May 29, 2008

The future face(s) of East Vancouver?


Three faces
Originally uploaded by stodmyk
The Mexican government is notorious for its corruption; centuries of caste-based governance and racial pressures will do that to you. (Case in point: not many people know that nearly five million Mexicans DON'T speak Spanish at all, but still speak Mayan and other native languages. You think QUEBEC has a "distinct society"?Imagine speaking frickin' MAYAN.)



In the past 15 years or so, however, they've done a marvelous job of turning some of those inequalities around. Sure, it's still a country full of desperation, poverty and injustice. But for all of those hard-working, smile-through-it-all, give-it-their-best folk who don't fit the unfair stereotypes, there's good news: it's also started to regain a lot of its glory, culture and, perhaps most important of all, hope.



At the corner of Calle Moneda and Calle Academia, this outstanding sculpture by José Luis Cuevas is a representation of the inspiring reclamation of the downtown area of Mexico City. There are dozens of these sculptures scattered throughout the region, lending public pride and touristic interest to previously downtrodden areas. A vigilant police presence and the creation of several museums in the area have helped to keep these artpieces free of vandalism and graffiti, as well.



East Van could use some projects like this, don't you think? (I'm sorry, pre-fab fibreglass bears painted up like Lydia the Tattooed Lady just don't cut it as culture.) When our museum-bound pieces are stolen for scrap metal (don't get me started on the whole Bill Reid thing), maybe street art weighing several tonnes is the answer.



Oh, that gorgeous third face in the middle is courtesy of my wife, the lovely and talented Nadia Ruiz, who remains a wonderful representation of the reclamation of my adult life. Perhaps she will also be a part of the better parts of East Van, if we ever manage to raise joint venture capital to put a down payment on a house there. (I wonder if there are any other solid gold boxes with lax security out there.)

May 27, 2008

Us at Chitzen Itza


Us at Chitzen Itza
Originally uploaded by stodmyk
Okay, I'll admit it. I haven't seen Apocalypto, and have only an amateur relationship with archaeology in general. But DAMN, was Chitzen Itza every bit the jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring experience those chisel-wielding, safari hatted geeks told me it would be.

Nadia and I rented a car in Cancun, and hit Chitzen Itza on Friday, May 16.

May 26, 2008

Jonesing for the IVth film

Like most action film fans of this day & age, I knashed on Raiders of the Lost Ark and

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) -Harrison Ford still has some crack left in his bullwhip, but unfortunately he's toting on his 65-year-old shoulders a story conceived by the long-braindead George Lucas. He of the franchise-killing behemoth hasn't conceived a good story since the mid- to late-80s; that's probably why Ford refused to don the Indy Fedora for nigh on 20 years. That said, even with hamfisted period references to the late 50s, Goonies-style runaway scenes involving a small cadre of "good guys", and a storyline that would have gotten a Grade 9 creative writer shivved in the upstairs boys' room, it's fun to see Indiana Jones in action once again. This battles Temple of Doom for second place in the "best of the franchise" competition -- nothing will ever match Raiders of the Lost Ark, but that's no reason not to try once or twice more. (And I reiterate: if we can have seven different James Bonds, why not recast Jones? Ralph Fiennes would be great in the Fedora. Or hell, suave him up and give Johnny Depp a go-round as the professor. And for Pete's sake, get Lucas out of the producer's chair and get a writer worth his salt to work on the next one.)

Jonesing for the IVth Indy flick

Like most action film fans of this day & age, I knashed on Raiders of the Lost Ark long before I dropped my jaw for The Bourne Ultimatum.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) -Harrison Ford still has some crack left in his bullwhip, but unfortunately he's toting on his 65-year-old shoulders a story conceived by the long-braindead George Lucas. He of the franchise-killing behemoth hasn't conceived a good story since the mid- to late-80s; that's probably why Ford refused to don the Indy Fedora for nigh on 20 years. That said, even with hamfisted period references to the late 50s, Goonies-style runaway scenes involving a small cadre of "good guys", and a storyline that would have gotten a Grade 9 creative writer shivved in the upstairs boys' room, it's fun to see Indiana Jones in action once again. This battles Temple of Doom for second place in the "best of the franchise" competition -- nothing will ever match Raiders of the Lost Ark, but that's no reason not to try once or twice more. (And I reiterate: if we can have seven different James Bonds, why not recast Jones? Ralph Fiennes would be great in the Fedora. Or hell, suave him up and give Johnny Depp a go-round as the professor. And for Pete's sake, get Lucas out of the producer's chair and get a writer worth his salt to work on the next one.)

May 1, 2008

We were on CBC Radio, yo!

Chris Strompolos in VancouverWell, it's official. Chris Strompolos, producer of Raiders: The Adaptation, is in Vancouver and we spent most of today running around town doing media appearances and scarfing down good food far too quickly to properly appreciate it.

Chris Strompolos on Urban RushWe hit Shaw Cable's Urban Rush in the afternoon, CBC Radio One's On the Coast later on and managed to squeeze in a talk with the self-professed geekfest that is the Vancouver-produced video game and fanboy culture show, Electric Playground.

Chris Strompolos on CBC RadioI'm trying to be Zen about it — because the coverage is great!!! and it's all about the kids at Camp Good Times and the Canadian Cancer Society — but 24HRS Vancouver spelled my name incorrectly throughout this otherwise smokin' feature in the Friday morning paper.

*sigh*

Oh well. I'm not supposed to be the star of it, anyway. 

Chris Strompolos with the VTSL castChris had a good time, and was a great sport about walking all over the downtown core on two hours of sleep. We wound up the day by seeing Raiders of the Lost Improv at Vancouver TheatreSports League (how could we not check it out), thanks to Exec. Director Jay Ono who comped us into the show and gave us a wonderful plug for the crowd before the show. From left to right: Ted Cole, Nick Harrison, Chris Strompolos, Michael Tiegen, Denise Jones

Thanks to everyone who helped to put this together. Friday evenin' is all about the 3400 block of Cambie Street. It's Black Dog Video from 5 to 6, where Melinda has put together an amazing meet & greet on short notice. Then it's the Park Theatre from 6 to 7, where Storm Brew is setting us up with some excellent hops. Showtime is 7 pm sharp! After party is a possibility at Daddy-O's just up the street!


All photos in this post by Jason Kurylo. Thanks to Shaw Cable, CBC Radio and the Vancouver TheatreSports League for letting us pretty much have the run of their places while we ran around promoting our wee fundraiser.