Tag Archives: how its made

Sleepless Cinema


What do you watch when you’re up all night?  There’s the obvious choices, infomercials for steam mops, the bullet, various ab fixers, old lady bras, the bowflex and that thing that electrocutes your muscles, as sold by a micro Chinese man.  We also have terrible made for tv movies with actors you sort of recognize, and the plots are always the same, someone has an affair and then someone gets killed/kidnapped/taken hostage etc.

So if you could choose the best things to watch when you have insomnia, what would they be?  I thought I would share with everyone my personal favourites.

1. Alaska State Troopers

Alaska State Troopers is a newer offering from the National Geographic channel.  The show follows troopers in the most desolate place on earth, Alaska, where it is frequently 40-50 below outside, a huge portion of the population are alcoholic and drug addicted and the suicide rate is 5 times the national average.  Is it terribly depressing? Absolutely.  Why would you watch in the middle of the night?  Maybe the cold isolation seems like a familiar mental landscape at 4 am.  Whatever it is, it’s addicting.

Aw man, we’ll never get those doritos tacos up here…this sucks









2. Glass blowing

When I was a kid, KCTS9 used to have these little blurbs in-between programs that would show people handcrafting objects.  I was always mesmerized by the glass blowing segments.  I remember saying to my dad, they should just sell DVD’s of glass blowing for people who can’t sleep.  Fast forward to now and we have the internet!  You can watch glass blowing to your hearts content!

Always have a friend help you blow










3. Underwater documentaries (preferably narrated by someone with an accent )

Again, the theme of peaceful isolation plays into this.  The best of these documentaries come from the BBC earth and life series.

and whatever this is…










4. Boobahs

The first time I saw Boobahs, I had to call my brother over to ask him if I was really seeing what I was seeing.  It was explained to me later that the boobahs are supposed to be atoms, rainbow coloured atoms with blinking eyebrows.  The bastard child of teletubbies and the people of whoville, boobahs was probably more enjoyed by people on ectasy than any actual children.  From the complete absence of any human speech to the psychedelic visuals and noises, boobahs is the equivalent of having your brain taken out of your skull and used in a Lisa Frank illustration.

Cerebellum, is that you?  You look different…












5. The liquidation channel

There are many shopping channels but none hold a candle to the liquidation channel.  Formerly known as the jewelry channel, the “LC ” as the cool kids call it, is a company out of texas known for their various “smackdowns” (diamond smackdown, tanzanite smackdown etc) bizarre made up sounding gems, the pitching of stainless steel as “designer”, for only using one host at a time, (and having that host talk basically to him/herself for hours) and just downright hilariously bad salepitches (using the cm and inches side of their ruler to be “canadian friendly”).  my favourite host is a mystery host, he is not listed on the host page or anywhere else, but he is still on the air. The mystery host has a french name and the calming aura of my pastor crossed with Mr. Rogers.  He often tries the women’s jewelry on to model it (on his perfectly manicured hands).  The highlight of the “LC” is their “creature couture”, massive crystal encrusted animals, usually made into bracelets.  The items for sale in creature couture look like murder weapons, and indeed, I hope that’s all they’re used for.

No Grandma I love it, really.  I’ll treasure it forever…












6. How it’s made

I remember being enchanted by the comforting repetition of Mr. Roger’s trip to the doughnut factory, the lines of pastries, the giant oven; my OCD fell in love.  How it’s made goes to the same place in my heart, a welcome trip to the neat and tidy step by step creation of some benign thing.  Highly recommended for the middle of the night

I would avoid the hot dog and bacon episodes though…









7. Microcosmos

I add Microcosmos as an honourable mention since I know not everyone enjoys the insect kingdom as I do.  But, even if you don’t, give Microcosmos a try.  Microcosmos has the viewer live one day in a small section of a french field.  Filmed over a period of years using ground breaking technology and with a lovely soundtrack, Microcosmos won many awards and causes you to take a second look at your creepy crawly friends.