You: So how was your flight, Lex?
YHS: Not bad at all, less than three hours. Would have maybe been faster, but being an Air Canada jet we had to do everything in French too.
You: And what did you think of the inflight movie you watched on your personal entertainment system?
YHS: “The Good German“?
YHS: I thought it was a lovely bit of period work by Steven Soderbergh, who clearly has both the eye for 40′s style film noir – you’ll never see anybody’s face out of the shadows unless maybe he’s about to cop it – and an ear for it as well. The look and feel were note perfect. And while George Clooney didn’t stretch himself much out of his “George Clooney” character, although I found it marvelous strange that the untimely (and off-screen) death of universal hug-puppet Toby Maguire character went so very unlamented, such an out of character part did he play. Also, Kate Blanchett was simply amazing.
You: Have you ever not been amazed by Kate Blanchett, Lex?
YHS: Not as I can clearly recall, gentle reader. She continues to amaze.
You: Well, and is this your first trip to Vancouver, Lex? And how are you finding it?
YHS: It is not, for I came here decades ago as a mere snot-nosed lieutenant back in my days of wine and roses, like. Only substitute “beer” for wine, and “whiskey” for roses. Of course, I do not much remember the place. On account of that whiskey and beer thing, perhaps. It has probably changed a great deal anyway. Still, it seems lovely. Apparently it rains here from time to time, and you do rather miss the authentic color green after living in Sandy Eggo for a while.
You: Were you also amused to see snow still dappling the mountain tops to the east?
YHS: I was. But I have begun to suspect that customs officials are everywhere cloned from one particular pool of officious slowpokes though. Give a man great power and hope that he will use it wisely. Give him just a little and you can be sure that every bit of it will be abused.
You: So what will you do now, Lex? Suit up in your jogging togs and go for a run?
YHS: Actually, I was thinking of going the other way, these being my days of gravitas and wisdom. Only you can substitute “vodka martini” for gravitas, and a “lemon twist” for wisdom, if it do ya. But first I’ve got to register for the 80-pound brain conference – I’m so going to blend in here – before I can get busy on forgetting this trip too.
You: Have fun!
YHS: Thanga. Thanga verr much.
Update: If it’s diversity you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. When I was here nearly twenty years ago, the place was as white bread as as a Winn Dixie dairy aisle. Now it seems that every HK$10 that off-shored prior to 1997 was carried east by at least one Chinese citizen, with the odd Korean thrown in to sweeten the kimchee. South Asians are well-represented also. The signs on Robeson Street – one of the main shopping drags – are helpfully translated into English.
This is neither good nor bad. It is what it is.
It seems to be a city where the old and the new do not war against each other, but rather co-exist in a kind of uneasy truce. Plank on frame Victorian gingerbread houses live cheek-by-jowl with adult video stores, and the type of 500 square foot apartment that grandma used to live in back in the day (she called it, “snug”) host 20-somethings who may or may not hope to move up into the mega-condo complex across the street.
Signs here and there maintain fond hopes for something called the “Canucks.” Whatever they are.
Update 2: Ah. As always when confused in a strange town, it’s best to seek out the philosophes at the local pub. The “Canucks” it appears are a professional team of “hockey” players. Hockey is a sport that enjoyed quasi-professional status in the US until a 310-day strike in 2004 extinguished whatever remaining interest existed in a game that had for us all of the emotional attachment of indoor soccer, but with less frequent scoring.
By the way, the local beer of the day is Granville Island Honey Lager. Which, despite its hopelessly pretentious name, is actually quite good.
Update 3: Anaheim (California. USA.) scores, leading 2-1 now with 9:45 to go in the second of (?) periods. I narrowly avoid getting my ass kicked in a pub filled to overflowing with Vancouver partisans by strategically failing to give a sh!t.
Update 4: My insouciant perspicacity is rewarded when Vancouver evens the score at 2-2. I survive to see momentarily exultant Canadians raise their hands in the air, cheering a tie. After a brief and tempestuous tumult, everyone apologizes to everyone else.
Update 5: The INFORMS mixer was a complex admixture of a tiny number of truly impressive intellects hard by plenipotentiary alpha math geeks. My waning sense of masculinity is enhanced just from walking through the display floor – this is no mean feat.
I am by habit more accustomed to the “Tailhook” model of professional symposium, where videos of “stuff blowing up” were played in rotation with reels of “bad guys getting flamed.” Season with ramp strike videos to taste. Follow with grievous communal excess. Retch. Repeat.
This symposium – the downstairs bartender asked me if I was one of those math professors – offers to be a trifle more sedate. Although – and take this for what it’s worth – I did espy a certain “pairing off” dynamic amongst the conference attendees.
I tried to picture what the end result of such mathemeticians-gone-wild machinations might be, but no: The mind rebels, language fails. The center cannot hold.