Thursday, February 26, 2009

This jingle goes right round baby right round

Yet another Starbucks location is coming to the one city in the world already with the highest number of Starbucks locations in the world.

Vancouver soon gets another SB location at the corner of Robson and Denman streets.

At my count, which may or may not be accurate, that marks the 8th or 9th Starbucks on Robson Street (including the two kitty-corner to each other at Robson and Thurlow).

I bite my nails from growing fear that this coffee retailer has become the single most identifiable cultural landmark in Vancouver. The only thing we have more of here is umbrellas.

That said, I'm really liking Starbucks' latest television campaign encouraging Americans to get involved in volunteerism by donating 5 hours of time.

The ad is a strong convergence of creative marketing and the public messaging coming out of Barack Obama's office lately which encourages everyone to volunteer in your own community.

Plus, the jingle in the ad is as catchy as VD. Take a look, and a listen...

Stuck in your head now, right? I'm not trying to promote Starbucks, but I gotta give 'em props (or their ad agency) for developing a TV commercial that I like to look at and comes with a jingle more easily ingrained in my brain than that other one airing on TV these days for Mini Wheats breakfast cereal.

The golden era of TV and radio jingles is long gone, but I sure don't mind if they come back.

At the end of the day, it's the core message about volunteering that got to me, and that means they did their job well. They now have me - and maybe you? - thinking about how to give back a bit.

The whole thing just kinda makes you wanna buy the world a Coke.

Or not.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

U.S. President visits Great(ful) White North

Barack Obama made his first trip as President outside the USA today when he visited our great nation's capital for a much-needed sit-down with Stephen Harper.

On a personal note, I cannot even find the words to say how right it is that Obama made Canada his first destination on official foreign relations business.

Canadian parliamentary insiders say their private meeting included conversation about their kids and the pressures of their jobs. And how!

It is quite hilarious, yet not at all surprising, that Obama's visit to Ottawa was ALL OVER Canadian media outlets for several days leading up to today (newspapers, TV, Inter-dubya, radio) yet nary a mention - at least not that I'm aware of - in U.S. media until sometime late this morning or early afternoon, at which point I finally spotted a headline on CNN's RSS feed.

But this story is already long gone from that feed, replaced by something about a chimpanzee attack or Slumdog Millionaire's chances of winning a Best Picture Oscar. (my money's on Slumdog ... FTW MOTHER-EFFERS!)

Back to Obama, one of the most engaging things about his visit was his impromptu stop at a bakery where he bought a couple of cute & delicious looking cookies, in the shape of the maple leaf, for his daughters.

Take a peek here for some really quite good photos of the rock star's ... er, U.S. president's ... day trip to Canada. And I gotta say, it was a real love fest.

While in Ottawa today, Barack Obama committed to continuing strong bilateral partnership with the Canadian federal government and he also made a point of making two very cool statements:

"I'm looking forward to coming back to Canada... when it warms up".


"I love Canada".

Glad you dropped by, Barack -- y'all come back soon now, ya hear?!

*UPDATE* The Canadian Press has a superb wrap of U.S. media coverage of Obama's first foreign trip as the U.S. president. This is good times, check it out, especially the quoted comments from two CNN anchors and I like the quip from Jay Leno, at the end, too.

U.S. media struggles through coverage of Obama's Canada visit

3 hours ago

WASHINGTON — One CNN anchor had apparently never seen the Mounties before, and those who recognized one of Canada's most iconic national symbols noted the absence of their horses.

Others seemed enthralled by how wintry Ottawa was, while some on-air personalities struggled mightily to pronounce "Michaelle Jean" and "charge d'affaires."

American news channels, bloggers and others who watched live on Thursday as President Barack Obama visited Ottawa were largely complimentary and admiring of Canada, even if they were somewhat unfamiliar with what they seemed to consider their quaint neighbour to the north.

"We love those Canadians; they're good people," CNN anchor Kyra Phillips said at one point during the cable news network's coverage of Obama's first foreign trip as president.

Later, however, Phillips said: "All eyes are on Ottawa right now - you don't hear that every day."

Her colleague, Fredricka Whitfield, was stumped earlier in the day when Air Force One first landed in Ottawa and a line of Mounties - clad in their traditional red serge jackets and Stetsons - marched out to greet the president on the airport tarmac.

Pausing as she attempted to describe the scene to viewers, Whitfield apparently took a wild guess and referred to them as "troops."

The Associated Press, meantime, briefly referred to the prime minister as "Premier Stephen Harper" before correcting his title.

Over at Fox News, anchor Megyn Kelly gamely tried to pronounce "charge d'affaires," explaining to viewers: "It's French." Later, as Obama and Harper held court during a Parliament Hill news conference, the channel flashed fact boxes at the bottom of the screen - nuggets that are pretty much common knowledge in Canada.

Among them: "Canada is the U.S.'s largest, most secure supplier of oil," and "Canada is the U.S.'s largest trading partner."

White House blogger Jason Djang travelled ahead of Air Force One and wrote about what he saw upon his arrival in Ottawa.

"Ottawa is white, and the snow's still coming down ... police are on snowmobiles," Djang wrote. "Canal Rideau is frozen over, and there are people ice skating on it."

But lest Canadians feel smug and superior in the wake of American wonderment about their country, some U.S. observers also poked some good-natured fun Thursday at the breathless nature of Canada's coverage of Obama's visit.

The deliciously snarky, the blog that dishes on D.C., directed its barbs at Macleans magazine's "liveblogging" of the event - particularly its author's preoccupation with Obama's lack of warm winter headgear as he emerged from Air Force One.

Under the headline: "Cute Canadian Liveblog of Historic Obama Visit," Wonkette wrote: "Get the blow-by-blow of the most exciting thing to ever happen in Canada in the history of history. Sample: '10:34:43 AM. Why is the president not wearing his hat? Or a hat, at least?"

The Macleans blog, written by Kady O'Malley, was described as "hilarious" by a fellow American blogger, who pointed to her 10:26 a.m. entry: "He's here! He's here! Well, the plane is here, or so it appears from the Newsworld feed. It's big and impressive and just like in the movies."

Meantime, Jay Leno threw a line in his "Tonight Show" monologue about Obama's meeting with Harper.

"President Obama took his first foreign trip as president today up to Canada," Leno said as several, presumably Canadian members of the audience cheered. "He met with the prime minister to discuss one of the greatest threats facing our nation today - Canadian geese!"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Our winter tour of all-things Gay Top Model continued at Gossip Night over at the ol’ 1181 in the wee gay Davie Village.

Danny and I had dinner in front of the fireplace at Moxie’s where I found the wait staff to be extremely nice and friendly. Yeesh, I sure wish more food and beverage establishments in this town would adopt such an attitude … because sometimes, truth be told, there is enough attitude from barista’s and bank clerks to wilt a Valentine’s Day bouquet of roses.

We paid the bill and popped over the road to 1181 where we thought we’d be walking in late for the Gossip Night event, but oh no … in true Gay Standard Time style, our very late arrival time was still – luckily for us – well ahead of the official start of any festivities.

Like a complete tool, I forgot my camera at home. So much to my chagrin, I have none of my own photos to endlessly review under the covers late at night... every night. And of course that also means I have none to share here with you.

So in the interest of showing you some good pics from Gossip Night, I’ll take the liberty of including some of David Sandford’s photos of Vancouver’s Next Gay Top Model’s Gossip Night (thx to David via Mirateca).

While I was looking forward to this event, and enjoyed myself while I was there, I have to say that I find 1181 to be a very awkward space. Not because of the decor... that I like. Spending time in there makes me feel like the design sensibilities of Oslo and Manhattan are competing for my attention. And that's a good thing :)

But what I find awkward about it is that it’s a very long and skinny corridor of a night spot… which makes it a somewhat difficult venue, especially for an event like VNGTM.

You walk in the place and there’s a cool space for lounging and chillin’ and having a drink with your peeps. Then in the elongated centre-portion of the place there’s the bar. And then, at the back of 1181, you find another sittin/chillin space with comfy seats, tables, and well-selected videos playing on the back wall. Par example, last time Danny and I were there we had way too much fun watching The Brady Bunch and Wonder Woman classic episodes.

So, with the entrance and back-end of the place so distinctly separated from each other, I find 1181 to really be one of those “liquor in the front, poker in the rear” kind of party places ;-)

Here’s a pic of the crowd crowded in front of the bar (there’s only, like, 5 or 6 feet between the edge of the bar and the wall opposite the bar) watching all those fabulously excellent Gay Top Model wannabe’s tell their “stories”.

Yes, it was story time for the VNGTM contestants whereby 2 minutes was allotted to each dude to tell a story about himself to the excited, interested, gathered masses. The task given to the crowd, on the other hand, was to indicate by way of general loudness whether we felt the “story” we heard was truth or gossip.

A fun idea, for sure. But unfortunately I don’t think it came off as well as it could have and by all means should have. That’s because the guys didn’t keep to their 2 minute story-telling time limit.

Don’t get me wrong, I know how easy it is when you’re excited and trying to put your best foot forward to prattle on and on a bit… especially with a microphone pointed at your mouth. But again, unfortunately, the crowd didn’t really stick with it and completely tuned out the vast majority of each contestant’s story. Including me. From what I could tell, the stories just went on for too long. Simple as that. I’m sure it’ll be a good lesson for these guys that “short n’ sweet” really can be a virtue.

But all that aside, here's some fun pics of the contestants starting with Calan. He continues to exhibit his penchant for eye-catching T-shirts. While I do like this one, it's really the one he wore at Score that completely rocked my world

GTM contestant Adam was rockin' a look which I thought evoked a boy-version of Britney's Baby One More Time video. And it looked great:

Cutie-patootie Reese (Reece?) did his best imitation of Kevin Spacey at the 1996 OSCAR AWARDS by bringing his Mom to the show. And that, my friends, makes me think he's one step closer to quite possibly becoming the winner of Vancouver's Next Gay Top Model:

And, here we have GTM contestant Stephen (left) with Gossip host Ryan Steele (who is clearly after my own heart due to the fact that he reads Entertainment Weekly, according to his MySpace page)

Did you know that Stephen's shoe size is 13.5? That's pretty big! And you know what they say about big feet...

... BIG SOCKS :)

In the end, everyone waved a fond farewell to Joel G who was eliminated from Vancouver’s Next Gay Top Model.

I couldn’t help but notice him make a beeline for the exit within minutes of his elimination. I don’t blame the dude, I would have done the exact same thing – but I definitely applaud his intestinal fortitude for entering the competition in the first place.

Same goes for all the guys, including not only those who remain in the competition but also those who were in it from the get-go. In tribute to them all, here’s a pic taken at the early auditions back in January. My how a month can change things, n’est-ce pas?

A fun-loving pair (or was it a trio) of guys were collecting $5 votes from the party-goers to vote on your favourite contestant in hopes of getting him further along in the quest to become 2009’s Vancouver’s Next Gay Top Model.

All the proceeds from these events benefit those good people over at Friends for Life. That’s a very large part of why I’m particularly interested in supporting VNGTM 2009.

Plus, as the lyrics go from the theme to The Flintstones, “We’ll have a gay ol’ time!”.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And my little fascist panties are in a very happy knot!

There is some truly F*A*B news coming out of music land today. Tori Amos is set to release her 10th studio album a bit later this year. And, in true Tori style, the album title is the perfect hook to get you hooked.

It's to be called "Abnormally Attracted To Sin" and once again I realize that Tori has turned yet another phrase that speaks the very complicated language of my soul. I kid, I kid (but not really).

I read the press release just issued by Tori's new label, Universal Republic, on Pink is the New Blog. Here's the full release for your full enjoyment, too ;-]

Tori Amos to Headline Universal Republic Showcase at South by Southwest Music Conference on March 19, 2009


There will be thousands of artists and tens of thousands of music fans gathering at over 60 venues for this year’s South By Southwest Music Conference in Austin, TX, but all eyes will be on groundbreaking star Tori Amos, headlining one of the most anticipated events in the conference’s two decade-plus history, on Thursday, March 19, at historic Austin club, La Zona Rosa.

The Grammy nominated singer/songwriter is headlining a star-studded Universal Republic Records showcase at the popular venue, sure to be looked on as one of the must-see events of the four day festival. Tori will be performing new songs from her upcoming Universal Republic debut album, ABNORMALLY ATTRACTED TO SIN, scheduled to hit stores and the digital domain this spring, as well as other classics from her influential repertoire.

Tori’s recent signing with Universal Republic is in keeping with the inventive star’s unconventional approach to the artist/record company relationship. Universal Republic will distribute Tori’s new album, as well as correlate other ventures in tandem with Tori’s prolific creative output. ABNORMALLY ATTRACTED TO SIN, her tenth studio album, is another innovative chapter in the artist’s trailblazing story. Every track on the album will be accompanied by a corresponding ‘visualette,’ featuring footage that has been captured over the past year. Shot in HD and Super 8, the visualettes will incorporate a documentary style.

Tori’s most recent album, AMERICAN DOLL POSSE, which has been hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as ‘her best album in years,’ was released in 2007 to a chorus of rave reviews. The captivating album, like many of her previous efforts, adhered to a strong conceptual theme, with Tori inhabiting multiple archetypal female personae, a testament to her willingness to continue to push the boundaries of the female singer/songwriter.

Regarded as one of the most emotionally fearless live artists in music today, her most recent world tour, launched in the summer of 2007, saw her soar with her first full-fledged rock band in nearly a decade. Media platforms such as the BBC lauded both her live show and album as ‘returning Tori Amos back to the forefront of a genre she defined…still pushing her own boundaries.

*AND, we're back...

I'm really surprised that it's already time for a new Tori album, and I also think it's amazing that this is going to be 10th studio album. A LOT of time has passed since I first heard her first album Little Earthquakes back in good ol' '92.

I've managed to see Tori Amos live in concert 7 times over the years, and I sure hope a 'SINful' tour for her new album comes to Vancouver so that I can make it 8!

The approach of 'Abnormally Attracted To Sin' is great news and is also a great reason to remind us that one of Tori Amos' greatest achievements is RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

And for old time's sake, here's the tune that truly reflects what inspired Tori Amos to create RAINN:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Would the real Joaquin Phoenix please stand up?

There are almost no words to describe Joaquin Phoenix's appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman tonight (last night). And it looks like I'm not the only one picking up my jaw off the floor after watching this interview because, lo and behold, it's already on the YouTube. (Of course it is!)

I've never seen anything *quite like this* on live TV, but thank God it happened on Letterman because this is for sure going to go down as an all-time classic.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

"Score" another one for local beauty contest

We’ve had another gander at those bad boys from the second cycle of Vancouver’s Next Gay Top Model. Thursday night at Score on Davie was another event in a series of many for the now-annual charity event.

Not only did we get to see all the contestants again, but the evening also allowed some public exposure for Danny’s burgeoning career as a hand model (despite his subversive choice to use a certain finger for this pic):

The event at Score was also time for the 2009 contestants to get all gussied up in the sporting gear of their choice.

Presumably, the boys were representing a sport they actually play or do. But, if it was me up there as a contestant – and since the word “sport” may as well be Swahili to my ears – my choice of sport gear would be purely based on athletes who look the hottest in or out of their gear … and for me, that sport would be rugby:

After all, I think Principal McGee said it best when she said, "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!"

Once again, as always, I digress. Back to the parade of half-nekkid contestants at Score. Check ‘em out for yourself:

It seems as though I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot for this next contestant. His name’s Reese (sp?).

He’s got a great attitude toward himself and to this competition. He comes across as very casual and not at all invested in any kind of ego trip which could easily accompany someone on such a public ride like Vancouver’s Next Gay Top Model. He's got a great smile, I like him, and I think he'll do quite well in this competition, if not perhaps become the winner at the finale event on April 2nd.

, and this gonna sound weird, I’m strangely entranced by the way he walks. Light, short steps. I have no idea why that appeals to me … I guess you’re just gonna hafta see it for yourself and then you can decide if I’m crazy or not.

Ok, let's carry on with the other contestants, shall we?

The host of the night was Aaron Ursacki, winner of 2008’s VNGTM. Seriously, all this guy has to do is throw on a baseball shirt and a cap and I’m sold.

Not only is he yummy, imho, but he’s also down-to-earth. He totally deserved to win last year.

Here’s some pics of Aaron interviewing the ’09 Collection:

Here’s a couple more pics of Reese (Reece?)... just ‘cause I like him:

And then, when all the parading and chatting and posing and strutting was complete, VNGTM honcho Terry Costa gathered the lads for the inevitable elimination.

I wonder if Terry’s been watching American Idol for tips on how to eliminate because he kind of toys with these boys when it comes to telling them it’s time to stay or go. You know what I mean, he’ll look someone in the eye and through careful choice of words that person will be left for a few moments completely unsure if they’re getting the boot or not.

Meanwhile, the ladies in the crowd washed down their growing anxiety:

And in the blink of a false eyelash, it became clear that all contestants were staying... except for these two:

Congrats to those guys for having the guts to put themselves on the line for Gay Top Model honours and for Friends for Life, the charity of choice for VNGTM.

*NOTE OF GREAT IMPORTANCE* The $5 voting fee at Score on Thursday night went to Friends for Life. In fact, whenever you see a cover charge or something like that for one of the Vancouver’s Next Gay Top Model events, that is how this event continues to raise funds for Friends for Life. So hopefully that encourages you to get out there and partake in the good times ;-)

We got to meet contestant Calan - he’s the one who turned 22 at last Sunday’s Gay Top Model event down the street at (Anything With A) Pulse. I couldn’t resist getting the scoop behind his choice of shirt for the night:

That is the raddest shirt ever. LOVE IT. Calan said he picked it up in London. Since he’s 22, he’s totally allowed to wear it. As for myself, I may not have been made in the 80’s, but the 80’s definitely made me! So I gotta give props where props are due.

Danny and I took off and went over to 1181 to hang out for awhile before calling it a night. Speaking of the 80's, the DJ at 1181 played (Keep Feeling) Fascination by Human League ... singing along was clearly in order:

On the way home, the sandwich board in front of Ho Ho’s caught my eye. They have a particularly catchy slogan: Oriental Yummy Food. But unfortunately, something not-at-all-yummy was obviously delivered from above and slid its way right down the sign, right across the word ‘yummy’. Ewww.

if you wanna get REALLY grossed out, make sure you click on the image so that you can view a nice, big, hi-res version of it

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