Friday, March 12, 2010

Not a Free Country

On Friday, February 19th, Students Live met up for another team meeting. This was a shorter one and included an interview for a CBC feature telecast story. We also learnt that we had tickets to the mens' Olympic hockey game for later that day of Czech Republic versus Latvia, which proved to be unexpectedly exciting. Around lunchtime, the group dispersed on assignment in downtown to get stories. I traveled with Stergios, Genny and Ben in the hopes of interviewing protesters. So we walked.

We headed toward the art gallery, a location noted for its pieces and notorious for its potheads. We passed by the Olympic clock and went by a street vendor selling unlicensed "Olypic" paraphernalia, but we did not see any protesters and it appeared that The Bay's windows had been repaired; thus, protest was wholly absent (and the word "Olympic" was slightly more absent than had been intended).

Our next stop was the main Vancouver Public Library. On the way, we found some a police officer and questioned him as to the whereabouts of the once prominent protesters and he informed us that protesting had dried up following the first few days after the games were declared open. This was partly due to the bad publicity and reputation generated in the aftermath of The Bay incident on Sunday the 13th and partly because local law enforcement had taken it upon themselves to arrest any Olympic opposers on sight. Canada is, of course, recognized as a land of freedom, but it turns out that you could gain a minor criminal record even if just handing out flyers, as they were apparently making arrests through loopholes and over technicalities, potentially including obstruction of a public sidewalk. This policeman then directed us to the downtown eastside's tent city, where he assured that we would be able to find some Olympic opposition. We marched on.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I will be attending the following Paralympic Games:
Wheelchair Curling at the Vancouver Paralympic Centre on March 13th,
Ice Sledge Hockey at the UBC Thunderbird Arena on March 14th,
Wheelchair Curling at the Vancouver Paralympic Centre on March 16th,
Biathalon at the Whistler Paralympic Park on March 17th and
Wheelchair Curling at the Vancouver Paralympic Centre on March 18th.

I will also be attending a few events for the Cultural Olympiad:
The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan at the Shadbolt Centre on February 23rd and
Sport and Challenge with Rick Hansen on March 10th.

I will have access to the Robson Media Centre on February 11th and 21st.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Logo

Tanya Shum and Hannah Lin took it upon themselves to create a board—see it on Flickr—in the hallway at our school with profiles of all of the Prince of Wales student reporters, seeing as ten of the twenty-four members of Students Live are from our school.

I was required to submit an image and wanting to be relevant, I created a new image on Photoshop specifically for Students Live. I cut my head out and pasted it onto a picture of a figure skater, then I pasted that over a natural ice rink and threw some other things in. At first, I tried to match the skin colour of my face and the body; obviously, I did not continue. I added a sea otter and then tried to think of the most random thing that I could add to the image, which was a plate of crumpets, which are a British bread product. I also added an asteroid to fill the sky; this might be something of a throwback to all of the times that I did this as a youngster obsessed with dinosaurs. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Mountains Get Massacred by Travelers and the Weather

My sub-school, Prince of Wales Mini, takes its 150 students—thirty in each grade—annually for a Wednesday to Friday overnight trip to Whistler Blackcomb. Having gone for five years now, I have come to understand how long I should expect to wait in the lineup for the chairlift, which is of course, not very long (usually under a minute) because the mountian is so big and the lifts move so fast. For Wednesday and Thursday, January 13th and 14th, 2010, this seemed like just another year at Blackcomb. It was icy like 2009, but quite a bit foggier and much less sunny. But then forty-seven centimetres (almost nineteen inches) hit overnight and the mountains were ambushed by those hoping to extend their weekends by cashing in on some snow sporting extravaganza. Unfortunately, Friday the 15th turned out to be the rainiest day in my five years and half of Black and all of Whistler was shut down for at least the morning. The lineups were horrendously long; for the first time, I really felt the presence of the Olympic Games—well, kind of, seeing as we were allowed to bypass them as part of "Ski School".

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Olympic Clock: Past, Present and Future

Vancouver's "Olympic Clock" beside the Art Gallery in downtown has been the target of much snide guffawing and vandalism since it was unveiled by British Columbian Premier Gordon Campbell shortly after noon on February 12th, 2007.

In what may well have been the the first act of Olympic defiance of the decade, the countdown's timer was hacked into yesterday on Saturday, January 2nd and set to read "69 days" remaining until the opening ceremony at BC Place Stadium in False Creek. There were of course, "40 days to go" (thank you, VANOC official website) until Canadian Governor General Michaƫlle Jean's worldwide telecasted introduction to the event and 69 is of course, "a number following 68 and preceding 70" (thank you, Wikipedia) and is sometimes used in other contexts (thanks again, Wikipedia).

Serious opposition to the hunk of luxy watchmaker Omega-sponsored steel and glass dates back three years to when it was first displayed to an audience of two thousand Vancouverites amongst an active and violent protest, in which some spectators attacked with rocks and paint balloons in the minutes following the unveiling. Yellow paintballs hit on February 17th, 2007 and the timekeeper suffered a "paint-bombing" the next month on March 11th. August 28th marked another assault on the 2579 pound inanimate beast, as the twenty-footer was consumed in a figurative fireball of white paint. In a non-malicious technical failure, the Olympic side of the clock stopped ticking and shut off on November 27 as the result of faulty wiring.

A multitude of protests have been held at the site, both related and irrelevant to the upcoming Olympic shenanigans. Homelessness protesters prompted a sleep-in on February 10th, 2008. Seventy-five from the Anti-Poverty Committee gathered the next week on February 17th. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals showed on April 2nd to highlight the seal hunt to the world and First Nations people rallied the next month on May 22nd against child poverty with a hope for another look at the welfare system.

At the grand opening of the "Official Timekeeper of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games", the Chief Executive Officer of The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games described it as "a stunning example of what's possible when you tap into local creativity and talent," while an excited spectator reportedly deemed it to resemble a "really big … ice cube". The director of Swiss Timing, a sister company of luxury watchmaker Omega, was also present at the corner of Georgia and Hornby to explain that "three years go by very quickly!", offering a debatably needed opinion on a constant phenomenon.

None of this, however, gives any insight into what will happen once the Games have come and gone. Will the clock shift into a reverse countdown, in which passer-bys may remark on how much time has passed since the world came to our city or will it be licensed to whomever is willing to contribute to the off-setting of the substantial debt caused by Olympic renovations and preparations in exchange for key advertising potential, along with some local ridicule?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Students Live


[This post was required by Students Live to signify that I am a member of the blogging team.]

Friday, September 11, 2009

Predicting the Winners: Drama Writing 2009

[This blog was originally going to review television, with focuses on the Emmys and Nielsen ratings.]

Five episodes have been nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series. Lost's fifth season finale is up against four episodes from Mad Men's second season, all from the second half and all (co-)written by last year's winner for the pilot: showrunner Matthew Weiner. They are "A Night to Remember", "Six Month Leave", "The Jet Set" and the season finale "Meditations in an Emergency". With five nominations, Weiner is the Emmys' most nominated individual this year. In addition to his win, Weiner has been nominated three other times in this category and has four total wins in various categories.

The double-length "The Incident (Parts 1 & 2)" comprises the sixteenth and seventeenth episodes of Lost's fifth season and 102nd and 103rd episodes of the series overall. It aired on May 13, 2009 and was written by showrunning team Damon Lindelof, who is also co-creator and executive producer, and Carlton Cuse, who is also an executive producer. "The Incident" is also nominated for editing and sound mixing and is included as one of the three series tape submission. In addition to nine mythology-alluding flashbacks following a new yet important figure, "The Incident" sees the culmination of two major storylines that demonstates the show's inspired plotting and readiness to take risks, while juggling time travel, nearly two dozen relevant characters and a few substantial twists. The two-part episode deal heavily with Lost's prominent themes of destiny, interconnectedness and figurative and literal reincarnation. Certainly an outstanding achievement in those aspects, the dialogue in "The Incident" and the character motivations are somewhat lacking. Whether or not the characters should detonate a hydrogen bomb in order to reset the past in order to save some four hundred people from future death and whether or not this is even possible are intriguing questions to be asking, but they are diminished by plot-driven character motivations, a strong example being when lead Jack reveals in a pivotal scene that his personal investment in detonating the bomb is a fresh start at a love life with captured fugitive Kate. Probably the most serialized series to ever air on television, "The Incident" requires much background knowledge and might be confusing for new viewers; however, Lost did have enough support from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to win the best drama series prize for its first season four years ago and it is only one of two drama series this year nominated for both series and writing. Lost has also previously been nominated three times in this category, so a win finally is not out of the question, but it is quite unlikely, as the winner will not be chosen by straight voting, but by ranking nominees and it seems more likely that voters will rank multiple Mad Men episodes at the top of their ballots, instead of the potential fluke that voters evenly rank the four episodes first with Lost winning by placing second on everyone's ballot, making "The Incident" the spoiler in this category. And you can bet that a Mad Men episode will rank first on most ballots, as Mad Men won in this category and in the general series race last year and has to have some very strong academy support in order to receive a nomination each for series and directing, four out of five nominations for writing (evidence that vote-splitting is not much of a factor here), three acting nominations and sixteen nominations overall, making it this year's most recognized drama.

"A Night to Remember" is the eighth episode of Mad Men's second season and twenty-first episode of the series overall. It aired on September 14, 2008 and was written by Robin Veith and showrunner/co-creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner, who insists that it is pronounced "wine-ar". "A Night to Remember" is one one of the show's six series submissions, paired with "Six Month Leave". The episode is well paced and focuses on the three women of the show. The main story that provides a welcome and well executed climax for lead Don and Betty's fractured marriage that the show has been inching toward since its pilot, having gained significant ground in the episode prior. This is the primary factor in favour of its chances on ceremony night. The subplots include one about the boundaries of women in the time period (don't they all?) and another about being haunted by difficult choices. The dialogue and interactions here are quite good with Betty overcoming her insecurites and ignorance, which has been a long time coming, in order to confront Don, who acts not in the most obvious way, but in the way that viewers should expect from his character.

"Six Month Leave" is the ninth episode of Mad Men's second season and twenty-second episode of the series overall. It aired on September 28, 2008 and was written by supervising producers Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton with Matthew Weiner. "Six Month Leave" is paired with "A Night to Remember" in the series submissions and is also John Slattery's submission for his supporting actor nomination. This is a very solid episode of Mad Men, continuing the storyline of Betty confronting Don's infidelity. The episode makes great use of the time period, working in the death of Marilyn Monroe in a way that reveals character and sets the mood and theme.

"The Jet Set" is the eleventh episode of Mad Men's second season and twenty-fourth episode of the series overall. It aired on October 12, 2008 and was written by just Matthew Weiner. Like the other Mad Men episodes, this one is included on the series reel with "Meditations in an Emergency"; it is also nominated for directing, art direction and makeup. "The Jet Set" is a leisurely episode in which Don goes travelling and ends up spending his time in the sun by a pool with a bunch of carefree nomads. There are some interesting developments back at the office, but this is a slow transition episode, somewhat lacking in story and probably undeserving of representation in this category with shows like Breaking Bad being snubbed entirely, which I believe to be a better series with a better eligible season. Working in favour of "The Jet Set" is that it is tied with 30 Rock's "Apollo, Apollo" as the most nominated episode of the year with five nominations. It is the dark horse in this category.

"Meditations in an Emergency" is the thirteenth episode of the second season--the season finale--and twenty-sixth episode overall of Mad Men. It aired on October 26, 2008 and was written by writing assistant Kater Gordon and Matthew Weiner. It is also nominated for costumes and was submitted by Elisabeth Moss for her lead acting and is paired with "The Jet Set" in the series reel. Like "Six Month Leave", Mad Men once again utilizes contemporary events in "Meditations in an Emergency" to develop character and set the tone. With this stage in Don and Betty's relationship coming to a melancholy and twisted resolution, Peggy finally revealing to Pete what happened to her at the end of last season and what he meant to her and the power play in the office also coming to a close, this episode has it all and each storyline is written interestingly and in a way that is completely truthful to the characters, all as the Cuban Missile Crisis serves as a backdrop. This is the Mad Men episode that should and will stand out. "The Incident" was an extraordinary achievement in plotting and the potential of television; "Meditiations in an Emergency" is a great accomplishment in dramatic storytelling and is the clear frontrunner in the race and my prediction to take home the prize.