Archive for August, 2008

PAX – show of hands

So, who all here in town is headed down to Seattle for the Penny Arcade Exp…

…sorry, what? Oh, right. Vancouver angle. There’s a good one – this year, local Lovecrafty rockers, The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets are playing at the Penny Arcade Expo! It’s been a long trip since they played in an arcade parking lot in Burnaby for a proto-PAX Necrowombicon, but they’ve…

…what? Yes, I realize it largely gibberish. Hang on, I’ll see if I can help a bit.

So, there’s a web comic called Penny Arcade, which some, as I do, find hilarious. It’s creators have grown it into a yearly convention, attended by 40K+ people, called, The Penny Arcade Expo. There’s lots of video games, board games, games games, panels about gaming, panels about web comics, and a concert, with performances by people like Jonathan Coulton, Freezepop, and The Thickets.

Little known fact is that PAX (the expo, short form) started as a fan gathering called Necrowombicon (for reasons I do not remember, nor will you care) here in Vancouver. Or, more accurately, Burnaby, thanks to things like hotels hooked up to malls with big arcades. The Thickets, as mentioned, played one of those gatherings. In a parking lot. It rocked.

More Vancouver ties, Vancouver companies, such as Hothead Games (who worked with Penny Arcade to produce their recently released video game) will be there, or are at least sponsors.

Which brings me full circle – I’m going. I would like to see The Thickets rock thousands of people. I want to meet Wil Wheaton. I want to meet Felica Day. I want to meet the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters (whom/which I will marry and run away with – if I’m turned down, Felicia Day is my second choice. I don’t know if Wheaton is my alternate third – we’ll see how it goes day-of.)

So, surely others from Vancouver are going? Anyone? I’m not there Friday, but I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday, most likely helping man the Thickets merch table… because I promised.

Or is everyone going to Bumbershoot instead?

[UPDATE] Triangle Productions (as you may have spotted in the comments – you do read the comments don’t you?) will be at PAX and posting some video here. So if you can’t be there, keep an eye out there for vids. Then start saving for next year.

Local artists and comic enthusiasts to hit the VAG

Taking advantage of the KRAZY! show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, a massive selection of local artists, big and small, along with tables and tables of dealers are going to be gathering this Sunday , August 24th. And you’re invited! Between 11Am and 5PM you can come meet the artists and peruse the swag for the way too reasonable price of free!

The list is way too long, but you can find out who all will be there at the official website! Regular rates still apply if you want to check out the KRAZY exhibit.

Radiohead soaks up the atmosphere at Thunderbird Stadium

Black and white, originally uploaded by rvnix.

Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me
From a great height
From a great height… height…

– Radiohead, “Paranoid Android”

Those lyrics from Radiohead’s final song followed us up the hill as we left the field at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium. It had indeed rained down on us, and while facing the elements to watch a great rock and roll show can be a beautifully uniting experience every inch of my body was soaked and I was pretty much tired of beautiful communal experiences at that point.

Any other show I would have before the first encore, but this was a great show despite the weather. A good rock and roll show can remind me why I love music, and there’s none better than Radiohead right now. Their music is big, soaring and operatic the music of motion picture soundtracks meant for laying on your bed in the dark with good headphones. I’d go to watch someone like Matthew Good play a stripped down acoustic show any day of the week, but when you’re watching the best band in the world at the top of their game it’s something else.

It’s incredible.

So incredible that Thunderbird Stadium stayed packed right up until the end, whereas another audiance would have abandoned the show early on we stayed clamouring for a chance to actually see the stage and catch sight of Thom Yorke and company as they performed the non-radio friendly hits that make up the band’s back catalogue. It’s challenging music at its best, and while the band have yet to vere from the road laid down by their Kid A reinvention they’re still one of the most interesting bands out there.

And did I mention they’re awesome live?

All in all even with a few misteps by concert organizers, the exit plan seemed to be having concert goers scramble up a muddy hill and over wet metal pipes that had been laid down in our path for no apparent reason other than to cause injury, the show was a great success. I even picked up the best bit of tour merch ever [jks].

Telus – keeping Vancouver clean, one ad at a time.

It’s a great loophole – if you spray your ad on a wall or sidewalk in paint, you’re defacing property. You’re graffiti! If you spray your ad on a wall or sidewalk in solvent, you’re… cleaning it? The technique has been gaining in popularity over the last half-dozen years, but it’s finally made a big showing in Vancouver… promoting something from Telus. I don’t know what, as the URL doesn’t take me anywhere. And it’s ironic (I think? I can never tell any more) that the ad, involving recycling and being nice to trees apparently, involves chemical solvents headed to the nearby sewer next rainfall.

Still, anything is more clever than their Koodo ads.

We’re all tough behind the keyboard

Powerbook keyboard

Ah blog wars.

We’re all tough behind our keyboard and everyone is brave when they can say things using a fake name.  I’ve been pulled into a few cross blog arguments, and I generally end up feeling dirty afterwards.  Typically they’re boring, the internet equivalent of watching the kids in the special class in grade four fight over who stole whose Muscle Men toys.  However like the playground dust-ups they most closely resemble its hard not to stand around chanting “Fight, fight, fight” when one is going on.

Goodness knows how this one started.  Possibly when Sean Orr of Beyond Robson, whose life goal is to defeat poverty with sarcasm, called the people at new local blog Vancity Buzz cocks [br].  The two sites have been going back and forth from there, mostly arguing over the fact that Orr is left wing and the pseudonomous bloggers at Vancity Buzz are right wing.  Or bar stars.  Or both.

Whatever they are they’re active, like a bunch of rabbits given Viagra in a completely irresponsibly run science experiment they’re posting at a rate that threatens to fill up all available internet storage by 2009.  Sadly nobody alive will ever be able to read all of their posts, because the layout looks a lot like someone vomited onto a scanner bed and just uploaded that as a .tiff file.  How can a default Blogger template look so ugly?

Eventually everyone will get tired of yelling at each other, and go back to their business of posting about clubbing, or making snotty comments about things on the internet and the rest of us can go back to kickball or whatever normal kids did during recess.

Me?  Well I spent most of my recesses online arguing about Star Trek.  Now that’s a blog war I can get interested in.

Urban scrumping

It’s not something many of us have experienced – picking fruit straight from the source and digging in. I remember blueberries and strawberries, fresh from the plant. Oh sure, I had to pick a few boxes as well, but I was always gently reminded that my parents did the same thing every Summer for a pack lunch and an ice cream. Also, the sun was only two miles off the ground and school was uphill both ways. But I think I’m digressing. Yes. Yes, I am.

The point is, fresh anything, as the ads tell us, is better – only, we’re very disconnected from fresh. But not entirely, if you know where to look. As pictured, Vancouver has a lot of blackberry bushes growing out to where any sidewalk pedestrian can get at them. The photo is just off of 12th ave West, but I remember one massive bush that was slowly taking over an empty lot where Georgia twisted into the park – every Summer, people would appear in the evenings with Tupperware to gather a bounty.

I’ve heard of kiwi trees successfully growing in backyards. Lemon trees. Figs. Rhubarb. Apples. Oranges. And so on. This is Vancouver. With a little work, most anything will flourish.

LA has a by-law that says anything hanging out into the sidewalks and streets are fair game to all, resulting in online maps of where to find what. And maps of where to find what if you were brave enough to trespass. And I wonder – how many Vancouverites have take advantage of the climate? Anybody gather some freebie succulents? Any one gained from having a neighbour with a flourishing tree of something? Any surprise fruits out there you wouldn’t think could grow here?

VALTAC launches new campaign

VALTAC Campaign truck

VALTAC Campaign truck

At Douglas Park this afternoon, VALTAC launched their now rolling billboard as part of the campaign to get serious attention paid to the potential for reopening the old BCER Interurban line for passengers. The line was closed to all but freight traffic in 1954, but the right of way remains in provincial ownership. Southern Railway of BC operates a few freight trains each week, and part of the route is also used by CN and CP to get trains from their mainlines to Deltaport at Roberts Bank. But the right to run passengers trains was specified in the SRY lease as being retained by BC.

Other cities have utilised existing freight railways to improve transit service – even Ottawa! It is in fact quite common in Europe. And a trial project would not be hard to do. In Surrey the Heritage Railway Society is proposing to run an old interurban car with a fuel cell in what used to be the “express” (freight) car behind to provide power, as while the hydro wires are still in place the old trolley wire was taken down immediately after passenger service ceased. The cost of a pilot program would be a tiny fraction of the $3bn the province is proposing to spend upgrading the original Expo Skytrain – and of course much less than the road oriented “Gateway”.

The province’s lack of interest in even trying out such a system is quite at odds with its current attempts to make itself look “green” as its current transportation plan for the Valley (doubling the size of the freeway to the GVRD border) will only increase traffic and greenhouse gas emissions (something Kevin Falcon and Gordon Campbell try to deny – very unconvincingly. No-one thinks that this would solve all the region’s problems – but it would certainly be a step int he right direction for a change.

The event was ill attended and not well covered by the media. However I was interviewed by Sing Tao Daily who do seem to treat local news more seriously than some of the mainstream outlets.

Yaletown block party worth checking out

Elfsar

It’s hard living in Vancouver and not having an issue with Yaletown.  We’ve blogged about some of the great stuff there like Goldfish, The Hamilton Street Grill, Phat and Elfsar Comics, but parking is a bitch and at night the area turns into the sort of meat market that few people would feel beautiful enough feel as if they fit into.

Again though there’s still some great stuff, including a whole host of cool bakeries, coffee shops and of course the best comic book store in the city in Elfsar.  (Full disclosure of vested interests I work on a very part time basis at Elfsar.  They however are not paying me for the mention, and I was a regular customer for a year before being hired).  If you’ve not really checked Yaletown recently they’re having the latest in a series of summer block parties tomorrow (Friday August 8th) and the next day (Saturday August 9th) [ytbia].

The Yaletown Business Improvement Association’s website hasn’t yet really gone into detail about what’s going on, not having updated their site since June apparently, but a number of the store, banks and resturants will be having special sales.  I had to go from a Facebook posting from Elfsar for any information on what other business were doing and that’s below the jump.

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International Lantern Festival

Dragon Lantern

Looking for something to see and do at night? Wondering who ever goes to Fantasy Garden anymore?

Well, there’s been an ongoing International Lantern Festival that’s been happening since July 1st and will be running until September 21st.

This lantern festival has been making it’s way year after year to various cities around the world. Having been exhibited in Seoul, Tokyo, Austrlia, and landing in Toronto for the past two years. It’s finally here in Greater Vancouver! During this festival it runs at night from 7:30 – 11:30pm with the lighting of the lanterns happening at 8:30pm. If you want to see the lanterns during the day, they have day showings on the weekends from 11am-2pm.

Location:
Fantasy Garden
10800 No 5 Road
Richmond

THEM!

Is it just me, or is the city being undermined by ants?

About a month ago, I noticed piles of dirt and sand piling up around the cracks in the walkway to my front door. Those piles turned into little mounds, complete with dead-giveaway ant holes. Then, ants. Busy little antholes that they were, the sidewalk was being consumed pretty quick – then I noticed them by the retaining wall closer to my door. Out of curiosity, I pulled back a brick. Bad idea. It was alive down there, and even more cunning, they’d made their egg nurseries, or whatever they’re called, right underneath the brick. So very alien. Ew.

So, after doses of pink poison and corn meal – common wisdom says they can’t digest it, but they’ll eat it, thus killing themselves – common wisdom seems to be full of crap. They’re still there. And why would one of the oldest, most evolved organisms on the planet not be able to tell food from not-food?

I even used a personal loophole in my mildly Buddhist approach to life on Earth – “bugs are icky – if they get in the way, do what you’ve got to do.” I devised that one when I was 6, because dodging bugs while riding a bike never ends well, and my knees and elbows had filed a complaint. Anyhow, I turned to boiling water. It pushed them back, but not for long.

So, my question to you all – is this diving flag syndrome. as in you never notice all the cars and trucks with diving flag stickers until you take up diving yourself. Ants are pretty prevalent, but they seem more prevalent lately, at least in Mount Pleasant area. Is that because they are actually very active this year or is it because I’ve got bugs on the brain?

And if it’s the former, how do we kill them? Ok, ok – how do I kill them? “Take off and nuke them from orbit” is technically the only way to be sure, but a bit drastic, I feel.

[photo by poagao]

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