While waiting to catch a bus downtown from my folks place in North Vancouver yesterday, a bus passed going the other way with a billboard ad on the side reading something like, "Etälä Suomen Lääni". It took a few moments for me to remember that I was actually no longer in Finland, so seeing Finnish text on the side of a bus should be rather unusual, to say the least. Marjo helped me track a version of the ad down, which is part of Diesel's rather questionable 'global warming' campaign. While Diesel's online content seems to show them wanting to promote awareness about global climate change, the underlying message in the ads seems to be "instead of trying to stop global warming, just go with it because the future will be hotter and sexier." This seems to be exactly the critique of Climate Change Denial, where we found this image. Then while on my way downtown, I noticed that a woman in front of me had a tattoo across the back of her neck in Inuktitut syllabics. Is this the successor trend to the cultural appropriations of tribal, Celtic, and the omnipresent Chinese characters by people with zero connection or actual awareness of the original cultures and contexts? In the wake of the near universalization of the Inukshuk in Canada, such as in the Vancouver 2010 logo Inuit culture seems to be wide-open for appropriation (no doubt going back to soap stone carvings and beyond). While it is possible that this woman was actually a pale Inuit, somehow I doubt it. It looks like "jiasika" to me. Any of my Inuktitut speaking friends care to translate for me?
I know I'm awful for barely blogging about my current whereabouts, let alone all the variety of interesting things happening in the world. Well, trust me, there's just not that much interesting been going on. As a matter of alleviating some guilt, here is what I'm doing currently. I flew to Toronto on Sunday (Canada Day!) and spent some quality time hanging out with my cousin and my friend Paul. Then "home" to Vancouver on Tuesday, to spent some time relaxing with the family here (you can check out the photo left of the 'big dig' that is their new backyard, complete with babbling brook and pond). Added bonus to coming home at this time was the FIFA U-20 World Cup. My dad and I caught a double header of Uruguay-Jordan and Spain-Zambia. It's great that Canada is hosting an event of this magnitude, and cool that I got to see players like Gerard Pique live at Swangard Stadium, where I saw most of my first soccer/football matches. And extremely cool added bonus is that we just got tickets to the legendary reggae producer and artist Lee "Scratch" Perry next Saturday at the fabulous Commodore.
I'm not exactly sure when this happened, but George Stroumboulopoulos's The Hour (CBC) is now available as a daily streaming video. Even though it started after I left Canada, I've watched it a number of times when I've been home. It's refreshingly good television- smart, hip, direct and honest. George S. presents a great mix of commentary, news, entertainment, and interviews. And unlike the Daily Show's John Stewart (I still don't understand why a news satire show has guests in the first place), George is a great interviewer. In addition to the full show, the site also has a bunch of other video highlights. Check it out.
Not long after assembling my fancy new media PC (complete with digital TV card) I realized that downloading TV shows using eMule was easier and less error-prone than recording them digitally myself. The media PC still served as a great multimedia playback platform, and since it is on 24/7, eMule downloads come steady and constant. Probably about half my TV viewing is now via this deferred digital method rather than live. I have a few of my favourite series that I can watch when I feel like it. I get good quality (usually HDTV) copies of shows as soon as their aired in North America (or the UK, as the case may be), rather than waiting for them to be available in Finland. Otherwise, I use analog TV for live sports, local news, or just to have something mindless on. Now comes a new evolution in my setup. I've pretty much ditched eMule in favour of the Azureus BitTorrent client, with the RSS Feed Scanner plugin. Basically, the plugin monitors an RSS feed published by tvtorrent.info using a set of filters that I create for the torrents of shows I want to grab as they become available. While I can use direct links from Mininova to get older episodes, once I'm caught up all the new eps are automatically downloaded.
So now I'm grabbing the Daily Show, er, daily, without having to manually search for a torrent each time. I'd love it if more torrents of Canadian shows were available, such as The Hour or the old episodes of Da Vinci's Inquest. If anyone has tips on where to find these, I'd be very grateful. Of course with this literal torrent of TV flooding into my media PC, the only problem left with is finding time to watch them all (although I'm already pretty picky about what I watch).
Update: I found one site that surveyed the availability of CBC/Canadian torrent TV content available. Looks like The Hour has been uploaded before, until the faithful uploader's computer broke. :( I was able to find a couple season 2 episodes of Da Vinci's Inquest too. Since Alliance Atlantis aren't releasing anything past season 1 on DVD anytime soon, I have no compunction about downloading them.
Back 'home' in Finland now after a relaxing but busy time 'home' in Vancouver over the holidays. Didn't get a chance to blog at all, although there was lots of activities that were blog-worthy. Just goes to show, sometimes you should just enjoy life instead of documenting it. But to make up for the silence, here's a brief recap of recent events. I kicked off the trip in style with the opening game of the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships, between the country of my birth and my adopted home (Canada-Finland, for those who haven't been paying attention). True to my conflicted feelings, I wore my Canada jersey and Suomi pipo (photo to follow).
Nice family Christmas with the folks and my brother Greg. Some good loot from Santa, including much needed outdoor gear (both for the upcoming ski trip, and normal life here in Rovaniemi). Blackberry pie for dessert. Yum, my favourite (thanks mom!)
A quick visit over to Victoria with Greg to visit our cousins Kirk and Todd, and uncle Kim, and their families. Keeping the great month of sport going, my bro took me to a Canucks game with his BMW corporate seats-- Row 2! Thanks, Greg!
The fun and chaos really began when Marjo arrived from Prince George (via Victoria), and Marc, Eva, Pere and Isabel arrived from Barcelona (via Calgary). We enjoyed our favourite all-you-can it sushi experience, before leaving for New Years frivolity in Whistler. After meeting my brother and Stacey, we spent New Years Eve at Tommy Africa's, which was actually a lot of fun, and played great 80s music.
After a needed day of recovery (and shopping) we hit the slopes and enjoyed some great sun and powder.
Capping things off the way they started, Marjo and I managed to score some tickets to the bronze medal game of the Junior Championships between Finland and the USA. Centre ice, row 7 no less! Finland comes from behind to surprise the tournament favourite 4-2. No conflict here, HyvÃ¤ Suomi!
After the others left there was barely enough time to visit Kristyn and Christer before packing up for home. Next time hopefully things will be a bit more relaxed and I'll have some more time to visit friends in Vancouver. I can't believe how quickly the time passed, and sorry that I didn't get to see more long lost friends.
More photos from the trip in PhotoSpace.
So I just watched an episode of Trailer Park Boys (Roskasakki- Trashbag, in Finnish) and the closing scene had Ricky watching the opening credits of The Littlest Hobo. Prompted by a wave of nostalgia, likely common to all Canadians of my generation, upon hearing the them tune, I Googled it and came up with something even weirder than the Trailer Park Boys in Finnish: The Littlest Hobo song in Spanish. Enjoy.
Today is Remembrance Day, at least it is in Canada, where I and everyone else would be proudly wearing a poppy in memory of those who served our country. Now that most of the WWII generation are passing, it's sometimes too easy to forget what kinds of different lives we do today compared to say, my grandfather's generation. Sometimes I wonder about the moral courage of my generation (myself included), that we're prepared to largely ignore the erosion of democracy and liberal human rights perpretrated in the name of a misguided and illegal war so long as we continue our right to rip CDs to our iPods unhindered. So at least for today, I just wanted to say that I remember.
While I'm on the subject of great police/crime dramas, I really missDa Vinci's Inquest. It only started in Canada after I left, but they actually started showing it in Finland (Da Vincin murhatutkimukset) a while back. When I first came across it I totally dismissed it. A quality drama... from Canada? Yeah right. By the time I finally started watching it I was amazed at how good it was. Da Vinci is the antithesis of American tough-guy cop show heroes, and the plotlines delve into social issues most US shows would never touch. (I especially loved the episode that highlights the issue of a safe injection site in the Downtown Eastside where Da Vinci goes down to Pigeon Park to buy drugs for a suspect holed up inside a squat in order to lure him out safely. Like that could happen in a US cop show.) As in Hill Street Blues, the characters are no saints, especially homicide detective Mick Leary (Ian Tracey).
So after getting hooked on this show, it disappeared from YLE (Finland's public broadcaster). A note on their FAQ says 'The acquisition of new episodes of Da Vinci's Inquest for YLE TV2 is being considered. In any case, the series is not yet returning in the near future' ("Da Vincin murhatutkimukset -sarjan uusien jaksojen hankintaa harkitaan YLE TV2:ssa. Sarja ei kuitenkaan palaa ohjelmistoon vielÃ¤ lÃ¤hiaikoina.") Bugger.
There's no sign of any episodes available to download from the likes of eMule, and only Season 1 is available on DVD. I guess I'll have to console myself with that instead of new episodes. Any of my Canadian friends and family feel like getting it for me (my birthday was only two months ago)?
Update (09.08.05): As if I could really wait for you lot. The first season DVD set arrived from Amazon.ca today. Nearly ten hours of Da Vinci goodness awaits! Don't call me for a while.
There are a number of things that I miss from Canada, apart from my friends and family, of course. Initially it was Snapple and bagels. But after almost eight years, I realize that I'm loosing touch with Canada. And I've also realized that one of the things I'm missing is The National on CBC. Barabara Frum, Knowlton Nash, Peter Mann on Canada's national nightly newscast have defined for me and Canadians of my generation who we are and how we see and interact with the world. I remember reading with a bit of smug pride when Wallpaper* magazine called The National "the best news broadcast in North America." Of course, this was at the beginning of the Iraq war and I had just seen my first glimpse of Fox News, the most watched news channel in the US (with CNN racing to the sensational right just to keep up the ratings). With that leading the quality of American news, one can hardly be surprised at this verdict, but it's still a nice thing to be recognized. Last night was another hot and bright night here on the Arctic Circle, and I was having trouble sleeping. It occurred to me that I could catch up on what was happening in Canada, and remembered that I had seen that the CBC had The National in full video on its site. It just so happened that the broadcast was from last Friday... Canada Day. I was immediately reminded why I love Canada so much (and also why it can be so annoyingly frustrating). I'm not moving back yet, but I'm going to try to watch most nights I can. The quality is pretty good, and come across well on my mediacentre, so I can watch it on a real TV. It goes online at 11:30pm eastern time, which is 6:30am here, but I think I'll still going to watch it before bed, even though it will be last night's news by then. After all, I can get up-to-date news online whenever I like. This is about reconnecting with something else.