Reality Radio: when Canada beats the sh*t out of Jersey Shore

Disclaimer: this post is not about the TV show “Jersey Shore”. I haven’t even seen it, and trusted sources have led me to believe that I should best keep it that way. Also, I’m pretty sure Canada had nothing to do with sending hurricane Sandy on a rampage on the Jersey shore.


Sometimes life just isn’t easy. You’ll be faced with hardships coming out of nowhere, battering you left and right, leaving you with no sense of direction.

This happened to me recently. Was it the lost job ? The resumes sent out without any answer ? The interviews come and gone with no end in sight ? No, of course not. I’m talking of course about the NHL lockout.

It’s difficult enough for an expatriated Canadian to get his fix of Canadiana in normal circumstances, but with October come and gone and no sign of NHL hockey on the horizon, things are getting rough. So, deprived of my fall fix of flying pucks and fisticuffs, I turned to that other great Canadian icon: the CBC.

I turned to the CBC podcasts on a whim, remembering those long evenings sitting by the fireplace, sipping hot chocolate with my aunt and cousin and listening to the hour-long documentaries about far-off places of the world, or chuckling to the Royal Canadian Air Farce. What, you thought the R.C.A.F. had something to do with flying jets ? Of course not, it’s Canada. As someone said (on the CBC), Canada is like the Swiss Army – without a knife.

But I digress. I stumbled upon a terrific piece of radio called “Canada Reads”. It is, in its purest form, nothing more than reality radio. Yep, that grandest of concepts, when applied to the medium of television, that has given the world blurry black-and-white footage of people having sex under the covers in an attempt not to be voted off of Big Brother, and whatever they do on Jersey Shore (like I said, I’ve never seen it; now you know where the phrase “ignorance is bliss” comes from).

Reality radio according to the CBC, however, is a different beast. You see, “Canada Reads” is a reality show about books. Five books, short-listed to appear on the show, duke it out for the privilege of becoming this year’s “book that all Canadians should read”.

I think the original concept actually was to let the books fight amongst themselves until they fell to the ground, flat on their covers, whereupon linesmen would jump in and intervene. Apparently that didn’t provide the anticipated thrill, however, perhaps due to the fact that the books were all inanimate objects, and therefore sorely lacking in the fisticuffs department.

So the way it works is that five Canadian celebrities each defend one of the books, and at the end of each show, after much debate and many hilarious comments, one book is voted off the show. Until, at the end of the fourth and final show, only one book remains, voted Canada’s must-read book for 2012. So you see, it really is reality radio. Who knew this concept could be turned into something thoroughly entertaining, and yet culturally uplifting.

There are many times when I was laughing out loud, but the debate was not only funny, it was also thought-provoking, broaching some very serious subjects, and I can tell you one thing: I want to read all of those five books, because they all seem brilliant. In case you’re wondering, here are the finalists. Now go read the books.


So that’s how I satisfied my craving for a fix of home: if you’re Canadian, then chances are the CBC will provide that for you. But what about you, expats and travellers of WordPress ? How do you cope, when you get that urge for a fix of home ? The Internet, in its many wise ways, provides much to choose from, so how do you do it ?


8 thoughts on “Reality Radio: when Canada beats the sh*t out of Jersey Shore

  1. Hi, just stumbled in and thought I snoop around a little 🙂 Love the way you write – writer or not!
    Being an expat myself your question of how I get my fix if the urge for home hits, made me think. And yet again I feel like hanging my head in shame. For some reason I do not miss my home country, nor the one I just left. Makes me feel like a weirdo, reading about so many other people who love their new place but still miss home.
    But I have one thing I do that sort of reminds me of home. Nutella. And ‘brown cheese’ for my previous chosen home. 😆

    • You’re more than welcome to snoop around, be my guest ! 🙂

      I don’t think you should feel shame for not missing your home country – I’d say it shows that you are able to look forward, not back.

      Now, I’ve got to say, Nutella always has my vote as well ! But you know the strangest thing ? During my stay in Canada last year, I bought some Nutella thinking I’d get a taste of that marvellous almondy-chocolatey paste, but… it tasted different ! I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found that Nutella in Canada tasted much too sweet compared to what I expected.

      I’m sure you can understand my distress ! 😉 (thankfully I’ve since returned to France and enjoy the real deal every morning…)

      • Totally understand! What a monumental crisis 😆 Thank dog I never experienced this with Nutella. My whole world view would be destroyed. But I had this with something that I won’t even attempt to translate: Kinderriegel. In Norway they taste very different. And it took about 10 years before I got used to that fact. No clue what production line it is and why they changed it. I think the difference is that in Germany they use darker chocolate on the outside, whereas in NOR it is more like milk chocolate. Which in turn makes them way sweeter then the original. Yuk!

      • Okay, I just had to look that up – from what Google tells me, I think I know this as “Kinder Bueno” 🙂

        Although somehow I don’t think I’ve ever tasted those – it’s just that their commercials have become something of a practical joke among my friends !

      • I stand corrected. Just a terrible rookie mistake, I couldn’t even see the difference at first ! (I know, I know, I am ashamed ;))

        I didn’t even know that Kinder was made by Ferrero. They really have all the good stuff, don’t they ?

        And now I think I’ll have to taste this “Kinder chocolat” at some point, you’ve made me curious 🙂

  2. Darn you. You’re going to drag me back into this electronic quagmire, aren’t you.

    I love this idea for a reality show. Hopefully they avoid that pitfall of the talking heads on tv who get so caught up in making their own arguments that everyone is talking at the same time and you can’t make out what anyone is saying (yelling).

    And just because we’re on this synchronicity kick, (I haven’t clicked the link to the list of books yet — it’ll be cool if this one is on there), the email in my box last night, just before your post email, started off with the exact same phrase: “It’s been awhile.” It was a newsletter update from Ottmar Liebert’s website.

    I checked out what’s new there since the last time I visited and he had a list of books he’s been reading, one of which I almost ordered on the spot — despite the fact that I’m behind on my own piles of books — because he wrote that he couldn’t put it down. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, which apparently makes the case for old-school books versus technology.

    Oh, and this: of flying pucks and fisticuffs I heard Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” when I read that and I have to give your post five stars for using “fisticuffs” twice. I like that word.

    • Oh no, not another book to read ! 😉

      I actually hesitated because I noticed that I was repeating “fisticuffs”, but in the end it was just too hard to resist.

If you don't tell me what you're thinking, our world will end. We'll blame the Mayans, though.

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