Author: Michael Kwan

Vancouver’s booming housing market about to burst?

It’s no secret that it’s been a seller’s market in Vancouver when it comes to real estate. These past couple of years, we’ve seen prices skyrocket on even the most modest of developments, spurring on more and more condos. The building boom has been huge, shifting entry-level suites from the mid 100ks to the low 300ks. In fact, even when you look into the surrounding areas like Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, New Westminster, Surrey, and so on, prices there for a simple 600ish square foot condo start in the $250,000 range. That’s no small sum. But it seems that things are finally starting to shift. As we gear up for the 2010 Winter Olympics, I fully expect the condos to keep going up (along with the prices), but a recent report has indicated that, compared to last year, we have started seeing a change. Last year, there were far more potential buyers than there were available units, but the reverse appears to be true, if only by a small margin. It won’t become a buyer’s market any time soon, but this latest report predicts a more “even” playing field wherein neither buyers nor sellers have an outright advantage. Outside investors are still happily picking up apartments and condominiums with the plan to flip them for a profit, as interest rates appear to be staying steady (or possibly even dropping),...

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Open Season: Just another cartoon

There are far too many of these movies these days. Open Season is the latest in a long string of computer animated films that feature talking animals. While the animation is cute and the voice actors somewhat entertaining, the plot is far too formulaic and predictable. That said, if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief and your discerning critical eye (or perhaps if you’re just accompanying some young children to a cheap Sunday matinee), you can still find some enjoyment in Open Season. Featuring the voice talents of Martin Lawrence (as Boog the Bear), Ashton Kutcher (of Punk’d and That 70s Show) Debra Messing (of Will and Grace fame), Patrick Warburton (perhaps best known as “Putty” from Seinfeld), Gary Sinise (CSI: NY), Jon Favreau (multi-millionaire and Monica’s boyfriend Pete Becker from Friends) and so on, Open Season — like so many talking-animal animated films before it — brings out the big well-known “real” actors to do the voices of bears, deer, beavers, and a porcupine who won’t stop creeping me out with “buuuuuuddddyyyy”. The premise of the movie is simple: we have a bear (Boog) that was rescued as a young cub by a park ranger (the town reminds me a little of Ketchikan, Alaska for some reason). He grows up to perform for tourists in an outdoor theatre (which looks a lot like some of the stages atop...

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Little Miss Sunshine and The Illusionist: Reviewed

I caught a couple of movies this past week or thereabouts, so I thought I’d quickly share my impressions of these silver screen wonders with you, my flick-catching public. Up to bat for this pick-up game are Little Miss Sunshine (starring Steve Carell of 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Office fame) and The Illusionist (starring Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, and Paul Giamatti). Little Miss Sunshine is a strange indie flick that follows a young girl as she embarks on a journey to win a national beauty pageant, appropriately named Little Miss Sunshine. While that may not sound very appealing to the vast majority of people out there, the dark humour and quirky events along the way make this well worth the price of admission. Steve Carell is great as Frank Hoover, a renowned Proust scholar and a recent suicide survivor. Abigail Breslin is unforgettable as little Olive Hoover, Frank’s niece and Little Miss Sunshine contestant. While primarily a comedy, there are a few darker moments and lines where some may be disturbed. Grade: A- The Illusionist takes place in turn of the century Vienna where Eisenheim the Illusionist (played by Edward Norton) earns himself quite the name as an extraordinary magician (some even call him a wizard with supernatural powers). He can “speed up time” and grow an orange tree in mere seconds, turn his gloves into crows, and make...

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MediaREADY Aero MP3 players with “eye-popping style”

There’s this feeling I get in my gut when the primary marketing point of a new product is that it sports “eye-popping style and color selection”, and then the press release isn’t even accompanied by any photos. That’s exactly the case with the unveiling of the Aero line of MP3 players from MediaREADY. They say that this new set of players follows on the success of the Glider line before it, but I’ve never heard of that either. Maybe I’m just out of the loop. In any case, the flash-based Aero players come bundled with Tunebite 3.0 trial software,...

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Mini Review: Cooking at the Cookery

Last week, I went to see Cooking at the Cookery with Joseph Planta of The Commentary. Brought to you by the Arts Club Theatre Company, Cooking at the Cookery, despite its name, has nothing to do with fixing up dinner in the kitchen. Instead, it is a “sizzling musical revue” of the life of “legendary African-American songstress Alberta Hunter.” The story of her life — from her humble beginnings in Memphis to her peak, playing a number of top-rated venues in New York, Chicago, and London — is described in this musical play, but the most entertaining part of the show was the singing. The show is essentially a two woman show, starring Jackie Richardson and Janice Lorraine. Janice takes on the role of Alberta Hunter as a young child and Jackie takes over as we get into her later years. Both actresses take on several other personas over the course of the two-and-a-half hour play, like Alberta’s mother, club owners, and head nurses, but of course, the character of Alberta Hunter features most prominently. Personally, I found the storytelling to be a little lacking. Granted, I’m not all too familiar with the 1920s jazz scene (nor am I all that interested in that era), but a well told biopic is always welcome in my books. Sure, it was fun watching little Alberta grow up, aspiring to be a...

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Technorati

Bear with me and this post, because it’s sole purpose is to get me listed in Technorati. Apparently I have to provide some kind of special link so that I can get indexed properly or something like that. So, uh, yeah. Have a nice weekend! Technorati...

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Cell Phone Signal Booster: Arc Wireless Freedom Antenna

The UPS guy just came by my house a couple of hours ago and dropped off a package. I’m expecting several items (a couple from eBay, a couple for Mobile Magazine), so I wasn’t completely positive what I was unpacking. I signed the handheld device, closed the door, and proceed to tear the box apart. Getting beyond some bubble wrap, I found the Arc Wireless Freedom Antenna, an external cell phone signal booster which is said to give you the best of reception no matter where you are. Whether you’re in a moving vehicle, stuck in a concrete jungle,...

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Free iTunes, iPod-loving stereos, and a Bluetooth MP3 player

As some of you may already know, I also maintain a blog over at the WritingUp website (which you can check out here). It hasn’t gotten that many updates since Beyond the Rhetoric hit the scene, but it still gets the odd post from time to time to keep that side of my audience satisfied if not satiated. I just put up three new entries there in the past couple of days that you might want to check out, including a link for some free iTunes music. The three posts are thus: Samsung YP-T9B DAP plays vids, sports BluetoothApple’s iPod may dominate the mobile music market, but it is far from being the only option. If you’re in love with the slim glossy look of Samsung’s cell phones, then you’ll feel right at home with their new YP-T9B digital audio and video player…. Four new Cambridge stereos love iPodsCambridge may be Creative’s lesser known cousin and their designs seem more retro than the more contemporary-looking Zen, but these new stereos are ushering in a new era of collaboration (sort of) between Apple and Creative. Cambridge SoundWorks is unveiling four new stereos that boast lots of love for the Apple iPod…. Get 50 iTunes songs for freeNow, of course you know that Apple isn’t going to just give stuff away. They know better than that, considering that they own 75%...

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The world’s first RDS FM Transmitter for the iPod

The latest innovation coming down Kensington’s accessory chute is the world’s first RDS FM Transmitter for the iPod. What’s RDS, you may ask? Well, it stands for Radio Data System and is a standard developed in the 1980s that allows not only the audio to be sent over FM radio, but short text messages as well on a sub-frequency. To my knowledge, this is how in-car stereos can tell you the name of the station you’re listening to (sometimes even the song and artist). The Kensington RDS FM Transmitter charges while it is in its dock, features brushed stainless steel accents, and boasts ClearFM technology for “superior sound quality.” MSRP is set at $90. Several non-RDS units were also announced, with prices ranging from $55 to $80....

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Mario Hoops 3-on-3: Initial Review

There’s no denying that the most recognizable face in video games is a pudgy Italian plumber named Mario. He truly revolutionized the video game scene, beginning with jumping over barrels in Donkey Kong, right up to do where he zips past you in a go kart (Mario Kart DS), hits up the links (Mario Golf), and smashes an ace down your throat (Mario Tennis). The latest in the Mario-themed sports trend is Mario Hoops 3-on-3 for the Nintendo DS. Here are my initial impressions: Also known as Mario Basket 3-on-3 in Japan and Mario Slam Basketball in Europe, Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is pretty much what you would expect it to be. This is no ordinary basketball game (if you want realism, look to something from Electronic Arts. Madden is great for football, NBA Live for basketball, and so on). Instead, each basket you make is worth at least 20 coins, but if you perform any number of manuevers, or dribble the ball incessantly on the drifitng question marks on the ground, you can accumulate up to 100 additional coins for that basket. In effect, each time the leather ball goes swish through the twine, you can get up to 120 points… er, coins. The three character team with the most coins at the end of the match wins. As expected, they’ve thrown a bunch of over-the-top twists to the...

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About

Michael Kwan
Hi, I'm Michael. By day, I'm a freelance writer. By night, I'm still a freelance writer. I'm also a proud father, a voracious foodie, an avid traveler, a gadget geek, and a thinker who thinks he might be thinking too much. Beyond the Rhetoric is a reflection of my eclectic entrepreneurial life.

Read more about me and what I can do for you.

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