The Greatest Canadian... Blog -- Part III

Greatest Canadian... Blog?

Round one voting is finished on the 2006 Canadian Blog Awards and the wheat has officially been separated from the chaff. The results are posted here and there are some considerable surprises, here, especially in the Best Blog category.

I think that’s great. I was up for Best Blog and Best Blog Post, but I was pretty soundly trounced (I received 15 votes for Best Blog, while the front runner received 317), but I am still in contention for Best Entertainment Blog (me, an entertainment blog? Who’d a thunk it?) and Best Blog Post Series (this is a repeat of last year, interestingly).

Anyway, as voting begins on round two, I thought I would consider the five contenders for each category and give my pick of who should win — disqualifying myself, of course, for the purposes of this review, although I’d be more than happy to win in these categories this time around.

Without further ado:

Best Blog

Contenders: Raymi the Minx, Debaucherous and Dishevelled, oRadio, Smart Canucks, Milkmoney or Not, Here I Come.

Wow, what an upset. Of all of the blogs on this list, only Smart Canucks is known to me. No Calgary Grit, no Pogge and no Small Dead Animals. So, I really have to shake Robert McLelland’s hand, here, for growing his Blog Awards into something that has broken the political firewall and reached out to the wider Canadian blogosphere. I’ll have to check all of these blogs and see if I’ll be adding them to my daily reads.

Who Should Win: Unknown.

Raymi the Minx had a substantial lead on the other four challengers in round one voting, but that doesn’t mean anything for round two. Clicking on the link brings me to a Blogspot blog with a simple layout, but an interesting colour scheme, a nicely drawn banner, and some interesting photographs. This is a hip looking blog and an interesting window into the life of an interesting urban dweller. My main complaint is that her blog takes too long to load up fully, although the design compensates by delivering the meaty content first and allowing the peripherals to come up later. (Be warned that the link is not safe for work. Raymi has since posted semi-nude pictures of herself which, while artfully posed, still strikes me as a bit of a shameless ploy.)

As I said, Smart Canucks is the only one of the five contenders that I know, as he is a member of the Blogging Alliance of Non-Partisan Canadians. His blog is an odd duck — a blog of consumer specials offered by Canadian stores that has managed to poke itself into the political blogosphere. It is also expanding its repertoire to talk about new television shows and comments on brand logos. I may vote for these guys because of the BANPC connection, although I’ll have to see if my interest in any of the competitors grows.

(Update: 14:31): Debaucherous an Dishevelled is growing on me, and he has a cute kid.

Surprise Exclusion: Small Dead Animals, I guess; though Kate and I see eye to eye rather infrequently, she’s usually on the top of these things, if the political blogosphere is significantly involved. As I said, the lack of any political blogs in the top five is a great surprise, but a pleasant one.

Best Conservative Blog

Contenders: Small Dead Animals, The Prairie Wranglers, Stephen Taylor, The Canadian Sentinel, Bound by Gravity.

Now this is a more traditional lineup of political blogs, which is appropriate given the political category. No surprise to see Small Dead Animals on top, and it is good to see Stephen Taylor getting the recognition he deserves for setting up the Blogging Tories. It’s the Prairie Wranglers that makes the most impressive debut, however — a possible contender for the Best New Blog, I think.

Who Should Win: Tossup between Bound by Gravity and The Prairie Wranglers

This is a fight between a veteran blogger who has maintained a steady diet of incisive and interesting commentary that dances to the beat of its own drum, but which has slowed down of late, against a feisty newcomer who also tows his own line rather than that of his party. If the two blogs were to merge, they’d be an unstoppable force of sensible conservative commentary, and lord knows we need more of that.

Surprise Exclusion: Political Staples. Greg Staples deserves recognition for his fast paced blog which derives a wide range of commentary from his readers, and for the work he has done putting together the Bloggers Hotstove podcast.

I’m also disappointed that Ianism didn’t make it. I nominated him because he deserves to be nominated for… something, and there aren’t convenient categories for libertarian blogs to compete in. Best Conservative Blog was the closest I could come up with, only because of the uneasy alliance that traditionally exists between libertarians and social conservatives. It’s for this reason I suggested that the Best Conservative and Best Progressive categories be supplemented with best blogroll alliance categories, although I think that would make the list of categories too long.

Best Progressive Blog

Contenders: Calgary Grit, Matthew Good, Peace, Order and Good Government, Eh, The Next Agenda, Abandoned Stuff by Saskboy

Now this is another traditional lineup. Last year, Calgary Grit and Pogge would have been duking it out with three Best Conservative Blog contenders for Best Blog. Newcomers The Next Agenda and Abandoned Stuff by Saskboy make impressive debuts here.

Who Should Win: Calgary Grit.

Bart Ransom is running the best political blog in the Canadian blogosphere, plain and simple. Although a card-carrying Liberal, he is not beholden to partisan politics, and he gives incisive analysis of the political situation in this country that is better than anything offered by the mainstream media.

Surprise Exclusion: Idealistic Pragmatist, who runs the best NDP blog and has informative posts debunking the myths of proportional representation, should have been in the top five. Also, Jason Cherniak deserves recognition for the hard work he has done putting the Liblogs together and turning them into a force to rival the Blogging Tories

Best New Blog

Contenders: Meg Fowler, oRadio, Harper-valley, Gay Persons of Color, The Next Agenda.

Who Should Win: Unknown. I have less time to surf new blogs these days, and since the number of blogs continues to grow exponentially, my knowledge of these contenders is unfortunately limited. oRadio impresses me the most with its design, but I need to read more of it to get a feel of how good it is, and if it should become a daily read.

Surprise Exclusion: Montreal Simon. This deeply personal blog is often angry, sometimes disturbing, but always deeply personal. This post, which should be in contention for Best Blog Post, is heartrending, and the window on his world is compelling viewing, even though you end up fearing for the guy.

Best Group Blog

Contenders: oRadio, Peace, Order and Good Government, Eh, The Stromboulopouli, the Galloping Beaver, Stageleft: Life on the left side.

This is an interesting mix of political blogs and cultural blogs, and another sign that the Canadian Blog Awards have grown beyond the political blogosphere.

Who Should Win: Stageleft: Life on the left side.

All five contenders would be worthy of winning, but I voted for Stageleft because of its quality commentary and its fast pace of posting. Pogge deserves a nod because of his long contributions to the blogosphere, but Stageleft simply outpaces it.

Surprise Exclusion: None.

Best Humour Blog

Contenders: Rick Mercer’ Blog, Raymi the Minx, Harper-valley, the Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, the Frog Lady

Who Should Win: Rick Mercer’ Blog

Comedy is notoriously subjective, but Rick Mercer is the only professional on this list and he carries his trademark style to his blog. You either like him or you don’t, and if you don’t, you won’t like his blog. I do, and I like his blog.

Surprise Exclusion: Brett Lamb’s Blamblog is far too eclectic to be called just a humour blog, but he deserves recognition, and this category seems the most comfortable fit. He writes, he draws, he tells fascinating stories, and he gives interesting commentary on local politics.

Best Photo/Art Blog

Contenders: Photo-persistence, Parvum Opus, Photojunkie, Walk This Way, Daily Dose of Imagery

Daily Dose of Imagery walked away during round two of the 2005 awards in the most lopsided victory of the whole contest, but this time it looks like the Dose has a fight on its hands. The venerable Photojunkie would probably be pleased at the new faces in the photography blogosphere that he helped foster.

Who Should Win: Photojunkie

Either him or Daily Dose of Imagery, but I give Photojunkie the edge because of his many contributions to the Canadian blogosphere, including the creation of the Greater Toronto Bloggers

Best Entertainment Blog

Contenders: oRadio, Bow. James Bow, Popped Culture, Bookninja, SHZine

You can see my obvious conflict of interest here. However, Bookninja is well worth your attention.

Best Personal Blog

Contenders: Raymi the Minx, Resistance to Persistence, Meg Fowler, SheenaVision, Walk This Way.

Who Should Win: Raymi the Minx

Raymi deserves to win for the reasons described in the Best Blog category.

Best Media Blog

Contenders: Inkless Wells, Azerbic, Montreal City Weblog, CBC Radio 3, Inside the CBC

Who Should Win: A tossup between Inkless Wells and Azerbic

Antonia Zerbiasis deserves recognition because she was the highest profile mainstream media blogger that I know of to open her blog to comments. A massive community with a great diversity of opinions (and attitudes) built up around her strident, left-leaning posts, and it was a fascinating read. Unfortunately, job pressures and the realities of life have cut short this experiment, and have slowed the pace of her blog. Paul Wells, on the other hand, offers no comments, but has steadily produce interesting political commentary that tows no party line.

Surprise Exclusion: Warren Kinsella deserves to be here.

Best Business Blog

Contenders: Vancouver Housing Market Blog, My Name is Kate, Uninstalled, The Other Bloke’s Blog, We’re Not Wired Right.

I do not follow any of these blogs, I fear, so follow the links an make your own decisions.

Best Religious Blog

Contenders: (e)mergent Voyagers, Jesus Drives An SUV, Felix Hominum, Aaron’s Head, Jordon Cooper

Who Should Win: Jordon Cooper

Jordon gives us a compelling window on his personal life. It isn’t easy, but he carries himself with considerable grace that makes him a pleasure to know, even if only through his blog. He deserves to win because his moderate views show that religious bloggers come in all manner of political stripes.

Surprise Exclusion: It is a shame that the replacement to The Green Knight, The Vanity Press doesn’t warrant a mention. The Green Knight was an excellent example of a left-leaning religious blog, and The Vanity Press is a worthy successor in that regard.

Best Sports Blog

Contenders: RaptorBlog, The Battle of Alberta, The Joy of Sox, Nascar Ranting and Raving Blog, James Mirtle.

I regret to say that I don’t follow sports blogs, so check out these links and draw your own conclusions.

Best Blog Post

Contenders: Idealistic Pragmatist: Jack Layton’s sinister mind control experiment, Pogge: Fly on the Wall, The Next Agenda: Terry Fox, Nascar Ranting and Raving Blog: A Touching Greg Moore Story, Apply-liberally: The Conservative iPod.

Who Should Win: Idealistic Pragmatist.

IP viciously skewers the sense of entitlement expressed by Liberal MPs and bloggers in their anger that NDP supporters might see the Liberal party as being no better than the Conservatives. How dare they siphon away our votes, they holler. News flash, guys: those aren’t your votes. They’re the voters votes.

Surprise Exclusion: This post, written in the aftermath of the Dawson College shootings, is a wow.

Best Blog Post Series

Contenders: Harper-valley: If Only They Were Normal, Sunshine Scribe: Flashback Fridays, Stageleft: Conucopia, Blork Blog: Of People and Places, Bow. James Bow: To the True End of Yonge Street.

Again, you should note my conflict of interest, here. However, Stageleft’s Conucopia, cherry-picking the most egregious blog posts posted by members of the Blogging Tories, is as interesting a read as it is depressing. Yes, they are picking on the radical fringe of a large and diverse group, but the stuff that they do find does deserve to be brought into the harsh light of day for ridicule.

Best Activities Blog

Contenders: You Grow Girl: the Dirt, My Dinner Table, Blork Blog, The Silent K, Doktor Weingolb

I know none of these blogs, so you should look in on these yourselves and come to your own conclusions.

Best Cultural Blog

Contenders: Gay Persons of Color, Slap Upside the Head, Somena Media, The Internationalist, Arrogant Polyglot

Who Should Win: Somena Media gives us an interesting window on the life of a Meti family, though I’m not sure how typical a window it is. Somena has more than her share of political battles, and more than her share of crap thrown at her, but she remains a fascinating read.

Best Family Blog

Contenders: Postcards from the Mothership, Her Bad Mother, Debaucherous and Dishevelled, Metro Mama, Life With Lucy

Who Should Win: Postcards from the Mothership

By a mile. It is a very personal blog, well written. Exactly what blogging is best at.

Best Local Blog

Contenders: Vancouver Housing Market Blog, The East-End Underground, Torontoist, Freddybeach Cabbie, Blog TO

Who Should Win: The East-End Underground.

Torontoist is a very professional group blog that I read everyday. It probably deserves to win this category, but I have to give the nod to the East-End Underground for being an interesting blog about… the east end of Collingwood, Ontario.

Surprise Exclusion: Spacing’s Wire.

Maybe the field is too crowded with Toronto-based local blogs, but Spacing is different. Spacing is an urban space magazine, and its blog on Toronto is much more focused. If you like a bit more municipal politics and urban issues with your local blog, Spacing offers something that Torontoist lacks, though I happily read both blogs every day.

Best Sci/Tech Blog

Contenders: Off the Grid, Amber Mac, Gecko Bloggle, The Homely Scientist, Xsamplex

Who Should Win: Off the Grid

It’s sad to say that most of my daily reads in this category are American, but Off the Grid gets the nod here for tackling a pressing issue. Did you know that it is possible for you to power your home on your own steam, so to speak? You can even sell back excess power to the power companies. This blog shows you how. And as I firmly believe that this is the key to the future of our power system (decentralization over centralized power plants), this is a blog I’ll be visiting again and again.

Voting begins this Saturday to reduce the five remaining contenders in each category down to one. You are entitled to vote once each day until Friday, so get voting. It’s quite a race this year, and I’ll be interested to see who comes out on top.

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