Sunday, February 28, 2010

Poirot & me

New Updates!
I have found ANOTHER link to 2009 Poirot Three Act Tragedy which has been reposted, I can't promise how long it will stay up. Part 1 here

ITV had a special where they interviewed David Suchet of his experience playing Poirot through the years. I would agree with his selections of some of the strongest performances he has encountered. Elizabeth Dermot Walsh (Elinor Carlisle) in Sad Cypress (a favourite!), and the entire cast on Death on the Nile are among the very best.

Poirot & Me part 1 watch here (link will go to part 2 etc...)
Julia McKenzie interview here

Oddly enough I've stumbled on a strange version of both Poirot and Marple characters in Japanese Anime (here's a taste). It's definitely not my taste, but it is interesting.

Marple played by Geraldine McEwan
2006 Sleeping Murder part 1 here
2005 A Murder is Announced part 1 here
2004 The Body in the Library part 1 here
2006 Ordeal by Innocence part 1 here

Marple played by Julia McKenzie
2008 Why Didn't they ask Evans part 1 here (Natalie Dormer, Tudors... this link may not last long)

A golden wrap up

Canada is in a state of joy with the sweet golden victory over United States in men's hockey. Winning 3-2 overtime the overburdened NHL players can heave a sigh of relief and enjoy the closing ceremonies with no regrets. Many are off to work tomorrow, and will likely be exhausted and slightly hungover from tonight's party celebrations but I'm sure they'll all say it was worth it.

Amazing moments

- Joannie Rochette's bronze win was greater than gold. Her stellar performance in the wake of her family's sudden loss after her mother's heart attack during the games.

- Those red mittens were a great idea. Um, maybe they aren't necessary in Vancouver (being warm and sunny and all...) but in the rest of the country they are definitely warm.

- Shaun White's fantastic second run when he was guaranteed the gold. Double McTwist 1260!

- Slovenia's Petra Majdic's bronze performance despite being bruised and battered with five broken ribs. That's just crazy.

- Simon Ammann's two golds in ski jump. Will women get to jump in 2014? Not sure yet but it would be double the fun! Guy has hilarious sun glasses.

- Lots o' people in speed skating. Shani Davis for being a truly eloquent and elegant winner (and silver medalist), and Sven Kramer's fantastic 5000 m and his gracious statement that he takes responsibility for his 10,000m mistake (not to blame the coach since... well if you fired every coach that made a mistake... there would be no coaches). That deserves the gold for sportsmanship and humility.

- USA's the night train for bobsled!

- Redemption for Kevin Martin and crew for their gold medal win!

- Kim Yu-Na's majestic performance. Queen indeed.

- Hannah Kearney's flawless performance in women's moguls more than makes up for her disappointing 2006 experience.

- Norway for kicking our ass in cross country skiing. Um... today's performance was crazy.

- Ole einar Bjoernadlen (wow... now that's a name) of Norway's gold and silver medal haul in Biathlon... the true military I-can-chase-you-down-and-kill-you sport.

- The lethal Korean team who kicked our ass in short track speed skating. Apolo Ohno for now having eight medals... zowie!

- Older (not really but by figure skating standards!) pair, China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo winning the gold that has eluded them for so long. They deserve a really nice retirement.

Lessons to be learned

Canada should be proud of their athletes, and should take their cue by being graceful winners. Don't crow too loudly. The Gold medal count may soothe the committee's overly large egos for the medal shortfall in their arrogant "own the podium" campaign, but it also left a rather negative view of Canada to our foreign guests.

What is with Prime Minister Harper attending so many Olympic events when he CLOSED DOWN PARLIAMENT?!! Sorry but I don't recall it being a leader's job to stop work just so he could go on a PAID vacation by the rest of us.

Luge death? Pointing fingers this way and that. Budget cuts, blaming the designer, pretending that warnings never came, and Officials dodging blame by stating it was Nodar Kumaritashvili's human error on the track. TERRIBLE. Not one apology to Nodar Kumaritashvili's family.

Overall we all need to be thankful. With the shocking 8.8 earthquake in Chile, the death toll is now 700+. It feels rather... strange and inappropriate to celebrate a sporting event win. True heroes will be made in the next few days down there, as they try to salvage what they've lost and mourn those that will be gone forever.

Hurting for votes?

Hurt Locker, arguably the strongest contender to sweep the Oscars has recently rocked their own boat by a foolish gaffe by one of their own. Hurt Locker's producer Nicholas Chartier sent out emails asking voters to rank "The Hurt Locker" at No. 1 and "Avatar" at No. 10. The email was 'accidentally' sent out to competitors such as Inglorious Bastards and Up in the Air members. Ouch. Even worse, war veterans are starting to speak up, and the verdict? Not all good. Newsweek reported on a large number of Iraq War veterans who were not pleased by the unrealistic portrayal of the "cowboy" reckless behaviour of Sgt. William James.

I doubt this will deter the momentum of this film, it is without a doubt the darling of the year. Is it realistic? Hell no, I certainly hope a renegade soldier like Sgt. William James with so little respect for the life of soldiers doesn't exist, or at least would be discharged. A few soldiers have lauded the film but quite a few IED soldiers are fuming. I don't understand war, my grandparents tasted two World Wars and I'll never understand what they went through. My parents have seen atrocities that I can't even imagine. What is Hurt Locker? It's entertainment, some would call it art, but does it need to be any more than that?

War is a drug, and so is Hollywood.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hockey Fever

The Stephen Colbert crowd became indignant when NBC's Bob Costas honestly gave his opinion of why the Winter Olympics were of little interest to many Americans. Should that be very surprising? If you live in the balmy sunshine and have never seen a dash of snow how could you relate? Even worse, he didn't "pander" (as Colbert said it) to the crowd to claim Vancouver as the best Olympic host nation. The audience booed him, and has been slagging him, Colbert, Americans, and the British media on a great deal of forums, site commentary, and blogs showcasing that Canada doesn't lack a few ignorant overly sensitive individuals who can't take a joke.

As happy as I am that Canada is doing well... right now a few friends are getting unbearably smug about the Canadian women's hockey team's victory over USA, and will be absolutely intolerable if we win men's hockey as well. Yet, how many teams actually competed in women's hockey? It's not much of a competition unless a lot of countries can actually kick your ass.

Am I the only one that doesn't think it's not that big of a deal? That's as bad as USA claiming to be the world's best at baseball. Of course they are, none of the other countries care! To be truly impartial, to claim bragging rights as "world's best" you need to win the most popular sport in the world... SOCCER and nothing else. Poor countries, short people, tall people, even war torn countries can make a decent team and do well.

This year the world cup will take place in South Africa (link here to FIFA link), and is probably one of the oldest sports in the world. It's simple enough, and can be traced back to 1004 B.C. Japan and China and also during the Roman empire. The early Olympic games in Rome featured a fifty minute game of fifty four men scrambling to score a goal.

Over 33 million people tune into the 25 day (or more) sporting event, making it more popular than the Olympics, and is even bigger than baseball, American football and basketball combined!

In a way all of these events are a friendly way (usually) to be patriotic. To live vicariously through our athletes as a way of stress relief, fantasy or just plain escapism. Honking horns, waving flags, getting smashed with a few strangers at a local pub, all add to the fever of excitement every once in a while. It's a non-stop party downtown... the euphoria is an all time high, as the lead up to the gold medal hockey game Canada vs. USA reaches a fever pitch. For those poor athletes who haven't gotten much sleep in the village... be happy your events are done, a gold medal will guarantee chaos.

Friday, February 26, 2010

dress up

Well Kim Yu-Na pulled off a spectacular win, USA is still adding to their medal count and the Canadian women's hockey team took gold. Soon everyone's attention will flicker over to the Oscars in two Sundays as Hollywood celebrates their own greatness by hosting their version of prom night. I wouldn't mind if they mixed a bit of the artistry of the Venice Carnival into crowd, I miss the creativity of Cher and Bjork.

Agatha Christie must have loved masquerades and harlequins, or she certainly would not have created Mr. Quin. What people see and how people present themselves can fool the most discerning eye.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Defeat the World!

Despite disappointments, whining, and shocking results (poor Sven Kramer) for the past few weeks, you can feel the Olympics winding down. Bobsled, hockey and women's figure skating are the big events wrapping up the competition with a bang. Airing right now are The Colbert's Report episodes taped in Vancouver, "Cold war on ice". (comedy network link) The American speed skating team definitely have been accommodating as Colbert plays the role as "Assistant Sport Psychologist", adding a great laugh to the whole event.

Sort of strange to watch the show on an outdoor set where it's sunny and the crowd are wearing.. err.. spring jackets. Shooting near the Cambie Bridge and Science Centre, I'd take his 'Vancouverage' over anything else.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

HIdden gems

Creepy Victorian rooms always give me the shivers. The stale air, layers of dust, grotesque furniture with vaulted high ceilings, and fragile decorations can suffocate a visitor. Which is why they are the perfect setting for B-movie horror films and Lara croft videogames. Secret passages, old cellars, and hidden doorways and staircases can be found in a number of castles and mansions that were either an indulgence, necessity or forgotten renovation lost in time.

My friend lived in an old house that had an old laundry shoot that went from the third floor to the basement. Our idiotic five year brains wanted to drop a cat down one until it freaked out and managed to climb up and teach us a bloody lesson. Another time I discovered a boarded up waiter dummy in a house, we wanted to crawl inside as a joke but fortunately we were stopped in time. Lack of common sense? For sure, but we weren't the only kids looking for an adventure.

Secret passageways and rooms ('priest holes' during reign of Queen Elizabeth I) have been used throughout history, providing a way for shelter, escape, smuggling, murder and military coups d'état.

- In 1330, Roger de Mortimer (Earl of March) and his lover Isabella of France imprisoned young King Edward III in Nottingham castle. Days before Edward's eighteenth birthday, a small group of supporters used a hidden passageway into the Queen's room to arrest Mortimer and seize power.

- In 1789, during the French Revolution Marie Antoinette managed to escape through a hidden passageway in Versailles.

- The hidden rooms/attics during the Holocaust era were responsible for saving numerous lives. A Dutch watchmaker Corrie ten Boom, constructed a secret room to hide Jews from the Nazis.

- Emergency exits/ secret door could be found in traditional Arabic houses, also known as "Bab Al-Sirr".

- Used primarily to transport marijuana to the U.S., a tunnel was discovered running from Tijuana Mexico to Otay Mesa California.

- Serial killer H.H.Holmes constructed an enormous 'hotel' building in Chicago that contained numerous hidden staircases, doors and trap doors allowing him to enter rooms while guests were sleeping. Changing builders throughout construction decreased questions from police and gave him sole knowledge of the labyrinth maze inside. Many female victims would among his employees who were required to take out a life insurance policy with him as the sole beneficiary. The bodies would be dropped down a secret chute into a crematorium in the basement where he would dispose of the bodies by cremation or dissection by selling the organs and skeleton to medical schools.

- In the monastery of Mont Sainte-Odile, Stanislas Goss managed to steal over 1,000 ancient books in the span of two years after his discovery of an old map that showed details of a secret entrance into the library.

A few famed locations are known to have hidden tunnels, some which played a huge turning point in history... here are a few still standing.

Occasionally The History Channel broadcasts an episode entitled Secret Passages. A bit corny, it's the quick fix to satisfy a momentary craving for education without too much effort.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mysteries of the Underground

I'm not sure if it's the dirty slush, the wall of wind that hits your watery eyes, or the unbearable humidity in the summers, but I'm very grateful for the underground. Starting with Montreal, cities in the great north have an entirely different world humming below. A winding network of pedestrian friendly routes littered with shops, eateries and links to transit stations offer us Canucks an escape from the dreary winters and heat waves of the summer. Constantly expanding, Montreal (link) is one of the few "European experiences" a North American can get without leaving the continent. Toronto also has a large network, in case you're visiting the city and wondering where all the suits are... think fifteen feet under. Vancouver has a small network, but not really worth mentioning... they don't really need one (for now).

There's always something glamourous when you think of secret passageways or entrances, that can lead to the unknown. Europe has quite a few famous ones, the Catacombs under Paris, a web of more than 300 feet beneath the city level, and Cappadocia Turkey, a subterranean city (such as Kaymakli or Derinkuyu) carved into rock that once housed thousands of natives. A multilevel civilization of granaries, stables, wells, chimneys, water tanks, wine cellars, cook fires, churches, and storage pits are all connected by a tangled web of passages.

Myth or Fiction?

Rumours of a possible "City of the Gods" is still shrouded in conspiracy stories. A complex network of natural caverns, ancient chambers, subterranean rivers and hydraulic waterways are said to lie beneath the Giza Plateau.

History Channel made an in depth documentary called "Cities of the Underground", link to part 1 here.

Je ne sais quoi

What is it? To have that thing about you, "I don't know what"... some people have it, others fade into history. Very few athletes will launch their careers from their new found success, and after the party ends life will go back to normal. A gold doesn't guarantee fame. Looks, attitude and universal appeal can be spun into greater fortune, but only for a select few.

Lindsey Vonn's girl next door charm, Shaun White's fiery mop as he jumps into new heights, Johnny Weir's theatrical personality, Sven Kramer's Ken doll appeal, Simon Amman's childlike zest, and the elegant beauty of Kim Yu-Na (left). They have something more, otherwise many gold medalists would also draw multi million dollar endorsement deals and maintain the public curiosity. Shining brighter than the rest, they aren't so different from celebrity singers, actors, and politicians who have captured the public's imagination.

Will we see the next Sergei Grinkov and Ekaterina Gordeeva? Hermann Maier?

As the Olympic celebration nears the end, you can be sure you'll see a few of these faces grace the covers of magazines, clothing ads, and televisions spots. Keeping their eye on the prize, they just need to remember to keep their edge without spinning out of control. The public are a fickle lot and we don't forgive easily.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Red and white

What a day...

OOOOhhh.. The Americans thumped our asses in hockey tonight. Granville street must now be up to its ears in depressed drunks tonight. Nothing is sadder than seeing hockey fans cry, even worse when they vomit along the sidewalk area adding a decided stench. I didn't watch the game (yes, I know that's very un-Canadian of me), I'm one of the few who prefers to watch the more obscure sports that involve superhuman guts, endurance, and a bit of artistic flair.

I'm really liking the Olympic outfits lately, makes me want to shop online for a new set of snow pants and mittens. It's incredible how much a country spends on uniforms, not to mention figure skating costumes that look like a cross between a trashy 70's disco outfit and a show girls jumpsuit.

Canada (Virtue, and Moir) has done very well in the ice dance short program and sadly Joannie Rochette has lost her mother recently (She's still determined to compete, I wish her & family the best). Bode finally won his much deserved and earned gold medal in combined, and a phenomenal Slovenian, Petra Majdic won bronze (a few days ago) despite a horrible fall where she fell into a gully. Vancouver shouldn't crow too loudly (since they are still simmering over the International media criticism) just yet since the Slovenian Olympic Committee is considering legal action against the winter Olympics for poor safety precautions that ended with Majdic taken to the hospital with four broken ribs and a collapsed lung. It's been up and down, but that's life. The question is whether everyone can cope with disappointment and get back onto the horse and try again.

It's still on loan

Canada's "Own The Podium" campaign (who in the heck came up with that silly slogan?) is starting to backfire. Nate Holland playfully quipped about Canada's new found ambition to take home medals, "They can take the thing home. We'll just rent it for the month." The Americans still have it on loan, along with the Dutch, Swiss, and Norwegians.

A lot of my friends (myself as well) across the country were really surprised about the "Own the podium" campaign and funding program. None of us ever expect Canada to win most of the golds. We're usually happy if we win a few surprise events (like the men's skeleton a few days ago) and hope for a gold in hockey but not much further than that. I cringed when the Canadian officials boasted about a home advantage, declaring their expectations to rack up medals in downhill, speed skating, and figure skating. The thing is, you don't expect athletes to win UNLESS they have been continually winning in World Cup and World Championships and I've never known of a Canadian skier or skater to dominate the circuit. It's unfair that our media keeps slagging the athletes, burdening them with unrealistic expectations because you really never know what will happen. It takes years to build a strong team and even then you aren't guaranteed victory. Athletes need to be cultivated young, and supported through the years as they gain experience in World events giving them the opportunity to peak at the right time. You can't just suddenly inject cash and expect results. What the hell is that? Continual support is needed, helping those who normally struggle to make ends meet. Unfortunately after this it's already been announced that the Canadian program will no longer continue. Pathetic.

Don't shoot me, but I sort of wouldn't mind the government eating a bit humble pie. The Brits and Swedes have beaten us in curling before, the Russians, Americans, Czech, Finnish, Swedes can kick butt in hockey, and pretty much every country can win figure skating. We're a country of a mere 30 million individuals, it's simple math.

Gold or nothing? That's not the Canadian way and never should be.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Syrup suckers invite

The Colbert Report

The SWEETEST arrival must be satirist Stephen Colbert, who has been filming two of his shows The Colbert Report (on the Comedy Network), in the downtown area (see here). Lampooning Canadians for months about our hoggish ways, he's interviewed Michael Buble and cheered his Olympic speed skating team from the bleachers. Calling us "syrup-suckers", "ice-holes" and "Saskatche-whiners" for months, he was welcomed with cheers by his beaver lovin' northern cousins.

"We'll bring snow because I don't think Vancouver has any..."

Staying true to character as a right-wing nut bar Republican, he has helped raise $300,000 when the U.S. speed skating team lost it's Dutch sponsor (wow, they had Dutch sponsors? They really love their sport), and added a great deal of exposure to the event which is usually overshadowed by the more glamorous events. The U.S. curling team has also been featured on his show (watch here, for Canucks), Bobsledding and skeleton where he wore a red condom outfit, and of course his hilarious race against speed demon Shani Davis on his late night show where he earned his place as their "assistant sport psychologist" for the U.S. Olympic speed skating team.

The "ice-holes", City of Richmond responded with a tongue and cheek letter of equal condescending wit, extending an olive branch by inviting him to Vancouver as their "oval ombudsman". Written by Ted Townsend, he began the letter with "Dear cousin"... here are some of his exerts in the letter.

"As a proud syrup sucker, I am saddened that you would cast aspersions on Canadians as part of your otherwise laudable quest to assist the cash-strapped American speedskating team."

"We have always welcomed our friends from south of the border with open arms (well, except in 1812). In fact we've always fondly considered you as our American 'cousins' and politely tolerated you, even when you were in an imperialistic mood."

"You might have noticed that us syrup-suckers are big on rules and regulating things; that's how we got universal public medicare,"

"We suggest you start the training for your new position now. A good start would be to acclimatize yourself by drinking at least one litre (oops, sorry, make that a quart, I forgot that you Americans don't do metric) of radiator antifreeze fluid per day."

Signed as "Chief syrup sucker" Townsend included a pink tuque with the letter as part of his uniform during the games.
Bring it on!

The Wizard

One part of the Swiss team (The Butcher and Iceman being the other two nation heroes)...

Simon the Wizard does it again! The suicidal ski jumpers are celebrating the Swiss wonder's latest victory on the medal podium and added one more gold on the Large Hill. Four is a nice even number.

A slight damper from the Austrians who have accused the golden boy of pulling a fast one with his bindings. I haven't a clue why bindings matter, doesn't equipment evolve as fast as the sporting events do?

Shani Davis of the U.S. has also added a silver to his collection in the 1,500 m upset. The Dutch must be going nuts, however Davis still holds the world record.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Big Con pt. 1

There's a slew of great character pieces that revolve around heists, robberies or drug dealing that go awry, such as Dog Day Afternoon, Heat, The Great Escape, Catch me if you Can, and then there are just straight satisfying adventures that deliver the "Big Con".

The Sting
the 1973 classic caper film set in the depression era involving two professional grifters (Paul Newman and Robert Redford) setting up "the big con" to take mob boss (Robert Shaw). Inspired by real-life stories in David Maurer's book "The Big Con: The story of the Confidence Man". With beautiful title cards sub dividing the story, David S. Ward has set the tone for many other films that have followed in his footsteps (Ocean's 11 and Snatch).

The Italian Job (2003 or 1969)
Recent remakes of classics (ie. Thomas Crown Affair) always seem to shine a bit too brightly, maybe it's the dulling down of the main characters that are a bit rough around the edges. Both films are entertaining of course, but the 1969 version starring Michael Caine has a bit less pomp and more punch. The 2003 commercial release, starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Edward Norton looks a bit like a mini car ad, featuring some slick action sequences.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
Norman Jewison's scintillating heist flick that spawned a remake (possible sequel to that), starring the infallible Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in this sizzling combustion of cat and mouse.

A peek at Foyle's world

The public's outcry for the continuation of this excellent series has finally been answered. Catching up on Foyle's war is not always easy, your best bet is the library if you're strapped for cash (if they don't have it... make a request). Returning sometime this year, here is a summary I have found regarding Series 7 from Anthony Howell's website (Sgt. Paul Milner).

"It is June 1945 and while VE Day has been celebrated in Britain, the war continues elsewhere in the world. The immediate aftermath of war was not a time of jubilation and optimism, as had been expected. The country was exhausted and poverty-stricken, families torn apart and rations tighter than ever before. Like everyone else, Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle needs to feel his way in this new world as he faces some of his toughest challenges and gripping plots to date. Keen to retire, but bound to his old job by the steep rise in violent crime that swept the country, Foyle is thrust into the dangerous worlds of international conspiracy and execution, military racism and national betrayal."

The Russian House
CS Foyle stumbles upon an international cover up, which, if exposed could bring down the British government, and reveal the War Office’s darkest secret yet.

Killing Time
Foyle goes head to head against the might of the US army, as racial prejudices erupt when a local girl is found murdered, and the finger of suspicion points to a black GI at the US military base.

The Hide
The newly retired Foyle battles to save a young man accused of high treason from the executioner's noose, in a case that will shatter his personal world to the core...

I'm not sure how long these links will last. Here are sources I've found so far in blue. I'll update the links as time passes. Hopefully more will crop up...who knows?

Season 1
Eagle Day
A Lesson in Murder
The White Feather
The German Woman

Season 2
The Funk Hole
Among the Few
Fifty Ships

Season 3
A War of Nerves
Enemy Fire
The French Drop

Season 4
Bad Blood

Season 5
Casualties of War

Season 6
All Clear
Broken Souls
Plan of Attack

Friday, February 19, 2010

Prince of Thieves

Enough with the Olympic talk, but not necessary back to reality. How boring would that be? We all wish we were clever as Bugs bunny, capable of outwitting all our enemies with effortless flare. In a few months the public will get another twist on Robin Hood (too bad they changed their original concept of Nottingham), catering to the public subconscious yearnings to castrate white collar thieves who have stripped the population dry.

The British certainly have one of the greatest thieves in history, but it's not Robin Hood.

Elginism - State theft

The interesting point is that the most successful thieves are sanctioned institutions. If you think about it, aren't many of the most famous museums displaying stolen items (and charging us!) acquired from conquests? The Elgin Marbles removed from Greece in 1816 by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, Hiram Bingham's pilfering of Machu Picchu, and Getty's acquisition of the stolen Aphrodite statue are just a few examples of state theft. The argument that Elgin's accomplishment led to the preservation of the marbles is also debatable. No one did more damage to the marbles than the Earl of Elgin himself, splitting the artifacts in pieces so that they could be readily shipped to London. I cringe to think about it.

Repatriation? All in the past... not likely

It's certainly true that world class museums can preserve the artifacts with great care and returning artifacts could cause irreparable damage, but that argument will never satisfy or quiet the opposition (especially with the new $200 million state of the art museum in Greece, NY times article). Should museums pay a cut of all the cash they pile in from tourism and copyrights of images? Probably, but they never will. Would equality be if Greece and Egypt began looting the Queen of England's jewels, hawked the Mona Lisa, The Thinker, the declaration of Independence, and hauled it back to their own country charging everybody twenty euros to get a viewing? Sort of sounds fair doesn't it?

Some of the "Acquisitions" of the world

ENGLAND/ U.K. - (British Museum...)
Stolen religious tablets (Ethiopia)
Rosetta Stone (Egypt)
Elgin Marbles (Greece)
Lewis Chessmen (Scotland)
Koh-i-noor diamond (India)
Benin Bronzes (Nigeria) now in Glasgow
Items from Beijing's summer palace & Shanghai (unconfirmed but they should tread lightly with China, they are "officially" starting to research what is missing...)
62 pages of Quran (Turkey)
Stone Carvings & 2,000 stolen items (Afghanistan returned)

GERMANY (Neues Museum, Pergamon...)
Statue of Hemiunu (Egypt)
Boğazköy Sphinx (Turkey)
Zeus Altar (Turkey)

FRANCE - (Louvre...)
Ancient wall paintings (returned to Egypt)
Painted Zodiac of Dendera temple (Egypt)
Entrance of Selim II's Tomb statues (Turkey)
Nike of Samothrace (Greece)

9 boxes of artifacts, pin (Iran)

Sarcophagus from Mahmut Hayrani tomb (Turkey)

The Troy Treasures (Turkey)

Bust of Anchhaf (Egypt)
Sixteen Greek grave Stelae (Turkey)
Machu Picchu artifacts, silver statues & skulls (Peru, in negotiations of return)

National Geographic link (various videos on the issue of ownership)

There are numerous paintings and items taken by the Nazis during the World War II occupation (and being returned) but if any two countries have a reason to be enraged, it's probably Egypt and Greece. Ransacked for years, their collections are decidedly bare with many of their most beautiful ancient artifacts in the possession of foreigners. Fortunately for Egypt the pyramids are not exactly mobile, otherwise I'm sure a conqueror would've hauled it to their own lands as a lawn ornament.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

fashion week?

When did the Olympics turn into a big commercial to advertise athlete's goods? I definitely loved the Harlequin pattern French snowboarding jackets along with their fun Inspector Clouseau moustache paint job. I did notice that each competitor flashed their snowboard design at the cameras as they awaited scores... showcasing their personal design or plugging their sponsors? I guess every one is an entrepreneur.

Sweet victory

USA got the sweetest taste of victory today with three gold medals from favoured athletes who were definitely able to deliver. Not folding to the pressure, Lindsey Vonn along with her compatriot Julia Mancuso went one and two in women's downhill. Shani Davis also won his first gold (so far) this olympics in the 1000 m.

The most spectacular win was Shaun White's performance. Guaranteed the gold after only his first run (like last time) with a score 46.8, he took his victory lap even further and performed his dangerous signature move, the spiralling Double McTwist 1260 on his second run, and bested his earlier score with a 48.4.

Wow, talk about putting on a show. Very glad he was willing to do that... he could've just walked down the pipe to collect his much deserved gold.

That's Olympic spirit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Woe is me

Bad ice. A strike in the Vancouver airport. Nineteen people injured at the free concert (Live Nation). Biathlon Union complaints. Ceremony glitch. Near-Miss. Protestors. And worst of all, a death. Mother nature has certainly not helped Vancouver's luck these past few days in what has been dubbed (by the British media) the Worst Winter Olympic Games, or Glitch Games by some. And it's not even over yet!

So far I've read a lot of Vancouver news sources, many saying that the international press is overblowing the situation, but I think VANOC needs to own up a bit. After all when someone dies even before the games begin, you can't sweep that under the rug like many issues in Vancouver.

To add a bit of humour to the situation, it's pretty fitting that the torch design has been nicknamed the "The Olympic Toke". Most locals are pretty mellow about the stigma, after all, Vancouver is one of the major production areas for illegal marijuana.

I'm not particularly surprised about the weather, many people were worried about the lack of snow for the past few years and it's a common concern in most host countries. Indoor bad ice is another story.

Canada can't make good ice? Say what?! WTF?!

I sort of feel like things are upside down. Montreal should've gotten the winter Olympics and Vancouver the summer Olympics. Am I wrong? Vancouver usually gets particularly temperate weather in the summer months and Montreal/Quebec City (the most beautiful Canadian city) would rarely lack snow.

Well Vancouver might as well enjoy the party while it lasts, after the buzz wears off all they will be left with is a nice large bill. Ka-ching! London, you're headache is still to come. I'm sure Vancouver can't wait to pass the torch over.

The Globe and Mail - Brunt: VANOC, the truth hurts

Horatio fix

Like Master and Commander? Robin Hood? The newest Star Trek film?

If you're a star trek fan... this may be a good thing (maybe not but don't let that set you off). Supposedly the original creator (Gene Roddenberry) based the series of Star Trek off of C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series. That shouldn't be surprising since military duty, loyalty to your crew, bravery, intelligence, and sacrifice are all characteristics of good war hero. Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill were huge admirers of the books and they also inspired Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels.

I have the complete set (love the Sharpe series as well!) and rarely lend it out, but now I never need to. (I've had quite a few Criterion discs go missing or returned to me in scratched condition). If you're like me, and prefer to watch a bit before you fork out the dough, you're in luck! Here's what a I found.

Give it whirl? Links below to the first 3 stories in the series (all in 11 segments).

The Duel 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Fire Ships 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
The Duchess and the Devil 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11