The big story of the week in Canada was the departure, with its tail between its legs, of U.S. retail giant Target.
The purveyor of so-called ‘cheap chic’ clothing is a big hit in the U.S., but its venture into Canada was a disaster of New Coke proportions. Empty shelves, so-so prices, and the store’s unfortunate colour scheme had Canadians saying, ‘This is just Zellers without that weird Zellers smell’. I was entirely unimpressed by Target in my few ventures into the store. A co-worker told me of going into Target to buy some groceries, and finding a mouldy loaf of bread. When she told a Target employee about the bread, the employee actually said, ‘Not my department’. The thing I like most about this story is that it shows, once again, that Canada and the U.S. are not identical, and that you have to tailor your store for a different marketplace. So long, Target. No hard feelings.
A bit of Edmonton history went up on flames on Tuesday when the Roxy Theatre on 124th Street burned to the ground. In keeping with its role as a theatre, it went out in spectacular fashion. The Edmonton Journal, as always on top of the story, chose to run a generic picture of Jim Prentice on the front page of the next day’s paper.
A University of Calgary study released this week claims that common receipts found in any store contain trace amounts (as in almost non-existent) of bisphenol A, which can alter brain development and behaviour in animals, specifically something called a zebrafish. Since zebrafish are not known as big shoppers, there’s no cause for concern, right? But BPA is believed to cause “neurodevelopment” problems in unborn babies. So, through the magical properties of scientific studies, the report concludes that pregnant women should not handle receipts from stores. It’s just a matter of time now before pregnant women only go shopping while wearing hazmat suits.
There was a possible ammonia leak on the International Space Station that briefly caused the Americans to vacate their premises and bunk with the Russians. It proved to be a false alarm when one of the Americans admitted the ammonia leak might just have been due to the previous night’s bean burrito dinner. That’s a joke, by the way.
If Fox News didn’t exist, The Daily Show might not either, since the ‘fair and balanced’ U.S. ‘news’ network provides Jon Stewart with about 75 per cent of the shows comedic content. On Sunday, Jan. 11, Fox might have won the race to the bottom, when it aired an interview with Steve Emerson, a self-proclaimed “leading authority on Islamic extremist networks”. During the interview, Emerson (who was not challenged by the apparently shocked and/or clueless interviewer) said the city of Birmingham, England, is so completely Muslim that it is a “no-go zone” for Christians, Jews and Hindus.
“There are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in,” he said. Emerson said Birmingham is one of the European cities “where Sharia courts were set up, where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don’t go in, and where it’s basically a separate country almost, a country within a country.”
Oh, and there’s more.
“Parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire,” he said. None of this is even remotely true, of course, and the “expert” apologized profusely for his comments.
The Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday, with the usual analysis of who was snubbed, with the actor who played Martin Luther King in ‘Selma’ apparently the most seriously snubbed. There are two other surprises. The Lego Movie, a smash hit and a critical fave, didn’t get a nomination for animated feature. Also of interest is a snub that may even be an extended middle finger. ‘Life Itself’ was probably the most acclaimed documentary of the year, a moving portrait of the late, beloved movie reviewer Roger Ebert and his courageous last few years. Ebert, however, was a harsh critic of the people who choose documentary nominees. Could it be that the snub of Life Itself was a little posthumous ‘screw you’ to Ebert?
The week ended with another reminder of how a routine day in the life of a cop can turn inexplicably tragic when two Mounties were gunned down in safe, sane St. Albert. I miss the days when Canadians could brag that cops here never got shot.
RIP this week: Don Harron, a Canadian actor and playwright, died at 90. Those of you of a certain age — like me, kinda old — may remember Harron for his character Charlie Farquharson, a scruffy farmer with a sharp wit. You can see a report on Harron here.
Songwriter Ervin Drake died this week. You may not know the name (OK, I’m sure you don’t know the name), but chances are you know his most famous song, Frank Sinatra’s epic It Was A Very Good Year. You can watch Ol’ Blue Eyes record the song — in my top 10 of greatest pop songs of all time — in this clip from a CBS special.