When “Fuck” Actually Meant Something

November 13, 2019

It is hard to imagine that hearing the word “fuck” used in a casual conversation would shock many people these days. We hear it so much — on TV, in films, on the bus, in the playground — that is has become little more than an annoyance of constant repetition.   However there was a time, in my remembrance, when the word carried real freight.

Fifty-four years ago today, on 13 November 1965, I was part of the audience for a BBC late-night satirical show called BBC-3. On the show was the renowned theatre critic and public intellectual Kenneth Tynan. In an answer to a question about sex in plays, he said: “I doubt if there are any rational people to whom the word ‘fuck’ would be particularly diabolical, revolting or totally forbidden.”

This was quickly recognized as the first deliberate use of the word on the BBC and the event became a weekend sensation for the more lurid media.  In 1988, Paul Johnson called the moment, Tynans’s “masterpiece of calculated self-publicity.”

Times have changed.

Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

November 10, 2019

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Sesame Street – a program that changed an entire genre of entertainment. It came along too late for me (although getting really stoned and watching the colourful characters bounce around had its moments) but my kids sure loved it and were taught by it.

One of the reasons it worked so well was also a source of controversy.  The show was originally banned for screening on the PBS station in Mississippi because of its “highly [racially] integrated cast of children” which “the [local] commission members felt … Mississippi was not yet ready for.”

It is a wonder these days that a TV show so acutely focused on the good and happy side of life could survive fifty years in the marketplace.

CNN has a good gallery of early Sesame Street photographs.


Garth Mullins: Best In Vancouver

October 4, 2019

The Drive’s own Garth Mullins and his team’s podcast Crackdown has been named the “best radio to come out of the trenches of the DTES” in Georgia Strait‘s Best of Vancouver issue.

They cover the drug crisis in our City:

“For us it’s a war. And it needs to be covered like a war—by war correspondents. That’s us,”

They won a silver award at the prestigious New York Festivals Radio Awards but “we couldn’t go collect it in person at the awards gala because some of us can’t cross the border,” Mullins noted. That situation, too, is part of the war.

Well done to Garth and his folks!

Mass Killings In the US

August 5, 2019

After the two latest mass killings in the States this weekend, President Trump declared that a primary cause of these killings was that kids play too many violent video games.

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace,” Trump said in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. “It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately.”

One simple chart proves him wrong, as usual:

Of course, this Administration never likes to have facts get in the way of a good campaign speech.

Thanks to Vox for this.

R.I.P. Barrington Pheloung

August 3, 2019

Barrington Pheloung, one of the most innovative and interesting music composers on TV, has died.

Famous for his theme to the Morse TV series, he also contributed the incidental music for the series, including in his work complex clues to the drama being shown.

“The classical-inspired melancholy score earned the musician global acclaim and a Bafta Award nomination for best original music. Pheloung said the success was down to the show’s unconventional two-hour time slot, which allowed him to write more intricate musical cues.”

He also composed the main themes for both the sequel (Lewis) and prequel (Endeavour) series.


A Screen By Any Other Name …

June 11, 2019

We are, apparently, at the very cusp  of history where the use of mobile screens by US adults exceeds the use of TV screens.

“We’ve expected that mobile would overtake TV for a while, but seeing it happen is still surprising,” said Yoram Wurmser, eMarketer principal analyst. “As recently as 2014, the average US adult watched nearly 2 hours more TV than they spent on their phones.”  What are people spending time on their devices doing? They’re consistently spending the bulk of their time using apps over web browsers, with the average person spending 2:57 in apps vs. 0:26 on a mobile browser. Within apps, people spent the most time listening to digital audio, followed by social network activity. “Digital audio apps continue to add minutes because people are streaming more music on their phones, and podcasts have taken off in popularity in the past few years,” Wurmser said.

The movies begat television, and television begat YouTube, Fortnite and music streaming on smart phones.  What happens next?

R.I.P. Doris Day

May 13, 2019

Doris Day, one of the last survivors of Hollywood’s Golden Age, has died aged 97.


When stars were stars, she shined.