When I think I understand what’s going on, something happens to make it clear I understand nothing.

Like the Fireplace Channel.

Every year during the holiday season, Shaw dedicates one of its apparently endless supply of cable channels to a 24/7 video of wood merrily burning in a fireplace.


Sometimes the logs just crackle in the fire, sometimes Bing Crosby turns up to sing about roasting his chestnuts on an open fire. You know…festive fireplace music.

The highlight of the “show” is when a guy’s arm appears to poke the fire. You never know when it’s going to happen, but when it does, fans love it.

Don’t believe me. Here are the facts. The Facebook page for the Guy Who Pokes the Fire has 39,322 fans. Women phone the Fireplace Channel and try to find out who he is, as he’s not wearing a wedding ring. There’s something about a man who pokes the fire…

This year, the harmonious relationship between the channel and its groupies was threatened because Shaw had a bright idea – let’s put the virtual fireplace on a pay-per-view channel and charge everyone 99 cents for an hour and 55 minutes, donating the take to charity. Everybody wins, right?

Wrong. Fireplace Channel fans staged an online revolt, demanding the channel be restored to its rightful place on basic cable. Shaw, hip to social media, immediately caved. Just a couple of days after the charity ploy, the fireplace and the man who pokes it are back on either channel 165, or 212 if you have HD, replacing the postcard photos in The Frame until January 2.

Power to the people, I guess.

Shaw knows it’s competing with YouTube, which has a zillion hi-def videos you can play on your 65-inch TV, so why fight it? If you have any holiday charity to spare, Shaw will still take your money on pay-per-view, but freedom of the fireplace has been restored.

So put on your stretchy pants, grab the cat and the remote and go crazy.

What’s next? The Dripping Faucet Channel? The Guy Waiting for a Bus Channel? The Nose Mining Channel? Ok, maybe I should stop right there.

Without the charity angle, the only good thing about the Fireplace Channel is that it’s arguably easier on the environment. Although considering the electricity drawn by all that virtual crackling and poking, it’s probably a wash.

You’re right. I don’t understand. I’m not even sure I want to.

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