That. Was. Freaking. Incredible.

In reference to the ice dancing gold medal won by Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir tonight: I would just like it recorded that I was there. Well, watching on TV, anyway.

Close enough.

And it was… a gold medal performance. Grace, trust and unity absolute. Only the second Canadian gold medal performance, as it happens, that I have ever watched start-to-finish — the first being the men’s hockey team victory in Salt Lake 2002. Were I not to have been there, I would be required to hand in my citizenship.

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It has been a very Canadian Olympics, thus far. That is, time spent fretting over failures — athletes and organizers alike — has outstripped rejoicing over victories by, oh, three-to-one or so. Today, officials formally conceded that the brash ‘Own the Podium’ program would, ahem, not be clocking us thirty-odd medals after all. Sorry about that. You think we were maybe a bit arrogant, about the whole thing? Yeah, maybe we were… but hey, we’re still doing good, right? Right?…

…and so on. It does not help that the breakout success story of these games is the USA. Watching a string of poised, confident, medal-wearing Americans shake their heads and smile indulgently at us is the most peculiarly Canadian of experiences: pleased and proud to be noticed, while at the same time writhing in agony over the need.

Thing is, I’m not sure if Owning the Podium in reality wouldn’t mean sacrificing too much of what makes us… well, us. Whether we are not better off as we are, so desperate to do the right thing, so accustomed to being overlooked that we are still wide-eyed at the very idea of hosting the world. But now that they’re here — hey, the beer’s cold and the party’s hot. And when the medals do come (which they have, after all) it is, very literally, the best feeling in the world.

It is because of our ultimate refusal to beat our chests that we are enjoying this Olympiad to the full in our own way; down on the streets of Vancouver, the bars of Whistler, and community centres across the nation. Let the media carp about technical issues and sniff at delays — yes, yes, we broke the cauldron, it rained the first couple days, and the chain-link fence around the outdoor flame was a stunning failure of imagination.

Meanwhile, the real Olympic spirit is quietly sliding under their radar… wearing a red-and-white scarf.

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When I think it could be so much nicer/being red, or yellow… or gold…

Le sigh. Yes, I’m still alive. More or less. I woke up with a temperature this morning and have spent the rest of the day watching my plans for an active outdoorsy weekend just sort of ooze slowly down the tubes.

The TV tubes, that is. Starting with the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics opening ceremonies last night. OK, I know, Witnesses reject nationalism and all; especially the cheezy, show-the-heartstrings-no-mercy kind that defines the televised Olympiad. Official excuse: I work for the company that designed the Canadian team’s parade outfits, which I had gotten a preview of earlier in the day.

Unofficial excuse: How could any snarker worth their mirth be expected to avoid the magnet that is Canadian televised solemnity?

Sentimental journeyings under the cut…

I’d award him an Internet, but I have a feeling he already has one.

Sigh. So here it is, the next-to-last evening of my vacation (where have you gone, two blissful weeks, except the bit in bed with the sinus infection, which was still pretty good owing to the Life marathon on Discovery?) and Shoesis, aka the Small Blonde Packing Nazi, has decided to get a two-week jump on relocating.

See, this is a two-bedroom apt, so when I move out, she moves into my room, and Shoemom (who’s been in the living room) into hers. Which only partially explains why I’m sitting here in the living room hemmed in by my furniture and Shoemom’s — including a disassembled queen-size bed — plus two confused cats, while Sis paints up a storm in my ex-place. After which, she and Shoemom assure me, they plan to continue with the musical rooms, the upshot of which should involve me having a place to sleep tonight. Should.

In the event, I figured this would be as good a time as any to make a completely random post. Actually, not quite random — there’s at least a tangential connexion for most of my f-list, and I’m kinda wondering how far it’s spread there. Doctor Who fandom seems to take in the most extraordinary things, I would assume there’s a niche somewhere for this one.

I refer, of course, to what Wiki calls the Max Headroom Broadcast Intrusion Incident… and what the rest of the Net calls The Time That Dude in the Rubber Mask Took Over Chicago, and, Like, Dude.

[ahem] The facts. It’s unlikely Max Headroom has crossed your mind recently, so you might want to have a refresher. For those of you who hate links: mid-80’s C64 graphics. Matt Frewer. New Coke. Right… sorry about that.

OK. So it’s November 1987 in the Windy City, and Max is at his c-c-c-celebrity peak, because they’ve just cancelled his TV show. Not that anybody connected with WGN’s nine o’clock sportscast cares about that — until, right in the midst of the Bears hilights, the picture is replaced by a guy in a rubber Max mask against a corrugated-metal version of his backdrop. He’s waving his hands in the air. No audio, just thirty seconds of silent boogying until the WGN engineers clue in and switch feeds.

Two hours later, PBS station WTTW is showing the Four-era Who ep Horror of Fang Rock… and, uh? Station break? Didn’t realise this was pledge we– AHHHHHHHHH WHAT THE HELL ?!?!

Yep, rubber-mask Max is back, and this time he’s feeling chatty. Since WTTW’s engineers either weren’t as quick or as capable (reports vary), you can catch his entire ninety-second manifesto here. Mildly NSFW. Basically he natters on for awhile like your college roommate at the end of the party, tossing Pepsi cans around and humming the Clutch Cargo theme; then he drops trou and gets spanked with a flyswatter by an accomplice in a dress. And then, the Who ep resumes with the Doctor intoning As far as I can tell, a massive electric shock, he died instantly!

For one of the very, very few times in television history — and the last to this day — somebody had hijacked a major station broadcast. Two of ’em. In one night. Hey, legends have been based on less… well, I can’t think of any offhand, but there have to be some.

As you’d expect, Chicago media and the FCC weren’t feeling much like handing out laurels. Rubber-mask Max faced a $100K fine and a year or so in jail, if caught.

But he never was. In what is possibly the craziest, creepiest detail of the whole crazy, creepy mess, no trace of him or his accomplices was ever found. Not even a boast among the hacker undeground.

The combination of serious tech know-how and daring in the execution — details are sketchy, owing to copycat discouragement, but the necessary equipment would’ve cost thousands and was probably mounted on a nearby skyscraper rooftop — and goofiness in the message, gave the whole a surreal fascination that persists to this day. Who the hell pulls off the hacker coup of a lifetime in order to rag on Chuck Swirsky?

Maybe RM-Max was actually a disgruntled fan, runs one theory I rather like. If you’ll recall, the real show was about a dystopian future in which commercial TV was the All-Powerful and the resistance had to spread the word by… hit-and-run signal hacking. Hmmmmm.

It’s time to play the music/It’s time to dress up right…

So this was going to be another major emo-fest about my life choices and how they’re intertwined with my family’s much to my ongoing irritation… but whaddaya know, the family actually turned out to understand.

More on that later. Right now, I feel like celebrating. Also, I’ve spent the last few days up to my eyeballs in more old Muppet Show clips… and, as it turns out, I have good company in . Why, it’s enough to make a girl feel positively Muppetational.

…It’s time to get things started. Time to meet (again) my personal Top Ten Very Special Guests ever on the… well, you know. *braaaaap* *crash!*

This way lies madness… and it's really, really fuzzy.

Things I Learned From the Internet, Vol.34: When having angst, do a TV meme.

Gacked from , just because in my current mood a masochistic look back at what a media dork I am seemed like a good idea.

Bold all of the following TV shows which you’ve ever seen 3 or more episodes of in your lifetime.
– underline a show if you’re positive you’ve seen every episode of it.

More

Harlan Ellison, eat your heart out… on second thought, nevermind.

In case you’re wondering why Shoemom and sis haven’t been gracing these pages much lately, despite allegedly living with me, fear not. It’s only that Shoesis has lately acquired Season Seven of Little House on the Prairie, and the two of them are currently eye-deep in the amber waves of schmaltz.

We all watched this show as kids. Some of my fondest preteen memories involve the weekly episode, a big bowl of popcorn, and permission to stay up to 9pm, to watch TV in my parents’ queen-sized bed, oh, bliss!
Then, after awhile you would start noticing that life on the prairie was possibly getting kinda sucky… but that was OK, it was historical and stuff. Then, you’d catch yourself keeping a running tally of Rotten Things That Somehow Kept Happening to Mary… but you’d still be able to convince yourself that Grace wasn’t really using her baby to beat out the window during the fire at the blind school. Barely. This is the strange power that Michael Landon held over TV viewers, and it is awfully hard to explain to the young’uns today.

"A frontier dude with a perm?" they snort. "Striding around his prairie Hell, sobbing like a Robert Bly wet dream?" You do not hear the rest, because they are too busy racing to TWoP to record their delight. You are frankly kinda glad to be rid of the little whippersnippers.

But there finally came the ep where Albert’s teenage girlfriend got raped by the guy in the clown mask, and you were faced with one of those defining road-forks of childhood: to continue believing that the prairie dude with the perm had all the answers — in which case you were rewarded with an ep in which he literally called down fire from heaven to heal his dying son on a mountain altar — or to have your sentimentality circuits shorted permanently. Picking interestedly at the scar optional, but funny.

That I am not even allowed in there now, watching a couple more sniffly orphans see their parents killed in yet another wagon wreck, should be a pretty good indication of which camp I ended up in.

Still… occasional apparent psychotic breaks aside, there remains something endearing about the Landon mythos. Even the most fraught eps were wholesome, in that they were so completely innocent of any desire to hurt. I don’t think there’s ever been a media figure so totally unable to tell where drama ended and camp began; the sheer sincerity of it all loops back around on itself, meets the man’s undeniable charisma, and becomes something almost hypnotically entertaining.

Frankly, I enjoyed this iteration of the Seventies Sensitive Male a whole lot more than Alan Alda’s brittle, knowing version. Both were almost hysterically out of place, both operated off a deeply flawed sense of mission, both evolved series so inner-directed that they resembled therapy sessions… but Landon’s was about the flaws, and Alda’s the fastidious shame of having them. Obviously (one series lasted nine years, the other eleven) both models resonated with large segments of the public; I guess it’s another of those polarizing things.

…When I figure out what it all means, I’ll let you know.

Bob & Ray linkage of the week

Getting this out of my system early this week, as I’ve got other stuff to worry about (as in, Oh God I Just Posted All The Fiction Now What?!)

Anyhow, this isn’t so much new! and exciting! as housekeeping – I’ve had these YouTube clips on Favourite for ages, but somehow’ve never gotten around to linking them here. Which is odd, because they really do deserve it. Besides showcasing B&R at their most personable, it’s also a fun little window into the David Letterman phenomenon circa… I’m not sure, really, except it must be the very early stages. There’s some background whooping and hollering that suggests Chris Elliott has been newly installed under the seats.

Part One involves intros and a typically unique take on shilling the latest project (the flick in question is Author, Author!, and yes, it’s a comedy):

Part Two showcases a couple of skits from their prime (you can tell, because the second opens with a decidedly, albeit good-naturedly, un-PC flourish):

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