word. Week after week, we’ve been able to learn how varied this country is with its fascinating people who are every bit as interesting as the movie stars who rise with a bang and fall with a thud.

On the Road Again is the kind of television that our national network should be providing us with. It may not be as commercial as e-Talk and Entertainment Tonight or even Entertainment Tonight Canada. The point of having a national network is to provide people with the opportunity to see and appreciate what is going on in our country. It’s not all about celebrities or even celebrities visiting Canada; it’s about who we are, the people who don’t enjoy fame or notoriety.

It takes a special person to be able to put three meals on the table and then go on to build a replica of the leaning Tower of Pisa in one’s backyard or create an unofficial museum of vintage clothing in one’s home.

I am really sorry that I won’t be finding out about these people any more and I think that it is a real mistake that the CBC has cancelled a show that has been a lively tradition for the past twenty years.

Nobody made a big stink when The Friendly Giant was cancelled but other shows have been revived if a network receives enough complaints. If you feel the way I do, fire up your computer and go to http://www.cbc.ca/contact/index.jsp and send the CBC a message that you think cancelling On the Road Again is a bad idea. We like having a show that shows the wonderful eccentricities, creations and obsessions of Canadians from East to West. The CBC needs to hear that from the real people, the people who pay the taxes that keep the CBC going.

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Posted by Somebody's Mother on 6:38 p.m.
What makes us Canadian? Snow…and lots of it.
It snowed last Monday. It snowed through the day and through the night. As I walked out of my workplace on Monday and had to clean off my car, I took a deep breath. This was a situation where the actual action was worse than the anticipation. The snow was heavy and there were mounds and mounds of it. Cleaning off my car was a real workout.
I drove through greasy streets at an overly cautious forty kilometres an hour and I was sure that more macho drivers were swearing at me. As I drove back to work an hour later in the dark, slipping and sliding and again crawling over the College Street bridge, I had to face a new and unexpected truth about myself. I was glad. I was excited that it had snowed.
It has finally occurred to me that winter without snow is no winter at all. I thought that I would love and be thrilled with such a winter. What has happened to me? Can I say that I have finally and irrevocably become Canadian?
A Globe and Mail article revealed the fact that most immigrants tend to identify themselves with their ethnic group first and their Canadian nationality second. We may have Chinese Canadians, African Canadians, Italian Canadians and Irish Canadians. Is it then possible to have American Canadians?
Quite frankly, I find myself referring to the people below the border as them and the people above the border as us. At first, this was something of a shock to me but as the years rolled by and as I realized that I had lived in Canada longer than I had ever lived in the United States, this seemed like a natural progression.
While my New York accent has toned down, it certainly has not faded away as my friends and work mates constantly remind me. Yet, the days when I spelled the word, colour as color are long gone. I have even given in to the our in the word, neighbour. I must admit that writing a cheque is problematic as I always want to write a check and I am always tempted to throw an extra c in somewhere.
This was all inevitable but when did I start to like snow? I could delude myself by arguing that walking my dogs in the woods on a hard-packed surface of snow is far easier than sinking in the mud or sliding on sheets of ice. Actually, that’s not a delusion; that’s true. I’m comfortable with the assertion that snow looks a lot prettier than brown fields although my lawn was eerily green up to a week ago.
No, I truly began to like snow when I discovered that I could cross country ski and love it. We live in a place where we have easy access to lovely trails and we can whoosh around to our hearts’ content. Compare that with life in my hometown of New York City where the snowiest silence you can hope for is finding a quiet corner of Central Park.
Now that the snow is here and the children are playing with it, I’m going to get out in too and I hope to enjoy it like any other true-blue Canadian. After all, it is the patriotic thing to do.

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Posted by Somebody's Mother on 10:06 p.m.
A Hot and Fat Future?
I watched two documentaries over the Christmas holidays – Super Size Me and An Inconvenient Truth. Super Size Me tells what happens to a young and very healthy man when he eats nothing from but McDonald’s food for thirty days. He gains thirty pounds in one month and even begins to suffer liver damage.
An Inconvenient Truth is a documentary made by former Vice President Al Gore on the issue of global warming. His film shows that global warming is occurring at a greater rate than was previously predicted and that the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is not a natural occurrence and is a real phenomenon that is the product of the human race’s activities on Earth. If this trend continues, global sea levels could rise by more than 20 feet with the loss of shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica, flooding and destroying coastal areas world wide. There will be more heat waves, droughts and wildfires. By the year 2050, the Arctic Ocean could be ice free and over a million species could be driven to extinction. According to this scenario, in less than 50 years, we could either be very hot or underwater.
Then there’s the exposé of Super Size Me that reveals the increasing problem of obesity in the United States. This isn’t only an American problem. According to a recent study done by Ipsos Reid, obesity among Canadian children has tripled in the last twenty years and more than one third of children and teenagers in Canada are obese. One third to one half of all Canadian adults are overweight and this figure seems to be increasing steadily.
These two documentaries were definitely an antidote to my happy Christmas television watching. This is not a nice future that we’re looking at; we’re all going to be hot and fat. The question is what we do about it, you and me.
Looking out my window at the 200 odd light bulbs glaring away in all their Christmas glory does not make me a real friend of the Earth and my house seemed mildly festive in contrast to some of the others that I’ve seen. I don’t even want to think about the quantity of shortbread cookies, fruit cake and trifle that I’ve consumed over the past two weeks.
Guilt is one of my addictions. Perhaps you don’t suffer from it the way I do but if you do, guilt without action is a waste of emotional energy. You might as well light up every room in the house and eat twenty pieces of bacon with a big smile on your face.
Finding ways to change makes more sense. There are little things that we can do without it hurting too much such as recycling and reusing when possible. Walking more and driving less is a hard goal to achieve when you live in a rural area but planning your trips to the store so that you drive less wouldn’t cause too much pain and it would save money on gas. Eating nutritious home cooked meals goes a long way in keeping your diet more sensible.
The most important thing is to let our governments know that we do care about global warming and the health of our children. If we are expected to behave like responsible citizens of the planet, industry should be expected to do so as well. We need more environment-friendly cars. According to Gore, Asian vehicles are ahead of North American ones when it comes to fuel efficiency. Why are we behind them?
We need to start spending money to save our future and our governments have to stop thinking of global warming as some kind of left-wing plot. Partisanship has to stand aside because global warming is real. In spite of what some media pundits claim, scientists are convinced that it’s real and hiding the truth will not help big business when people are too busy trying to stay alive to buy their products. Otherwise, we’ll be one hot, fat and finally extinct species and that, my friends, is really bad for business.

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Posted by Somebody's Mother on 11:45 a.m.
Ahhh, the holiday season.
It just never fails
to excite me.

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Posted by Somebody's Mother on 11:34 a.m.
Are Milestones really Milestones?
The shadow of death certainly hung over the Christmas holidays. Both James Brown, the Godfather of Soul and former president, Gerald Ford died on Christmas day. Then on the Saturday following Christmas, Saddam Hussein was executed.
For baby boomers, this feels like the end of an era. Soul music was an integral part of my adolescence. Songs like I Feel Good and Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud were part of a decade that went from civil rights to women’s’ rights. James Brown was a big part of the background music of my generation
As I moved into my twenties, the Watergate scandal took over the news and I remember sitting with my parents and watching Richard Nixon resign. My whole family was shocked to see a president resign in such infamy to be replaced by Vice President Ford. It was unthinkable.
Now over thirty years later, Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror has ended in the midst of terror and chaos. As a follower of the blog, Baghdad Burning (which has been published as two books of the same name), I’ve been given a new perspective of how unimportant this death is to the person on the street. Iraqis deal with death everyday. Riverbend (the pseudonym for the author of the blog) says that nowadays Iraqi families feel lucky when the corpse of a loved one is identifiable. In her entry of December twenty-ninth, she writes about how differently she views death, particularly those of American soldiers.
When she first started writing in 2003, she agonised over the death of each soldier. She sympathised with them because she felt that most of them didn’t want to be in Iraq and were probably unsure why they were there at all. Now she speaks of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed by militia, secret police and American soldiers. She wonders why American deaths are more important than those of Iraqi citizens. Is it because there are fewer of them, she asks.
It is equally significant to wonder about the deaths of celebrities and why they have an impact on our lives. Obviously, I never knew James Brown, President Ford or Saddam Hussein. I just don’t move in those kinds of circles. So I wonder why I’m supposed to lament the deaths of the first two and celebrate the death of the latter as some sort of liberating event. Maybe it’s because the media tells me to or because the world is a far smaller place than it used to be so that we feel as if we really know people that we have never met. Maybe these deaths are more of a media event than a real milestone.
January 1, New Years’ Day, is also supposed be a milestone – a new year, an opportunity for change. The fact is that people are still dying in Iraq and will continue to do so throughout 2007. People are dying in Darfur and probably will continue to do so throughout 2007. The AIDS pandemic in Africa will also be the same story. The changing of a single digit in the annals of time never seems to change much. For all the furor of the new millennium, mankind has continued slogging through the same maze and has fallen into the same pits. Both the Western and Eastern continents will be paying the price for September 11, 2001 for a long, long time. That was the devastating milestone of my generation. In fact, if we look back on the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the powder keg that kicked off World War I, that fracas cost the lives of millions for most of the twentieth century, almost one hundred years of wars and conflicts that have been the seeds of the conflicts of this century.
A milestone that I like to look at is the changing of the guard in South Africa. Though by no means a bloodless revolution, it ended apartheid in a far more peaceful way than anyone could have imagined. Many people of my generation remember when Nelson Mandela was released from prison as a moment of hope. It is that kind of moment that I am praying will be forthcoming in 2007. I look forward to a moment where North America and the Islamists of the Middle East as well as the Sudanese government see some form of compromise in ending the slaughter presently taking place in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Darfur. That would be some milestone! Happy New Year, readers.

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