Monday, 28 January 2013

Two tweets

Serendipity at work I think - but Peter Ladner points out the Seattle's art scene attracts rich donors more than Vancouver's does - but at the same time our richest 1% are doing very nicely thank you

And just to make that work better - here are the two links

which points to Crosscut which observes 

"Canadian arts get far more public subsidy than ours, but an awkward amount – not enough to create excellence, but enough to discourage private donations. That funding is also unstable,"

which points to new data from StatsCan 

"The cutoff to be included in Canada's one per cent was $201,400 in 2010. That was a 37 per cent increase from where the cutoff was in the first year of the survey, $147,500 in 1982.
The data also shows the gap between the rich and poor is getting wider. In 1982, the median income of Canada's one per cent was $191,600. That was seven times higher than the $28,000 median for everybody else.
By 2010, that ratio had widened to 10 times, from $28,400 for everybody else to $283,400 for the one per cent.
The report uses 2010 constant dollars, so it's an apples-to-apples comparison. The 99 per cent of people were actually taking in much less than $28,000 in 1982, but in terms of buying power, their share is essentially the same today as it was then.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Review: Blackbird Theatre: Don Juan

This new adaptation of Moliere's classic play ended its month long run at the Cultch last night. So why write a review of it? Because it will be at Richmond's Gateway Theatre in April. And not enough people went to see it - we got tickets thanks to a half price offer, and there were people in the line up for the box office who easily got good seats without booking ahead. I am sad to say there were quite a few empty seats in the balcony - and quite a bit of movement before the performance when it became clear that better views would be available. Gateway has much better sightlines from every seat than Cultch's Historic Theatre - and prices there vary by date rather than location.

It was a small cast but there are lots of characters, achieved with very clever use of masks - and one or two odd accents. Similarly one small set but very clever lighting that was most satisfactory when DJ is dragged off to hell at the end. No that isn't really a spoiler because we are all familiar with the story, which also got got turned into the opera Don Giovanni. As Director/Adapter John Wright notes he has "borrowed freely from all that came before us and interwoven the ancient with the modern". It would be a spoiler if I told about how that happens - and the audience lets you know by its appreciation of familiar material in unfamiliar places. Peter Jorgensen (Don Juan) and Simon Webb (Sganarelle) are the only cast members who have one character throughout - and Sganarelle gets more stage time and a lot more business than the eponymous lead - and steals the show. His performance alone is worth the (full) price of admission. But there is one scene, when the Don actually seduces two women, back to back, at the same time which is not only hilarious but utterly convincing. 

I think that if you have read this far, you would do well to book now, on line, at the link above. More about the Blackbird Theatre Co.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Nigiri at Sapporo Sushi

Nigiri by Stephen Rees
Nigiri, a photo by Stephen Rees on Flickr.

Located at Arbutus Village (4255 Arbutus St) a strip mall opposite the Arbutus Club.

This is a small establishment mostly catering to the take out market - and even if you eat there, serves its food on styrofoam. It is the sort of place where you order at the counter, get your own tea (which you could refill if you so desired) from an urn into a styrofoam beaker and pay before you see the food.

The menu is stuck to the counter and there are no translations. I ordered my nigiri by the piece and this came to $16.50 before tax. Most sushi places in this part of town would charge about the same, and there are quite a few along both Arbutus and 41st. In even the smallest "hole in the wall" cafes, they would serve onto real plates - or bento boxes. There would be cheaper sushi too - but not this sort of selection. Sushi specials tend to be rolls, and cheaper kinds of fish. For instance, most California rolls will use imitation crab even though we have plenty of crab in our local waters.

That being said, I think the quality of the fish is excellent and you can judge the presentation for yourself. Given the ambience I doubt I would travel very far to go here. They are opening another outlet on Robson, which might be worth checking out

Optional Car Insurance

While ICBC is always responsible for mandatory coverage (essentially third party) you can chose another insurer for the rest of a the comprehensive package (excess liability, collision and so on). I have used Canadian Direct for the optional part since 2002 and they have always been very competitive. However, I do not take that for granted and when I get the renewal notice from CDI I ask the broker - you have to use one to get the required ICBC renewal anyway - what a private insurer and ICBC would charge for the same coverage. To ensure that I am comparing like with like, I take a printed copy of the declaration with me.

For the last ten years CDI coverage was cheaper than the competition. That is no longer the case. Not only does another private insurer offer a lower premium, so does ICBC! This seemed so unlikely, based on ten years experience, that I called CDI to see if there was a mistake, or if they wanted to make me a better offer. The answer was no and no.

I am not going to reveal my claim record or the quotes I got since your mileage will vary, but I do think that is worth doing your due diligence. You will probably save yourself some money if you get more than one quote for your optional insurance, and it need not take you out of your way or cost you anything to find out.

By the way, when I changed my address from a townhouse in Richmond to a condo in Vancouver, my private insurance premium increased. I thought this a bit odd since at the townhouse it was simply in an open lot, with a roof. Like a common car port for residents, it offered little protection. At the condo it is an underground garage - with locked doors, and a car entrance requiring a programmed remote. So I would have thought better protected against theft or vandalism. Well, I was wrong about that too. One of my neighbours - who has a Mercedes - found the driver's window of her car smashed and the contents rifled. And apparently that is not the first time such a thing has happened here.