Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Olympocalypse! The word that rhymes with “Rick”!

– Boardercross is way more exciting than I thought.

– Curling don’t get no TV love in the opening matches.

– The UK press really, really, really wants us to be embarrassed about our Olympics, but it’s pretty apparent it’s mostly collective nervousness they’ll be embarrassed of their own. British pals and pals of pals seem pretty supportive however and have carefully explained the press there is rarely indicative of the people. Fair enough.

– On Monday, ESPN columnist Rick Reilly was backhandedly complimentary of Canada for US readers. Met with huffy, Canadian indignation, Reilly open hand slaps Canada, then half-apologizes, asking, “Baby, why ya make me hit ya like that?”

I realize, slightly patronizing as it is, Reilly’s original blog was intended to be comedy. Cutting, condescending, stereotype-laden comedy, but comedy nonetheless. His response to Canadian offense however… well, to put it in Canadian terms Rick will think he understands; take off, eh?

Let’s take a look inside Rick’s tickle-trunk of loathing and see what’s inside, shall we?

Fame, it’s a terrible thing

A totally real photo of me the net celeb

A totally real photo of me Jeffery Simpson the famous blogger.

Link via Beyond Robson [br].

To be filed in the “completely too ironic interview” catagory, is this article on local internet celebrities, including Jennifer Lowther.  I’m not quite sure if Lowther knew how oddly clueless this was going to come off when she was talking to the Vancouver Sun [vs].  I don’t know her, I’ve never met her so it’s hard for me to judge exactly what she was thinking when she agreed to talk about how famous she is because of being on the internet.

I will say however that if you’re going to sit for an interview where you basically complain about the troubles of being “famous” thanks to your blog, Twitter and so forth aren’t you kind of asking for it?  Especially when you let the newspaper, which let’s face it still has a print run that rivals any local blogs, post a picture of you?

It’s a very meta-picture, because you can see the cameraman in reflection, it’s like a comment on how ‘net celebs get cyber.. not stalked.  But you know have people who follow them on Twitter.

And please someone explain to me this from Rob Cottingham talking about being a celebrity within your own circle, “”More interesting than the people who become instant celebrities are the people who become famous in a particular niche or within their own social networks. When you are able to rise to a level of prominence but just among the people you know.”   So when you become so famous that people who already knew you, know you, that’s real fame?

Back to Lowther, “People can know a ton about your life and you have no idea who they are.”

I really wish that emoticons were a respetable manner of conveying yourself in blog posts, rather than something used by tweens on Jonas Brothers’ fan boards.  If they were I’d use one of those smiley faces that shows deadpan blinking.

Is this really the stuff of newspaper articles in 2009?  I mean in 1999 I would have thought that this was all self-evident.  If you write a lot about yourself online then sometimes people are going to read it.  If you write a lot about yourself in the stalls of public toliets, some people are going to read it.

Now I’d blame this on the article’s writer Gillian Shaw, but from the (very few) conversations I’ve ever had with her (on Twitter / shock / horror) she doesn’t seem like she’s completely out to lunch.  Having written for tech for a daily city newspaper myself, not in Vancouver don’t bother guessing which, I have to say that this is probably not her fault.  By the time something filters up (or down) to the people who assign and approve stories often as a tech writer you kind of know that the world has moved onto something else but money is money.  Especially in this economy.

Now excuse me I have to go out wearing dress slacks and a pair of Crocs.  Oh my God, I hope nobody tweets about it.  Don’t worry, I only wrote it on this blog not in a bathroom stall.

Vancouver Five: new names for GM Place

GM Place

 With the fate of General Motors in doubt [nyt] the Vancouver Canucks’ home ice may soon be needing a new sponsor, or at least a new name.  Here are a few ideas for what we may be calling GM Place next season.

  1. Money Mart Place: In this economy Money Mart might be the only business with cash to spare. 
  2. Fat City Arena: See this eariler Vancouver Five for explanation [mbv].
  3. Rogers Place: There was a well fairly decent rumour that Rogers tried to buy the naming rights to BC Place, but the city would not let them change the roof’s colour to Rogers’ red.  But hey they need to do something with all that iPhone money.
  4. Happy Planet Juice Centre: I think the founder of that company might have some pull with city council [wp].  Plus wouldn’t that just please the pants off the rest of Canada who see us all as hippies anyway?
  5. Trevor Linden Memorial Rink: In the future when Trevor Linden signle handedly fixes the economy before leading the negotiations that see our alien invaders surrender, we’ll be quite happy to name the Canucks’ home ice after him.

Pink Shirt Day – it’s like reliving the 80s for a good cause

I remember when the circumstances that helped create Pink Shirt Day first happened – it was one of the notable stories of the week, September of 2007. It had a John Hughes film quality to it – a new student attends his first day of classes at a rural high-school in Nova Scotia, wearing a pink Polo shirt. Fair enough – Polo is always a solid choice and in 2007, I think pink was supposed to be the new black.

No problem there, not counting the high-school bullies.

Surprising to nobody that’s ever attended high-school, they went to work on the new kid, verbally beating him down with the bluntest instrument in the vocabulary of teenage boys everywhere; homo.

The surprising, almost unbelievable part of the story is that two Grade 12 students took offence on behalf of the younger Grade 9 classmate, and using their own money, a discount clothing store, and online social networking, they bought 50 pink t-shirts and handed them out at the school door the next day. And the 50 was supplemented by even more students that wore their own pink apparel. It seems like an obvious twofer – get an awesome excuse to wear that pink sweater AND stick it to the thuggish common denominator at the same time.

Anyhow, happy ending – the new student’s confidence is restored, two grade 12 students are national heroes (Go Canada!), and the bullies are doing whatever it is bullies do when they don’t get their way. Smoking, carving things into desks, and punching one another in the arm, one would imagine.

But it doesn’t end there – an anecdote this perfect has, inevitably, become the focus of an new, annual campaign to take a stand against school bullying – the literally named Pink Shirt Day [PSD] on February 25th (yeah, I’m not sure why it’s not September either – I’m assuming there’s an awareness calendar and September was full.)

Most of us aren’t in high-school any more, but we were all there once. And at least in some small way, the kids around us aspire to be us – independant and critical thinkers. And to be honest, we’re all better looking people now anyhow. Plus black and pink looks awesome, hipsters. So, why not show a little support on Feb. 25th? Pull on some pink, and wherever possible, pass this along to your friends. The perfect Hollywood ending for this story is if the actions of two clever young men trigger and annual, international event.

Celebration of Light snuffed out

photo by Jon Rawlinson

Well, that’s a crappy way to start the news day – The Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society has announced that sponsor funding wasn’t able to make up the $4 million required to hold the event this year.

The Vancouver Sun has the full article here [VS], which outlines some details on the event. The fireworks event, notable as being the largest fireworks festival in the world, has been going for 18 years, draws 350,000 on each of the four nights every year, and generates $37 million.

Reaction has been mixed, with some arguing that the people downtown are happy to see the event go and other wondering why the government (at all three levels) don’t step in to help.

I dismiss the first as being a not uncommon, selfish attitude – while it’s true the event does disrupt the downtown core and those that live there suffer various inconveniences, it should be said again; $37 million to downtown businesses (plus whatever those people selling pop and water on their lawns get) and top-ranking, world-class event. There’s something important about having a world-class event and while some people might be happier without them, cities are diminished when they’re gone. Kart racing anyone?

As for the second point, you can probably thank the Olympics. A great deal of money has already been committed to finance this one-off, world-class event, most of which will be held in an entirely different town. In any other year, even the municipal government might have been able to top up the pot, but this is the final 11 months run-up to the 2010 Olympics.

I’d like to float a suggestion that perhaps one world-class event, one that will fade over time (for example, is Vancouver still dining out on Expo 86? No, no we’re not) might consider saving Vancouver’s other world-class event, the one that will ideally return every Summer for years to come. I suspect that this is a fantasy world and those organizing the Olympics are more than happy to see it die, but imagine it; The Vancouver Celebration of Light, presented by The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics! Part of the event is turned into a giant press event – a sneak peak of the Olympic torch, which is ceremoniously used to set off the fireworks, which end with five fireworks exploding into the Olympic rings!

But until then, I guess I better find something else to do with my August.

Looking back on Sam Sullivan

Though Sam Sullivan has been out of office for a week now, he’s been in our hearts and minds.  Well maybe he’s not been in either of those, but I presume his wife still loves him so that’s one person.  He was one of Vancouver’s most controversial mayors of recent years, from the manner of his election victory to his controversial decision to invade Iraq…

Wait that was the other guy.

Though there is no one defining photo-op of Sam Sullivan’s time as Mayor, no pile of rubble for him to pose atop or banner to pose under, there have been moments that have come close.  Accepting the Olympic flag on behalf of Vancouver in Torino, a clear symbol of the diverse and accepting makeup of our city was probably the high point.  It can’t be easy to be sandwiched in between a Mayor who had a television franchise based off his life, and a fruit juice magnet.

But yet there’s on indelible image I think that all Vancouverites are going to have of Sam Sullivan’s time in office.  One thing we’re all going to remember him for.

Roll clip.


Vancouver’s new and old media face-off online

The Vancouver Sun [vs] has recently launched a new website, and in the world of city blogs Scout Magazine [sm] has arrived trying to bring the world yet another online magazine.  Is the Sun’s face lift just more rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg?  Is Scout Magazine just a blog with more obtrusive advertisements?  With the economy going the way it’s going, does it matter?


Canucks win the Stanley Cup

Happy players at the end of the game, originally uploaded by Stina Magga.

Vancouver – Metroblogging News Service

The Vancouver Canucks last night became the first team to win the Stanley Cup, one game into the National Hockey League season, after smashing the Calgary Flames at home by a score of 6-0. The victory was so decisive that league Commissioner Gary Bettman felt that playing the remaining 81 games of the regular season, and the playoffs was pointless.

“Having reviewed the tapes of the season starting games it’s clear that there is no other team that could compete with the Canucks on the ice,” Bettman said in a press conference this morning where the coveted cup was awarded by podcast recorded from Toronto.

Bettman pointed out that the Canucks have always enjoyed strong season ticket sales, and after years of suffering with little to no playoff success the league felt it was time that the Vancouver fans were honoured for their bandwagon jumping.

Some hockey commentators have argued that there is more behind the league’s decision than one strong on-ice showing. The rumour is that the awarding of the league title is a signal to other teams to follow the board room examples of the Vancouver club.

“We’re seeing a lot of teams with a great deal of debt,” pointed out CBC commentator Ron McLean, “with the credit crisis building in the states there’s a good chance that we’ll see the league losing a lot of the newer expansion teams. To shore up support for one of the bed rock Canadian franchises, and to reward the fiscal suaveness of the Canucks the league decided to award the cup.”

McLean’s co-commentator Don Cherry disagreed, “They’ve got the most Europeans. They’ve got twins. That’s some kind of Swedish wet dream. You know what the Swedes make good, cheap futon frames that you can assemble at home, not hockey players. Hockey is Canadian like beer and repressed emotions leading to domestic violence.  This Stanley Cup heist by the league is just the latest in Euro-coddling.  First they make the boys wear helmets, and you know good old boys from Kingston don’t play with helmets.  Then they make them use these fibershade metal sticks and now this, all because someone in Zurich wanted it.”


"We Are All Canucks" more than just branding?

Johnny Canuck, originally uploaded by miss604.

Over the past few years the Canucks have been using the slogan “We Are All Canucks”. Now I think we all understood that meant that each and every Vancouverite was a part of the Canucks “team”. You know the part of the team that has to pay to go to the games, and that the rest of the team likes to play pranks on such as tricking us into buying a new jersey every year [kk].

We’re kind of treated like the kid who shows up to Little League Baseball wearing a football helmet for extra protection.

The thing is though I think we’ve been reading the slogan wrong. I think over the past few years the Canucks have just been softening us up, preparing us for their real plan. First they hired a rookie GM, then they let Marcus Naslund go without even trying to resign him while making wild claims about signing Sundin and then they became the first team to name a goaltender a captain since 1948 despite an NHL rule against the practice.

Don’t you see the next step here? The next stage in this plan to revolutionize the National Hockey League, the sport of hockey and even sport itself?

Right now regular Canucks fans appear in ads alongside the team. The thing is though hockey players are expensive. They want millions of dollars to play a sport that most people who play actually have to pay to. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

We are all Canucks, because soon we’ll all be playing for the Canucks. Show up on game night with goalie equipment and you can play between the pipes. Have a pair of skates that fit you and were bought in the last six years? You’re a winger. And we’d pay for the privilage wouldn’t we. How much do you think the Canucks could auction off the right to take a face off against Sydney Crosby?

Kid with the football helmet, it’s your turn at bat.

Vancouver Blogs: The Vancouver Sun knows the internets


Maybe I shouldn’t be sarcastic with the title, maybe they do know the internet. I mean they at least know the fundamental fact that the best way to get traffic is to mention people by name. It’s the same thing we used to do in the student press, a front page picture of a rock band would only get picked up by fans of that band but a front page picture of a bunch of students would get picked up by the students, their friends and anyone who wanted to sleep with any of the students pictured.

It was circulation gold.

So when NowPublic, the people who don’t seem to understand Creative Commons licenses so spam you four times a week on Flickr asking to use your photos, the Vancouver Sun must have thought “Hey NowPublic is already repurposing all of our content as large block quotes and calling it ‘Citizen Journalism’ we might as well get involved in a link baiting scheme with them.”


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