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Amazing, strange or funny stuff – If it impresses me or makes my jaw drop, it fits here.

Vancouver Tourism Challenge 2006

These are fun, busy days. Yesterday saw a second Vancouver-Frenchie coffee-blog-turned-Indian-Food get-together. Steph and Fab told me all there is to know about the French blogging scene, and Lyon’s in particular. Good times!

The Vancouver 2006 Tourism Challenge has officially started, so my next few posts will obviously be focusing on the Greater Vancouver attractions. Click above to read more about the very clever Vancouver Tourism and Attractions incentive to keep its main workforce updated (and motivated) about everything the city has to offer. A fantastic formula if you ask me, and unique too, as far as I know. Correct me if I’m wrong. In any case, from now on, it’s all about stamps.

I started the race today by going to see IMAX Deep Sea 3D – yet again – and walking out of the theatre totally thrilled – once again. Then there was the Storyeum, a theatrical adventure through B.C.’s history presented by actors in a 65,000 square feet underground playground, accessed via gigantic elevators with a 200 people capacity each and including an 88% scale replica of the first CPR locomotive to pull a passenger train across Canada. We did miss Dinosaurs though, because we wanted to get to IMAX on time. Priorities, priorities…

And then I finished by running around downtown and quickly visiting the main hotels, for a few more stamps, to have been there and know what I’m talking about, and mostly to keep up with Silvia and not lose the bet… ;-)

Stay tuned for more visit reports this week-end.

Posted in: Cool on April 22, 2006 | Show Comments(4)

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Vancouver Graffiti ~

I‘ve posted a new Vancouver-related photo gallery, this time showcasing the work of others. It’s called Vancouver Graffiti and it aims at exploring another one of our city’s many faces. It will eventually be followed by a second gallery focusing on architectural styles, house and building particularities and so on, once I’ve accumulated enough materials. For now, enjoy the colors of our walls. This is no longer vandalism, it has become a form of public art, and these guys are good!

2009 update: the gallery is no longer availible due to a major site redesign.

Posted in: Cool & Photoblogs on April 12, 2006 | Show Comments(2)

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A bouillabaisse in Vancouver

Got together with Stéphanie and Fabienne (French expat’ blogger friends) yesterday at the awesome Trees Organic Coffee Shop for a fun chat. And I feel a duty to report on my subsequent bouillabaisse expedition.

So it was Thursday night around 7:00 pm. The focus of my experiment was a restaurant called Cassis Bistro located on W. Pender downtown. A sign by the door had caught my attention by announcing… bouillabaisse. I just had to try it.

Quite hungry when I got there after our coffee, I opted for a pint of beer, more filling than wine and reminding me of the good old days when I’d order "un demi" on la Cannebière or in the old Marseille.

After a slight hesitation at the sight of the word raclette on the menu and the subsequent disappointment to see it served as a fondue, I stuck with the plan and ordered my bouillabaisse.

Well, I thought I did. My French accent must have taken control for a moment because I had to state my request again but slower to finally see the waiter’s face light up in understanding and repeat after me "Oh yes, a bullabeace!"

"Yeah, that’s it!" I grinned. He smiled and was gone. But the word must have been passed that a Frenchy was visiting, for within minutes one of the English-speaking chefs appeared bearing a very carefully crafted "bouchée", a single-bite appetizer which he tried to describe with French terms but only managed to loose me.

So I nodded, approved and sampled. It was very good indeed.

Soon after, my bullabeace arrived, equally well presented, even though a little unconventional. Sadly, a single minuscule "croûton" accompanied the plate, along with a mini-spoonful of a decent attempt at the famous "rouille" sauce.

My appetite worsened a notch at the modest size of the serving. I tasted the soup, which was good yet very lightly flavored. But the plate was flat and contained so little liquid that from the start I had trouble even filling my spoon. The emphasis was instead placed on an central island of seafood: white flesh fish, shrimp, scallops and some vegetables. And fennel.

Well I don’t honestly remember ever seeing a bouillabaisse served or presented that way. I guess the purists would argue that this was not really bouillabaisse, and I would have to agree. The price, however, was reasonable (but considering the serving size, quite logical.)

All and all, a good experience, despite the proximity at the bar of a rather inebriated dude from Saskatoon who lives in South America and who kept trying hard to convince me that Albert Camus was the best writer to ever walk the Earth – after having himself read his work translated in English!

So I can’t honestly say that I had a bouillabaisse but the fish stew was delicious. Actually, the dish reminded me more of "la bouille", a low-cost cousin of the original bouillabaisse, served in Marseille by a small and inexpensive restaurant where my dad used to eat near la Bonne-Mère, and which consisted of a thinner soup in which you were bound to find pretty much any seafood available at the time of cooking…

Marseille will remain for me the bouillabaisse capital, and the only place where, sitting at a small bistro table, I can close my eyes and almost hear César saying, across time and space, "Tu me fends le coeur."

Posted in: Cool on April 8, 2006 | Show Comments(10)

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Fantastic IMAX Deep Sea 3D

[Updated April 3rd, 2006]

Did you ever wish you could visit the underwater world and explore the reef from the privileged point of view of its inhabitants?

Well you can. Take a few days off the beach on your next vacation and learn to dive. It’ll change the way you look at the ocean forever. And I know what I’m talking about.

Or there’s the next best thing: buy yourself a ticket to the new IMAX Deep Sea 3D movie and get ready to be amazed. Because you will be.

Oh, it had been done before; BBC’s Blue Planet enchanted us with first class underwater footage and MacGillivray Freeman’s The Living Sea and Coral Reef Adventure toyed with the IMAX format. But these were two-dimensional only. You were watching someone else’s vision, however beautiful, replayed in a flat approximation of the reality.

Deep Sea 3D takes you below the surface, places you behind the camera, a mask on your face, and then quietly backs away, leaving you on the reef surrounded by fish and coral. You ARE there. The only thing missing is water.

The experience is simply amazing. Many species of sharks swim right at you, giant Humboldt Squid dart across the darkest night, flashing furiously with the pleasure of the hunt, Manta Rays gracefully loop in front of you feeding on plancton, comical Green Turtles do a pit stop at a cleaning station and get their shells picked clean by a battalion of colorful fish, a bright red Rainbow Nudibranch dances like a ballerina in mid-water, jellyfish wage lethal wars against each other, coral spawns in an inverted snowfall, and they’re all so real and close you could touch them.

The movie was filmed on nine locations around North America including the Sea of Cortez, the Channel Islands, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Flower Gardens in the Gulf of Mexico, the coast of British Columbia and Kono (Hawaii). The final 40 min. long movie was edited from 70 miles of footage! Coral spawning is an event that occurs only once a year and lasts less than a day; the shots were filmed in the Gulf of Mexico, hours before the arrival of hurricane Katrina.

And the best scene remains without a doubt the last one, where cinematographer Howard Hall, in a stroke of genius, breaks away from the sacred rule of a human-less documentary to include in the frame a few divers interacting with a curious right whale near a sandy bottom, giving us a fantastic sense of perspective and dimensions.

What would have been a great movie in 2D becomes a stunningly spectacular experience enhanced by the 3D technology.

You just gotta go see it!

[The giant IMAX underwater camera in action.]

From a technical point of view, the revolutionary IMAX 3D is as spectacular. It involves the use of twin high resolution 15/70mm film strips for simultaneously recording the equivalent of the two images seen by the left eye and the right eye, and a special projector that runs the two rolls of film passed twin polarized lenses so that the audience’s polarized glasses can channel each one seperately to the corresponding eye.

Read more about the movie in the official Production Notes (in PDF format).

Posted in: Cool & Reviews on April 2, 2006 | Show Comments(4)

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The Sisters of Mercy at the Commodore

It was Sunday night, the 26th of March. I could barely believe it, but after pinching myself twice I had to accept the puzzling fact that I was sitting on the mezzanine of Vancouver’s premiere venue, eagerly awaiting the start of the night’s event: the last North American show of the Sisters of Mercy’s 2006 Silver Bullet tour!

I took a sip of my Honey Lager and looked down at the main floor below me. The Commodore Ballroom is located on Granville Street in the heart of the entertainment district and I could see lots of people rushing by in the rain through the windows. It’s a busy area and the line-up at the door had, as usual, been reaching Smithe’s corner; but once inside, the place was pleasant and did not feel overcrowded. A mixed and very well behaved crowd wandered by and most of the side tables were already occupied…

One has to be of a certain generation to have witnessed the 80’s alternative movement, I thought, and that was clearly reflected by the public’s average age. Of course a lot of black was still being worn as well as black make-up and hair, yet none of the very fancy goth fashion I had expected. Maybe Vancouver isn’t that extreme in its musical tastes after all.

I spent some time reflecting on the obvious fact that I’ve never been much of a concert person myself and do not think so highly of the “fan” behavior. The last live show I attended was in the late 80’s when I saw Pink Floyd at the Montreal Olympic Stadium. But the Commodore can hardly be compared to a stadium. It looks and feels like a theatre and its design makes for a very intimate setting. With a maximum capacity of 900 persons, it is definitely a small audience, play and have fun place and I suppose the bands must like it for that reason.

The place filled up slowly and finally the guest singer started playing, but I have to say he didn’t impress me at all. The sound wasn’t very good and people pretty much ignored him and talked, except for the few hardcore fans pressed against the stage and who weren’t going to be distracted away from the place where their idols eventually would show up.

And then at last, after much waiting, the lights were dimmed once more, smoke hissed on the stage, the spotlights wildly came to life and Doktor Avalanche started playing his typical electric beat. The crowd roared, instinctively moving forward. And then appearing through the smoke like ghosts, they were there. The Sisters of Mercy.

Posted in: Cool & Reviews on March 27, 2006 | Show Comments(5)

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Away from the Ocean indeed

A new star is born :-)

"If there are drawbacks to blogging, I’ll discover them as I go. My grand-mother published poetry. My mother wrote a book. My brother wrote a book. For all I know, my cat is recording his memoires. I feel the pressure. I’ll write a blog."

[From On Blogging, Away from the Ocean - My dear sister's new blog!]

Very cool to have you online, Gitte. Now we can talk from geek to geek ;-)

Posted in: Cool & Quotes on March 25, 2006 | Show Comments(1)

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