Saturday, February 27, 2010

56 - Golden Two-Fer!

Short track speed-skating is an incredibly fast and exciting event.  Despite a bumpy start for Canadian skaters, our team began to show world-class talent.  My wife and I were fortunate enough to be able to watch short track speed-skating in person.  I have a collection of photos from the event with which I am very happy. 

Here is a picture of Charles Hamelin (205) in action.  He went on to win an Olympic gold medal for Men's 500 Sprint.

Above is a photo I took of the Hamelin brothers Charles (205) and François (206), as they prepare to skate.  Both brothers were on the Canadian 5000 Meter Relay team, along with Olivier Jean and François-Louis Tremblay.   Our Relay team also earned a gold medal!  Two golds in one night! 

55 - Gold: W Is For Wickenheiser!

"W Is For Wickenheiser" is a line from a children's book called "The Hockey Alphabet" by Matt Napier and Melanie Rose.  In it, each letter of the alphabet introduces a fact about the game of hockey. 

W is also for Win, as in We Win Another Gold Medal!  Hailey Wickenheiser captained the Women's Canadian Olympic Hockey Team to victory over the world. 

The image of the flying Canadian flag is courtesy of Donna Laframboise (TripodGirl); I touched it up a little. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

54 - Seven Golds For Canada!

The thirteenth day of Winter Olympics has provided a weath of medals for Canada.  Our seventh gold was won by Heather Moyse and Kaillie Humphries in the bizarrely-named Women's Two-Man Bobsled.  Canada also took silver in the event.  It's the first time our nation has finished at the top of this event, as well as our first time for a one-two finish in bobsled (Shelley-Ann Brown and Helen Upperton drove for silver). 

I worked over this image based on a photo by Peter J. Thompson/Canwest News Service/MCT. 

53 - It's A Wrap

Downtown Vancouver has received something of a facelift for the Olympic Winter Games.  Not that our buildings look shabby, but an effort has been made to have the core area look more colourful.  Most of it is sponsored advertising for large corporations.

One of the most dramatic forms is that of the wrap.  You take a building and cover it with a coating that's a cross between cling wrap and wallpaper.  Usually, you can see out from inside a wrap, but from the outside it looks opaque. 

My wife and I saw many wraps in Europe.  They were used to cover construction areas.  Often, the wrap would show what the finished building would look like.  Now, wraps are becoming popular in North America.  The wraps in Vancouver are among the largest and most intricate of any in the world, with a couple of local graphic arts companies emerging as the top leaders in wrap technology.

I took a snapshot of this patriotic wrap which covers the massive renovation of an old building into some kind of super luxury condo.  The renovation has been going on for years.  Someday, it might be interesting to see what the finished product will look like when the wraps come off, even if I can't afford to get past the lobby.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

52 - Canada's Sixth Gold Medal!

Women's Ski Cross is a new event to Olympic Freestyle Skiing.  The first ever gold medal for this contest now belongs to Canadian athelete Ashleigh McIvor.  Ski Cross uses the same facilities as Snowboard Cross, which is a gigantic, twisting snow run upon which four participants compete at once.  After the heats, the atheletes with the best times compete in a big finals race.  The big difference between the two events is that one is raced on snowboards, while the other is raced on skis.   Canada's Maëlle Ricker won gold for Women's Snowboard Cross, so I guess she and Ashleigh share a matched set of medals. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

51 - Five Golden Medals!

I'm not the biggest fan of figure skating; I don't understand much that goes on the ice.  However, I am thrilled for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir who have won Canada's fifth gold medal for Ice Dancing.  Kudos from the guy who won the Jill Bailey Most Promising Beginner Hot Latin Trophy (2nd Place), 2000.  So maybe I do have just the tiniest bit of understanding.  To win Olympic Ice Dance is an amazing medal accomplishment!

I used an image from Pritha Sarkar/The Post Chronicle™ as the basis for this multimedia picture. 

50 - Downtown Lights

A view of the condominium towers as seen from Granville Island.  Sometimes, when I see a night panorama like this, I think that every light that is turned on represents somebody's life.  We all need light to see at night, or to be seen:

This particular light has a special golden quality.  VANOC tunes the giant illuminated rings over Coal Harbour to gold when our atheletes win their event.  The Olympic Rings symbol is used by the Olympic Organising Committe (IOC), and were designed in 1920 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

Monday, February 22, 2010

49 - Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!

I am a little late reporting on Canada's fourth gold medal winner, I've been busy.  But extroverted and ebullent Jon Montgomery has been much busier than me, ever since winning gold for Men's Skeleton on Feb. 19.  As fast as he was on the track at the Whistler Olympic Sliding Centre, red-bearded Jon charmed the nation even faster on the podium, recieving his well-deserved gold, and calling it "a medal for all of Canada". 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

48 - International Relations

It's been argued that the Olympics serves the politicians.  If the Games strive to create an equal playing fields for athletic endeavour, they also create a massive stratification among the visitors and viewing public.  A rigid caste system if you will, with the politicians and the elite unabashedly recieving preferential treatment and the rich taking the best seats. The rest of us are shoehorned into the corners of the rafters by zealous security workers.

I won't argue against that view, as that fits what I have seen so far at the 2010 Vancouver Games.  But that says so little about the magic of the Games for all the people.  It's not about the tickets we get or the seats we occupy for a couple of hours at a time, or even the money spent, although that's a serious consideration. 

Case in point is this photo I snapped of Chinese speedskater Zhou Yang after she set an Olympic speed record for her 1500 meter final.  Just look at how this tiny athelete stretches up on her tiptoes to hug her coach, who herself has climbed onto the sideline padding.  Such undiluted emotion!

Here's the point of this photo, which you can't see.  Stuffed onto public transit, we met/were forced alongside a very pleasant couple of young Chinese nationals.  We struck up a limited conversation, as their English was hesitant, and our command of Chinese falters when called upon to go beyond the confines of a dim-sum menu. 

My wife hit upon the idea of showing the other couple the pictures we took of Zhou winning her event.  We exchanged e-mails, and now we will be sending this same picture to our new friends in Beijing, Pen-yi and Simon. 

Maybe our politicians get wrapped up in statemanship and profiteering when guiding international policy.  At the grassroots level, though, all we needed to make a meaningful connection was a simple digital photograph. 

Here's another example:

At first glance, a photo of some ordinary fans.  "J.R. Rocks" refers to J.R. Celski, the American short-track speedskater.  Shepherded by VANOC volunteers onto a bus, we were crowded into these women, where we quickly discovered that they were from the United States.  "So you must be pleased about Apolo Anton Ohno (the famous USA skater who took bronze in his event)," we asked, so naive!  We got a sour look in reply, and a closer look at their tee shirts.  "Well, yes Ohno was okay, but we were cheering for J.R.". 

The same J.R. who got disqualified for tangling up with Canadian François Hamelin?  I nearly asked aloud... 

On the way to the bus, past a ranged line-up of security workers who seemed eager for all of us to clear on out of the stadium, we also met the family of said  François Hamelin.  I declined to photograph them as they seemed very downcast at the results of the finals:  niether François nor his brother Charles made it onto the podium today. 

International relations can be difficult! 

Nonetheless, J.R.'s family was gracious about how the race ended up, and they were very well-spoken about their family star.  He is a young phenomenon who in 2009 had his thigh slashed right to the bone in a terrible skating accident.  His doctors doubted he would walk again, let alone skate. 

And here we are, packed into a diesel bus like sardines in a can, swapping stories about sports and digital camera photos, and a dozen other pleasant things that people discuss when they find out they share a common ground.

Let the bigwigs and the bluebloods keep their skyboxes and their IOC-sponsored liveried servants.  We just made the connection from Beijing to Vancouver to Seattle, all for the price of a bus ticket. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

47 - Canadian Golden Threepeat!

Wow, here we go again!!!  Canada's third Olympic gold medal for the 2010 Winter Games was earned today by Christine Nesbitt in 1000-meter long-track speedskating.  She had an amazing run, and she won the event by the length of her skate blade. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

46 - Lenten Rose

Today is the start of the forty day Catholic Lenten observance.  Pictured is a Lenten Rose(Helleborus x hybridus), a shade perennial that's supposed to keep its bloom during Lent.  This specimen is in our front yard, and it's been blooming since mid-January. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

45 - Canada Goes Gold Again!

Canada strikes gold again!  Olympic athelete Maëlle Ricker is now the world's best at Women's Snowboard Cross.   Awesome! 

Monday, February 15, 2010

44 - Canada Wins Gold At Home!

Heartfelt congratulations go out to moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau, who won Canada's first gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics.  It's also the first time an athelete competing for Canada has won an Olympic gold medal on home soil (or snow). 

We own the podium!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

43 - "I WUV U"

Happy Valentine's Day!!!  Here is a cute little hamster to brighten your day.

Well, actually, the hamster started out as a peace offering to my wife after the spilled ink incident (click this link to learn more about how I spilled a lot of ink).   I've been asked how long it took for her to discover that I cleaned up after that mess.   It took her three and a half days to tell me that she read about the ink spill on JSVB.  She noticed bits of the mess that I had missed a lot sooner, though. 

So Hammy here is partly to apologize for spilling the ink, but mostly he's a Valentine to my loving and beloved wife. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

42 - Olympic Opening Ceremonies

23 million Canadian viewers watched the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on television.  My wife and I were supremely fortunate to be able to attend the event in person, albeit in the "cheap" seats.  No matter, as there was not a bad seat in the house.

If you've seen the show, it was absolutely amazing.  The Canadian entertainers were at the top of their form, and provided a first rate example of our national talent. 

The venue, BC Place, is a familiar location for sports.  As such, it's never been an optimal stage for cultural events.  The cloth roof wrecks audio and prevents the use of large pyrotechnics, although it is very good at keeping the rain out.  The underground spaces for storage and logistics are small and cramped, which means that you cannot have a marshalling area for large stage pieces or crowds of talent more than a few dozen performers.

Given these limitations, the Olympic Committee overcame hurdles by using clever collapsible set pieces and an absolutely mesmerising light show.  Even the audio was decent, thanks to a carefully designed overhead speaker rig.    

The media is making stories about the problems we had lighting the Olympic torch.  Yes, the ceremony was not perfect.  What we did do, though, was show our strong Canadian spirit.  There were problems, and we overcame them to put on the best show possible.

This was an event of a lifetime, truly memorable, very much a love letter from Canada to the rest of the world. 

The ceremonies were dedicated to the memory of Georgian luge athelete Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was tragically killed during a practise run only a few hours before the ceremony. 

The Georgian team is pictured above, their national flag below.


41 - "Toilet Chase" Spec Poster

Today is the 13th, and I have decided that every thirteenth of the month will be "Ungood Art Day" on JSVB.

Earl provided me with a doozy.  It's a picture I drew a long time ago.  Back when we were working on Paranoid Productions (click on this link to learn more about this) the flagship project was a finished script we wrote called "Toilet Chase".

In short, it was an action-horror tale about college students being stalked by a malevolent haunted toilet.  We intentionally wrote this story to make it as bad as we could, and yes, it stinks to heaven. 

Earl kept this sketch which was a design for the movie marquee poster. 

"When you were young, your parents taught you
a lot of things.
One of them was how to go to the bathroom
by yourself.  They were wrong."


"It ain't takin' any more crap from you!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

40 - Captain Vancouver

Apart from the media hype over who happens to be the leader of our Canucks hockey franchise, there really was a Captain Vancouver, and his name was George.

At the close of 2007, I wrote an article that had to do with the city of Vancouver for  I needed a picture of Captain Vancouver RN for the piece, but I did not have a public domain picture to use.  My choices were to take the bus out to Vancouver City Hall and snap a picture of the Captain Vancouver statue out there, or just draw my own.  It turned out to be faster to do the drawing, using Corel Painter.  Vancouver buses are notoriously slow as well as expensive. 

The notes in my article capture the basics of how our region was shaped by Vancouver's mission: 

"International media frequently places Vancouver as one of the top three cities in the world for standard of living, typically in the running with Vienna, and Geneva. Without going deeply into how Vancouver manages to be at the top of the list year after year, I will simply report that there is much to see and do here, that the food is good and the water is clean, the scenery is consistently breathtaking, and the people are generally friendly and accepting of a colourful diversity of culture.

Historically, Vancouver derives its name from the Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver, whose exploration of the west coast of North America in the 1790's provided excellent maps and fairly good relations with the native population. The city as we know it now was originally settled in the 1860's and began development in earnest in 1887 after it was connected to the Canadian Pacific Railway, the intercontinental rail line that linked the west coast of Canada to the east.

Today, when people speak of Vancouver, they are most likely speaking of the conglomeration of cities, towns, and villages that comprise its urban sprawl. Since the 1960's, the population of Vancouver and its satellites was administered by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, the GVRD. In 2007, the name of GVRD was switched to Metro Vancouver, although legally we can still use GVRD.

This area is composed of these municipalities: Vancouver City (which holds the densely populated downtown core and the troubled East Side), as well as trendy North Vancouver and West Vancouver. The westernmost district is rugged Bowen Island. Heading south, we find Richmond, where the Vancouver International Airport resides (CYVR), and Delta, which borders on the United States. Farther east are Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Port Moody, Coquitlam, and Port Coquitlam (home of the late Terry Fox, one of Canada's all-time greatest citizens). Smaller cities and rural regions in Metro Vancouver include Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, White Rock, Langley, Belcarra, Anmore, Lion's Bay, and the sparsely populated Greater Vancouver Electoral Area A."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

39 - Tomorrow Is Going To Be Big!

Tomorrow marks the start of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics!  We are very excited as we were lucky enough to draw for tickets to the Opening Ceremonies.  That ought to fill a couple of blog entries right there. 

I don't think I am allowed to show what the tickets look like directly, so I made a quick-sketch artists' rendition.  The tickets as a whole are quite big.  The Opening Ceremonies tickets are larger than any other Olympic ticket. 

The design is what I would call West Coast Post-Modern: iconic with many incongruous, frilly touches, many of which refer to our local environment.  For example, an image of a tree holding up a powerline, or a bridge cable that goes up to the sky like a kite string, only there's a bird at the end of it. 

All of the tickets use a cool colour palette, dominated by a hue that many have dubbed "Smurf Blue".  The Opening Ceremonies ticket is the only one that uses warm colours in the design: the orange flame of the Olympic Torch and the red mittens worn by the brunette model. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

38 - Jeff Catches A Cold, Part VI

"Cough into this kazoo."

My wife is so tired of listening to me cough all day, she gave me a kazoo to cough into.  If I have to cough, at least I will be entertaining. 

Here is the actual kazoo she gave me.  I was going to draw a picture of it, but as you can see it's a "Mr. Entertainment" kazoo.  I had to take a photo of it.  An example where life improves on fiction, especially if you enjoy double entendres

This is a more serious "kazoo", from GlaxoSmithKline.  It's an asthma puffer, stuffed with some kind of post-modern steroid concoction.  It helps me breathe, but it makes my head spin.  Fortunately, I only have to use the device for a couple of weeks, and then I can put it away. 

I made an audio clip of myself coughing into the kazoo:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

37 - Jeff Catches A Cold, Part V

While my cold appears to have subsided, I now have a chronic cough.  Yesterday, I could not stop coughing, and that laid me low.  I drew this picture from memory: hacking up my lungs. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

36 - What In My Sketchbook Lives

Here is some kind of creaturoid I drew.  It seems happy enough. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

35 - The American Grey Cup

Today is The American Grey Cup (Superbowl Sunday).  I don't much care for the American game, it's slow and too deliberate most of the time.  The American fans seem to really like it, which does lend the event some much-needed energy. 

A football game is an awesome excuse to drink beer and eat pub food, though. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

34 - Rubber Chicken's Demise

Sharon 2 is no more.  Long live Sharon 3!!!

Photographed here is the last comedy beat for my dear departed rubber chicken Sharon 2.   

A good rubber chicken can be an indispensible comedic tool.  Put one in your briefcase with the legs sticking out and walk around downtown in your best business suit.  Stuff it into a sugarbowl, and it will silently wait for an ambush.  Amuse your friends with an awesome display of martial arts Rubber Chicken Nunchuks. 

Unfortunately, the life span of a rubber chicken seems to be only about five years.  After that, the material tends to get brittle and decay.  Then it's time to start shopping for a new rubber chicken.

Here is Sharon 2's replacement, Sharon 3.  Sharon 3 looks a little more cartoony than Sharon 2 in my opinion, but she's got great texture and is very rubbery.

Friday, February 5, 2010

33 - What Vancouver Does Best

I've been requested to include more content related to Vancouver for JSVB.  Lately though, I've either been confined to the house or else when I do get out the camera battery dies.  As the Winter Olympics are nearly ready to go here, I think I can safely promise some Vancouver-based posts soon. 

Beyond the Olympics, the scenery, great restaurants, the vibrant culture, sky-high housing prices, and the oppressive taxes, Vancouver does one thing better than nearly anywhere else in Canada, and that's to brag shamelessly about our weather when the rest of the country is locked in a winter deep freeze.  You can always count on a Vancouverite to laugh at tornadoes in Toronto or the woes of Lake Winnepegosis.  Of course, Victorians are even more smug about their weather, but I don't think they brag quite the way we do. 

I snapped this picture today from our front bedroom window.  Please note the blue sky, the green lawns, the lush foliage, the thermometer at +12 Celcius, etc.  Yes, there is snow on the distant mountains, but I am assured that it has been brought in by helicopter specially for the Olympics, so we won't see any of that white stuff down here. 

Compare and contrast to this photo, also taken today, this time from lovely St. John's, Newfoundland, out on the right-hand coast.  This photo belongs to the St. John's Telegram/Kieth Gosse. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

32 - Jeff Catches A Cold, Part IV

I don't so much have the cold anymore so much as the malingering effects of one.  I have what my doctor calls "a productive cough". I'll say.  A couple of nights ago, I not only coughed up a lung, but also a full screenplay, co-authored by the virus and the corpuscles.  For background on both sides of this subcellular conflict in my body, please click on this link, this link, and this link.  It would seem that the virus and the white blood cells are finding some way to live with one another. 

About the screenplay: well, it's putrid.  The less said about it, the better.  They call it "From Ear To A Twisted Knee".  It's about the forbidden and ill-fated love between a soldier in the white corpuscle army and the red blood cell he is forced to leave behind.  She happens to be already married to a high-ranking neuron who unbeknownst to them is secretly working for the enemy virus.  Like I said, awful and melodramatic. 

In the third act, there is a huge showdown between the virus and the white blood cells led by Brave Helper T-Cell.  The enemy armies clash in the massive Battle Of Uvula Ridge, which actually took place a few hours ago.  The art department rushed me these storyboards that seem to depict the initial stages of the conflict, as the two sides form their battle lines:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

31 - Purdy's Mayans

I've been thinking it would be a good idea to add a category to JSVB devoted to food.  I find food to be very important, and good food even more so.  The problem is that great food has many dimensions beyond just visuals.  I'll try to convey the goodness of food as best I can through art and photography. 

I'll start with some chocolates from Purdy's.  These are the brand new "Mayans" line of candy.  Little chocolate ziggurats filled with delicious smooth centres and a subtle toffee crunch.  We will ignore the Mayan history of using these pyramids for human sacrifices, just as we hope that the product line will last well beyond December 2012 (note the calendar on the package that's about to run out.)  The four flavours are Almond Butter, Coffee Crunch, Peanut Butter Crunch, and Pistachio Crunch.  Delicious!  A great, affordable way to celebrate the end of the world as we (and/or the Mayans) know it. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

30 - "Groundhogs In Love"

Today is Groundhog Day!  By legend, groundhogs come out of their hole today and predict the extent of the winter weather yet to come.  In this picture, the groundhog doesn't see his shadow, but instead finds a lovely lady groundhog.  Lucky guy!

My wife, ever the romantic, loves this picture.  I drew it maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, when I had my first image scanner and colour printer.  I drew it to test the capabilities of what were then new peripherals.  I've lost the original drawing and the computer file, unfortunately.  We've kept this scrap on our fridge for all of these years, and now I am happy to scan it into JSVB for posterity.