Author: Michael Kwan

GM to buy Chrysler, chaos to ensue

The automotive world is all topsy-turvy these days. Everyone owns everyone and no one owns themselves. It’s about to get a little more crowded (or a little less, depending on your perspective), because there’s a very good chance that General Motors, the world’s largest carmaker, is going to buy the Chrysler Group from DaimlerChrysler. This would mean that GM would be adding Dodge, Jeep, and of course Chrysler to their ever-expanding stable of brands. The next time you ask a Cobalt or Cadillac driver whether their car has a HEMI in it, the answer just might be yes. A Merrill Lynch analyst is saying that this is a “defensive maneuver” on the part of GM in that they are trying to protect their position as the automaker with the greatest worldwide volume. Toyota — when you include their subsidiaries like Hino, Scion and Lexus — is currently the number two carmaker, but their numbers are very quickly approaching number one status. GM is scared, I guess, that they’re on the cusp of being de-throned. Personally, I don’t like it. GM has enough brands already and adding three more to the bunch can only make things more confusing. Hummer and Jeep clearly overlap with one another. And then there’s the matter of the Dodge Viper vs. Chevy Corvette. In fact, there’s a lot of overlap, so GM may not be...

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Three Wii games I want in 2007

Okay, the post holiday slump is officially over in the industry of video games, so we should start to expect some fairly juicy numbers coming down the chute. While I have a Nintendo DS Lite and a Sony PSP, the system that I’m much more interested in — and the one that I sorely need to expand my library in — is the motion-sensitive and phallic symbol-sporting Nintendo Wii. In addition to Wii Sports which came bundled in with the home console, I have only purchased Rayman Raving Rabbids and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I finished the former already and am not all that interested in the latter, despite it being rated the best game on the system (as well as Game of the Year for 2006). I’ll leave Zelda to Susanne. Me, I need short spurts of enjoyment. I have a short attention span, so the games I play need to reflect that. Here are a list of three games I want to play in 2007. Sonic and the Secret Rings (February 20) This game was released today and I’m going to wait until I read a few reviews before I go ahead and splurge the 60 bucks plus tax required to purchase it. After all, the last few entries in the Sonic franchise have been less than impressive. By contrast, Sonic and the Secret Rings...

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Stonegrill cooking video

Remember last week how I told you about my dining experience Stonegrill? Remember how I told you that they’re more about selling the sizzle than they are about selling the steak? Well, this video pretty much says it all. That crackling sound you hear is not the result of a bad microphone. That’s my rack of lamb getting slowly seared on a 400-degree slab of rock. Oh, and in case you missed it the first time around, I gave Stonegrill a 7/10. Yeah, I won’t go back unless I have another 2-for-1 coupon. Related Posts: –Dine Out Vancouver: The William Tell Restaurant –A Rare Restaurant Dine Out Experience –Dining out: The Fish House in Stanley Park –LA Report: The Stinking...

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Stonegrill sells the sizzle, not the steak

If you’re looking for a fairly unique dining experience, Vancouver is a good city to visit. After all, we have sushi restaurants on just about every corner (I probably wouldn’t recommend Tomakazu though), as well as a huge range of ethnic cuisine capturing just about every corner of the globe. There are places for west coast cuisine, Italian, African, East Indian, Afghani… you name it, there’s probably a restaurant in Vancouver that serves it. For my latest dining out experience, we headed out to Stonegrill, located on the north side of False Creek, just underneath the Granville Street Bridge,...

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Tomokazu serves sushi with rat poop

Looks pretty appetizing, doesn’t it? What if I told you that your sushi and sashimi comes with a free side of rodent droppings when you order it at Tomokazu, located at 20-1128 West Broadway, Vancouver (Tel: 604-677-0426). The popular all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant has just been closed down by the health department. And the scary part is that rodent droppings are but a drop in the bucket, so to speak, in terms of what else the health inspector(s) noted during their inspection of this increasingly shady establishment. In case report page goes down for any reason, I’m going to provide...

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Beyond the Rhetoric getting WordPress’d

Just as the main freelance writing services website received an extreme makeover, enabling it to be more search engine friendly (it did, after all, move up to the number one result when you search for “michael kwan” in Google) and easier to navigate for the humans in the audience, so will Beyond the Rhetoric. I’m saying goodbye to the nut jobs at GoDaddy and their obscure blog software, and jumping onto the bandwagon that has everyone — including dot com mogul John Chow — jumping over backwards. WordPress, here I come! I’ve been tweaking the design somewhat the past few days, ironing out the details of moving my hosting over to Flavour Studios and my domain registration to Gary Jones’ BlueFur. I’m trying to maintain a similar look, but improve upon it. No longer will you can strangely truncated posts on the front page, nor will you have to endure that not-so-pretty GoDaddy ad banner at the top of the page. Instead, you’ll get my pictures on the front page, my advertising, and my personalized sidebar. I’m not 100% positive how long this process will take — the redesign took longer than expected — but it’ll surely be ready to go (at least in beta stage) by the middle of next month. Wish me luck, folks. If you’re interested in the work in progress, take a trip...

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Stop motion animation with Lego

By now, I’m pretty sure you would have encountered that hilarious stop-motion music video to Circle Circle Dot Dot by Jamie Kennedy and Stu Stone. In case you haven’t, I’ve embedded it below for your watching and laughing pleasure. It’s truly a work of art. The music and lyrics belong to Jamie and Stu, of course, but the incredible Lego-powered music video was not. Nope, that was the work of some bloke named Nate Burr, “known online as Blunty3000.” Stop motion animation is seriously difficult work, as I’m sure you seen with some claymation work in the past. Blunty3000 tells us that he films at 15 frames per second, so for that three-minute music video, he had to capture something in the neighbourhood of 3000 frames. And that’s not even taking the post-production and editing stuff into account. After all, he’s got to plan this whole thing out, stitch all those frames together, and edit accordingly using some sort of video editing software. Circle Circle Dot Dot At the time of this post, the above music had been viewed 2,619,238 times, received 4,836 comments, and had been favorited 21,056 times. Needless to say, it’s pretty darn popular. In case you’re wondering how he did it, I also found this video wherein Blunty3000 describes the steps required to do stop-motion animation: Yeah, he’s a bit of a kook. But most...

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Ten Questions with Joseph Planta – Part 2

Here is part two of my ten questions with Joseph Planta, Editor and Senior Columnist of The Commentary. Part one can be read here. 6. As we lead up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, several issues are going to continue to gain prominence. What do you think is the most pressing issue that Mayor Sam Sullivan can and should address on a municipal level? Mayor Sullivan is up for re-election in 2009, so perhaps his agenda isn’t geared towards the Olympics as much as the next election. Doubtless any mayor at this time in history would be saddled with 2010 issues, so if your question is what should he address regarding the forthcoming Winter Games, I think, just how we as Vancouverites can create the kind of city that can first, host the world-class event without going over budget on infrastructure and withstand the people coming in and so on; and second, and most importantly, what kind of city we want after the games. We still see the effects of Expo ’86 throughout the city, and even the province. Will 2010 leave the city better off then it is now, or will it have been a waste of money, and will the Olympic juggernaut merely destroy the Vancouver we know it as today in its wake? 7. You’ve reviewed a number of books over the years, posting your thoughts...

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Ten Questions with Joseph Planta – Part 1

I’ve been good friends with Joseph Planta since the time we first met back in high school. In fact, he was the one that inspired me to start writing in the first place, originally launched my Now That’s Entertainment email column way back in 1999. The Commentary is Joseph’s website wherein he gets to interview a wide range of public figures and write on some interesting subjects. It is with great pleasure that I present to you: Ten Questions with Joseph Planta 1. The Commentary got its start way back in 1999. Tell us how it evolved from a humble email distribution list to the full-fledged website it is today. In terms of content, going from a column of my thoughts and opinions sent out to a bunch of friends and colleagues via email to the website that it is today, has largely evolved out of my own habits and interests. For better or worse, I’ve not been good at seizing on what’s popular on the internet, and providing much the same on The Commentary. If anything, I’ve only really done what I’ve been interested in. That’s a good thing in that one isn’t a slave to what’s fashionable, but at the same time, I’m sure I’ve lost or alienated readers because whatever it is I’m interested isn’t of any interest to anyone else. As for the infrastructure, the...

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LG MG140a Candybar Gets FCC OK

This has got to be one of the stranger FCC approvals, because from what I can gather, the LG MG140a cell phone is a dual-band GSM unit… with the 900 and 1800 bands that we don’t even use here in North America. So, what is it doing at the FCC? Well, it turns out that they didn’t bother changing up the user manual before sending it off. Based on this update (warning: PDF link), it is indeed an 850/1900 dual-band phone. Granted, the MG140a doesn’t have the sexy appeal of the Chocolate or the text-happy keyboard of the enV, but it does appear to be reasonably straightforward to use. For this and several other reasons, I think that the MG140a is an entry-level phone with a rather basic feature set. What we can find on this phone are a camera, FM radio, voice recorder, and Flight mode. Now that the “advanced and compact MG140a mobile phone” has received the go-ahead from the FCC, your guess is as good as mine as to where it’ll end up. T-Mobile,...

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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.