Monday, February 25, 2008

More adventures, please

I like to think of myself as an adventurous person. I love adventures.

I'm not talking about climbing Mount Everest or bushwhacking through the Amazon. I'm talking about the small things that thrill, amuse, entertain or challenge us on a daily basis.

Everything has the potential to be an adventure. Taking the bus can be adventure. Walking to work can be an adventure. Even counting ballots can be an adventure.

Of course, the best adventures are the ones that include trying something new for the first time. Last week I did two things I had never done before -- fly in a floatplane and attend a budget lock-up.

Both were pretty exciting experiences. When my boss told me she was sending me to Victoria for the release of the B.C. budget, I was happy about getting out of the office for a few days. But I wasn't happy about the fact that she was sending me there by floatplane.

Now, I hate boats and I hate small planes. Put the two of them together and you get my worst nightmare. I had visions of vomiting all over the cabin and crashing into the ocean.

This is Vancouver's floating "airport." The whole scene looks pretty sketchy to me.

But I'm pleased to report that I didn't get sick and that the plane didn't nosedive into the ocean. The scenery was spectacular. Check out my video!

I even got to sit right behind the pilot (I guess they're not worried about terrorists on floatplanes).

The budget lock-up was also a pretty awesome experience.

A lock-up is exactly what it sounds like -- prison. The lock-up allows journalists and stakeholders to look at the budget before it's officially released in the legislature. It gives journalists a chance to study the details and gives stakeholders a chance to generate an informed response before it's unleashed on the public.

But you pretty much have to sign away all of your personal liberties and freedoms for the privilege of getting a sneak peek at the budget. We had to sign a waiver that said we would not leak the details of the budget to the outside world.

Just like a real prison, they took away our cell phones and blackberries and put them into sealed plastic bags that were not returned to us until we were released.

Stripped of all contact with the outside world, we were then directed into a large, windowless room filled with tables and chairs where we spent the next five hours poring over the budget.

We were not allowed to leave the building. We were allowed to go to the bathroom but security guards followed us there. The provincial government also provided a buffet breakfast and lunch (the egg salad sandwiches were particularly delicious).

The only entertainment was when Finance Minister Carole Taylor came in the room to do a presentation on the budget and answer journalists' questions (can I just say that Ms. Taylor is one of the smartest, most passionate and most beautiful women in Canadian politics? She’s our Obama, and my newest non-sexual crush).

At about 1:00 p.m. the 70 journalists in the lock-up were allowed to cross the room and interview the stakeholders. It sounds civilized but it was actually extremely chaotic. It was like a feeding frenzy with journalists running around thrusting cameras and microphones in peoples' faces.

The chaos subsided after the journalists had their fill of quotes and sat down to write their stories. By 3:00 p.m., Carole Taylor was standing up in the legislature delivering the budget and the lock-up was lifted. The whole thing made me want to be a journalist again. I miss the adventures.

More adventures, please!

Friday, February 22, 2008

One of the worst movies I've seen in a long time

I was part of the National Post's Popcorn Panel this week. I was one of three "lucky" people asked to watch and then write about the movie Jumper.

Jumper was awful to watch but fun to write about. That Hayden Christensen sure knows how to bring the suck.

Here's an excerpt:

Not even the jumping, the plot device on which the entire film rests, is explained. But I sort of like the Zen quality that results. What is the plot? There is no plot, there is only right now. And right now Hayden Christensen is sunbathing on top of the Sphinx. Sweet.

You can read the rest of the review in today's National Post (and save yourself the cost of a movie ticket).

Samuel L. Jackson spends most of the movie trying to kill Hayden Christensen. But we're never really told why. (Jackson's white hair is another mystery.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Adventures in online dating

I have a confession to make. I frequently cruise the "men seeking women" ads on craigslist. I have no intention of replying to any of the ads. It's strictly voyeuristic.

I do it because it makes me feel better about being single. It's proof that there are no decent single guys in Vancouver. And, secure in that knowledge, I can hole myself up in my apartment without feeling guilty about not putting myself out there.

First of all, half of the guys on craigslist are looking for Asian women (What's that all about? Aren't Asian women creeped out by white dudes who only want to date them because they're Asian? And what kind of guy only dates Asian women anyway?).

Second of all, almost all of the guys on craigslist are looking for women five to 10 years younger than they are. I don't get it. Why do they automatically rule out girls their own age or a little older? Why do women have no problem dating someone 10 years older but there are rarely any guys willing to do the same? What's that all about?

Of all the ads on craigslist, there is only one that intrigues me (emphasis is mine):

I am a 25 year old male looking for a dominant female in need of a boytoy. I am 6’1 195 lbs very fit and attractive. I want to have no control and be at the will of a dominant female. As your boytoy my services could include full sexual slavery or no sex at all. I could just be used for cooking cleaning and massaging ect. I am very clean and dont do drugs. I have always fantacized about this but never tried

What intrigues me about this ad is that I have a very similar fantasy. I have always fantasized about being free from domestic drudgery. I get absolutely no pleasure from grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, washing the dishes, doing laundry and sweeping the kitchen floor. I hate housework.

And now, here's this guy offering his services for free. Absolutely no strings attached. I wonder how this would work? Could I just give him my keys and tell him to clean my apartment and have dinner waiting for me by the time I get home from work?

Or would I have to supervise him and whip him and say things like, "Scrub the floor harder, you dirty boy!" And then he would whimper, "Yes, mistress." Because that would be weird.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I miss real winter

I love winter. Always have. Always will.

I'm talking about real winter, of course. Not this rainy, grey, wet non-season that passes for winter in Vancouver.

"At least you don't have to shovel rain," people here are fond of saying. What kind of consolation is that? I love shoveling snow. I would shovel snow all day if I could.

Vancouverites also like to compensate for their non-existent winter by bragging about how you can ski, golf and sail all on the same day. While this is technically true, I don't know anyone who actually does this.

I'd take a blizzard over rain any day. There is nothing more beautiful than snow. I love the way it softens edges and muffles sound. Real winter is supposed to be harsh, bleak and desolate. The colder it is, the happier I am. Maybe I have reverse seasonal affective disorder.

At least Vancouver is close to the mountains where, if you get up high enough, the rain is replaced by snow. Although, there's something unnatural about driving out of a city where the grass is green and arriving in a winter wonderland a mere 20 minutes later. Downtown Vancouver and Cypress Mountain are less than 15 kilometres apart but they feel like two different worlds.

So while it looks like spring from below, it looks like winter from above. Two seasons for the price of one. Weird, huh?

I took these photos last weekend. And while the scenery up on Cypress was spectacular, something about it just didn't feel authentic. It took me a while to figure out what the problem was . . . it wasn't cold enough.

I guess you can take the girl out of Ontario but you can't take the Ontario out of the girl. I miss real winter.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Freaks on the bus and parrots in the supermarket

I had a couple of "only in Vancouver" moments this week.

The first happened on the city's great traveling sideshow, where $2.50 gets you a front-row seat to the theatrics of some of Vancouver's most colourful characters (more commonly known as "the bus").

The following went down on the #4 bus heading south on Howe Street . . . in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.

As I boarded the bus, I was greeted by a very drunk man hanging off the pole beside the driver. Even though the bus wasn't moving, he was having trouble keeping his balance. He lurched forward as I tried to squeeze past him. He smiled and mumbled something incoherent, spewing noxious booze fumes in my face. The man was hammered but harmless.

I sat near the back of the bus and watched as the drunk guy tried to strike up a conversation with the driver. I was too far back to hear what he was saying. About five minutes into the trip, the drunk guy decided he wanted to get off the bus and dinged the bell.

The driver stopped the bus and let him out the front door. Mistaking it for a proper stop, a guy standing in the stairwell at the back of the bus frantically tried to open the rear door. As the bus lurched forward, the guy at the back door started yelling because the driver hadn't let him off.

The driver yelled back, "It's not a stop!"

"You let the other guy off!" the bus rider said.

"He's drunk," the driver explained.

Instead of calming the man down, this sent him over the edge.


The tone of his voice verged on rage.


He looked around for support but everyone on the bus remained silent. No one would even make eye contact with the guy. He stood in the back stairwell cursing and ranting about discrimination against non-drunk, non-homeless people until the driver let him off at the next stop.

This week's second "only in Vancouver" moment happened at the Safeway on 4th yesterday morning.

There was a guy walking around the produce section, just going about his normal grocery shopping. There was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about him . . . except for the large parrot sitting on his right shoulder.

The parrot was sitting on a navy blue towel the guy had draped over his shoulder so that the bird could crap whenever it liked.

I couldn't stop staring at him. No one else seemed fazed by the fact that there was a man walking around the grocery store with a dirty, shitty bird on his shoulder.

Only in Vancouver . . .