Archive for July, 2007

We’ll never know what the Olympics cost will we?


RCMP

Originally uploaded by GusYrvan.

The recent revelations that the government, the RCMP and pretty much everyone else grossly underestimated the costs of security for the 2010 Winter Games [cbc] is starting to make me very worried that we’re not going to have any real idea what this is going to cost us until well after the Games have ended and the tax payers are looking at paying off the bill. I’ve been a supporter of the Olympics, but I do wish some better accounting had been done at the start of this project.

A certain amount of overrun is to be expected in a project the size of hosting the Olympics. I can accept that, but at every turn there seems to be something simple that people forgot to factor in. For example the idea that increasing the number of locations that the Mounties are going to have to protect from 21 to over 100 should have made someone sit down and take a look at the numbers again. It’s a bit late to rethink this, but could someone in some level of government please re-check the budget and give us a cost of this thing? These budget overruns haven’t been shocking surprise things, security isn’t something that we suddenly discovered as in “Oh we didn’t know we had to buy a stock of dried moose hide for the Finnish athletes to eat after events”, its a fairly obvious thing.

Filmed in Vancouver: X-Files


Day 136 – May 16, 2007

Originally uploaded by gregs365days.

Over the next while I will be looking at a few of the good, not-so-good and great shows that have been filmed in Vancouver over the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

The X-Files was filmed in Vancuover during its first five seasons, running from 1993 – 1998. Following the non-Vancouver filming of the movie the series moved down to California for filming. The fifth season was the ratings peak for the show.

Title: The X-Files
Stars: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
Canadian Content: Very little, the show takes place exclusively in the United States
Lasting Impact: Produced a new wave of shows combining detectives and the supernatural, none of which lasted as long. Made David Duchovny think he could have a film career. Helped lead to an increase in sci-fi genre filming in Vancouver.
Good or bad: Generally good. For the first few seasons it was one of the best shows on television with sharp writing and generally good acting.

Hollywood television shows filmed in Vancouver generally make apologies for their location, using tricks to hide the local and pass it off as Somewheresville USA or an alien planet. Though I have yet to hear it one can almost hear a character on Stargate shouting, “This must be an alien planet, it’s been raining for twenty days straight.” Not The X-Files though, it didn’t hide it’s location it embraced it. Sure the show never actually took place in Vancouver, Canada being outside the FBI’s juristiction, but the overcast skies of the lower mainland and the moody woodlands around Vancouver were as much a character on the show as Mulder and Scully. The location of most of The X-Files episodes during those five seasons always seemed a little bit foreign to most Americans, saving those from Washington State, a bit odd and that worked well for the show.

For Vancouverites it was one of the first times that a show filmed locally could be enjoyed without apologizing. It was amoung the best of television at the time and those first few seasons standup to viewing even more than a decade later despite advances in special effects and a dozen copy-cats shows. Special Agent Fox William Mulder and Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully M.D. were interesting characters, played by actors that seemed breed for the roles. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were the characters, and that might explain why neither has been able to get a really good career going after the show. We were used to shows being filmed locally that ended up on the USA Network not on one of the major networks (there are a few exceptions which we’ll touch on in later posts).
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Verrus, the best thing since parking

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I have to admit, the first time I only did it because I was curious. (How many confessionals start this way?) The next several times were because I found out a clerical error had resulted in a rate mismatch so it was cheaper than the real thing. And easier. And far quicker. And then I was hooked.

No, not a plug for the Cobalt Motor Inn, though it easily could be. I’m talking about Verrus [link], the pay-by-phone parking system rolled out throughout the Vancouver area the last couple of years.

“Sure, I’ve seen that on the meters, but never tried it,” friends often concede. “Does it actually work?”


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What the hell IS that?!? Episode 1

6130 Wilson
There are a number of places around the GVRD that every time I pass them I find myself thinking, “What the heck is that, anyway?” — or, after a number of years have taken some of the edge off the curiosity, at least, “I still haven’t ever looked up what that building is about.”

Today I found myself once more standing on the street corner of Beresford and Wilson, in Burnaby, staring up at a building I’ve seen probably hundreds of times now from the Skytrain (between the Patterson and Metrotown stops), and which I never got around to researching.

I’ve had plenty of theories of course, and I’m sure you have as well.

Closed skating rink?
Old grocery store?
Industrial building of some sort?
Gymnasium?
Single screen theatre?
Oddly placed aircraft hangar?

So today, having the advantage of being on the ground and being able to make note of the building’s exact address, I thought I’d finally tackle this one, once and for all. It also occurred to me that I’m probably not the only one that wanted to know, and this could be the beginning of a whole series I think (let us know in the comments if you have any good ones of your own).

So what’s the answer?
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The Simpsons Vancouver: from Kwik-E-Mart to theatre


D’OH!

Originally uploaded by J!mbo.

The Simpsons are big right now. The show hasn’t been this big a cultural force since the early 1990s’ when it first appeared on Vancouver television screens thanks to Washington State’s new Fox Broadcasters. Now after nearly two decades of being a pervasive part of our culture it’s headed to the big screen and the marketing has swept Vancouver.

Coquitlam’s Kwik-E-Mart [mbv] was one piece of a continent wide promotion that has been nothing short of brilliant. It’s become sort of a mecca to the great show, and an unprecedented number of Vancouverites have made the trip to worship at the alter of Apu. Tired of hearing about it already? Well too bad because the Simpsons are translated into over 15 languages, including sub-sets such as French and Quebecios, so it’s not like you’re going to be able to avoid the show.

Vancouver author Douglas Coupland recently contributed the foreword to Calgarian Chris Turner’s book Planet Simpson [ac] a very enjoyable, if enthusiastic, look at how the show affected our current culture. The book is worth the cover price for the foreword alone, where Coupland demonstrates that just like the rest of us he is amused by a funny looking cartoon family.

Then we come to the movie, set to premier this weekend across North America. Downtown has been plastered with adverts from the Rio Theatre [rt] advertising the movie’s opening night where there will be contests, cosplay and other fan events [cl].

PR Should Be The Last Concern Here

I have to admit to being a little surprised when I checked the site this morning to find that there was no post about the oil spill yesterday, not to mention how completely stupid it is that both the contractor and the pipeline owner are pointing fingers at each other as to who’s at fault here.

It doesn’t matter, who’s fault it is – just contain the damn spill and start the cleanup.  You can both sue each other into oblivion AFTER you get the oil off the ground, and out of the water, and people back into their homes. 

Although I do have to do a little finger pointing myself.  WHY did it take, if the reports are to believed, so long for the spill containment to begin?  Certainly the ShellBurn Refinery would have known almost immediately that something was wrong when the amount of product coming into their facility dropped so dramatically.  And I know that they have spill containment procedures and product onsite (I used to work in the liquid handling equipment industry, primarily dealing with the oil companies.  This included the sale of spill containment material).  Why couldn’t they have gotten what was needed to the spill site considering how close they were? 

Of course they’re not obligated to do any such thing, but when an environmental disaster such as this occurs, shouldn’t you just do what’s right first, and worry about it later?

Anyway, I’ll get off the soapbox now, and repeat what I said earlier – it doesn’t matter who’s fault it is.  Just do something about it.

A local bald eagle’s nest

On the corner of Pandora Street and Kamloops in East Vancouver, in a great big old tree, sits an eagle’s nest. One of my co-workers took me to see the nest yesterday after work, as it’s just around the corner from where she lives. When we got there around 5:00 last night, there wasn’t much to see, but when I came back at 8:30, there was a bit of action going on. I was told by a few locals walking by that there are two full-grown eagles – on male, one female and two “babies”. I could barely see the young eagle – he was pretty much camouflaged in the tree with his black and brown feathers, but the mother was perched up top of the tree, mostly ignoring the dive bombing of some crows and a seagull. From time to time, the mother would fly around the tree with the crows following her, and then she’s just end up back on top of the tree. The young eagle was screeching the whole time I watching. They are really noisy birds.

Eagle getting dive bombed

The people in the neighbourhood seem used to the attention and if they know anything about the eagle they are happy to tell you all about it. I was told from time to time, an environmentalist comes to the tree and gives information about the eagles as well. The eagle family has been using the nest for the last three years and the neighbourhood was surprised and happy to see them back this year after all the windstorms we had this past spring.

Just a note – the nest is located in a tree on someone’s property, so if you go to have a look, just please be aware of the homeowner’s property. I could see the eagles very well from the alley and also on the sidewalk and public grassy area right across the street from the house. There was no need at all for me to walk on the person’s lawn to have look.

The Vancouver Canucks want you!

Yes, you! Well, maybe you. Are you a blogger? They’re looking for one, for the canucks.com site.

The short version: you need to submit a 500-word essay. They pick 8 finalists, who go head-to-head in a knockout format. Last blogger standing wins.

Their promo page contains the interesting phrase “voluntary position with compensation based on performance,” which sounds like a soup-kitchen worker who gets paid in tips.

Complete details here. Act now, submissions close on August 6th.

Vancouver on the BBC

I’m not quite sure when this BBC look at the quality of life in Vancouver first aired, but it does feel a few years old. Still it was posted on YouTube recently thanks to the user “moremonkeybusiness” [yt]. Part one is above and part two is after the jump. It’s an interesting look at the city from an outsider’s perspective.
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Die Hardly Working

If any of you watch On The Lot which is essentially another reality tv competition show, you’re probably rooting for Zach Lipovsky due to the fact he’s representing Vancouver and he’s doing incredibly well!

At age 23 this kid has got a ton of talent. The premise of the show is like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance with On the Lot focusing on finding a talented director. In previous episodes he’s been known for his crazy special effects and thus to throw a curve ball his latest short film is completely effect free. Verdict? Completely amazing. Check it out after the jump and root for a local Vancouverite!
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