In September 2005 I was getting my freelance journalism career up and running. I was freelance by necessity, not choice. I wanted to stay in Halifax and there weren’t many full time gigs. Well, none that I’d landed. I interviewed at a few places, including a local commercial radio news station.
I’d studied at the University of Kings College the year before. Radio was one of my workshops. I’d done pretty well and was volunteering at CKDU, Dalhouse University community radio.
I figured I had a pretty good shot at being an on-air reporter at this commercial station starting up. I was interviewed by three guys in suits in a large boardroom. At least two of them were from Toronto.
They asked me if I was a hungry investigative reporter type, willing to be at the scene of car accidents in midwinter and outside the courthouse when the accused killer was being transferred to the hoosegow.
I said, “No, not really.”
They seemed surprised by my answer. Every applicant before me and a few after answered in the affirmative, you can bet.
I knew this wasn’t going my way. With nothing to lose I pitched them on the idea of a show where the hosts talked about movies. One of them said, “How would that work? It wouldn’t be very interesting since radio isn’t a visual medium.”
That’s when I understood the hopelessness of my cause. Imagine someone actually saying that, someone in a position to hire for radio. If radio isn’t a visual medium, why are their shows on it about divorce, history, hockey, music, art and books, none of which you can actually see when listening to it? I didn’t have the time to explain abstract concepts to these goons.
So, I went back to my freelance PRINT career and saved radio for fun.
Between September 2005 and September 2009 I hosted The Love & Hate Movie Show on CKDU 88.1 FM in Halifax. Every Sunday morning at 11am I would be on the air for an hour talking about the movies I’d recently seen in cinemas and on DVD and playing a bit of music, too. I invited my cinepanions—a word invented to best describe those who joined me in the cinema—to dish on the air about the experience of seeing movies. Regulars were Hillary Titley, Jen Bond and Ashley Pinsent-Tobin. Also joining me was Dave Howlett, Tara Thorne, Mark Palermo, Stephen Cooke, Stephanie Domet and a number of other notable local culture junkies. I had a blast. But, eventually, I called it a day. I wanted my Sunday mornings back.
Now it’s a year later, and I miss the conversations. I miss having a venue in which to talk about film, culture, what have you. I miss having films living in my mind for days after the screenings, sharing those thoughts with people.
So, here’s Flaw In The Iris. I’m going to invite Hillary Titley, a freelance writer and a film critic for The Coast newspaper in Halifax, to join me. Also, I’ve asked Jen Bond, a former Haligonian, now a resident of our nations capital, to also contribute. And maybe I’ll extend the invitation to other former co-hosts and cinepanions.
I hope you’ll check back regularly for our rambling reviews and random ruminations. And I’m in the midst of editing four years of reviews from The Love & Hate Movie Show to post somewhere in here, too.
Oh, and the name of the thing? I played with the idea of referencing characters from the excellent films The Third Man and Withnail and I. In the end I decided to steal a line from one of my favourite movies: Chinatown. JJ Gittes notices that Evelyn Mulwray has a discoloration in one of her eyes. As she puts it, “a flaw in the iris.”
Flaws and skewed vision abound in that film: broken glasses, broken taillights, a bullet through the eye. The imperfection and subjectivity of art, of our own perspective on film, it’ll all get thrown into the pot here.