Despite my gripes about Montreal’s increasingly-jittery infrastructure I should tell you that I like the city quite a bit. I wandered around last night in the Quartier Latin, skipping out on the apparently B-for-Beowulf to lope about the streets in a manner that would appear random, to those not seasoned veterans of what is sometimes called “tradecraft”. The untrained eye would see only a tourist puttering around looking for something to do. But therein, of course, lies the ruse.
I wandered into the Cinematheque near the corner of Maisonneuve and St. Denis, and they had a great exhibit of several generations of antique televisions and animation techniques, which was pretty cool. Around the corner, I got to spend some time actually watching some classic animation, short films and old newsreels at the National Film Board’s Cinerobotheque, which translates roughly to “Automated Movie Gallery”, but that I’ll be the very first to admit that I investigated for other reasons.
The Cinerobotheque is a fantastic idea – it’s a bunch of chairs with decent sound systems built-in, and a collection of classic movies, old newsreels and modern, NFB-sponsored stuff that you can come in and watch on a pay-per-view, on-your-own-time schedule. There was a lot of great stuff in there, and even just looking over the best-of, we-recommend booklets that the staff have compiled made choosing what to watch difficult. And it’s in a neighborhood full of little restaurants and bistros, making it basically a flexible, highly personalizable way to go out for dinner and a movie.
One neat thing that gave me a very pleasant bout of the nerd-frisson was that since it takes a minute for the robot to pull and load up archived tape, instead of having you just sit there watching an hourglass while that happens, they’ve got a camera next to the robot, so you can watch it work.
Anyhow, how I’m back at the hotel, and giving thanks and praise for the internet connection here, because TV continues to be terrible. Has CSI always been this relentlessly, painfully expository? Is this what science looks like to your slower-moving remedial-fine-arts majors? I just keep cringing; winning quotes this evening include “nickel would indicate some kind of metal”, “what’s a webcam” and an expository bit about how with “wifi”: you can “surf the net using radio waves”. Verbatim quotes all.
(Honestly. The wifi bit featured an executive busting into a crime scene claiming to be “in charge of all the computers in the building”, only to follow that line up with “A wifi card? What’s that?” Sir, your shipment of fail has arrived.)
I’ve got it as even money that somebody had a good chortle in that meeting, saying that even though they’d dumbed it down that far, there would still be some yokel somewhere saying “Wow, you can get the internets on the radio now?”. Nobody really laughs, the comment hangs in the air, the moment starts to drag, and a few people in the room die just a little bit more.