Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Here's some old pictures from my Bosnia trip back in 1997.
The Vancouver Film Festival continues... and this morning I went to see a Finnish film called "The Handcuff King." It is set in the 70's in a border town on the Sweden-Finland border. The story centered around 2 young boys -- one from each country. It was quite good, and I particularly enjoyed trying to pronounce the Finnish title.

Now, I have never been to Finland. But I know a Finn. And I have been to Estonia, which might be like Finland, but having never been, I can't say for sure. The languages are definitely similar. So, I had this odd sensation of being on another border expedition with a group of Finns to some remote international frontier.

The next film on my agenda is "Ford Transit" a Palestinian film. It looks really interesting.


Sunday, September 28, 2003

Spent the day with friends out in Harrison Hot Springs, which is NW of Vancouver. The weather was full on summer. 30C! And its almost October. We strolled around the beach where a sandcastle building contest was being held. For lunch, we went to the Black Forest Restaurant and had schnitzel. Quite good, but very expensive: wine $7 a glass, schnitzel $15!

Now, I am home and watching the 10pm news.. and the top story is Hurricane Juan slamming into my old home of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The power is out, and there isn't a lot of live coverage, though CBC Radio Halifax is streaming. If you have ExpressVu, flip to channel 958 -- which is also CBC Radio 1 Halifax. Currently at 11:13pm Pacific (3:13am Atlantic), CBC radio is live with special coverage. Over in TV land, the pictures from a few hours ago look nasty. I hope all is well.

It's funny that I know many of the people that are being interviewed: Margaret Murphy from the power company, John O'Brien from the city.

UPDATE: If you are reading this around Sept 29th, you can see the hurricane as it heads towards PEI. This link is to a live video feed from the Confederation Bridge, which links New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island.

Another amazing day in Vancouver. No sign of fall (ok, some leaves are changing colour) yet. It is downright summery. And no rain either. The current forecast is for sunny and toasty for at least 5 more days. I was feeling a little sad that I missed fully 2 months of what has been called the best summer ever -- well, if you didn't own property that was burned to a crisp by all the fires.

I just got back from the morning ritual of having a double Americano with steamed milk at Turk's. Chatted with some people about Finnish films. Love the kookiness of the Drive.

In searching for a link to Turk's, I found one that features a VR image. The cool thing is, if you start at the coffee shop, and then rotate the image 180 degrees, you see a bunch of trees behind which sits my home! Another angle is here (it starts in the direction of my home).

Ain't technology wonderful?

Saturday, September 27, 2003

If you are a regular reader, you know of my distain for bongo drums. Well, it looks as if there is no escape -- especially if this idea takes hold. Ugh!

And check this site out... cool tunes, cooler images! Karen is a part of Night of Artists as well. Some of my stuff is on their site too.

Breaking News:

A friend of mine, producer Wendy Hyman, and her film partner were featured in the Sept 27th edition of the Globe and Mail. Their film "On The Corner" premiered at the Toronto Film Fest and is showing at the Vancouver International Film Festival.


Plus: a great story on Moldova. And if you're still looking for something to read, check this out: More on David Blaine, the wanker suspended in a box above the Thames.

Turning to local news, due to the summer like weather, I went with 3 friends (Steve, Steve, Lorne) to La Casa Gelato. Visit the site for the opening montage alone. They have 198 different flavours of Gelato on sale... the worst? Pear, Gorgonzola & Blue Cheese. I am not kidding! I went with "Death By Mango." Not bad at all.


Friday, September 26, 2003

Just found a picture of me illegally entering Belarus. What a great holiday that was!

Here's another.

Bored? Play with Googlism!

Still bored? Try:

Truth in Advertising.... 1 and TIA2!

There is something decadent about going to a movie at 10:30 in the morning. A latte and a film! Life is good.

Power Trip is a film about an American company trying to bring unterrupted power to Tbilisi, Georgia. Georgia, as in the former Soviet Socialist Republic. It follows a cast of characters (government officials, company officials, and the people of Tbilisi) in their struggle for affordable and continuous electricity.

Imagine if you were suddenly faced with a huge power bill and crippling blackouts -- how would you deal with it?

Imagine if you were denied power -- even though you paid your bill -- because the government was diverting power to factories that had not paid their bill in years.

Imagine deciding to cut the power to the army, due to non-payment.

Imagine trying to hook up to a 6000 volt feeder transformer and making a mistake. You'd only do it once.

Now, set this scene in a country where everything has gone in the toilet since the Georgia declared independence. High unemployment. Corruption. Lost hope.

That is what Power Trip is about.

I loved it... it was a bit long, but the characters were interesting, the American company was not evil, and I was inspired by people living through such crap. Obviously, it is a place I want to visit. Surprise!

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Even though work has been slow, it is actually a blessing when the Vancouver International Film Festival is in full swing.

Today is the first day -- it goes until the Oct 10th. Two weeks of great foreign fare. The only problem is how to see all the movies that you want to see. Many run concurrently and are shown only a few times -- and that means that the film festival runs your life. Which, as I mentioned is a blessing -- if work is scarce.

This morning I took in a Polish film called "Day of the Wacko." It was dark, sad, funny, challenging, and made me think about my life. The tale focuses on a 49 year old teacher who has become obsessive compulsive and basically nuts. Great film!

Further updates tomorrow!


Wednesday, September 24, 2003

This is a test of some new software.

Not much to add today. Did the rounds of the local stations today, still trying to confirm the broadcast of the Pandy documentary on CBC -- and confirm the Hockey Night in Belize item as well. Details soon, I hope.

The BONG-Holes are back with a vengeance. I wish it would rain, as this tends to keep them away. They probably end up sitting in their apartments watching x-rated anime videos.

I finally got all the bank hell straightened out with regards to my business. I tell you, sometimes I wonder who is the customer and who is the owner. Pretty pathetic the way Canada's big banks treat people. But, they haven't asked for me to pay off my line of credit, so they aren't totally evil.

There has been no movement on the Grandmaster project. But, Brent and I have decided that we will throw a friends, family and colleagues pitch. Donate some money or facilities or tape stock, get a mention in the credits. Can it be that hard to raise an $8000 budget -- for a one hour doc that will be the darling of the film festival circuit? Buttered up??

Allercards continues in the development stage. The designer is picked. The sales person is ready. Now, its just a matter of finalizing designs and getting some mock-ups made. And dealing with the business of business. IE: Incorporation.

Vancouver as been delightful for the past while. Summer continues, seemingly without end.

I had three more Great Baltic Border Expedition rolls developed. Not bad, but I only got contact sheets, which suck. There has got to be a cheap way of developing and printing and scanning... I have 27 more rolls to go. At $20 a piece... well, forget it! At least the contact sheets work in a pinch, I suppose.

And that is enough of a test for now.



Saturday, September 20, 2003

My Neighbourhood... I love it. I hate it. Generally my love of the funkiness of Commercial Drive is tempered by the annoying and near constant din of pseudo-hippies attempting to play their bongo drums in the park across the street.

However, today was one of those wonderful days when I feel like I live in the coolest neighbourhood on the planet.

Reward number one was walking into one of the many markets (one I had always passed by) and discovering Jumex Mango Nectar (and a low sugar variety of same!). What does this mean? Well, Jumex is a huge Mexican juice company... and I came to love their Mango Nectar while visiting Central America, where it is as plentiful as Pepsi. I could never find a similar (or cheap) version here... until today. First it was the discovery of Yugoslavian water, then Indian cookies, and now Mexican juice.

I'm sure that my favourite hot sauce -- which comes from Belize -- is sitting on a shelf somewhere nearby...

And then as I strolled around killing time, I ran into Ed McCurdy! This is a guy who I met when we launched Vancouver Television in 1997. He basically talked his way into a job on the Breakfast Show. And, he is porbably the most interesting person I know. We walked around with his daughter (2ish) and talked about his trips to Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala. He told me what Livingston was like 15 years ago. He asked if I had ever been to a cool little island called Caye Caulker. Er... yes!

And guess what he does for a living? He's got a good union gig, working in the SAFE INJECTION SITE! He basically helps users find their way inside, sort of like a Walmart greeter for heroin addicts.

Then I stopped in at the Celluloid Pharmacy and picked up a documentary on Fidel before grabbing some rumballs at the Chinese shop.

I felt like I've been traveling, though I only strolled around the neighbourhood...


The second weekend in Vancouver and I think the adjustment is complete. It was great to be able to pay all the bills and even has some $ leftover. However, now the cold reality of the never ending stream of payments is here. Meaning: got to get off my ass and working. Lots!

That's not to say I've been doing nothing. In fact, I have been continuing to work on my little business for my secret product. Heh heh! World domination is in sight.

And as much as I would like to use my airline points for some spur of the moment jaunts to places like Calgary or Nova Scotia, I must remain planted and start hammering that debt. One does not spend nearly 3 months out of the country without incuring the odd visa imprint!

Good news about my laptop which suffered near-catastophe in Denmark: it will be repaired under warranty! In the battle of Apple vs. Gravity, I won!

The weather in Vancouver has been decidedly fall-like. Little rain, but cool. Nice, actually. In fact, today I shall go for my first bike ride since returning home. And with the short days, it doesn't leave a lot of time to get out today, before the sun drops. Which today is 7:17pm (not including mountain blockage!).

Fellow traveling fools Bernee, Blake and baby Max return home tomorrow after 4 months in such exotic locals as Spain, Greece and Ontario! I look forward to hearing what it is like to travel with a baby who is only 8 months old or so. Good on 'em!

That will conclude today's entry. I must run and throw raw chicken parts and the bongo players in the park. They have won: I will have to move over the winter as I cannot take the noise. Any day that is nice is filled with the sounds of bad drumming. It is sad when the folks who leach off society (homeless youth) have more rights to make noise than I, a tax payer, have to peace and quiet. Come to Vancouver! Live in a city park! We'll reward you for it!



Sunday, September 14, 2003

Vancouver, BC

Ah, home. It was a great weekend re-connecting with friends. Hit a funky place called the Latin Quarter on Saturday night -- great food (Baked Eggplant! Mango Quesadillas!), and great LIVE latin music. Not to mention out-of-this-world sangria, and the fact that it is but footsteps from my home.

The Bongo-assholes were in full force today -- drove me to the cinema. And, when I came home at 9, they were still playing. Bunch of homeless shitheads. No respect for anyone but themselves.

On a happier note, I have posted a whole bunch of pictures on my personal homepage. Just click HERE to start, and then choose from the menu at the top of the page...



Thursday, September 11, 2003

Vancouver, BC

So this is my home. I've been wondering if I had one anymore!

The flight arrived late last night and I was able to enjoy a nice long silent sleep, topped off with a double Americano for breakfast (at Turks).

Now, I sit here creating a long list of things to do, bills to pay, and people to see. After being so busy, I want to keep the momentum. Of course, I refer to the monentum of drinking rum and mango!

How strange it is to feel denim on my legs. I think this is the first time that I have worn pants in a month. And the cool air here is a reminder that while summer continues down south, it is wrapping up here.

My head is full of fragmented thoughts, so I best collect them (aided with rum and mango) before writing much more.

As much as I love travel, sometimes, it's good to be home!


Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Caye Caulker, Belize

At 5:25am this morning, I could be found floating in the Caribbean sea as the sun rose. Quite a surreal way to end yet another visit to Caye Caulker. I am sad to leave, not because I fear I won't be back again -- but because the rest of the world seems to be on to the secret of this place. Everywhere I look, there are signs of a coming tourist wave. New guest houses and eateries going up, more "foreigners," and higher prices. It's funny how you graduate from the Loney Planet crowd and become the seeker of private spots to call your own. This is definitely mine. And I hope it isn't a carbon copy of Playa del Carmen, Mexico when I return...

There isn't a lot of time before I hop on the water taxi to Belize City and my last full day here in Belize. So, some random thoughts and events that I write more to remember when I get home than as interesting reading:

-- I shall miss sitting in the dark under an almond tree, rum and mango drink in one hand, gazing at the moonlit sea as a healthy breeze cools the hot night air... and thin Europeans saunter by...

-- The strange scene of hottubs in the jungle...

-- Chef Dieter spraying his kitchen with bug dope -- just so we can get one shot.

-- Only an hour ago, sitting with my feet in the sea. Millions of wee fish brushing past my feet. And other fish that look like characters from "Finding Nemo" poking about my toes.

-- A staredown with a big mother of an iguana at the Lazy Lizard bar at "The Split." And noticing the erosion. Whoops! The iguana won!!

-- Being picked up at the airport by the Belize Film commissioner...

-- Looking forward to being dropped off at the airport tomorrow, also by the Belize film commissioner!

-- The dogs of Brent's neighbourhood, who delight in their all-night canine serenades.

-- Ossifer the cat, Roh the girlfriend, Miss Nell the landlord...

-- But not Miss Nell's 8 or 9 dogs, one of whom surely is Satan in disguise!

-- Hockey night in Belize.

-- The horse drawn wood saw.

-- The simplicity of the more traditional Mennonites. And their humour.

-- The green/blue sea, the palm trees, the white sand, the blue skies, the creole accents, the rice and beans, the fry-jacks...

-- The Chinese food at Canton...

-- Blackie the helpful spranghead...

and much much more.

But now it is time to grab the boat.



Sunday, September 07, 2003

Caye Caulker, Belize

Another day in paradise: sun, sand, rum & mango. How long can this go on? One more full day! And then one night in Belize City before coming home Wednesday.

And it looks like I will be back in Oct to work on another doc! Details soon!

Some pictures: http://homepage.mac.com/dougmurray/PhotoAlbum31.html



Monday, September 01, 2003

Monday Sept 1, 2003
Belize City, Belize

Just back in town after 3 days on the road shooting Taste Belize… we visited several high end resorts and shot cooking segments with the house chefs. One resort, Blancaneaux (sp) is owned by Francis Ford Coppola. It is an amazing spot, tucked in the middle of nowhere. The highlight: tasting some of Coppola’s estate wines and the actual ceiling fan from the beginning of Apocalypse Now. Cool!


Another highlight came on the weekend. A longer version will follow, but, here’s the shorthand version:

It’s Saturday night in Spanish Creek, Belize. It is hot and the humidity is high. In the middle of a field several large klieg lights are illuminating a large patch of concrete. Time for a soccer game? No! It’s Hockey Night in Belize.

A crowd of about 150 people are watching the second game of the final series – the Blues versus the Whites. The players are all Mennonites and are equipped with standard gear. But instead of ice skates, they are wearing roller blades.

They’ve been playing hockey for a few years here, but now things are getting more serious. The players are honing their skills by watching NHL games on the TV (Dallas seems to be the #1 team here), The ref learned the rules of the game by playing hockey videogames.

The rink is official size, and the boards even feature advertising for the local John Deere dealers. I recorded the events for a CBC radio documentary as well.


On Sunday, we spent the night with record producer Ivan Duran and stayed up until 2am drinking cheap rum and listening to some amazing music. More on this soon.


We are back in Belize City tonight, then off to shoot another resort before coming back for one more night here. Then we’re heading to Ambergris Caye for a couple of days – shooting more cooking segments. And then on Friday it will be time to return to Caye Caulker before flying home on Wednesday Sept 10th.

Certainly lots going on… and I will update when I can.