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Bob's Blog

Fun with Thread

bc-brow-nixon-100530.jpgRemember Hugh Griffiths?  Probably not.  But he was a Welsh actor with a slightly wonky eye that would have drawn your attention but for the man's amazing thatch of eyebrows.  They were so long the man could have braided them like Pippi Longstocking and tied them at the back of his head.  I do not know if this is a Welsh trait, but I've got a bit of Wales in me and have noticed that as the years go by my own brows have developed an unruly Griffiths like tendency.  Generally, I combat this unwanted growth with a pair of scissors which usually ends in exposed brow flesh or bloodshed.  That's when I ask my barber to do it. 

Now I discover there is an ancient technique developed in India that can control my Griffithsitis.  It's something South Asian women know all about - and other women too.  But it's not yet mainstream - though could that change?  Watch this and tell me what you think.  Brow Beaten icon_video.gif

Rembrandt's Eye

bc-rembrandt-nixon-100528.jpgThe Dutch Master, Rembrandt, is so revered in art circles that his paintings sell for millions of dollars.  But his influence also can be seen every day on television screens.  All of the camera operators I've worked with over the years are very familiar with "Rembrandt Lighting", a technique that uses key and fill lights to emphasize one side of a subjects face on the screen.  The idea, traced back to Rembrandt, is that this lighting allows viewers to focus better on a subject and listen better to what they have to say.  Apparently, it puts people at ease.

But if it works, why?  And how?  What did Rembrandt discover 350 plus years ago that so attracts attention to his paintings?  A UBC researcher decided to try figure out the science behind the art.  Art Science icon_video.gif

Fine Paintings

bc-art-nixon-100526.jpgIt is one thing to go into an art museum and see some of the remarkable creations people have made throughout history.  But it is something else again to go to an Art Auction house and check out what is for sale.  That is quite an education to try to figure out why one painting might go for, say, ten thousand dollars and another for two million smackers.  Museums generally do not deal with such crass matters as what people think a painting is worth, at least openly. 

The Spring Heffel Art Auction in Vancouver was a wondrous opportunity to make such price comparisons.   Now that it is over, it seems that the Heffel Brothers surprisingly underestimated the demand for the works on offer.  That Bill Reid sculpture - featured in this piece - sold for more than $700-thousand, within their estimate.  But overall, buyers spent $23 million dollars on the 223 artworks, while the original estimate was between $12-to-$15 million.  Guess some people think the recession is over - or that the art market will outperform stocks. Art Auction icon_video.gif

Robert Davidson

bc-davidson-nixon-100512.jpgHe is one of the most celebrated artists in Canada, so when I was offered the chance to meet Robert Davidson I jumped at the chance.  His Haida artwork, sculptures, carvings, paintings, prints, jewellery can be found in museums and galleries around the world.  This week the Vancouver Art Gallery named him the recipient of its Audain Award for lifetime achievement. 

Davidson works out of a large wooden studio in White Rock, where he has produced masterpieces for decades.  To go there is almost like entering someone's fertile mind, as half finished paintings and carvings move closer to perfection and all the visitor can do is stand in awe and wonder at the imagination and skill that can create such works.  Haida Artist icon_video.gif

Craft Beer Week

bc-beer-nixon-100511.jpgBack before I gave up the demon rum in all its forms, I used to make my own beer.  I read a book extolling its virtues with a line I'll always remember.  "Beer, wine, bread and cheese - the very first processed foods.  When I drink homemade beer, I commune with the ancients."  Considering my connection to the makers of pyramids almost made the awful swill I produced drinkable, but after a while I gave up. 

Others have not, and B.C. now leads the nation in so-called craft beer production, small breweries and brew pubs that oftentimes grew out of some ambitious home-brewers basement operation.  It appears a growing number of people prefer craft beer to the stuff major breweries produce, even though it costs more.  Witness the proclamation in Vancouver of 'Craft Beer Week'.  That was the subject of my story and all I can say is that - like beer - it packs a punch at the end.  Kegger icon_video.gif


fun-city100510_16x9_xtralarge_1.jpgVancouver's documentary film festival, DOXA, began on May 7 and I'm guessing that one of the scores of docs being shown, "No Fun City", will create a bit of a stir.  This Vancouver documentary was written, produced and directed by Melissa James along with co-producer and director Kate Kroll - two rising stars if this film is any indication of their abilities.  No Fun City speaks to the inevitable conflict between girls and boys who just wanna have fun and other people who wanna have quiet.  It documents the underground music scene in Vancouver and the loss of concert space available to bands.  That line sounds a bit dry reading it just now.  The film is anything but, a wild ride into a really vibrant world that remided me of my own wayward youth before I became the serious, no nonsense fella I am today.  No Fun City icon_video.gif

Sunny and ...

bc-weather-nixon-100507.jpgHow many times have you looked out the window, saw that it was an absolutely beautiful day, headed out wearing not much more than a t-shirt and shorts, then discovered it was bloody cold out there?  I think that's a typical experience for Canadians, our optimism in the face of sunlight often is at odds with the reality.  Such was the case the other day when the daytime high was quite a bit lower than normal temperatures.  We still enjoyed it, but bundle up, folks. 

That was the story I wanted to tell.  But then I discovered this gosling trying to jump a curb and things took a turn.  Not So Hot icon_video.gif

Ladd's Dad

bc-blackhawks-nixon-100505.jpgVancouver hockey fans have it pretty easy generally, aside from supporting a team that has never won the Stanley Cup.  Even so, the Canucks have a faithful horde of supporters who sell out the arena, watch every game on TV, wear team jerseys and fly team pennants from their car windows.  This year, the Canucks have played well, produced a winning season and the promise that this just could be the year.  What's not to love? 

But then we have in our midsts fans who simply cannot support the Canucks.  Circumstances prevent them from rooting for their home team.  I met one such person, who just happens to have a very good reason to cheer for the Black Hawks. 

Hockey Dad icon_video.gif

Navy Centennial

bc-navy-nixon-100504.jpgGrowing up in Winnipeg, I always wondered why that city had a Navy post, HMCS Chippawa. just north of the Donald Street Bridge.  It is not on water, a block from the Assiniboine River and about a thousand kilometres from saltwater, Hudson Bay.  But tons of prairie kids learned their sea skills there and my father was one of them.  Thanks to the Navy, he and, through him,  I learned to love what Melville called the watery part of the world. 

So it was a great thrill for me to ask my dear friends in CBC Archives to assist in finding old film and video of the Navy in action for a story about the 100th anniversary of its founding in May of 1910.  The story of this force is long and justly celebrated and I could only skirt a few of the highlights in this piece.  By the way, why is there a base in Winnipeg?  In addition to offering Sea Cadet training to kids like my Dad, it also recruited prairie men and (eventually) women to the Navy, almost eight thousand sailors during the Second World War.  Navy 100 icon_video.gif

Howie the Whale?

bc-whale-nixon-100503.jpgI have done a couple of wildlife stories in Squamish over the past couple of years and both involved very good news.  The first was two years ago when massive numbers of herring arrived to lay eggs in the estruary, after largely ignoring the area for decades.  Much of the credit for the revival was due to the Squamish Riverkeepers, who had worked with industry to wrap creosote soaked pilings in non-toxic fabric so the eggs laid on the pilings could survive. 

Some people believe the success of that project, coupled with other efforts to revive the estruary, is linked to the arrival of the first Gray Whale in 100 or more years to feed in the shallow waters off Squamish.  Whatever the reason, it certainly drew scores of people to the Squamish Spit, many of whom were among to the first to catch a glimpse of this leviathan.  But let me tell you, when that whale is a few kilometres away, it is not easy to film.  Though we saw it rise more than a dozen times, we managed just one brief shot of it. Gray Whale icon_video.gif



A New Contender

bc-contender-nixon-100502.jpgI've sat at this computer for the past twenty minutes worrying about how to start this little squib about a guy who pounded the hell out of a couple of other guys in a mixed martial arts competition.  Sure, his is a tale that should be told - a guy who moved from Ontario to Vancouver with just a few bucks in his pocket, was homeless for weeks and is now a fight champion.  One of those Cinderella Man stories. 

My problem is that mixed martial arts is incredibly violent, too gladitorial for me, even though I quite enjoy the sport of boxing.   Thinking about it brings out all kinds of inner conflicts regarding the nature of the male psyche, the role of violence in our species, just what it means to be a man - for let there be no mistake, MMA touches some raw primal nerves.  But who am I to censure a nice fellow who wants to develope his talents and see where it takes him?  Perhaps I should thank him for allowing me to ask these deep brooding question. Fight Guy icon_video.gif