Columns & Series 37 results

A reporter on the run

The Sick Days: Part 20 - Into the Frying Pan When I was a young reporter, there were no “self-help” books about how to manage your workload, ask for support from your employer, or even disclose an illness. By Shelley Page I’d like to torque my personal narrative and claim that I left my ‘dream job’ because I’d had an epiphany: journalism would never be a cure for lupus. Except, I wasn’t that clever. These days, there are many books written for the chronically ill about how to scale back your dreams and still find career success: Despite Lupus, written by a former NBC producer who quit her job to control the constant flares of her illness, which eventually attacked her kidneys, arguably the most serious manifestation of lupus (a stage I didn’t yet have to worry about). The writer encouraged readers to work smart, or in bite-sized chunks, and sometimes not at all. Fabulupus (yes, that’s really the title), is filled with similar advice. When I was a ...

Wine Pairings for your Failed New Year’s Resolutions

Pop Culture Decoder Choosing the right wine to toast your success at failure!  

The joy of general assignment lost on next generation

Journal: The Sick Days, Part 19 The Death Knock is among one of the most unpleasant tasks in any newsroom, but the uncomfortable face-to-face with a grief-stricken relative has now been replaced by social media trolling and scalping Tweets By Shelley Page It’s called a “pick up” or a “death knock,” and it’s among the most unpleasant tasks a general assignment reporter on the city desk can draw. The most experienced of our breed can get a grieving mother to unchain her door, make a pot of tea, and unspool woeful stories of her lost love, usually urged on by an invitation to “set the record straight” about son Jimmy the Bank Robber or make sure Little Emily the Heroin Addict isn’t misremembered. The most tenacious of us leave the widow’s home with an entire photo album under our arm so there are no pictures left for media outlets late to the tea party. This is another one of those tasks that journalism school can’t prepare you for. So many years ago, ...

The Ultimate Christmas Music Playlist

Or, Learn to Love Christmas Music in Just 15 Songs By Misty Harris “I don’t care about a war on Christmas but I could totally get behind a war on Christmas music.” So said my friend Shauna Wright, a Someecards writer who’s brilliant and funny even when she is wrong. Christmas music, you see, is simply misunderstood. Like spotting a pit bull at an off-leash park, people recoil at its appearance thanks to years of media conditioning, and in doing so, are denied the chance to make a real emotional connection. DO NOT DENY YOURSELF LOVE, PEOPLE. There are countless reasons to love Christmas music – a genre I defend in this month’s Pop Culture Decoder. But for those who need extra help learning to love the much-maligned genre, I offer these 15 songs to kick-start the holiday reprogramming. The Christmas Song by Mindy Gledhill God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan O Come, O Come Emmanuel by The Piano Guys I ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Christmas Music

Christmas music is more maligned than soul patches; Misty Harris jumps to its defence By Misty Harris Every holiday season, the masses profess their hatred of Christmas music with a level of zeal normally reserved for discussions about politics, refugees, or Starbucks cup designs. As with hearing police sirens in a song on your car radio, the genre has a way of unsettling even the most mild-mannered of folks. I, however, am not one of the masses. Call me punk rock but I LOVE Christmas music – so much, in fact, that it’s virtually the only thing I listen to between mid-November and Boxing Day. Cut me and I’ll bleed tinsel. Why, you ask? Allow me to decode. * Happiness: Admittedly, most holiday tunes lack complexity in terms of lyrics, melody and variety of plant life. But like Hugh Hefner bedding women in their 20s, Christmas music isn’t there to impress so much as to belabour a point: Fa la la la la (la la la la)! Surrendering to its unshakable optimism ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Sexy Halloween

Why the media recycle the same damn story every October By Misty Harris Halloween is surely the most frustrating night of the year for actual hookers – and the riskiest one for men seeking their company. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention in the last two decades. And yet. Every October, it’s the same thing: newspapers, media sites and TV news stations all clamour to report on the sexualization of Halloween. While they aren’t necessarily wrong in identifying this phenomenon, it’s hardly news. At this point, “sexy Halloween” falls into the same class as Nicki Minaj’s butt: significant, but nothing we haven’t seen before.* So why does the media keep recycling the same story, year after year? Let’s decode. Low-hanging fruit: We all know that sex sells. And in reports on the tawdriness of Halloween, sexual imagery is practically a journalistic requirement! Not featuring photo evidence would be akin to reporting ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Mom Boobs

Laying bare the effects that parenthood can have on the pointer sisters By Misty Harris You know how after performing a lot of hard work, you exhale all remaining volume from your chest, slump over and just surrender to gravity? The same goes for breasts after having a child. My breasts, anyway. Like weary warriors retreating from battle, they have been deflated. First, there were the rigours of pregnancy, which saw the twins change size more times than Jonah Hill. Then there were nine months of breastfeeding a tiny human, who paid them roughly the same respect a cheetah does a gazelle. And, finally, there was the post-nursing weight fluctuation, which saw my lady lumps take on so many different appearances, they’ve been cast in the next Transformers movie. But because this is a column about decoding, specifics are needed. With that in mind, let’s abandon all propriety and break down the reasons that “mom boobs” are a thing.* Biology: Although breastfeeding ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Cosmetic Dermatology

Misty Harris suffers the horrors of Thermage so you don't have to By Misty Harris I always intended to grow old gracefully, like Audrey Hepburn or a chunk of parmesan cheese. Things did not go as planned. Around the time I turned 30, a collection of creases made camp on my face – the human equivalent of rings on a tree – and proceeded to mock my age every time I looked in a mirror. Now, I’ve never thought of myself as vain, but I also never thought I’d look between my eyebrows and see skin pleats that resembled a vagina. So there’s that. This is how, about four years ago, I wound up forking over nearly two weeks’ salary for Thermage – a cosmetic dermatology procedure that proved so traumatic, I’m only just now able to discuss it. My consultation went something like this: A physician identifying himself as Dr. Bob* (in the grand tradition of quackery, he omitted his last name) escorted me into his office and asked me to describe my “most urgent” ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Why Cilantro is the Devil

Cilantro has more enemies than Cersei Lannister; Misty Harris breaks down the reasons By Misty Harris There’s an old chestnut about never discussing politics, religion or money at the dinner table. To that list I would respectfully add cilantro, an herb more divisive than the finale of How I Met Your Mother.   I don’t pretend to be an unbiased journalist on this matter. My personal feeling about cilantro is that it’s the Donald Trump of herbs: too loud, always showing up in places you don’t want it, leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The flavour experience can best be described as an unholy marriage between Thrills gum and an old penny – both plucked from the mouth of a rotting corpse.   So before you continue reading today’s Decoder, please remember that it’s not nonpartisan; I’m coming at cilantro with the extreme prejudice of someone who has just bitten into an oatmeal-raisin cookie thinking that it was chocolate-chip. The struggle is ...

Pop Culture Decoder: Pregnancy

Misty Harris deciphers why society is obsessed with pregnant women By Misty Harris People love pregnancy news, which is perhaps why the tabloids are constantly making it up (a good rule is that even if “multiple sources” confirm a celebrity pregnancy, the story is not to be believed unless one of those sources is the woman’s pee stick). To observe this cultural obsession is to assume that having a baby is a kind of superpower – which, in a way, I suppose it is; pregnant women are like NFL players in their capacity to get away with almost anything.   As for why the intrigue prevails after all this time, well, that’s a question for this week’s Decoder. Let’s make like Amanda Bynes and jump into a breakdown:   Housing a human is badass: It’s impossible to overstate the awe factor of knowing that a living being is growing inside someone; just ask the producers of the Alien movies, who are probably still counting their money. Regardless of ...