Ruminations on the cutting of slack

Wednesday, 14 July 2004 — 8:43pm | Journalism, Studentpolitik

It is quite curious how the phrase, “to cut one some slack” is idiomatically representative of an increase in leniency, whereas a literal reading of the verb “to cut” – as in budget cuts, tax cuts and haircuts – is a directive to reduce.

So when you tell yourself and your entire readership, including the folks who can’t seem to spell “Canadian” and that one mysterious fellow from Parliament Hill, that you have all of two weeks to muse about Spider-Man 2 and deliver a really snappy treatise on what it says about madness of both science and love, this is what happens: you cut yourself some slack, and in both ways. “Next post,” he promises, “next post.” So the writer is presented with a choice, to either deliver on the promise an unspecified number of days later and in doing so leave an unsatisfied audience drifting away at intermission, or break the promise to let everyone know that he is alive and well (but also one heck of a slacker); and as he is not Spider-Man, either Mary-Jane or the little kids in the gondola car must plunge to the depths of the sea of forgotten ideas, and this tragic dilemma cannot be solved to the satisfaction of all.

If everyone in the world made the same decision and had the same philosophy – to say “I’ll do it later, but at least I’m doing something – nothing would ever get done. Fortunately, that is not quite the case.

Actually, yes it is.

For instance, De-Lovely, the musical bio-pic starring Kevin Kline as Cole Porter, hit North American arthouse screens as early as 2 July and expanded a bit each week. It has, however, failed to reach the city of Calgary. As a matter of fact, there is no sign of this movie even opening in Calgary anytime in the near future; the occasional promotional spot appears on a stateside television channel, and that has been the extent of De-Lovely‘s presence thus far. This is perhaps a sign of the distributors thinking that with all the Stampeding going on around here, everybody’s going to be off at the chucks anyway, so no use releasing a movie that appeals to the same crowd. After all, the Cole Porter aficionados who have Kiss Me, Kate down by heart and the beer-faced hooligans gambling their fortunes on the Sutherlands and Bensmillers and other cylindrical-canopy cowboys are one and the same, are they not? Or maybe it’s just me.

Another case in point: the official release date of Tales of Symphonia was yesterday, 13 July. As of the end of today, not a single video game retailer in Calgary had a copy available. Someone tell the boys at whoever distributes for Namco around here that one should never go blindly assuming that unlike, say, DVDs, nobody’s crazy enough to track video game release dates and try to snag a copy the first day it hits shelves. One would think that the first traditional epic fantasy role-playing title for the Nintendo GameCube, especially one that has received such favourable reviews, would deserve a little more respect.

Speaking of delays, here is an interesting piece of news that has not been mentioned anywhere despite its floating around since late June: according to these minutes from a meeting of the Students’ Union Executive Committee, Rob Anderson of The Independent put in a request for $15,000 in SU sponsorship in order to continue their operations next year.

You know, for a moment I thought they would clean up their act by the time they release their second issue so it would be wholly unnecessary for me to make fun of them again, but to paraphrase what Kevin Massie said about the Singapore Institute of Management in their Worlds quarter-final, “they keep saying such silly things.” We are talking about a student paper that prides itself on being objective and eponymously independent in all the ways that the real McCoy purportedly is not. So why is it actively trying to tie itself to as many organizations as it possibly can?

Never mind that, far from being an independent journalism society with its own Board of Directors and all that jazz, The Independent is a branch operation of a politically-oriented student group. You already have a dose of eyebrow-raising upon realizing that Editor-in-Chief Weston Rudd is the Edmonton Region President of the Alberta Alliance Party. Now it looks as though the guys slapping it together realized that having an ad-free first issue is screwing them over, particularly because nobody is falling for the ruse of paying twenty bucks a year to “receive all SFASA publications and copies of The Independent when you can pick them up for free. Looks like “independence” comes with a price, and there is no escaping SU advertising.

If the very title of this publication is some kind of uproariously clever dose of satirical irony, by all means, point it out; after all, this here writer is not really an English major. It should be noted that the Executive is taking the right approach: see a few issues, let the paper float on its own, then cash in once it changes out of its dirty clothes, if ever. To oversimplify, SU money is student money, and is not something to needlessly fork out to this latest paper-bag princess.

As for Spider-Man 2: Next post, next post. On a tangential linguistic note, did I mention how much I love the CBC?

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