Category Archives: Vancouver

Something Pretty for a Change

Since the last post, a few positive things have happened (hooray!).

I’ve finished at the ‘day job’ of the last year, but two weeks later to the day (today), I’ve started a short gig working for Elections Canada. Until the middle of October (at which point I had better have something else ready to go, or I’ll be really screwed again), I’m working as a ‘Revision Agent,’ which means I register new voters, and correct or up-​date the records of existing ones. Hooray for democracy and the longest election period in modern Canadian history!

If you would like to know more about how to register to vote, or to check if you already are registered, or any other questions, HEAD HERE.

The one challenge of this position is that while I am permitted to have any opinions about anything involving the various parties or election process in general, I may not give voice to said opinions. Thus, no ranting and raving here (or anywhere) about debates, events during the campaigns, or anything else.

[:: heavy sigh ::]

So… in lieu of me venting my spleen about anything political, here’s a couple of pretty pictures I took this afternoon.

Sunny sky! [click to embiggen/close]

Sunny sky! [click to embiggen/​close]

Big W! [click to embiggen/close]

Big W! [click to embiggen/​close]

Mood: hot
Music: I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty [2015, Sub Pop Records]
Book: Marvel Comics (The Untold Story) by Sean Howe [HarperCollins, October 2013; ISBN 9780062314697]

Podcasts from On the Coast Tease More than Satisfy

I don’t think so much of myself that a comment such as here’s what I want to have on this blog has the least bit of influence over anything the Great and the Good do in this — or, indeed any — city. I have mentioned ad naseum my taking to listening to podcasts whilst working, and my yearning for hearing the CBC RADIO one programme On the Coast with Stephen Quinn. They have the occasional podcast show-​up in the iTunes feed, but they could stand some improvement.

In this post here, I mentioned that their supply was too infrequent for my desires; and their content might be declared ‘piffle,’ in that they were very heavily lifestyle stories. Actual ‘news’ wasn’t there at all. That’s odd, as the show does a fair bit to cover topics of up-​to-​the-​minute interest of the citizens of ‘Metro Vancouver’ (as the marketing boffins like to call the Greater Vancouver region).

What I bemoan is the lack of supplying content such as this:

Christy Clark: 4 Years as the B.C. Liberal Party Leader
http://​www​.cbc​.ca/​1​.​2974828

See, that is some righteous content! You get Charlie Smith, editor of The Georgia Straight; Alise Mills, former B.C. Liberal Party strategist, issues management and political consultant; and Bill Tieleman, former NDP strategist, columnist with 24 Hours and the Tyee; all discussing the specifics of the province’s fortunes, or lack thereof, under the leadership of our current Premier for the past four years. Budget, labour relations, leadership skills, mistakes made, ‘family first’ policies, and whether the citizenry has taken to her or not; all are covered. This is the sort of useful material any thinking person wants to hear and contemplate when they have fifteen minutes and forty-​five seconds to spend intelligently. Whither the province?

That is the sort of thing that should be shoved at us in a podcast.

Sadly, that is something that’s not shoved at us in a podcast.

The CBC web-​site is the only place to find that, possibly as a way of getting people to see those adverts that we’re all blocking using AdBlock Plus in our browsers. Here’s what we get instead:

On the Coast podcast feed [iTunes]

On the Coast podcast feed [iTunes]

Great! They’ve finally got a clue and are up-​dating every day or so with decent content! Hey, maybe the story about ‘Alcohol Concerns’ could be great! You are forgiven to think this to yourself. You are entirely normal to even overlook the fact that “Supervised Safe Injection Expansion” piece is only 29 seconds long, as the recent ruling by the… wait, what?

Yes, that’s right, those bottom two are only just long enough to let you hear the network promo to sign-​up for eMailed newsletters for your favourite shows — a technique to inform people which, technologically speaking, went out with buggies and button-​shoes — and then the file is done. Indeed, the nine minute file for “Alcohol Concerns” does exactly the same thing, and the measurement is misleading.

Wednesday, the following was posted by the host of the show:

Huzzah! Finally the guy who has the portfolio that includes transit, highways, ferries, and a plethora of stuff that people all froth at the mouth about, is actually going to be interviewed; something which is all too rare. This should be great! After all, he’s also the brains behind the policy I ranted about in this tweet:

If that interview with Minister Todd Stone makes it into a podcast, and one that I can actually play, I’ll be stunned. In the meantime, here’s a link to the entire episode lasting two hours, twenty-​six minutes, and thirteen seconds. Chances are Minister Stone is somewhere in there around the one hour mark. There’s no easy way to fast-​forward through the show to where you want (although you can grab the little circle and slide it over a bunch, but it’ll take an epoch to buffer).

I’m going to buy a cheap radio. London Drugs, you can thank the daft people responsible for CBC podcasts for some of your inventory moving.

Mood: irritated
Music: Glenn Gould (1955 Performance & Zenph Re-​Performance), Johann Sebastian Bach: Goldberg Variations [yes, I recognize that brands me as a stuck-​up sticky-​beak; fuck off]
Book: The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis [W.W. Norton & Company, February 2011; ISBN 9780393078190]

More Podcasts with More Content from On the Coast, please!

According to NPR, this is the year of the podcast. Here are a couple of paragraphs from a Washingtonian article by Andrew Beaujon:

Last month, for example, WBUR General Manager Charles Kravetz told ‘New York Times’ reporter David Carr public radio’s audience growth is “off slightly, probably in part because people are listening to on-​demand programming on podcasts.” In other words, there’s no guarantee a listener will switch on their local NPR affiliate station after an episode of ‘Serial’ or the ‘TED Radio Hour’ finishes on their iPhone.

I think what we’re learning in public radio is there’s mutual interdependence,” he says. The ‘TED Radio Hour’ has a larger digital audience than it does on terrestrial radio, and wouldn’t be sustainable if it were “just supporting itself off its radio underwriting revenue.” Listeners attracted to the deeper storytelling they encounter on flagship podcasts like ‘TED’ may lead them to the network’s news products, Nuzum says.

So… what’s the public broadcaster CBC doing about that? After all, they’re dealing with the same concerns about getting people to tune in and/​or engage with the programmes as NPR is. Plus CBC has recently stated they’re promoting the web as a delivery platform for programming, with audio podcasts a perfectly obvious fit.

”On the Coast” from CBC Radio Vancouver

”On the Coast” from CBC Radio Vancouver

As discussed a few weeks ago, I’m listening to an array of podcasts at work instead of CBC’s On the Coast with Stephen Quinn. As much as I’d like to, I can’t afford to listen to the show as it broadcasts via the CBC Radio app, as my mobile data plan wouldn’t support the stream’s requirements.

Thus, I’ve been making do with the podcast version of On the Coast, but I’ve found it very lacking: it updates about once every fortnight, and only delivers one article of marginal interest lasting eight minutes.

What we get now is one short item of seemingly little importance, or at the very least is of the well, that was interesting to hear about, but it hasn’t informed me much variety. The past five episodes have been as follows:

  1. Lang Lang PuSh Festival show explores piano ownership and worship in China
    An unusual show at the PuSh Festival on Thursday night takes a close look at China’s most famous pianist, Lang Lang, and his influence on Chinese culture.
    7 minutes — February 8th, 2015
  2. PuSH Festival Dance gets local non-​professionals learning moves
    Montréal choreographer Sylvain Emard uses amateur Vancouver dancers for his community dance project, Le Grand Continental.
    7 minutes — January 22nd, 2015
  3. More people trying poi for a mental and physical challenge
    An ancient traditional Maori dance that became a popular performance art at music festivals, is now becoming popular for people looking for a fun and challenging activity. You can now learn how to play poi in Vancouver.
    7 minutes — January 18th, 2015
  4. Farmed fish, cauliflower top food trends for 2015
    If you like cauliflower you’re in luck — the brassica will likely be heavily featured on menus this year, along with Israeli food, farmed salmon and lots of other vegetables. On the Coast food columnist Anya Levykh explains.
    8 minutes — January 5th, 2015
  5. Community helps family after fire
    The Edwards-​Cyrus family gets a huge hand and big donations from the community, in time for Christmas.
    7 minutes — December 11th, 2014

Having the collected journalistic talents and story-​telling skills of the team responsible for three hours of broadcasting each and every weekday distilled into 36 minutes of podcasts with only one segment being of anything but ‘lifestyle content’ is deplorable. Given it covers just short of two full months of broadcasting, the matter is deplorable. Whoever is responsible for selecting these pieces is either choosing things by what is of the least contentious nature (IE: ‘safest’ or ‘won’t potentially get anyone sending us eMail about the content’), or they’re determined to ensure no one bothers to remain subscribed to the feed due to its spotty frequency of output and lack of worthwhile, thought provoking, informative content. No matter what the guiding approach is, it’s certainly far from representative of the programme’s content.

This is very disappointing, as I miss hearing local stories about politics and current events in my city. At the very least what I would like to hear is one newsy item or a compilation of several reports & interviews on the same subject of major importance to the local citizenry each week. Frankly, I would really love to hear one every single day, as surely there’s one interview or item on each show that is either the most important or the topic of the most interest to people from that day’s broadcast? How tough would it be to ‘tear out’ one section from the broadcast and shove it at the CBC servers for dissemination to the masses before leaving at the end of each day?

Quite justifiably, reaction to my views above would be shut your pie-​hole and buy a little radio for $20 at London Drugs, whiny boy! Sure, I could do that, you bet.

But here’s the thing that confuses me the most.

Someone is being paid to decide what goes into the podcast every so often. They should be paid, don’t misunderstand me. Plus someone should be controlling what goes into the podcast if they’re going to do it at all.

However, if they’re going to decide what will go into the podcast, as well as when it will be made available, shouldn’t it be useful and actually interesting material? You know: if you’re going to do something at all, isn’t wisest to ensure it is the best that it can be, rather than just some uninformative, place-​holder, homogeneously neutral content; the audio equivalent of Lorem Ipsum? Apologies to those responsible for the pieces cited above; you know you’ve done better work than this, however.

Doing something in a half-​hearted manner is not better than doing nothing at all.

I know the local CBC personnel can do better and I urge them — or those who decide these things — to strive for the excellence which is within their grasp, and that they are rightly recognized the world over for achieving.

NEXT POST: there are a dozen more podcasts I can recommend, and will.

Mood: uninformed and unsatisfied
Music: Nick Drake’s Pink Moon (25 February 1972, Island Records)
HotPink Crowd

RE-VIEW: Hot Pink

Okay, more of an “I was there” kinda thing-​a-​ring-​ding. Because I was there, and I enjoyed it. So there!

Last evening I went to “Hot Pink: an art event with works by Alex Stewart and Bret Taylor” which had the following as its ‘enticement text’:

CLICK to embiggen

This cake was made by Candice Roach of bakedinvancouver​.com. HOORAY!

As your eyes wander up, a stiletto becomes a stocking becomes a hemline. It’s the tease that tempts you.

Artists Alex Stewart and Bret Taylor present Hot Pink: a night of temptation featuring the very definition of tease: the Pin-​Up Girl.

The two artists’ works were quite different, yet both strongly sensual /​evocative in their own way.

Alex Stewart’s pieces tended to a more mysterious feeling of sexuality, taking the approach that that which is not seen is more enticing to the imagination. Several people mentioned a feeling of art nouveau to the works, with their use of repeated, intricate designs overlapped on each other with contrasting – and sometimes clashing – colours creating an almost Turkish or East Indian effect, blocking out full view of the female figures which peeked through the gap in the screen-​like barrier between them and the viewer. There’s even a feeling of affinity with some of Klimt’s approach showing the face in a realistic fashion but the rest of the scene being merely coloured patterns (such as “Mäda Eugenia Primavesi”, “Water Snakes”, or most famously “The Kiss”). On the whole they’re enticing and draw the viewer in to explore rather than creating an impenetrable wall.

CLICK to embiggen

HotPink Artist [right] with HotPink Agent [left]

The works by Bret Taylor [image, left], are nothing if not bold, honest, and open to the viewer. Evoking the raw sensuality of the 1950s and early-‘60s pin-​up girls, simple lines with technical precision create more for the imagination to fill-​in than expected. His technical skill is exemplary, in the same way that it takes an artist like Davis or Ellington to play a 12-​bar solo consiting of a single note to know the precise note that needs to be used. I liked these a great deal due to their accessibility, even if the word “subtlety” might not ever be used about them.

The two artists’ works shared more than one might expect from the above, as they both presented the “Female as Icon”, along with a feeling that the viewer may want to interact with or reach-​out to them, but they are un-​obtainable in some way. Taylor’s figures tease, entice, and arouse but are too iconic to be real enough for us to encounter in reality. Stewart’s images are photographic in character, but we are not only separated from them by the screen/​pattern, but we also are limited to only seeing their face and sometimes not even more than an eye and a cheekbone, so we do not know if they exist beyond that.

Had I money to spend on the purchasing of art, there was at least one piece from each of the walls I would have purchased.

CLICK to embiggen

HotPink Hair at HotPink

The evening itself was enjoyable, even if there was a difficulty conducting a conversation some of the time due to the volume level. No doubt earlier in the day would have been better for that, but I was there from about 7:45 onward for the “Adults Only” part of the evening, thus the music was a bit more in the “PAR-​TAY TIME!!” levels. Nothing wrong with that, either.

Above all else, it was great to see @stepc, @CathyBrowne, @gusgreeper, @abc4, @DanielOong, @danudey, @BretInVancouver, @Kimli, and @cwcheeks at the event. It’s always great to see them, and combining that with art is better.

Art: HOORAY!

CLICK to embiggen

HotPink Shoes at HotPink

Mood: complacent
Music: “Light Arms” from After the Heat, by Eno, Moebius, Roedelius (1978, Sky Records)
Book: Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkhov, (translated by George Bird); Melville International Crime [ISBN 9781612190761]

Tips for the Touring People

Unlike most of the posts here, this isn’t intended for a general audience. If, however, you happen to be visiting from the UK or other areas of the world, and happen to be looking for things to do in the Pacific Northwest or Vancouver area, then this will be helpful.

Seattle

  • The Underground City of Mystery
  • The Experience Music Project
    • originally started as ex-​Microsoft head Paul Allen’s honouring of Jimi Hendrix and all things musical and roughly Seattle, it’s expanded to be a very broad tent indeed.
    • It also now has a Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame
    • the official site
    • Wikipedia entry
    • some reviews on TripAdvisor to see if you like the sound of it (see what I did there? …genius!)
  • Pike Place Market
    • site of the very first Starbucks, which hasn’t been re-​styled ever as far as I know
    • people throw gigantic fish around
    • shopping and fooding galore, a bit like that market near the Golden Hinde in London, betwixt the railway and London Bridge, only bigger (because this is America and they’re like that)
  • Seattle Science Centre and the Space Needle
    • well-​designed and spacious museum explaining science of oodles of stuff, been there for years, you get to expeience science more than study it.
    • right next to the big pointy thing, you can’t miss it

 
Vancouver Comic Shops (stop pouting, Laura)

  • The Comic Shop (fairly uncreative a name, sadly)
    • Over on Vancouver’s ‘west side’, in the Kitsilano neighbourhood (sometimes simply called “Kits”)
    • Been there for years, good selection, there should be a sweet shop either next door or very close
    • At the corner where there’s a traffic light is “Sophie’s Cosmic Café”, which provides good food and North American Diner décor with a soupçon of ‘eclectic’, all of which is popular with the locals
  • Gotham Collectables
    • Just down the hill from the shop above, a nice walk away with window shopping in between
  • Rx Comics (slogan “We’ve got the prescription for your comic book addiction”)
    • Main Street area – recently taking to calling itself “SoMa”, as in ‘South Main’, aren’t we all la di dah–with a goodly number of little boutiques and restaurants and cafes for those less graphic novel oriented
  • Golden Age Collectables
    • very much downtown, in the heart of the cinema and nightclub district
    • posters and photos galore, in addition to graphic novels and “dear God, how much?” copies of rare comic books and ephemera
  • ABC Book & Comic Emporium
    • They used to be at the other end of downtown as Golden Age Collectables, now they’re 1/​2-​way between Kitsilano and SoMa, but do not walk there from either location unless feeling very fit or adventurous.
    • How they ever moved is beyond my ken, they have more stock of all sizes and shapes than thought possible
    • Books galore, graphic novels and single-​issues of comics, classic literature and modern, non-​fiction… more than enough to make your luggage over-​weight in no time
    • picture a proper big bookshop like Hay-​on-​Wye under one roof
    • they have a cat who possibly weighs 87 pounds

 
Salt Spring Island

  • Relaxing
    • recommended
  • Sex
    • ibid
  • Eating
    • op cit.
  • for other ideas, ask the locals
Mood: caffeinated
Music: oddly, nothing’s playing
Book: Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger (Bond #7, Penguin re-​issue, ISBN 9780141028316)