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From the Editor: Boycott Canada! — Dan Shearer

From the Editor: Boycott Canada!
— Dan Shearer

Published: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 8:58 PM MST

With all this talk about boycotting Arizona, I figure it’s time for us to consider our own boycott — and we have a good reason: A new movie that started filming this month titled “The Big Year,” partly set in the Arizona desert but filmed entirely in Canada.

Yes, Canada.

Apparently they have a desert, and Hollywood thinks it’s realistic enough to stand in for our own.

Boycott, I say!

“The Big Year,” based on the 2004 best-seller by Mark Obamscik, is a comedy that follows the adventures of three bird-watchers competing to spot the rarest bird in North America.

The movie stars Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black, none of whom is any funnier than the name of the location of Canada’s lone desert: Osoyoos. Nope, not a typo. Yep, I’m being vicious.

It’s no-holds barred when you talk boycott.

Osoyoos (I’ve no idea how to pronounce it) hugs the U.S.-Canada border about 100 miles east of Vancouver. Lots of Canadian towns hug the U.S. border because all Canadians want to live here (more viciousness; don’t stop me, I’m on a roll).

I have a sister-in-law who’s Canadian, and we talk really slow to her because we’re not sure English is her first language. None of us wants to go to Canada to find out, not even her husband.

I’m lovin’ putting the hurt on Canada because we sure could have used the cash infusion that weeks of filming would have brought to Southern Arizona.

And we deserved it. Not only is the Arizona desert prominently mentioned in the book, we have a whole passage. Let me set this up for you. A guy’s in his car in the Arizona desert and hears a knock on the window. It’s a Border Patrol agent:

“‘What are you doing?’ he asked.


‘Birdwatching? What are you watching for?’

‘Sage thrasher, curve-billed thrasher, Crissal thrasher, Bendire’s thrasher.’

‘Well, I have never seen anybody out here before. It’s a rainy day today.’

Miller didn’t know what he was supposed to say to that.

‘What have you got in your hands?’

‘Tape recorder.’

‘Play it.’


‘I want to hear the tape recorder. Play the tape recorder. Turn it on.’

Miller turned it on and felt relieved. The tape was proof: that bird was a sage thrasher.

The Border Patrol agent still looked perturbed. Nobody came out here to look at birds, he said. What they looked for was air dropped drugs.

Miller showed the agent his binoculars and field guide. The agent turned and left.

‘Birdwatcher. Huh.’”

Now how can you pull off a scene like that IN CANADA?! Unless they imported one of our battle-tested Border Patrol agents from Arizona, they likely had to use a Canadian agent whose biggest bust involved a cantaloupe somewhere along the North Dakota-Canada line.

It’s just not the same.

If you’re Canadian, put down your sword, or whatever it is you people fight with (chunks of ice?). We’re just masking our pain with a little fun at your expense.

But, yes, it’s true. Canada has a sliver of a desert. It’s in the Okanagan Valley in central British Columbia. Some say it’s an extension of our own Sonoran Desert, others insist it isn’t, but it’s close. One thing’s for sure: It has one of the longest growing seasons in Canada.

Unfortunately, they also have our movie, and all the fun and cash that go with it.

Tofino, a speck on the Canadian map where they are filming this week, had more than 150 people line up in hopes of becoming extras. The casting company said it was looking for men who looked like Martin, Wilson and Black. (Jack Black? That’s one call-back you don’t want to get.)

The crews go to Osoyoos early next month, and one person guessed it means anywhere from $125,000 to $150,000 a day for the local economy. Man, we could have used that.

But that’s Hollywood. All we can do now is hope that our boycott renders the movie an utter flop, they all break a leg, and that Osoyoos dries up and blows away.

— Dan Shearer

1 Comment

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