Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I knew I saw a bear

Remember I said I thought I saw a bear – no? Well, I thought I saw one of those Spirit Bears at Quebec and Broadway. And I wasn’t hallucinating!

There is a life-cycle to these spirit animals – initially they are paid for my sponsors, and put on display, usually near some location important to those sponsors. Then, once the display period is up, they are auctioned off, raising even more money for charity. And it’s at this point that they end up living in strange places, like rooftops on Broadway.

There is a Flickr pool for the bears, which I’m uploading my pics to – I’m hoping to convince that group to keep cataloging where they currently reside. And then I’m thinking about starting pools for the whales and eagles. Anybody interested in helping out?

Local gamers going all out for Child’s Play

December is the traditional drive to raise money for the Child’s Play charity, which raises money and toys for children’s hospitals around the world, including the BC Children’s Hospital, and as usual, BC gamers are stepping up and taking some big swings.

Victoria’s is on their fifth day of playing the worst video game ever – conceived as part of a giant, video game joke by magicians Penn and Teller, Desert Bus is a “game” where you steer a bus, in real-time, between Tuscon and Las Vegas – a trip that takes 8 hours. And just to be mean, the bus lists slightly, so you can’t just start the drive and walk away, even though the road is straight. You have to stay and steer. Started last year, the charity drive went for a couple of days and raised $20,000. This year they’re onto their fifth day and they’re about to crack $60,000.

And this Saturday, Dec. 6th, Vancouver’s The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets are headlining Cthulhupalooza, a whole day event for Child’s Play at The Rio Theatre at Broadway and Commercial – tickets are $16 in advance, and the doors open at 5PM, when a Rock Band game contest starts. At 8PM there will be a movie program, including the modern silent horror film The Call of Cthulhu, and at 10, The Thickets take the stage. And along the way the event will be handing out nearly $2000 in prizes.

And just in case you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, charity events are all well and good, but after all that fund raising, I wish I could sit back and watch unique double-bill”, well, you’re in luck – at Midnight, The Rio will be showing a double-bill of Josh Gilbert’s documentary, AKA Tommy Chong and Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke. While not part of The Child’s Play event, The Rio is taking $5 off the double-bill’s $15 ticket, to anyone attending Child’s Play.

My apologies to Jeff, as I’m involved in organizing this event, and it has consumed a lot of my free time lately, but it’s for a great cause and I hope to see everyone there!

Mount Baker

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Mount Baker, originally uploaded by Stephen Rees.

This image taken yesterday will be featured in the CBC Vancouver News at six tonight

Cold clear weather and a stray beam of sunlight through the overcast. Remarkable clarity. Taken from the eastern end of Steveston Highway

A tip about Bert’s

This isn’t a review per se, but rather a recommendation with caveat – on Main Street, at 13th, is a decades old, Vancouver establishment, Bert’s Restaurant. Bert’s is a greasy spoon, with all the pluses and minuses that brings. Old, style-free setting, quick and no-nonsense staff, and average food. That is to say, if you go in expecting The Food Network for your six buck breakfast, you’re setting yourself up for failure – if you’re looking for a solid, basic breakfast – eggs, side breakfast meat, heavy pancakes, etc – this is the place. And that it’s hopping every Saturday and Sunday morning backs that up.

This is my recommendation – Vancouver has a number of inexpensive hash-slinging establishments, and if you’re looking for one in the Mount Pleasant area, Bert’s will do. The caveat? Don’t get the hash browns – the menus offers hash browns and fried potatoes, and after asking for clarification, we were told that the hash browns were grated potatoes pan friend, and the friend potato wedges were, well, wedges that are deep fried.

Twice now we’ve ordered the hash browns and gotten mash potatoes pan fried – presumably if you’re not there early, the shredded taters run out and they improvise with the day’s mash. Curious, I asked for a couple of the wedges. And they are great – thick cut potato slices deep fried, essentially the thickest fry cut ever. And a great deal more satisfying than the hash.

There you are – you’ve been advised. That’s right. You just read a blog post about a side order of potatos.

(photo by Roland)

How To Kill A Rainy Day Part 1

Bleh. While we’re getting some nice, unexpected sunshine in the mornings, most days have devolved into a rainy mess pretty quick. Which means that the eternal question is upon us again… what to do on weekends when it’s cold and wet.

There are time honoured classics. Go to the movies. Stay home in bed. Stay home in bed and make a movie. That sort of thing. But there are other options.

Pop Culture Collectible Fair – Saturday, Octover 18th, at the Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial St. at 16th ave). Happening a handful of times through out a give year, this is a massive, multi-room gathering of vendors and vendees. The last time I was there, the treasure ranged from 60s kitchen kitch to GI Joes in Japanese packaging, and everything in between. Comics, records, toys, books, you never know what will be there. It’s like the flea market on Terminal, only smaller, and nobody is selling furniture. I don’t think. Free admission, and if you want to unload some goods of your own, tables at $40. For more information email funpromo at

Of Horrors and Heroes #10 – Sunday, October 26th, at Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street). I missed the first nine, but I like the idea! From 11:30AM – 4PM, there’s a lot to see and do at this gathering of model builders and collectors of all manner of things. There will be panels on art/vinyl toys, collecting transformers and other die-cast toys, tips and tricks for building models, and a display of the various model kits of the Universal Monsters that have been produced over the years. Plus, there will be lots of vendor tables. It’s three bills to get in, or a loon if you’re under 14, forty if you want a table, and anyone wearing a costume gets in free! No website, but anybody wanting more information can email stanhyde at (or pick up a flyer in the Mount Pleasant area – I got mine at RX Comics.)

I’m trying to make a point of not holing up this winter. I mean, it has it’s place, particularly if you dig movies and video games like I do, but there’s something revitalizing about getting out once and awhile. So, if you come across anything that looks like fun, be sure to let us know!

Vote now. Vote today. Vote for…

2008-10-14 13:28:38 -0700, originally uploaded by Jeffery Simpson.

If you’ve not done so already then make sure you vote today. I don’t care who you vote for just that you vote. Well actually I do care who you vote for, I’m just realistic enough to know that if you’re going to bother voting you’re probably not going to vote based on what some jack-ass on the internet says.

At least I hope you don’t. If you are so easily swayed I’ve got a really great cellular plan on a three year contract to sign you up for.

If you want to read about my meeting with Stephen Harper a few years back then you can visit my blog [jks]. I was going to post it here, but since it all happens in Kelowna I figured it didn’t really fit.

"Wait, is that mine…?"

It’s a bittersweet concept – kind of a circle-of-life thing in Vancouver. Buy a bike, it gets stolen, the police retrieve it, sell it, second verse, same as the first.

Every year the Police hold their bike auction, where recovered bikes that have remained unclaimed for three months go on the block – so, when you consider it, on the one hand, it means someone lost a bike. On the other hand it could mean a bargain for someone looking to buy a bike cheap. You know, in case it gets stolen.

So, US cities auction off cigarette boats and Tony Montana mansions, we auction off bikes – to the tune of $200K per year, apparently. I say they start a crack Bike Theft squad with that money – when the crack team can’t afford to run anymore, we’ll know they’ve done their jobs.

However you may feel about it, the next auction takes place tomorrow. Previews were today I’m afraid, but you haven’t missed out yet.

Van band + Rock Band = When fun becomes a good cause

As previously mentioned, I trekked my butt down to Seattle for the Penny Arcade Expo a couple of weekends back, and I’m just now recuperating. I am not the young convention goer I once was.

Overall, an excellent time was had by all, but the surprise was that Vancouver’s The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, who were down to perform at the expo, found themselves as a downloadable track on Rock Band!

Basically, PAX and Harmonix (makers of Rock Band) arranged to release a song pack for Rock Band which featured music from three of the acts playing the weekend – Geek folkster Jonathan Coulton, geekier rapper MC Frontalot, and Canada’s own, The Thickets (who are, to be fair, geeks.) But wait, there’s more!

Besides becoming the first Canadian independent act to feature on Rock Band, The Thickets track is helping raise money for Child’s Play – the charity where gamers from around the world raise money for children’s hospitals. Fifty-plus internationally, four of them in Canada, including the BC Children’s Hospital. Money from each PAX Pack sold is being donated to Child’s Play – so, buck a song… minus Microsoft’s cut… then server overhead and production… that’s potentially some big bucks.

I’m betting that there are a lot of Rock Band rockers out there – what’s three bucks for some great tracks and making kids happy, right? You can preview the track on their MySpace page [ms], or, if you prefer, you can watch this blurry YouTube video of them playing/performing the song at PAX [yt]. Enjoy!

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.

A photo

Small Car

I found this (and continue to find it) humourous in a not so classy kind of way.

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