30 September 2006

Home Again

Had pizza for breakfast, after my cappucino. Went to the bank. Have some tours lined up. Chiara's on the phone.

We're home.

Of course, next step is cleaning this shithole up, and then making our way to Amsterdam to live. Right now though we've got no jobs there, no apartment, and we're still waiting to hear about Master's Programmes. May be a little premature.

We'll just stick to the dolce vita for a little while...

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KLM

Chiara and I flew home from Vancouver via KLM. They were super nice. That's nice. An attendant even lent us contact solution. And they let Chiara drive for a little while.

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25 September 2006

Strangers Yelling Out of Cars

Two things occurred yesterday. well, alot of things occurred yesterday but I had two particularly contrasting experiences of strangers yelling out of cars. They happened only hours apart and fortunately the bother of the first one was all but eradicated by the hugging of the second.

My mother and my sister drove me to the ferry. Or rather, I drove us to the ferry in my mom's car. I had to drive fast, but not too fast, because my mom was in the car. So a safe 10 kilometers above the speed limit, and we got there in tonnes of time. Arriving at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal my sister pointed out that I needed to be in the right hand lane, but I was all the way in the left hand lane. So I crossed over and stuck myself between a couple of cars and there we were.

We got out of the car to get my stuff out of the trunk. The driver of the car behind me opened his door and said "You're a terrible driver. Seriously," he went on, "you nearly caused two accidents back there."
The rest of it was background noise. Background noise that made my goodbye with my mom and sister more awkward and strange than it needed to be.

The ferry ride was spent thinking of witty rejoinders I could've used to shut that guy up or engage him in fisticuffs that I won handily in my mind.

I was still a little bothered when I got off the ferry in Vancouver on my way to El Rancho to see some improv and Brad on his last night in town.

It's coming up now, the point where I get yelled at again, and everything becomes OK with strangers.

Walking past Mountain Equipment Co-Op I saw a cardboard cutout standing against the exterior wall. It was sarah Michelle Gellar, TV's Buffy The Vampire Slayer. So I picked it up and brought it along with me.




I was then forced to justify this when 15 seconds later I ran into my friend Allen; he was of course curious. I explained I found her, and didn't know what to do with her, but she was in mint condition, and deserved better than the ignominy of standing facing the MEC shop, like a child being disciplined.

Just then, a voice yells from a van "Hey! Where'd ya get Buffy?" Eager to have a distraction, and distance myself from this cardboard cut-out I was holding I replied "I found her. Do you want it?"

Making an illegal left turn the van sped to a halt around the corner. Getting out, the bearded man in his early thirties couldn't believe his good fortune. He offered money, and exaltations. We settled on him buying us a coupla beers. The bear hugs he threw in.
He was thrilled, and I was too, because it counteracted the embarrassment of earlier in the evening and reminded me that not everyone yelling out of a car is a total prick.

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Skunks and Boats

From one favorite island to another Saturday morning.

Woke up on Grey Rocks Private Paradise Island. Made my way to Tsawwassen for another boat ride into Victoria to connect with dad, brother, and jay for a mans fishing trip.

It was awesome, with barbecue, drinks, poker, darts and a 5:30 am breakfast of toast eggs and tomatoes and potatoes.

Then we set out in the orangey grey dawn for Sooke Marina, to encounter our entrepid guide Ron. We made our way out of the basin towards secretary island. Ron baited anchovies put a little "bend" in them and we dropped them into the water to trawl around and catch salmons. Coho or Spring, we weren't picky.
Because I missed last years trip, where they caught 11 salmon, I was given first crack at the rod. That means as soon as there's a bite the rod is handed to me to reel the bastard in, and then it's my catch. We just cycle through throughout the day.
Almost immediately there was a bite. I reeled in a salmon! It was a Coho, less than 10lbs, and also was wild, which meant the little guy got to live to see another day. Only fair, and besides, we wnated to get that hook back in the water to catch another fish!

But we didn't.

That little throwback was the only fish to get near our boat that day. However we certainly didn't expect that to be the case because 5 minutes after the release of that salmon their was a big "strike," on the other rod. My dad grabbed it and set to work. However there was some tangled line and the fish was able to sneak off. Too bad, he was a biggie. And the only action we were to see for the rest of the day.

Dad and I retreated into the cabin to wait our turns (which we were certain were impending) and Darren and Jay manned the rods.

Until noon.

Then we turned around and went in.

Fishing is like gambling: losing means only that you're more determined to get back in, get on a lucky streak. You're convinced it'll happen. Plus you get a boat ride, which you don't get otherwise, unless you're on one of those riverboat casinos.

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22 September 2006

DJ's and PJ's

Went to see DJ Shadow on tuesday with Geordie.

Amazing. Epic.

Brad Macneil arrives tonight and a whole crew of us are going dancing at a DJ Z-Trip show.
Like the first day Brad and I ever hung out.

Vancouver has turned the rain on, and turned up the love, and we're the better for it.

with dancing to boot.

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16 September 2006

Whales Watched

So yesterday was full of good news. The second bit was that I didn't get the job in Amsterdam. The desk job. That sucks, I suppose, to not get gainful employment, but the suckness is cancelled out by the relief. At the interview, when the interviewer asked me how I would handle a job where I had to be at the smae place from 9 to 5 five days a week. I thought about it, and gave a carefully composed answer about how I was looking forward to the challenge. However, I couldn't disguise the terror that flickered ever so briefly across my face when he posed the question. I don't know if that's what deep sixed the employment opportunity, but it's a moot point now.

The bestest news is that Chiara and I went whale watching yesterday and SAW WHALES!



Look how happy we are at the end of the day.


Our day started at 7am, but we weren't whale watching until almost 4 in the afternoon.
That's because we got the royal jerk around from these guys Seafun Safaris. They kept us running around all day and they were insincere and basically pissed us off. In fact when Chiara, my dad and I went whale watching with them I didn't want to but I acqueisced. I like to think my gut feeling was correct.

Anyway, as their last boat of the day left at 2:30 without us we were capital P pissed. Not so much at them, but a little bit. Plus I knew that we really had to whale watch because that was Chiara's only real wish in Canada and she's so beauctiuful when those wishes come true. And she doesn't take disappointment well.

Anyway, we went to Prince of Whales and gave them our sob story, about the hundreds of dollars we'd spent and how Seafun promised to "exceed our expectations" when in fact they coulldn't even meet them and so on.

They were very nice. They didn't let us on free, but they (the booking guy) gave us a fantastic deal, so we bought them all chocolate bars. Asa well he gave us a 95%chance to see whales. And was right.

They took us out in a big boat that fit 74 people on it's previous trip and had just 17 on ours. Spacious and comfy. We saw a transient orca family of four, spyhopping blowhole breathing, general whaleness. It was a forty minute trip out and forty back with over an hour with the orcas. No bullshit, just whales and sunshine. As well we were well educated by the personable and knowledgeable staff. It was gorgeous late afternoon west coast sunny, the water was glassy calm: it was all around a "win."

Fuck Seafun Safaris. Whale watching was awesome with Prince of Whales. P.S. We didn't see the Seafun boat out where we were, which means they probably weren't seeing whales (again).

We didn't get back until after 8:30, so it was a long day, but an awesome one.

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Olympics

"The 2010 Olympic Games will cost BC taxpayers nearly $1 billion more than the provincial government previously indicated, according to the provinces auditor general."
-From Victorias Times Colonist Newspaper.

Yup. Here it comes. The supposed financial windfall of hosting the Olympics is already tuirning into a boondoggle that could cost the BC taxpayers millions and millions of dollars; the BC government is where the buck stops on the Olympics and excess costs will come from the taxpayer pocket.

The worst thing is that it's not too late to exercise some fiscal responsibility. The auditor general's report is a warning, but the Liberal government is so busy ducking responsibility they don't have any time to take any.

If mismanagement were an Olympic sport, we'd be looking good for gold, instead we're looking fucked.

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13 September 2006

Whale Watching

There was really only one thing Chiara wanted to do in Canada, one special request: see some whales. Because we both knew Ryan was going to take over the trip slowly but surely with things he had to do, we went whale watching. The great thing about whale watching off of Victoria is that you're practically guaranteed to see whales. We didn't.



But still Chiara and I and my Dad had a great afternnon, and saw tonnes of seals (rock sausage, as they're known) birds, huge crashing waves, and a few Dalls porpoises playing off our bow wake.

The other good news, besides the animals we did see, is that we can go whale watching again. Of course Seafun Safari wants us to see whales, and we can fly stand-by on one of their other boats, one, we assume, that'll be seeing some whales. This we may do later in the week. I sure woulda preferred to see whales the first time, but nature just wouldn't sing and dance for me, like that bitch should.

So Chiara's dream comes true twice over in a holiday, I can't see how I wouldn't reap some reward from that. As well, there wasn't really a sense of disappointment because we had a totally sweet boat ride. But the best thing, bar none, and the most exciting sighting yesterday was that of my nephew Roan.

I wanted to handle him like a professional uncle, but my style was amateurish and he could tell. Hence the crying. However, I showed marked improvement over the course of the evening,




and can only expect to improve even more when Roan and his Mom and Dad show up here at the Millar family vacation retreat (AKA Gramma's house) for the rest of the week.

Little computer, more outdoorsy relaxing bookreading and snacking... and poker.

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09 September 2006

Triumph

Amsterdam keeps getting nicer. Had a great time at Boom Chicago last night, after a harrowing job interview. Actually, the job interview was fine, the interviewers nice, and the office pleasant, but working an office job makes me nervous, although it'd be worth a try at this point. There' was just a moment where I got a sinking feeling in my gut thinking abotu coming to the same place everyday.

But Chiara and I had great Indian take-out, and the new crowd at Boom! is awesome, as are the old heads. Did a medium-short long form in the Late Night, that's hot. I got into it, though my involvement in the other stuff was minimal, it was just fun to be part of the show.

H&M shopping and American Book Centre today, now maybe a movie and fritjes, or something else lowkey, on our bikes.

And tomorrow Vancouver. Jesus! Right on.

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07 September 2006

Tonight's the Night

...before we go.
Chiara and I have a full day tomorrow, from airport pick-up at 9:00, to get to Eindhoven in the afternoon, hopefully with all our luggage. We then part wasy to get trains to farflung Amsterdam locales for our respective job interviews. Then a celebratory dinner before the Heineken Late Night at Boom Chicago.

Nice!

Saturday will be rolling around. Sunday. The airplane to Vancouver. Good. Holiday. Yes. Vancouver. Victoria. Really, it might be too much awesome.

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TOPSY TURVY TIMES

Now I'm a journalist! This article is set to be published in upstart, sophisticated, english language Roman magazine called "The Roman Forum." Thanks entirely to my friend Howard, who's one of the editors. As a blog reader, you get to read it first, you lucky duck. If you don't live in Rome, it's your only chance.





"Lucky" Luciano Moggi, former Director General of Juventus, received a 5 year ban and 50,000 euro fine for his part in this summers calciopoli scandal.

TOPSY TURVY TIMES



For Italian football this year has truly been the best of times, and the worst of times. And the drama continues. The scandal and allegations of match fixing in Italy's premier league, Serie A certainly qualify as the worst of times. In fact, those allegations and questions plagued the Italian team in the build-up to, and the early matches of, this year's World Cup in Germany. Questions at early press conferences there focused on the sports tribunal taking place in Rome, relegating the onfield play in Germany to an afterthought. Of course, as Italy recovered from an early stutter against Team USA to show a remarkable cohesiveness, focus, and will to win, the onfield play became the story again. And with Italy's dramatic penalty shootout victory over France in the World Cup finals, the dream came true. What had hardly seemed imaginable leading up to the World Cup had manifest itself as Italy not only performing well, but winning the biggest trophy in sport. Shades of 1982! Italy went into that World Cup under the cloud of questions at home and emerged victorious, under the leadership of Paolo Rossi, who had just finished serving a two year ban in the betting scandal.

And Italy has won the World Cup again under remarkably similar conditions: the team went into the World Cup with low expectations, and was dogged by scandal right up until the scepticism was replaced with incredulity and excitement. to add a fourth star to the Azzurri jersey. The summer here in Rome was full of World Cup enthusiasm, at no time more than July 9th and 10th. The day Italy won the world Cup, Circo Massimo was packed to the brim with tifosi. When the team returned home the next day they were given a heroes welcome in that same circus by over a million fans. It’s a wonder they all fit. And to make this years World Cup victory just that much sweeter Italy beat rivals France in the finals, to avenge their EURO 2000 loss. The fact that it came to penalty kicks, which Italy had engaged in three times before, and been three times disappointed made it that much sweeter. So it was indeed 'the best of times.'

However, as the heady excitement of the World Cup glory ebbed, the decisions of the sports tribunal were announced; in fact it came just 120 hours after Grosso stroked home the winning penalty kick. The news was not good, not for the fans, the clubs implicated, or Italian football in general. The scandal implicated 4 top Serie A squads, and handed down severe punishments. It also highlighted the widespread corruption in Italian football. The primary offences committed were phone calls between club representatives and officials attempting to influence referee appointments. The focus of the investigation, and the man who received the stiffest penalty, was former Juventus General Manager Luciano Moggi, who received a 5 year ban and 50,000 euro fine. He resigned from his post as did the President of the Italian Football Federation, and the head of the Italian Referees Association. Nearly 20 individuals in all were hit with a range of sanctions. For the football fan, or the casual viewer, the sentences received by the teams are most relevant. What did happen this summer to create this Dickensian “best of times, worst of times” scenario? The worst of times involved the drawn out investigations and sentencing, that during the World cup saw former national footballer and Juventus player-cum-team manager Gianluca Pessotto fall from a fourth story window at Juventus headquarters in an apparent suicide. In this case the systemic corruption being rooted out took on a very real and personal aspect. But despite the personal tragedy the “worst of times” were not as bad as they could’ve been; the sentences of the four originally targeted clubs were commuted, but, importantly, punishments were still meted out. In fact, the second round of sentencing, which saw a lightening of sentences for the original four teams also saw Serie A squad Reggina implicated and punished. This is how the punishments of the teams break down.

Juventus, the club at the centre of the scandal, around whom rumours of cheating have swirled for years, was the hardest hit. Relegated to Serie B with a 30 point penalty as well as loss of their last two scudetti, or titles. The final punishment was relegation to Serie B, but with a 17 point penalty. The loss of their titles remains.
Fiorentina, who finished fourth this year, just ahead of AS Roma, found themselves not in the Champions League as the league results indicated, but relegated to Serie B with a 12 point deduction. In the end they remain in Serie A, but with a 19 point deduction.
Lazio was relegated to Serie B with a 7 point deduction. In the end they were allowed to remain in Serie A, but with an 11 point deduction.
AC Milan, the team of media magnate and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was not relegated, but penalised with a 15 point deduction for next year. In the end the punishment was lightened to 8 points.
And Reggina, which was not part of the first wave of sentencing, was given a 15 point deduction in the second round.

For the four clubs allowed to remain in Serie A, life will continue as usual, though the teams will look different behind the scenes. The sentences include in all cases bans for team officials implicated in the scandal. For Juventus though, the club will look different not just behind the scenes, but on the pitch as well. The exodus of top talent from the team has been significant. Fabio Cannavaro, Patrick Vieira, Lilian Thurmam Gianluca Zambrotta, Emerson, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, all World Cup 2006 players, have all made permanent moves to other clubs. All were frequent starters for Juventus, but now the relegated Juventus will have to adapt to the loss of many key players.
In the end the corruption and match fixing rife in Serie A have been dealt with less than severely. The lessening of sentences can be seen as a weakening of resolve on the part of FIGC (the Italian football federation, however the fact that sentences stuck and punishments are being served is a credit to the investigations. As well, the eventual inclusion of Reggina in the punished category arguably makes up in breadth what the punishments now lack in depth. But quibbling over points penalized is a fools game. The real issue here is how will Italian football be impacted by this summers vicissitudes? We can now only hope that the fallout of these "worst of times" will be that the image of Serie A will be cleaned up and restored, on a national and international level. It is also expected that the execution of sentencing will have a “chilling” effect on managers who otherwise may have been tempted to petition for referees favourable to their squads. But there's no question that it will take a long while for Italy's football reputation to be rebuilt on the national stage. Except… wait, these are also "the best of times" and Italy, as World Cup winners, can take comfort in the fact that their football has shown itself the best in the world. Let's hope that image is the lasting one. And the football this year in Serie A, and Serie B, is played with fairness, dignity and passion.

Ryan Millar,
(with copious reporting from Wikipedia)

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06 September 2006

I can't believe it

Maybe the announcers were right, I mean that's the job of a pundit. Maybe the first goal was a touch offside. But Italy certainly looked everything less than unsolvable. The World Cup's fiercest defense gave up three goals. The first one in the 2nd minute. And France got their revenge. No question they outplayed Italy. Consistently looking dangerous, controlling possession, SCORING THREE TIMES! Sure the home crowd helped, and the referee was crappy and random, handing out cards where none were called for, and withholding them when they were, but he didn't decide the game.

I don't put much faith in this new coach. Donadoni. Sure he's got a good Italian name, and he looks plenty Italian, in that aging-gracefully vein but he hasn't been doing his job behind the bench. His job is to win football matches.


So far under his stewardship Italy have managed a 1-1 tie with perennial football nobodies Lithuania, and then soundly lost to archrivals France. Not exactly a great start for Euro Cup qualifying is it?

He's also brought back Antonio Cassano to the Italian national team. He played in Totti's #10 jersey, and performed really just the second half of that number: zero. Actually that's not true. He made one good pass. One. More importantly the guy is a shitbag, and worse than useless. PLus, he basically stole Totti's number. Totti is the number 10 of the Italian national team (and AS Roma). He's the guy that plays just behind the strikers. This Cassano, whaddacunt.



I mean, I guess he's good. He must be. People who know shit about football pay him lots of money, and ask him to play on the national team, so he's gotta have some worth. But I haven't seen it. All I know of him is that last season Roma sucked while he was a member of the team, and he wasn't even playing. He was just being a crybaby bitch and spoiling it for everybody. Soon as he was traded to Real Madrid Roma went on an 11 game winning streak. And Real Madrid isn't too thrilled about the deal now: Cassano doesn't start, nor does he see much game time as a sub. Maybe Donadoni should think about doing like Roma, and dumping this deadbeat. At the rate they're going they're going to need a win streak to qualify for EURO 2008.

However, it also wasn't just Cassano's fault, and though he was quiet(ly nonexistent) he got subbed out in the 70th minute and Italy still couldn't do enough to threaten the French goal.

Not exactly a convincing defense of the World Cup Title, but we'll content ourselves with the fact that we have the trophy and France doesn't.

Unfortuantely, thanks to Donadoni, we also have this guy



Oh Cassano, you worse than useless twat.

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Late Lunch

I had my very first calamari sandwich today.
Yup. You read that correctly. Calamari sandwich. No taztziki or any sauces though; just octopus, deep fried, plus bun, plus lemon. The way God intended.

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04 September 2006

Prada Pope


Pope Benny is something else. I'd heard the skinny on the street that he fired the family tailor used by JP 2, and rocks fly threads, bespoke and pricy. Without corroboration I listened but couldn't really form an opinion. Then a friend forwarded me this photo. Check the Pope's kicks, this guy doesn't scrimp on duds. In the opulence of the Vatican he's gotta rock it like this to fit in. I think.

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02 September 2006

West Coast

In one week, we'll be in Amsterdam, two days later in Vancouver. Not so much planned, but soo much to look forward to: friends, family, nephew, sushi, Millar Time, beers, fishing, DJ Shadow, swimming, ferry rides, shopping, a weak Canadian dollar, improv, whale watching, Grandma's House, ocean, rain, autumn, frisbee, fringe fest, family tattoos, doing my taxes, renewing my International Drivers License, sleeping in and eating eggs and potatoes for breakfast, west coast rap, thai food, 99B-line, Commercial Drive, Miles the dog, Stanley Park, the beach and whatever else is coming down the pipe.

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Amsterdam Beckons

Yesterday I got home early from work and so got alot of things done: made a sandwich and ate it, played (and won) a game of online scrabble, recklessly drove and shot my way through a couple stages of GTA: Vice City and generally had a productive afternoon of time wasting. There was a 15 minute anomalous period of productivity too. In my desultory internet searching I hit up Expatica the english language expat magazine based out of Amsterdam that was keen to get me into an intern position. We were both keen actually. Anyway there was another job position in the postings that looked pretty decent actually: The Program Manager of a university online section. Based in Amsterdam, involving a minority of busywork and administration and a majority of engagement (real and email) with students, to smooth transitions and troubleshoot. It seemed interesting enough, and a real job which I thought was worthy of applying for; problem was, the application deadline was September 1. Yesterday. And they wanteed along with the CV a sample of writing

"Applicants should send their application accompanied by a written statement, which explains their interest in the post and why they believe they are well qualified to do it. Please give a clear explanation of how you meet all the essential requirements and as many of the desirable requirements as possible. This statement will be a central part of the selection process. Applicants are advised to take care to present themselves convincingly."

So I slapped one together quickly and conscientiously, against the clock, and emailed it out at around 3:00.

4:00 I received a phone call for an interview (!) Chiara already has a job interview on the 8th of September in Amsterdam. I now have one for that same day at the same time. I'm excited about the potential for this job, and even if it doesn't work out, it's great the way Amsterdam seems to be receiving my overtures, and responding warmly.

Working in a university, dealing with students, getting a livable wage in Amsterdam? I like this idea, it's certainly warming me further on the Amsterplan.

Additionally, I will be a guest next Friday at the Heineken Late Night at my old stomping grounds of Boom Chicago, to whom I may soon be looking for casual improv employment. Or at least somehow some opportunity to make more funny more often.

See you next week Amsterdam.

Vancouver, you're my true love.

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