OLP at O-Zone

Fri, Feb 19th 2010 02:34 am
There are a number of awesome free events going on around the GVRD, which I sadly haven't taken full advantage of yet. That's on the to-do list though. Tonight was the much-anticipated free Our Lady Peace concert at Richmond O-Zone which is a huge outdoor venue (Minoru Park?) with nightly shows and things. Had been looking forward to the concert, but almost couldn't make it due to my parents leaving to go play golf and leaving me stranded at home. Thankfully they got back in time and I ran out to catch a bus to the SkyTrain. The bus driver was quite amusing and talked to us the entire time about all sorts of things, and even had a little trivia thing when we got closer to Bridgeport station.

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Managed to get to O-Zone by about 7:30 or so. The line up to get in through the entrance closest to Richmond Centre was insanely long, but just as I got there, a couple volunteers (I think?) on bikes started directing people at the end of the line to another entrance down the street. It was a much faster line, and going through security was just...walking through since I didn't have a bag. There wasn't anything happening on-stage since they were in the middle of a break for the medal ceremony for Christine Nesbitt and Patrick Chan's free-skate program, which they showed on the two big screens beside the stage. Friends had gotten seats on the bleachers, which was better than the giant mosh and crowd in front of the stage.

The Arkells started playing at 8:30. Not familiar with this band so I don't have much to say about them. They were decent, though. The crowds were clearly waiting for OLP though.

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By the time 9:45 rolled around, almost the entire field was packed with people. OLP played most of their good old songs and a couple I couldn't really recognize. It didn't sound like they played too many from their new album, which I have yet to listen to. They did play Innocent, Is Anybody Home?, Somewhere Out There, and 4 am (the ones I could recognize and remember). Another interesting one was a cover of MGMT's Kids and mentioning something about some sign he saw about Vancouver being a nuclear-free city? Iunno.

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By the end, we were all getting ridiculously cold. Next time, will have to remember to wear another layer underneath jeans. Getting out of the venue was horrible, too. People shoving and pretty much squished together like sardines... Guess people were cold too and really wanted to go home. Oh well. It was a good show nonetheless and I'm glad I didn't skip out like I'd been thinking of doing earlier in the day.

Besides, who could say no to free? =)

Men's Luge in Whistler

Mon, Feb 15th 2010 03:49 pm
A friend kindly asked me to join her family up in Whistler for the Men's Luge medal event since they had a spare ticket. Of course I was more than happy to go, since I don't have any of my own tickets to any of the events.

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We left at around 7 am to get to BCIT, where there are a bunch of shuttle buses up to Whistler. The bus took us straight to Whistler Village which was great. After brunch, we headed to the Whistler Sliding Center at Blackcomb near the Excalibur gondola. There was a security check as well, though it was much better than any security check at an airport, due to the fact that the people were much friendlier. They still dumped out water bottles and stuff though.

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It's a very long track, and had no idea that it would be such a hike to get around it. Got all the way up to the top where they were starting (originally the women's start, after the few changes they made since Friday) and then headed down again for a better spot.

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After getting a few pictures and watching some runs from the upper corners, we headed back down to the stands at the last corner and sat down in the bleachers. The view was not so great but there was a longer view of the athletes as they took corner 16, and there was the giant screen where we could watch the athletes on camera as they came down the track. Much better than getting a one-second glimpse of them on one corner.

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Unfortunately we didn't make it onto the podium, but we did make it to the top 10 so that's worth something. Canadian athletes also did improve since their Torino runs apparently, so that's also great. The final standings were:

  1. GERMANY - Felix Loch
  2. GERMANY - David Möller
  3. ITALY - Armin Zöggeler

More images can be found on my Picasa!

Vancouver 2010 Begins

Sat, Feb 13th 2010 05:05 pm
Last night was the much-anticipated Opening Ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. And since that is covered by pretty much every other source out there, I'll mostly be just going over my thoughts on it instead. It should be noted that I have yet to see the Beijing opening ceremonies myself, so my expectations for opening ceremonies are a bit skewed from other people. That being said, Vancouver's were neither fantastic, nor a complete let-down.

I was at a local pub with a couple friends to watch the ceremony, and we had great seats right at the bar to watch the TV. There were surprisingly fewer people there than expected, but I suppose most people were at home or downtown watching instead. Actually a bunch of people left once the Canucks game was over, which they won. I think it would have been a terrible let-down had they lost. Then again, maybe they were a bit distracted.

The sequences of the show that I enjoyed most were the opening sequence with the snowboarder (minus his talking), the orca whales, and the aurora borealis. The 'prairies' part was frankly numbingly boring and really could have been cut much shorter. Aside from that, I guess the rest of it was decent. Although a bunch of people were either confused or not pleased with all the First Nations bits at the start, but let's face it, that is BC's history.

The lighting of the cauldron was just...damn funny but embarrassing as well. It'll never be lived down. And I'm still confused as to why it had been Wayne Gretzky, considering there were other candidates who seemed like they would have been much better suited for the job, but what can you do.

Frankly, I don't think it would have been half as entertaining if I hadn't gone out to watch it with some friends (and text-spamming with another in Ontario during the course of the show). That being said, I should go and borrow the DVD of the Beijing opening ceremony...

And will be going to see the luge medal event tomorrow at Whistler! Can't wait to see it. Hopefully the fixes they made to the track will be good enough.

Chef Hung TBN Mini Review

Fri, Jan 29th 2010 07:28 pm
After reading a review on Chow Times, decided to try out Chef Hung's Taiwanese Beef Noodle Restaurant, located in Aberdeen Centre (which is starting to become one of my favourite malls, mostly due to the food court and Daiso) in Richmond. It was also a chance to finally take a ride on the new Canada Line SkyTrain for the first time. I found that the trains weren't as nice as the new trains on the Expo Line. Still nicer and cleaner than anything the TTC could dream of, though, but I guess that's a given.

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*Note: This will not be a thorough review since Chow Times did a much better job of that anyway. This is just describing my own dining experience here. =)

We were prepared to wait a while since we'd read that the lines are usually pretty crazy, but thankfully at around 1:30 pm when we arrived, there weren't that many people waiting in line, so it only took about 5-10 minutes for us to get a seat. Plus I was fascinated by this little doodad by the front of the store:

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The noodles/chopsticks part moves up and down! Keeps ADD people like me entertained for a few minutes. =) We were seated right beside the fake bamboo decorations in the middle of the restaurant, which I was quite happy about. Even if it's fake, it gives off a nice feeling. Some people may find it tacky, but done right, I don't find it all bad.

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Didn't take a long look at the menu since we'd both decided to get the same thing (Champion Beef Noodles). Instead of the waitress writing down orders, the customers fill out boxes on the menu instead. Sort of a waste of paper, but whatever works for them. The beef noodles came out very quickly - within 10 minutes for sure, but probably around 5 minutes. That was a good thing since we were both pretty hungry at that point.

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As mentioned in Chow Times, the noodles are hand-made in-store, and you can really taste the difference. They had a full flavour that you can't really get from dry noodles. The soup was good too, with just the right hint of spiciness (although I added some hot pepper flakes anyway). The beef was tender and cooked well, especially the beef strips that one person is in charge of searing on the outside with a torch (see Chow Times).

For both of us, the bill came out to about $21, which isn't too bad, but it's not the cheapest. Pho is about $6 per bowl so this place isn't the best for a bargain, but the soup was damn good. Had to stop myself from overeating at the end.

There are plenty of good places to eat in Aberdeen's food court as well, but Chef Hung's is definitely one place that shouldn't be overlooked. Don't see myself going all the time, but will definitely go here if I ever get a craving for TBN.

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Models of the TBN on display outside the restaurant.
My phone camera doesn't like backlit glass displays.

Taka's Sushi Mini Review

Wed, Jan 13th 2010 07:40 pm
Went to Taka's Sushi down by the beach today for a quick dinner. A friend insisted that they had the best toro ever, so of course I had to try it for myself.

Drove by the place at least 2 times (made a sort-of figure-eight around the place too) trying to find it. It's a very small place, and had I not been told about it, I definitely would not have known about it. Very glad we went, though.

The albacore toro was definitely very tasty. It didn't need any soy sauce since it had been seared lightly on top and dashed with some lemon juice and a hint of wasabi. Amazingly good. There were also seasonal specials, the names of which have left me completely, but they were also good. Sea bream might have been one of them.

The roll we got was called Canadian Sunset. It was quite tasty as well, but not necessarily anything to write home about. Salmon and avocado on the outside of the roll, some mayo-mix sauce on top, and tuna with cucumber inside. Somewhat typical fare, but considering I picked a random one off the list, it didn't disappoint.

We got one more each of the two special items and tried to get more albacore toro, but unfortunately they were all out. The chef gave us salmon toro instead, which was still quite good.

Inside the shop, there are about four seats by the sushi bar in front of the two chefs, and two very small raised tables cafe-style. It's not a good place for a lot of people since it is mainly a take-out restaurant, but for two or three, it's cozy. Both chefs were very friendly, although the waitress was a bit harder to get a hold of at times since she was in the back (assumedly preparing take-out orders). From the looks of it, a lot of the customers are regulars and the chefs know them quite well.

All in all, a quaint and cozy little shop, perfect for quick but good take-out. Very good quality, although the prices are typical (~$2.50 per piece of nigiri sushi). Next time I get a craving for sushi but can't find anybody, this is most likely where I will be going.

Frog in a Dress

Tue, Jan 12th 2010 11:09 pm
Finally, finally got to see The Princess and the Frog. After all the hype about it, and the fact that the fate of the 2D animation department at Disney apparently rested with this film, it was inevitable that I would see it. And since it was Telus Tuesday, it was only $6 for a ticket (the lady tried to gyp us and charged full price until we pointed it out), so even if I found it not so good, it wouldn't have been as painful as it would have been if it had cost the full $11-something. It didn't disappoint, thankfully. My hopes weren't too high just to be safe, but I still did hope.

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As a bit of a step backward to the good ol' days of animation, this is definitely one of those milestone films. Quite enjoyable overall, but not quite up to par with the classics, nor with the epic 90's films. For a start, the score was very good since it was composed by the awesome Randy Newman, but unfortunately the insert songs were not the typical memorable Disney-musical songs. Frankly I'm hard pressed to even remember how the melodies went. Maybe I'm just getting old and need to hear them again.

The animation was top-notch, and I expected nothing less. Definitely something you miss seeing after all these 3D animation movies. Don't get me wrong - I love my Pixar any time of day or year, but there's just something about 2D that really stretches back.

Funnily enough though, my favourite sequence was during the heroine Tiana's solo song, "Almost There" near the beginning, where the animation becomes more simplistic as she describes her dream of opening her own restaurant (second half of the clip). Then again I've always loved that particular simplified no-lines style.

The ending was slightly different for a Disney movie as well. Apart from a 'final battle' that was lacking a little something-something, there's also a bit of a downturn for a moment that I wasn't really expecting. Regardless they made it fit.

I won't be touching on the 'controversy' about this movie here since there are plenty of other people busy doing that instead, but I will say that the New Orleans setting was definitely entertaining. Although John Goodman with his southern accent was a bit...odd and somewhat out of place. I still love his voice acting talents anyway. It gave me a mad craving for gumbo, too.

And god knows I can't say no to a bit of good jazz.

Happy 2010

Fri, Jan 1st 2010 08:41 pm
(I write this from the FUTURE!
...because I completely forgot to do it a few weeks ago.)

Happy New Year/Decade! To my few readers, thank you for sticking around (read: being forced by me to read it).

Here's to many better posts in 2010.

LG GD900

Thu, Oct 22nd 2009 01:27 pm
This review had been promised weeks ago, but couldn't really bring myself to write it up. So at last, here is my review of the LG GD900 (Crystal) phone.

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First and foremost, it is very much a fashion phone. The key selling point of the phone is, of course, the fact that the keypad is transparent. The clear plastic is touch sensitive, as is the main display. Still not completely sure about the technology that drives it, but my money's on sensors along the outside of the keypad. Details aside, it does make quite the impression. Even when I knew what to expect, it definitely still has a 'wow' factor to it. Or in my case, 'daaaaayum'.

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The OS that comes with the phone isn't, unfortunately, Android, but instead it's shipped with LG's own S-Class UI. It's not too terrible to use, but there are some issues with it. Had to hard-restart the phone once when it froze by pulling the battery out, and the OS rebooted itself twice. Not a very good track record, but I'm more or less used to malfunctions in almost anything I own by now, so it wasn't much of a shock. A bit disappointing, though. There are a lot of other things in the UI that make my mobile life (hah!) a lot easier.

It took a while to get used to the touch screen, too. I frequently state that my fat fingers and touch screens do not get along, especially with the iPod Touch. After almost a month of using it, I've gotten used to it, though. I actually don't use the keypad as much, except when using the browser. The keypad can be used to control the mouse in the browser, which is amazing for text links in web pages. The browser is a hacked-up Opera, I think, which isn't too bad. The only thing about the browser that I really dislike is the fact that clearing the history and cache doesn't clear the list of recently entered URLs. They might want to work on that one.

Another big issue that I've had (that apparently nobody else has had because Google couldn't find any answers) is with the email app. POP3 was a no-go, so tried IMAP with Gmail. That also wasn't very good. Apparently there is a 300 message cap, and from those, it crawls from earliest first. The app also doesn't fetch all 300 earliest messages, so right now I'm stuck with 196 messages all the way from 2005 (and one that somehow shows up as being received in 2015). For now, will have to stick with browser Gmail.

There's a dedicated Google section of the phone as well with shortcuts to Maps the Java app, Gmail, Blogger, Youtube, and Search. The only thing that falls short is Maps, but that may be an issue with the Java app itself. Hopefully they'll release a new version that I can test out. Not like it matters much, since the GD900 doesn't have GPS anyway.

The sound on it is quite good. I can actually hear it outdoors in a crowd when I turn on the Outdoor sound profile setting. The batteries are also quite impressive, but that may just be because it's new. Above all that, though, is the fact that the GD900 can actually get reception (full bars!) in my basement room. If that isn't impressive, I don't know what is.

All that's really left now is for Canadian mobile providers to stop being jerks and lower their prices already. That's unlikely though, because Canadians are too nice or can't be arsed enough to bother arguing to the people who matter. I'm no exception to that. Damn our politeness. Please.

La Nuit est Blanche

Sun, Oct 4th 2009 10:13 am
Scotiabank sponsors an event called Nuit Blanche every year (not sure how many years it's been going on, though). Quoted straight from the site, it is 'a free all-night contemporary art thing'. There are a bunch of art 'exhibits' that are put up all over downtown Toronto, and the events begin at 6:55 pm and go all the way until sunrise, or something like that.

So friend called and asked if I wanted to go last-minute, and since it is a once-a-year event, decided to check it out. The crowds were pretty crazy. Needless to say, any food and beverage shops open yesterday probably raked in the profits, especially coffee shops. The subways were also open all night (until Eglinton station, anyway) and there were special night passes for the event.

After parking at Eglinton, we took the subway down to Bloor and walked down, because the programme claimed that there were exhibits all along that area. Well, walking all the way down to Dundas, we really saw nothing. The first thing we saw was in the Eaton Centre itself. I felt a little lied to. Anyway, there was this giant silver inflated helium rabbit inside the EC (the only thing I liked enough for a picture, actually -- will add that once I find my MicroSD adapter). Once out of there, grabbed some programmes and then went to walk around a bit. Ran into a couple other friends before carrying on. I underestimated the number of people who went. Hah.

The rest of the evening was just walking around looking for various exhibits. Ones of note (or the only ones I can remember) included a light show with the CN Tower lights set to this music mix (I quite liked it but it was pretty normal, considering the CN Tower lights are always there...), a bunch of 'celebrities' and rich people playing Monopoly... with real money, an alley with a bunch of inflated garbage bags (yes, this was the exhibit...we checked), a choir that made very strange noises, a puddle of 80-proof vodka filled with coins that people had tossed in, and blindfolded wrestling (highly amusing albeit quite fake).

Not surprisingly, passed by a large number of people in various states of inebriation, as well as a large number of (younger) people in various states of...well, being high. Guess it would be a good night to be in a different state of mind. I'm sure even the alley of inflated garbage bags would look quite different had I been drunk as well.

District of Basterds

Sat, Sep 19th 2009 07:53 pm
Two movies in one day is probably not the best idea. But we managed somehow.

Originally had planned to meet up with some buddies for a movie, bowling, and dinner, but the bowling was soon scrapped since none of us were interested... Anyway, so we went and watched Inglourious Basterds, which I found oddly long for no reason. It seemed like not too much happened in a bunch of scenes. The cinematography was great, though, despite it.

It just seemed that things could really have been sped up a little without losing anything in terms of the movie itself. Parts of it were funny, some were Tarantino, some were just plain...wordy. The feel and mood was set very well, though, especially with the mismatched opening credit styles, and the 'Chapters' dividing the movie into smaller parts. Overall, not bad, but not great, either.

After dinner at a Boston Pizza, we then went to another theater (AMC is surprisingly more expensive than Cineplex, with smaller screen sizes) to watch District 9. Since they're not showing it in most theaters anymore, and one buddy really wanted to see it before that happened, we went along for the ride. Enjoyed this movie quite a lot, actually. It's definitely different in style, from the whole 'documentary'-esque interviews of 'notable' people, to the often shaky camera angles. Not to mention, it wasn't too bad in terms of the story. A little predictable, I suppose, but still good. A lot of interesting takes, if you think about it, on society and people and patterns of behaviour and all that great wordy stuff.

I'm told the graphics were done in Vancouver, but sadly, they really weren't anything to write home about, so that was a big let-down. At least the rest was enjoyable, though.

Not sure if it was because of the two movies in a day or my oncoming cold, but had a huge headache after the second movie. Could be the constant exposure to massive sound systems or something. Seems like I'm getting weak... =(
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