Still Here. Let's Get Caught Up

First off, to my read­ers, apolo­gies for the long gap in post­ings. I can’t offer much in the way of excus­es, except to say that I think I need­ed a bit of a vaca­tion from writ­ing. I’m appar­ent­ly not the only one who found this to be the case. Two Van­cou­ver blogs that I fol­low, and are on the blogroll at the right have also been post­ed to spo­rad­i­cal­ly in recent days. Maybe it’s some­thing in the weath­er; It is get­ting awful­ly nice these days, and the rainy weeks that forced all of us inside and behind our key­boards are past.
There have been sev­er­al items in the past weeks that prob­a­bly would have ben­e­fit­ed from a few words about them, which I’ll take note of here:

  • The death of my old iPod and my urge to get a new one imme­di­ate­ly (heck, the only thing I’ve ever replaced faster has been an umbrel­la!)
  • My spiffy new iPod that does video, and now holds an entire sea­son of Fire­fly which I pur­chased from the iTunes Music Store to keep me enter­tained on bus trips out to SFU on Burn­a­by Moun­tain for Game­lan rehearsals until the fall, if I’ve cal­cu­lat­ed cor­rect­ly.
  • A new, mul­ti-year con­struc­tion project that Pam and I once again find our­selves in the mid­dle of, which has divert­ed all of the Vancouver’s bus routes that I reg­u­lar­ly take and is in the process of dig­ging up the cen­tre of town. Unlike Boston’s Big Dig, which I always hat­ed, this incon­ve­nience promis­es a reward in the end. The Big Dig was just anoth­er stu­pid high­way in a tun­nel dug under the city. I may have been on it half a dozen times before we left. The Cana­da Line, which is hope­ful­ly going to be done before the 2010 Olympics is a mass tran­sit line to Rich­mond and the Air­port this time. Let’s hope it works out as well as I hope it does, and that I’ll actu­al­ly end up using it!
  • Sev­er­al nice din­ners at home and at restau­rants. At the pub­lic mar­ket, we dis­cov­ered Kiwi berries, which I can best describe as a sort of cross between kiwis and con­cord grapes (with­out the tough skin, hair or seeds). I con­coct­ed a nice glaze for Salmon out of a com­bi­na­tion of Wild Blue­ber­ry Jam, soy sauce, sher­ry (or Marsala) and dash of Canola oil. I have deter­mined that I pre­fer Pink Salmon to Coho, Chi­nook, Sock­eye or Chum, although I’m still not quite sure. We final­ly had a light din­ner at the charm­ing and gemütlich ‘Café S’il Vout Plaît’ down­town as well as the hip Rag­no­li restau­rant and mar­ket (part of Vij just up the hill from us on Granville Street) where you can get some of the tasti­est ‘Indi­an fusion’ cui­sine in the city, either to eat at the café tables or to take home for your fridge or freez­er. How great is that?
  • A cou­ple upcom­ing con­certs on June 3 by the Game­lan both up at SFU and in a pri­vate home in East Van­cou­ver. We’re hav­ing rehearsals both on Tues­day nights and Sun­day after­noons to get ready. I’m still new with the group, but I’m learn­ing a lot.
  • Pam has come back from a 5-day busi­ness trip to an STC Con­ven­tion Las Vegas, which she felt was well worth the trou­ble, despite the ever-present clouds of cig­a­rette smoke and gen­er­al cul­ture shock she had to deal with. Dur­ing that time I held down the fort, but missed her, and I seemed to be con­stant­ly late for every­thing and every­where dur­ing her absence.
  • We’re com­ing up on our nine-month anniver­sary of our move here in two days. Not all that sig­nif­i­cant, but it’s great to reflect on what we’ve both done in inter­im, but enough of that; there’ll be time for a year­ly wrap-up in my mid-July entry.

OK, that should bring you some­what up-to-date. I’ll try to post more fre­quent­ly from here on out, at least for a while. Blog vaca­tion (Blog­ca­tion?) is over.

What Not to Wear (in Vancouver)

Mec Spectre Jacket

This is what to wear…

Pam has become a real fan of the Learn­ing Chan­nel pro­gram ‘What Not to Wear’. It’s a show in the mold of ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’, only this time it’s Fash­ion-Eye for the Clue­less Girl. Sta­cy Lon­don and Clin­ton Kel­ly take some woman who has no fash­ion sense and maybe a lot of poten­tial, give them a $5,000 cred­it card shop­ping spree in NYC, and throw away all of their old clothes (while tak­ing them to task in all man­ner of zingers as they do so). After a new hair­do and make­up ses­sion, the trans­formed vic­tim arrives to cheers of friends, cowork­ers and fam­i­ly (this part is the most staged and feels very much like the show is a rip-off of Queer Eye). Unlike the oth­er show, it does not seem to me to have quite as much of a ‘good heart’, but Pam feels she is learn­ing lots of good tips and rules of thumb along the way.
Fast for­ward to dress­ing here. All of the rules are back­wards. In the world of fash­ion, Van­cou­ver is Bizarro World (for the non-Super­man or Sein­feld-savvy, Biz­zaro world is the inven­tion of the afore­men­tioned comics, a place where up is down, good-bye is hel­lo, and wrong is right. You get the idea.

Dress­ing up in Van­cou­ver is wear­ing some­thing that isn’t falling apart. As a friend of Matt’s exclaimed dur­ing a recent vis­it, “Every­one looks like they’re about an hour away from snow­board­ing.” (Which tech­ni­cal­ly we are, if you fac­tor in the dri­ve to Grouse and line for lift tick­ets). When I go into work, which is in Gas­town (a slight­ly seedy and touristy area that has many pan­han­dlers) and hap­pened to be dressed a lit­tle nicer, I stand out, in a way that’s prob­a­bly not so good (i.e. , I’m approached by more pan­han­dlers, who assume I’m a rich tourist). We’re talk­ing kha­ki pants, but­ton down shirt and leather jack­et here; that’s over­dressed.

In prac­ti­cal terms, a leather jack­et is fair­ly use­less around here, any­way. When it’s dry and the leather jack­et would be safe to wear, it’s too warm. When it’s cold enough for the leather jack­et, it’s usu­al­ly too wet.

The stan­dard jack­et here is a wind­break­er or alpine jack­et, , made of GORE-TEX. usu­al­ly with a hood, (see above pic­ture) obtained at a Moun­taineer­ing or Sports store (The MEC is renowned here.) As for pants, it’s den­im, or per­haps car­go pants. The shirt? Long-sleeved or short-sleeved T, sweat­shirt (prefer­ably also hood­ed). To top it all off, if it’s cold out­side, fin­ish the whole ensem­ble with a Toque (the Cana­di­an term for knit­ted cap, often, but now always with a lit­tle pom-pom at the top). Colours can match, but don’t have to. Shoes are Doc Martens, jog­ging shoes, or those bowl­ing shoes that went in style a few years ago (which I wish I could wear, but can nev­er get in a width that is nar­row enough).

So my dif­fi­cul­ty here is that much of my Boston­ian-cen­tric wardrobe, includ­ing half a dozen white but­ton-down shirts, some fan­cy wool trousers and assort­ed cardi­gans and cash­mere sweaters is what the fish out of water is wear­ing here. Today I went out in some old jeans, a grey t-shirt topped with a choco­late brown shirt that has no col­lar, and wore a hood­ed fleece sweat­shirt. Walk­ing back from the local caf�, I said to Pam “Today, I final­ly feel like I look like the every­one else.”

Another Guy from Morgantown

Don KnottsI read that Don Knotts, who played the bum­bling Deputy Bar­ney Fife on the TV Show “The Andy Grif­fith Show”, which aired the year of my birth (1960) to 1968 died yes­ter­day. He was also in the very strange film ‘The Incred­i­ble Mr. Limpet” of 1964, as well as more than 25 oth­ers, includ­ing one of my favourites, Pleas­antville, in 1998. In that year, Mr. Knotts, who is prob­a­bly the only famous per­son born in my home­town of Mor­gan­town, West Vir­ginia, was hon­ored when they named a street there after him. He majored in speech at West Vir­ginia Uni­ver­si­ty, which was the rea­son I was born in there too, since my par­ents were on the fac­ul­ty at that insti­tu­tion. He was due to make anoth­er appear­ance in Mor­gan­town in August of last year but had to can­cel because of ill health.
Mr. Knotts was 81.

Showtime is Off Limits to Me

I found out some­thing fas­ci­nat­ing when I tried to find out about an upcom­ing Show­time Net­work ‘Mas­ters of Hor­ror’ that appar­ent­ly makes a not-too-sub­tle jibe at Ann Coul­ter (the Right Wing’s Queen of Ven­om). If you’re not in the Unit­ed States, any page on the Show­time web site looks like this: (click on this graph­ic to see the full size page I see).
SorryAppar­ent­ly Show­time has infor­ma­tion that it doesn’t want for­eign­ers like me to see, I guess. I’m dis­ap­point­ed. A show that used to air on Show­time was among my favourites: ‘Dead Like Me’, which is now show­ing on Mon­day nights here on the (basic cable) Show­case chan­nel. It was also shot here, and I’m now watch­ing it to see when I can pick out scene loca­tions. Dead Like Me was abrupt­ly can­celled because (as I learned lat­er) new own­ers of Show­time hat­ed the show, which was a real shame. It had some of the most inter­est­ing ideas, a great and quirky musi­cal score, a very appeal­ing actress as the lead (Ellen Muth), and Mandy Patinkin, who is one of those actors who I could watch read the phone book and love every minute of it.

Allo. My name is Ini­go Mon­toya. You killed my father, pre­pare to die.
(Ring a bell?)