My shot at $10,000

I did something a little foolish on Friday. It's a bit crazy but well worth it for the payout.

Larry & Willy, two local radio personalities, are holding a contest. Individuals bought near life-size cutouts of the guys, were handed a list of tasks each of which has a points value and on April 30th, whoever has the most points takes home $10,000. It's a nice chunk of change and that was enough encouragement to get me to drop some of my hard earned Jack points for a one in 50 chance at the money. Loads more details on the contest on the official website.

So for the next month, you're going to be seeing a lot of pictures and probably hearing a lot of crazy stories about how various photographs were taken. Here's one of my fave so far. Task #29 was to take a photo at a restaurant or bar. We went to White Spot for lunch and told our waitress what was going on since we walked in with the cutout. She told the Assistant manager who came over with two of the kitchen staff and posed for a photo with Larry & Willy. Thank you soooooo much guys! That was awesome!!

To see all of the entries, check out the Facebook page.

Oh yeah. And you have a chance of winning too! If you spot one of the cutouts, snap a photo and upload it to the FB page and you have a chance to win $100. Good luck to all!!


Civil Twilight @ The Media Club

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a show quite as outstanding as the Saturday we spent at The Media Club but the evening didn’t start out quite as well as it ended. We arrived for the 8PM doors at 8:10 and the line-up of people was starting to get a little long. We didn’t worry about it too much since our last trip to the venue also had us standing outside for almost 20 minutes but when, at 8:45PM we were still standing out in the cold while the bands sound checked, I, and the other folks in line were getting impatient. And then, for no particular reason, a huge group of people came from behind us to create a second line out front. It was a disaster because no one knew what that second line was for and the entire thing ended with a huge clump of bodies at the front and a door man who didn’t seem to care that half of the line had jumped the queue.

Once inside and after a drink, we settled in for the first band of the night, a local act called Run the Red Light. They were high energy, their tunes were catchy and they got the crowd going. I was so impressed, I picked up one of their download cards and by Sunday afternoon, I’d purchased their EP and had a few more listens. They have a bit of a Brit rock sound which I've been really digging lately. I’ll be keeping an eye out for these guys playing around town – would love to see them again.

Run the Red Light

We took a little break between bands and headed outside for some air where we bumped into a guy whose name we never got and whose website I can’t find. That said, he kept insisting that if we took nothing else from the conversation, we should take note of another local up and coming act called Data Romance. I haven’t listened yet but considering he seemed to know what the heck he was talking about (and he certainly has good taste considering the show we were at), they’re worth at least a listen.

UK group A Silent Film took to the stage next and they too belted out some pretty amazing tunes. So impressed was I that I picked up their debut album “The City that Sleeps.” It is solid from beginning to end and I’m particularly fond of “Driven by their Beating Hearts;” it’s a stellar single.

Unfortunately, I was so far back I could barely see the band never mind take a photo. I hope these guys roll through town again. I’d happily see them headlining.

Now onto the main act. We saw South African band Civil Twilight opening for Anberlin last year (mind you, I remember having seen them but I couldn’t figure out what band they’d opened for). For whatever reason, I hadn’t listened to any of their stuff but I was more than happy to hang out with Special K and an evening of live music and good god I’m thrilled I did.

Much to the dismay of a few ladies, I snuck us in right in front of the stage – there was no way I was going to stand in the back again when there was room up front. I don’t think they were particularly happy by my boldness but seriously, if you don’t want anyone to stand in front of you, don’t leave a space. I can see why they were a little miffed; lead singer Steven McKellar is pretty easy on the eyes though I was a bit irritated by their ogling - control yourselves ladies. We're not 12.

Civil Twilight

They put on a really fantastic show though guitarist Andrew McKellar spent most of his time looking at his board rather than at the crowd. He did look over at his brother a few times and the two shared more than a few smiles. I'd venture to say they were having a pretty good time.

Civil Twilight

It could well be nerves – the stage at The Media Club is pretty low and the crowd is *right there* but it didn’t stop the band from performing an impressive set. I loved their cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” (which is available on iTunes as a single). At this rate, I'm pretty sure the next time we see them will be at the Commodore. They're a solid act and I can't imagine them rolling into such a small venue on their next trip through town and I have no doubt there will be a next trip.

It was a fantastic night and I can’t remember the last time I liked all three bands so much. Seeing any one of them on a given night would be great but seeing all three on the same bill was down right spectacular.

I managed to snap some decent photos (considering the crummy camera and limited lighting). As per usual, they're all up on Flickr.


Jeff Martin 777 @ The Media Club

I first caught wind of Canadian rockers The Tea Party sometime in the mid nineties when I saw a video for "The River" on Much Music which, at that point, was still playing music; what a novel idea eh?

My first thought was that Martin was the reincarnation of Jim Morrison: same raw sex appeal, simiar 70s rock vibe and an amazing voice. It would be a few years before the release of "Edges of Twilight," still my favourite Tea Party album, but it would be years before I finally had a chance to see the band live just before their break up in 2005 when they played two acoustic shows in Vancouver.

It's been years since I heard anything else about the band and whenever they crept up on my playlist, I found myself delving back into the music and it still rocks solid. So when picking up tickets to Civil Twilight we noticed that Jeffwas coming into town, Kathy and I dediced we had to go.

The show didn't start off too well. To begin with, they kept us waiting outside the venue well past 8PM. The firts band, a local act called Angel Down, took the stage at about 8:45PM. I really didn't care for their heavy sound and I don't see them as "melodic hard rock" but to each their own. Let's just say it's was a looooooooong 30 minute set.

The second band, a Toronto act named Flowerchild were much, much better and did a fairly good job of getting the crowd, by this point much of it talking loudly and clearly bored, back on track. I really dug their mix of blues, jazz and rock. Definitely worth a bit of a closer listen.

Martin and his band came on at 11 and they rocked the house for nearly two hours. The band kicked off with a couple of tunes from Martin's new album, "The Ground Cries Out," which Martin went on to inform us, had sold out across Canada upon release on Wednesday (but I got me a copy. Boo yah!). He then kicked off into some old stuff and a couple of cover tunes including renditions of NIN's "Hurt" and Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart." They also dipped into some old school Tea Party tunes which really got the crowd going.

My photographer had shaky hands :)

These guys are true classic rockers. The music is timeless, as good rock music should be - I'm still a bit surprised at the fact that the band never did particularly well int he US - and they play a mean set. I was particularly impressed by their continuous play from song to song. I can't remember the last time I saw a band do that - it seems something very old school.

It was a fantastic show. I wish I'd thought about it and picked up tickets to tonight's show as well.

Looking forward to seeing Martin and the band again when they come rolling through town next time. Hopefully it won't be another six year wait. As for those going to tonight's show, I'M JEALOUS. And be prepared for a rockin' good time.


I said party dammit!

So you'll never guess what happened. I was out and about today and wondered into a high-security truck which was carrying a list with all of Sunday Night's Oscar winners. Your guess as to what they were doing in Vancouver is as good as mine but I went ahead and copied all the right answers. Here they are:

That story is as likely as a Psychic pulling the answers out of the ether but whatever. Truth is, I'll be around regardless of where you are. If you're in Vancouver, I'm hosting a party, complete with prizes, at La Fontana (Big Kudos to John for allowing us to use his space). 'Cuz I know you wanna hang out with the cool people, details on the party here. But you can only come if you're cool. Like, ULTRA COOL.

If you're not in Vancouver or prefer to watch the show in your pajamas with a cutout of Robert Pattinson as your special guest for the night, you can tune into our Oscar Chat at Row Three. It'll kick off on Sunday at 4:30PM and you can join that without having to remove yourself from Rob's strong cardboard hold.

And I promise not to leave you all for such an extended period of time ever again. Or at least until next time.


Music on the N8

I love the fact that most of the new devices have enough onboard memory that I'm able to use one device for everything. I love having music at my fingertips and the N8 is an easy one to load. I'm not a big fan of the Nokia desktop software and am not even sure it'll run on a Mac but transfering music proved to be pretty easy. I connected the phone to the computer as a harddrive (you have to select a the USB setting: Settings --> Connectivity --> USB --> Mass Storage) and simply dragged the music over into the "Sounds" folder. One thing I noticed is that not all of the CD covers moved as well which may have something to do with my specific settings rather than the phone. I found them later in the photos file of the phone.

The built-in music player is easy to use and navigate with options to organize by song, album, artist or genre. There's no horizontal mode for the player but it does have a similar album cover scroll option which the Apple devices uses. It's not the prettiest layout but it's functional.

Music Libraray on Nokia N8

I do like the album view which gives you both the album cover and the list of songs contained in the album.

Album View on Nokia N8

The desktop is also quite handy and gives quick access to the music library which I like.

Music Desktop Widget on Nokia N8

One feature that I absolutely love is the Playlists wich features one of the best things I've seen recently: a "Recently Added" playlist which is automatically updated when you add new music. This is a feature I loved on the Zune which I miss dearly on the iPhone and which makes an appearance here.

With all the good stuff the music player has going for it, it's lacking a few features which I can't live without. The first is real-time scrobbling. This feature is also not available on the iPhone directly but I found a few apps that did the trick. Searching through the vault of Symbian apps hasn't uncovered an app with similar capabilities. There also isn't an option to create playlists on the go which is something I miss dearly from the N900.

Though it doesn't wow, music on the N8 is functional and easy to use. Just wish it had a few additional bells and whistles to make it a show stopper.


Must Have Apps on the Nokia N8

Though my initial impressions of the Nokia N8 weren't all glowing, the phone did have a few cool features but after a bit of digging and some time cruising through the app store, the N8 is slowly transforming into a great phone.

Since my first brush with the Ovi Store, Nokia's version of the App Store, there have been a great many improvements notably the addition of thousands of new apps that allow you to do pretty much anything.

Ovi Store on Nokia N8

I rarely use my phone for talk and use text messaging and social media for communication with a few other tools to keep in touch with those around me. The phone's built in text messaging and conversations applications are already quite good but for those who prefer something else, there are other options including WhatsApp. It's worth noting that WhatsApp is free in the Ovi Store but costs in the Apple Store (I think I paid $1.99 for it).

One thing that's a must download is SWYPE, a new way of typing by swiping your finger over the tochscreen keypad rather than hunting and pecking for it. I was a little skeptical about this when I first saw a video of it in action last year but after two days of usage I swear by it. Can't wait until it makes its way to the iPhone.

Swipetype on Nokia N8

I'm Twitter obsessed and though the N8 comes pre-loaded with a social networks widget, I found it slow and hard to use. Searching around and testing a number of other free apps, I have settled on the fact that Gravity is still the best twitter app for Symbian. It's expensive at $9.99 but if you tweet as much as I do, it's well worth the cost. I'd purchased it for my N95 and have downloaded a 10 day trial version for the N8 which is as user friendly and sleek as I remember it.

Gravity Twitter Client on Nokia N8

The last much have app for video and photo lovers is Pixelpipe. I have friends who swear by Shozu but I could never really get it to work on the N95 and at $4 in the Ovi store, it's not really worth it for my 10 day trial of the N8. Pixelpipe on the other hand is completely free and as a bonus, there are a number of plugins that allow you to, in one step, upload photos and videos to all sorts of different social media accounts. I've been using it for all of my Flickr uploads and it works like a hotdamn. VERY awesome. It's not particularly difficult to set-up and I already had an account that I use with my iPhone so I just had to login but if you're looking for a step by step on the setup, aymontano has an outstanding step-by-step install and steup on the Nokia Forums.

Some other apps I've been using include Opera Mobile which has an interface I'm familiar with having used it on a number of my devices and works great here (the built in browser is OK but nothing to write home about), Foursquare for checking into various locations, and for all of my screen capturing, of which I've been doing a lot, I downloaded ScreenSnap. A note on this is that you can assign a hotbutton for taking a screenshot but since the N8 only has a few buttons, this isn't particularly helpful. There is, however, a delay which is great because you can set it, navigate to what you want and it takes a photo. A 10 second delay seems to work for me.

Up next will be some thoughts on the maps and navigations feature, the music and photo/video taking and editing. Stay tuned!

Lots more screen caps in my Flickr Set.

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