Follow-up on Fashion, Kathmandu, Oscar, and The Vancouver Movie Drinking Game

Based on some facts I learned today, fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tion is need­ed on Van­cou­ver Fash­ion. First of all, my notion that there are 4 dif­fer­ent sea­sons, and that you need dif­fer­ent clothes for them is incor­rect. Here, there are real­ly 2 sea­sons. 2 1/2 if you want to be char­i­ta­ble; cold and rainy, and warm and dry. You can get away with one rain jack­et year-round if you lay­er oth­er items of cloth­ing (sweaters, fleece, oth­er jack­ets(!)) under it. That explains the ‘no leather jack­ets invit­ed’ ele­ment of fash­ion here. As for the rest, I chock it up to West Coast vs. East Coast. Nev­er­the­less, Matt and I both sus­pect that there will be a back­lash against the ‘every day is casu­al day’ atti­tude in the local work force. That said, he thinks it will just be for Telus employ­ees where he works; I think it could be a move province-wide, but don’t quote me on it.

Great Food on The Dri­ve
Speak­ing of Matt, last night he and Oana intro­duced us to one of the best lit­tle restau­rants I’ve been in since we got here, the Nepali Restau­rant, Café Kath­man­du. How to describe Nepali cui­sine for the unini­ti­at­ed? It’s kind of like Indi­an, but lighter and with many sub­tle and fresh ingre­di­ents, like mus­tard greens, or fenu­greek. There was a melt­ing­ly tasty cur­ried goat, some fiery hot sauces (as condi­ments) as well as tooth­some lit­tle veg­etable dumplings, which you could dip in either a corian­der sauce, or a toma­to-based sauce. It was a real treat, and anoth­er rea­son to return to the mul­ti-cul­tur­al culi­nary strip of Com­mer­cial Dri­ve (or ‘The Dri­ve’, as it’s some­times called here). We’d been to a pret­ty good Viet­namese restau­rant when we vis­it­ed a year ago, and I’d had a nice meal at the bohemi­an ‘Wasubeez’ Café, but Kath­man­du is def­i­nite­ly a rea­son to return to The Dri­ve again and again. I can’t wait to see what we’ll dis­cov­er there next time.

The Oscars, West Coast Style

This was my first Acad­e­my Awards Tele­cast that I’d ever seen from this side of North Amer­i­ca. Since it is broad­cast live, the show starts here at 5 on Sun­day, and ends around 9:30. Apart from Jon Stew­art doing a fine job (although I’ve noticed that crit­ics seem to already be pil­ing on their cries of dis­ap­point­ment — gee, that didn’t take long), the biggest impres­sion this time shift made on the whole affair was that it felt far more like anoth­er big tele­cast that takes place on a Win­ter Sun­day, rough­ly from 5 to 9, has a lot of guess­ing about who the win­ners would be and has expen­sive com­mer­cials: The Super Bowl! Next year, I think I want to do an Oscar par­ty. Espe­cial­ly if I’ve seen any of the films that were nom­i­nat­ed or won (which I hadn’t, this year), and espe­cial­ly if one of the nom­i­nees was shot in Van­cou­ver. Sta­tis­ti­cal­ly, there’s a good chance of that, since so many movies are shot here.

This leads me to my last thought: Is there a Van­cou­ver Movie Drink­ing Game? (i.e. If you rec­og­nize and get agree­ment that the cur­rent shot is from North Van­cou­ver look­ing at the sky­line, take one shot, etc.) Help me folks, because I’d hate to be the one who came up with that one. Thank good­ness that office cen­tre (the con­vert­ed cathe­dral) in Toron­to that shows up in every mid to low bud­get Sci­ence Fic­tion (Tek­war, Land of the Dead, Mutant X) movie and series since 1985 is not not here or we’d all end up with alco­hol poi­son­ing.

Dear March, Come In!

For those not famil­iar with the poet­ry of Emi­ly Dick­en­son (or the song cycle by Aaron Cop­land that my par­ents record­ed for the com­pos­er back in the 70’s), the rest of it goes:

Dear March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat—
You must have walked—
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me,
I have so much to tell!

I got your let­ter, and the bird’s;
The maples nev­er knew
That you were coming,—I declare,
How red their faces grew!
But, March, for­give me—
And all those hills
You left for me to hue;
There was no pur­ple suit­able,
You took it all with you.

Who knocks? That April!
Lock the door!
I will not be pur­sued!
He stayed away a year, to call
When I am occu­pied.
But tri­fles look so triv­ial
As soon as you have come,
That blame is just as dear as praise
And praise as mere as blame.

It’s a sweet lit­tle poem, and as a kid I was tick­led at the thought of some­one talk­ing to a month like a long-lost friend at their door.

With the new month has come a bunch of new oppor­tu­ni­ties for Pam, and I’m glad that she is prob­a­bly going to be busy with work for the next few months, at the very least. As for me, I’m final­ly feel­ing ful­ly recov­ered from the exer­tions of the Game­lan con­cert at the Muse­um of Anthro­pol­o­gy. We’ve both got bus pass­es now, and we’re not afraid to use them! With Spring indeed arriv­ing (flow­ers and bud­ding trees show­ing up every­where), I’m hop­ing we’ll get a cloud­less week­end day to take a trip to one of the gar­dens south of us (the Van­dusen Botan­i­cal Gar­den on 33rd Avenue or Queen Eliz­a­beth Park, which is near­by there just to the East).

I’m pleased to see that some­one final­ly did a bit of a Google Mashup with some of the major bus stops and lines for Van­cou­ver. Too bad it doesn’t do any of the locals, but it is nice to see where the Sky­train inter­sects with the oth­er lines to the east of us, as well as where the Canada­Line (Rapid Tran­sit sys­tem going in for the Olympics with a great deal of cries of pain and gnash­ing of teeth) will be in 2010.

writ­ten while lis­ten­ing to:
Tubin — Three Pieces for Vio­lin and Piano (1933) — i. Sostenu­to ” by Arvo Leibur, Vio­lin, Var­do Rumessen, piano

Another Holiday, sort of

Groundhog Day

Is this is what you do with Eter­ni­ty?” asks Andie Mac­Dow­ell.

It’s Ground­hog Day, again. As I’ve often said, it’s one of my favourite movies of all time, part­ly because I think that Ground­hog Day with Bill Mur­ray is actu­al­ly a very seri­ous movie mas­querad­ing as a light, fun­ny movie. If I were ever called upon to teach a course in say, ethics or karmic redemp­tion, that film would def­i­nite­ly be on the syl­labus. I par­tic­u­lar­ly love it because it man­ages to ‘teach’ a les­son with­out being preachy or con­de­scend­ing.

It was a good day today, one I wouldn’t remind reliv­ing (although not for­ev­er, to be sure).
There was the review in Geor­gia Straight. And it didn’t rain today. A pat on the back from the boss didn’t hurt either.

Expe­ri­enc­ing a law of Musi­cal Eco­nom­ics
I’ve been going to Game­lan rehearsals twice a week now, because of our upcom­ing con­cert on Feb­ru­ary 21st. It’ll be at the UBC Muse­um of Anthro­pol­o­gy. In fact, I’m learn­ing first­hand a rule that my father has cod­i­fied after many years of per­form­ing music:

Arno’s Law of Remu­ner­a­tion
The amount of mon­ey that you will receive for a con­cert is inverse to the amount of effort expend­ed in prepar­ing and giv­ing the per­for­mance.

This means that if you don’t work hard on a con­cert pro­gram, if it’s some­thing you’ve played many times and comes togeth­er eas­i­ly, you’ll be paid well. If it’s hard music that you have to prac­tice and rehearse a great deal, for­get about any pay­ment. My father played Gershwin’s Rhap­sody in Blue many times. So many times, that the last 10 or so per­for­mances were prob­a­bly a snap, and sure enough, they paid well. But if he played Schoenberg’s Pier­rot Lun­naire, or per­haps Leon Kirchner’s Sonata Con­cer­tante for Vio­lin and Piano (I remem­ber that was incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult because I turned pages for it but I real­ly liked it nev­er­the­less), he didn’t get a pen­ny.

The music for this con­cert that I’m play­ing in on the 21st is very hard. Yup, I’m get­ting bup­kis.

Still Enjoying a Little Free Time

Today we went to the movies. At 10 AM, that is. The Van­cou­ver Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val is this week (and next week, too). We saw two doc­u­men­taries, back to back. The first was the extreme­ly grim (and powerful)“The Oil Fac­tor: Behind the War on Ter­ror”, and the sec­ond was the sweet and quirky “Sou­venir of Cana­da” by Dou­glas Cou­p­land (based on his book of the same name). I real­ly like like Cou­p­land, for his light-heart­ed but sophis­ti­cat­ed sense of humor, his knack of putting his fin­ger on social move­ments and trends (he is the orig­i­na­tor of the term ‘Gen­er­a­tion X’), and of course in this case, the sub­ject mat­ter he’s been writ­ing on late­ly (Cana­da). I also envy him; He and I are near­ly the same age, and now he is liv­ing in Van­cou­ver as some­one return­ing home. As fond as I ever grow of this place, I fear that I will not feel com­plete­ly ‘at home’ here for a long, long time. I always feel as if I’m walk­ing on eggshells: Did I cut in line with­out real­iz­ing it? Did I say the right thing to the clerk at the reg­is­ter? Is my accent not native enough? Do I know enough about hock­ey, Ter­ry Fox or Cana­di­an pol­i­tics? Do I know too much about Amer­i­can pol­i­tics (actu­al­ly, Cana­di­ans on the whole know more about Amer­i­can pol­i­tics than the aver­age Amer­i­can does!) I feel as if I’m often on my guard, try­ing not to stick out too much. The open­er for con­ver­sa­tions, which is that I’ve recent­ly moved here from Boston is always good for a few exchanged sen­tences (that’s what a con­ver­sa­tion piece is for, after all). After that, it seems to be dif­fi­cult. Peo­ple are anx­ious to under­stand the why of it, and then when I explain that, things can get qui­et. Maybe peo­ple are just wary of those Amer­i­cans who come up here and are nasty to them because they (the Amer­i­cans) need to con­vince the Cana­di­ans that they’re wrong, etc.
All I know is that Dou­glas Cou­p­land is a lucky guy. He gets to move back here, live in Van­cou­ver, and (I assume) feel per­fect­ly at home.

Empire Records. That sure was 1995!

I’m deter­mined to do at least a cou­ple of entries per week here. I know that I’ll have some more to write about ear­ly next week (plan­ning a trip), but for now, it’ll have to be some­thing mun­dane. We just fin­ished din­ner (lamb shanks, cooked in a nice braise of car­rots, cel­ery, onions, red wine, chick­en broth and herbes de provence) and now I’m think­ing about the movie I saw last night: Empire Records. It’s one of those movies that has two key fea­tures:

  1. It has a large, ensem­ble cast with peo­ple who turn up lat­er in lots of movies. For instance, George Lucas’s Amer­i­can Graf­fi­ti had Richard Drey­fuss, Ron Howard, Har­ri­son Ford, Kath­leen Quin­lan and even Suzanne Som­mers (who will always be remem­bered as the mys­te­ri­ous Blonde in the T-Bird).
  2. It seems to mark a point in an an era that is absolute­ly a water­mark. You can point to that movie and say, ‘yeah, that was absolute­ly 1999/2000, as is the case with 200 Cig­a­rettes (which also had a lot of famous peo­ple in the cast, includ­ing Ben and Casey Affleck, Dave Chap­pelle, Janeane Garafa­lo, Kate Hud­son, Jay Mohr, Martha Plimp­ton, and Christi­na Ric­ci (wow!). My all-time favorite move like this is Real­i­ty Bites (with Ben Stiller and Janeane Garafa­lo again, as well as Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Swoosie Kurtz, and Renée Zell­weger), which tech­ni­cal­ly should have been too late for me to iden­ti­fy with (his­to­ry says I was 34 when it came out), but some­how it feels like the movie I can point to and say, ‘yeah, that was my era too’.

At any rate, Empire Records is anoth­er one of them (and it also stars Renée Zell­weger, so I guess there could be a sort of Kevin Bacon game amongst these types of big ensem­ble movies). The big cast in Empire Records includes Ms. Zell­weger, Liv Tyler (yowza!), Antho­ny LaPaglia, Robin Tun­ney, Debi Mazar and even Tobey Maguire (although his scenes end­ed up on the cut­ting room floor). And you can point to it and say ‘1995’, which is when it was shot and takes place. Absolute­ly 1995.

I won­der what the film that typ­i­fies the ear­ly 2000 decade will be? I don’t think it’s been made yet (although I sus­pect the movies the last few years will be known for will be Pas­sion of the Christ and Fahren­heit 9/11). We may or may not know the movie when we see it. I doubt if any­body real­ized that Amer­i­can Graf­fi­ti, Real­i­ty Bites, 200 Cig­a­rettes or Empire Records were so emblem­at­ic of their time and that so many of the cast would be so busy after­ward.