Dancing In The Park

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Yesterday we went to Belcarra Park.  We did a nice little hike, had a picnic on the rocks overlooking Burrard Inlet and returned to the park to enjoy the beachcombing, play park and people-watching.  All was peaceful and pleasant.  Then a large group of young adults, who looked to be of Middle Eastern descent, set up a huge pair of speakers and switched on the music at full volume.  Awful, booming bass beats overlaid with ululating vocals echoed all around the park and disturbed the peace.  We huffed and tutted and shot angry glances their way but they didn’t seem to understand the British code for “Shut Up That Foul Racket”.  Then they started dancing – proper organized group dancing, all in a ring holding hands and laughing and joking.  They were having such a good time, people started to watch and then a couple of little Korean ladies got up from their picnic table and started dancing.  Then they moved over to the group and tried copying the moves.  When the song ended everyone laughed and applauded, and they found “Gangnam Style” and everyone danced to that.  By the time we were ready to pack up, they had started playing traditional Korean music and the ladies were teaching the group Korean dance moves.

I love Canada, and our amazing neighbours with all their ethnic diversity, curiosity and sense of fun.  Happy Canada Day!


Sexism in the Movies, or What I Thought About “Oblivion”

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Tom Cruise, saving the world. Again.

 

I watched Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Jaime Lannister and a couple of women. Here’s what I think…

When I watch an action film these days, having read many of the posts by Lucy Hay, I find myself wondering if the roles could have been reversed, and would that have made the film more interesting, or less? In this case, Tom Cruise is working as a technician on an Earth made largely uninhabitable by the last war, approximately 60 years in the future. Humankind has fled the surface for a space station in orbit, the staging area for their onward journey to Titan, one of Jupiter’s moons. He lives in a serene habitation pod complete with swimming pool, suspended above the Earth, with his tower controller, a beautiful woman. While he kits himself out in his tough-guy work uniform and grabs his enormous weapon, ready to fling his aircraft off the platform into a breathtaking dive, Top Gun-style, she drifts around in her silky nightgown, changes into impractically high heels and a figure-hugging dress and goes to work in the shiny control room. He risks his life to maintain the drones that protect the power stations providing power to the space station, while she relays their daily adventures to mission control on the space station, and looks anxious so that we know that his job is really dangerous.

Later in the story, he meets some underground rebel types, led by Morgan Freeman and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau with his hand back on (isn’t Jaime Lannister easier to say?), and discovers another love interest (I’m trying so hard to avoid spoilers). She is an astronaut, launched from Earth in 2017, so I am guessing she’s pretty intelligent, tough and highly trained.

When things start to unravel, as things inevitably do, his live-in partner clings to the way things have been, refusing to leave the pod or believe that everything is not as it seems. She is prepared to betray him to avoid facing reality. During the Big Battle WithThe Machines (sound familiar? When are we going to stop trusting these damn machines?), the astronaut, instead of snatching up another big weapon and helping her man out, takes on the role of looking stunned and gently guiding the elderly and infirm out of the firing line. As a machine catches up with the fleeing crowd and illogically pauses before blasting them all to kingdom come (as they always do), she turns to face her doom before they are rescued by Jaime Lannister with a huge gun and really big shoulder pads. Phew.

Finally we get our explanation in the form of the back story, which tells us that (a) women are more susceptible to memory erasure than men and (b) when you give a guy a chance, he’ll build a really cute cabin by a lake for you.

I liked the film, but it was really predictable and actually quite boring. Here’s what I think would have been more interesting. A tough technician with a dangerous job lives with her tower controller, a smart and likeable technomonkey (think  Lori Petty as Tank Girl and Fran Kranz as Topher Brink). She finds a crashed astronaut and some underground rebel types (led by a man or a woman, with equal numbers of men and women in command positions, but keep Nicolaj because he’s worth it). They have a big fight, back story ensues, etc etc.

Or how about this to stretch Tom Cruise in his acting career? Nicolaj Coster-Waldau plays a tough technician living with his female tower controller but later discovers a new love interest in the crashed astronaut, Tom Cruise. Together they save humanity and build a really cute cabin by a lake.

 


Vancouver in 3 Days… Ready, Steady, Go!

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Our friends are coming to visit in July, just staying for 3 days before they take the train over the mountains to Calgary and on to Toronto.  It’s their first trip across The Pond, so the whole family got together to produce our list of What You Need To See In Vancouver In 3 Days.  Here is the email we sent them:

“I chatted with the girls about what they think is essential to get a flavour of Vancouver in 3.5 days, and we all agree that Mountains, Sea, Stanley Park and Granville Market need to be on the list. One thing you need to know about Vancouver is the city centre itself is very small (you can walk across the main part in half an hour).  The areas to the east (anything east of Gastown) are pretty run down, and not the best for visitors if you want to see the pretty parts.  The city is very young, and most people live here because it’s a good place to reach the sea and the mountains.  So, compared to Europe, art galleries, history, architecture (except modern) and shopping are not what you come for.  Vancouver is all about amazing views, friendly (and occasionally high) people, wonderful food, multicultural harmony and incredible wildlife.

The tour bus is a great idea for your first afternoon, and the hop-on, hop-off buses and trolley buses have stops near most downtown hotels.  I checked the route map for the trolley bus to see what it covers, and we’d suggest you hop off at Canada Place and walk to the end for the view, then if you still need to stretch your legs, walk along the sea wall past the Olympic Cauldron to the Westin Bayshore, then hop on and hop off again at the Aquarium which is stunning and has Beluga Whales.  The rest of the tour takes you round Stanley Park, across to Granville Island and into the Eastside (see previous comments – stay on the bus), but we love the Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown, and you can walk back through the city if your hotel is near enough, after the obligatory picture of the Gastown Steam Clock.

On your first full day, try Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain, if you feel up to it and if the weather is OK (the views on a clear day are amazing).  Come back via Lonsdale Market for dinner and catch the Seabus back to Waterfront.  Most people find the jet lag means you are up way too early, and exhausted by 3pm, so plan early starts and it’s best to keep the afternoon flexible for the first few days.  Next day, try Granville Island market which means going to Science World and taking the little water ferry down to the market, then across to English Bay for some beach time, or walk from the market round Vanier Park.  You can even continue round to Kitsilano for dinner on the beach.  Then, we recommend a whale-watching tour – Prince of Whales (ouch, bad pun) leaves from the Vancouver waterfront but we went with Seabreeze and they have a shuttle to pick you up from the hotel.  It’s not cheap, but the islands are so beautiful and you are pretty much guaranteed to see killer whales, sea lions and maybe humpback whales and porpoises.  If not that, then a shorter harbour cruise or a kayak tour, or even a stand up paddleboarding lesson.

The Aquarium, tour bus, Grouse Mountain, Capilano and whale tours are all pricey, and if your budget is limited, we know free alternatives to all of them.”

So that is our best option for the Tourist 3-Day Package.  But how about the Potential Immigrant 3-Day Package? Or the Doing Vancouver On A Budget 3-Day Package?  What are your best suggestions?  What did we miss out?


Happy First Day of Spring!

Happy First Day of Spring! You know it’s going to be good day when you wake up to find blue skies, sunshine, and fresh snow on the North Shore mountains. It’s such a phenomenal first day of spring in Vancouver, this is what English Bay looks like from the KatKam web cam right now: The cherry blossoms […]

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