Calendar: Home for Christmas

22 12 2010

He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! May your celebrations be full of light and joy. If, however, you’ve overloaded on family time or just feel the need to get out of the house and explore with your loved ones, here are some events to keep you going.

This week, win Mike McCardell’s Everything Works by emailing (SUBJECT: EVERYTHING WORKS). This feel-good collection of human interest stories will even soften the hearts of the grumpiest of Grinches.

Carol Tea – Enjoy our special holiday treats, delicious finger sandwiches and delectable scones while listening to our Dickens carollers. FRIDAY-SUNDAY noon-4pm at the Empress (721 Government). $55 adult/$18 child. 250-389-2727.

Flea Market – Discover hidden treasures at this eclectic flea market featuring interesting products from a variety of vendors. SUNDAY 9am-2pm at the DaVinci Centre (195 Bay). $2.

VFMS Boxing Day Folk Potluck/Dance – An ad-hoc group of our local folk musicians will perform and dances will be led by a caller. Please bring a pot-luck dish to share. SUNDAY 7:30pm at Norway House (1110 Hillside). $5. 250-475-1355.

Games Night – Play Jenga, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit and more. MONDAYS 9pm at Ocean Island Café (791 Pandora). Free. 250-385-1784.

Mystery Creature – Solve the riddles to find the clues hidden along the trail with this CRD guided walk. Meet in the parking lot off William Head Road. TUESDAY 10am-noon at Devonian Regional Park. Free. 250-478-3344.

Scrabble Night – Bring a board and a friend, or play on the in-house boards and find an opponent there. TUESDAYS 6:30-9pm at James Bay Coffee & Books. Free. 250-386-4700.

Who’s Hooting? – Go on an owl prowl, find out more about these awesome night hunters, and learn some owl calls with a CRD Regional Parks naturalist. Meet at the information kiosk in the parking lot off Atkins Avenue. WEDNESDAY 10am-12:30pm at Mill Hill Regional Park. Free. 250-478-3344.

Public Viewing – Check out UVic’s new telescope. WEDNESDAYS 8-10pm at Bob Wright Centre (UVic). Free. 250-721-7750.


15 12 2010

Sure, stores have had Christmas decorations and sales going on since Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t make the holidays any less special. Keep the Grinch out of your groove with local markets, parades, and galas.

Sidney Winter Market – Come by and enjoy a relaxing day of browsing and shopping. SATURDAY & SUNDAY 10am-4pm at the Beacon Plaza Mall (2335 Beacon). Free.

VGS Open House – Help the Victoria Genealogical Society celebrate the Christmas season. Everyone is welcome to visit our resource centre, see all the family history resources we have to offer and visit with other genealogy enthusiasts. SATURDAY 10am-4pm at the Victoria Genealogical Society Resource Centre (947 Alston). Free. 250-360-2808,

Winter market – There’s no better place to purchase comfort food on a cold winter’s day! SATURDAY 11am-3pm at Market Square (560 Johnson). Free.

Magic Afloat – The Victoria Model Shipbuilding Society presents its annual Christmas Lighted Model Boat Parade (weather dependent). SATURDAY 6pm in Harrison Model Yacht Pond (beside Dallas Road opposite Government Street). Free. 250 896-7388.

The Mistletoe Project Gala – A formal night of dancing, drinks, door prizes and silent auction. Proceeds support he MS Society of Canada. SATURDAY 7pm  at the Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad). $25.

Victoria Flea Market – Discover hidden treasures. SUNDAY 9am-2pm at the DaVinci Centre (195 Bay). $2.

Christmas at Craigdarrock Castle – Take a trip back in time and visit the Castle all decked out in traditional Victorian holiday fashion. Take a lively guided tour with Kate the Maid and Christopher the Butler and find out about the Dunsmuir family. Cider and cookies will be provided after the tour. SUNDAY & MONDAY 6:30pm & 7pm both days at 1050 Joan. $7-$14.

Lunar Eclipse Viewing – Members of the Victoria Centre of the RASC will gather at Cattle Point Park in Oak Bay to view the eclipse, weather permitting. Binoculars and telescopes for the public to view the eclipse will be available. The eclipse begins at 10:32pm and ends at 2am. MONDAY 8pm at Cattle Point Park (Oak Bay). Free. 250-380-6358.

Bring better buying practices to you back pocket.

Having trouble reconciling shopping and environmental policy? Look no further than The Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones.  It’s one of the most comprehensive guides for “socially and environmentally responsible consumers.” Email (SUBJECT:THE BETTER WORLD) to win this book and make your holidays greener.

More Rainy Day Leonard Cohen Ponderings

14 12 2010

Leonard Cohen is a man who requires no introduction.  He requires no introduction and yet, I am compelled to introduce him anyway: I’m gonna try to give all y’all a comprehensive introduction to a man who, without the slightest bit of exaggeration, is also an icon.  I will undoubtedly fall short from the mission at hand, but here it goes: ladies and gentleman, Mr. Leonard Cohen!

I met Leonard just after I bought my very first record player.  I had made it my mission to accumulate as much vinyl as possible, scavenging record stores, thrift stores, garage sales… even looking up the folk on Craig’s List (which, sadly was, more often than not, a vain pursuit—lots of Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand and Dionne Warwick, but not much else) who were trying to get rid of their old, ‘lugubrious’ recordings in favor of the newest commodity of musical dissemination, which was, at the time, Compact Discs.  I wanted to build upon my small collection in spite of the inescapable reality of its ever-increasing mass and I succeeded (if you ever find yourself stuck in Calgary and have some time on yer hands, go to this place called “The Inner Sleave”… it’s on 33rd Ave. in a little district called Marda Loop.  I was able to find many good records there).

Fortunately, very early on in my frantic, analog consumerism, I was lucky enough to stumble upon the “Songs of Leonard Cohen” (I bought it from an incredibly sweet, middle aged woman who not only sold me Cohen’s record (amongst many other gems, including a whole bunch of 1970’s era Tom Waits and some Thelonious Monk to boot), but welcomed me into her home for a glass of wine and an enlightening musical conversation).  The Cohen album was scratched all to hell, but I played it over and over again anyway, captivated by the strange, poetic and, dare I say, prophetic voice I was incapable of even conceiving of, prior to meeting Leonard: since that day, I haven’t been tempted so much as to look back.

Leonard has always been there for me, blessing me at every stage in my adult life.  He stood at the gates of my musical obsession, welcoming me with his raspy, depressing voice, full of wine and lust.  But he was also there when I first dove into poetry: he, the lonesome Canadian bard, impossible to ignore in spite of the deadly and suffocating deluge of other, rarely published, desolate souls bold enough to call themselves a ‘poet’.

Cohen was also there when I took on my other backbreaking (literally, as I move a lot) habit of reading novels: my final ambition met his first.  Though many of us seem to forget that, at an incredibly tender age; Cohen had the capacity to write two novels, both of which are indisputable classics, especially in the context of a rather barren Canadian literary canon. Yet, somehow, they inhabit a space far adrift from many a Cohen fan’s radar.

Let me repeat: Leonard Cohen wrote and published two fucking novels long before venturing into what would become a long and, in every conceivable way, extraordinary career in music (albeit, somewhat reluctantly.  He once said that he took up music because there is no money in novels, a massive blow to the hopes of people such as me, who have written one or two of the things).

The subject of Cohen’s first book, The Favorite Game, was relatively predictable: he wrote about his own youth and young manhood.  We meet “Breavman”, Cohen’s fictional self, who immediately sets out experimenting with hypnotism, trying desperately to sex his household help.  We watch Breavman at work and at play in his summer camp.  We cry with Breavman as his father dies, leaving his first born son to take over as head of his abandoned household.

The most memorable scene in the The Favourite Game, for me at least, is a scene in which of one of the kids at the Canadian summer camp (who, in modern terms, would probably be diagnosed as OCD) stands still at the very center of a mosquito infested field, looking on passively as a swarm of mosquitoes robs him of his blood, replacing it with belligerently invasice amounts of microscopic poison.  Later, the child will count, compulsively, every single bite that the swarm has managed to inflict upon his young, innocent flesh so that, right before bed, he might record their incomprehensible count: powerful, powerful stuff, tragically ignored as it is.

The Favourite Game is classic bildungsroman: but Cohen masters the genre in a way that very few (the only names that come to mind are Thomas Wolfe (with Look Homeward, Angel) and (maybe) James Joyce (with Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man)) have: the novel, as good as it is, is a mere pretext, an appetizer, of sorts, for what would become Cohen’s literary masterpiece, Beautiful Losers, published just a couple of years after his first.

With Beautiful Losers, Leonard Cohen established himself as both the father of all that is good in Canadian Fiction (Michael Ondaatje being his first born son) and, arguably, an entire genre of “postmodern” literature (though the strange breed of literature seemed to emerge simultaneously on all eighteen corners of this blue globe).  Cohen’s second offering is nothing short of genius.  I have since committed several passages to memory, most notably:

God is alive…..Magic is afoot…God is alive….magic is afoot…

God is afoot…..Magic is alive…Alive is afoot..magic never died!

God never sickened. Many poor men lied. Many sick men lied.

Magic never weakened. Magic never hid. Magic always ruled. God is afoot.

God never died!

God was Ruler, though his funeral lengthened.

Though His mourners thickened, magic never fled.

Though His shrouds were hoisted the naked God did live;

Though His words were twisted the naked magic thrived;

Though His death was published round and round the world

The heart did not believe.

Many hurt men wondered. Many struck men bled.

Magic never faltered. Magic always led.

Many stones were rolled, but God would not lie down!

Many wild men lied.

Many fat men listened.

Though they offered stones, magic still was fed!

Though they locked their coffers, God was always served.

Magic is afoot….God is alive….

Alive is afoot….Alive is in command.

And then, quite suddenly, Leonard Cohen stopped writing novels.  Thankfully, he kept writing and publishing his poems but he, as far as we know (though we hope the contrary is true), quit the longer of literary forms entirely, choosing to hang out with poets and musicians from Montreal and New York instead.  He attended Columbia College (the same college which ‘produced’ most of the authoritative beats, including Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac), became a part of Andy Warhol’s Factory and  started to sing (Warhol claimed that Cohen learned much from Nico (of Velvet Underground fame (though her “Chelsea Girls” is almost as good), also part of that scene))).  Thank God, Leonard Cohen started to sing; he was, after all, “cursed with the gift of a golden voice”.  And things soon started to happen for him; finally, Cohen started making money for his golden words.

I once had the occasion to meet Martha Wainwright in prairie town, Calgary, Alberta.  I was drunk and made an ass of myself, so I will leave the juiciest of details out.  I will tell you this, however: Martha said (or, more accurately, screamed), to me that night, that “if someone writes a song as good as, or even half as good as ‘Hallelujah’ (Cohen’s most famous and covered song—notable renditions attempted, with various success, by artists so talented and diverse as Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright and, more recently, Kd Lang), that he/she should never have to work another day in his/her entire life.”  Bold statement, yes, but I must agree (though I played devil’s advocate, at the time).

For a review of the show, check out our website:

By: Nick Lyons.  To read Nick’s blog, go to:

Calendar: Avoiding the Christmas Crazies

8 12 2010

With 16 shopping days left till Christmas and Holiday parties hitting high gear, don’t forget to take a few minutes to relax. Nobody likes a psychotic break on Christmas morning.

Vikes Christmas Tree Sale – The Vikes have locally grown Grand, Noble and Douglas fir trees for sale in a variety of sizes at a wide range of prices. Proceeds from tree sales support Vikes’ student athletes. THURSDAY-FRIDAY & MONDAY-WEDNESDAY noon-7pm at Centennial Stadium main entrance, parking lot 4 (UVic). Free. 250-721-7656.

Write for Rights – Come sip a fine brew, sign petitions, write letters and greeting cards for prisoners of conscience around the world. Presented by Amnesty International. FRIDAY 2-8pm at the Black Stilt Cafe (103-1633 Hillside).

VNHS – The Victoria Natural History Society’s Christmas bird count tune-up. Meet at the viewing tower at Viaduct and Interurban. SATURDAY 8:30am. Free. 250-885-2425.

Cougar Capers – Not a night at a bar, but a guided walk. SATURDAY 1pm at the Francis/King Reginal Park Nature Centre. Free. 250-478-3344.

Larry’s Bubble Bash – Sips Artisan Bistro hosts Spinnakers spirit merchants product consultant, Larry Arnold. 12 sparklers from the around the world will be matched with gourmet canapes such as oysters, mussels, duck prosciutto and much more. SATURDAY 3:30-5pm at Sips Artisan Bistro (425 Simcoe). $20. 250-590-3515.

Kinky Xmas Party – What else can you do with a candy cane and holly? Join the Sagacity celebrations and find out for yourself. SATURDAY 8pm at the Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad). $15/$10.

Victoria Anarchist Reading Circle – Discuss the lastest in Anarchy reading. TUESDAYS 7pm at Camas Books (2590 Quadra). Free. 250-381-0585.

Victoria Women’s Newcomers’ Club – Are you new to Victoria? Join the VWNC for our festive season social lunch. Reservations required. WEDNESDAY 11:30am at the Cedar Hill Golf Club (1400 Derby). 778-430-1892

Looking for something more for the one you love? Win them a pedicure certificate from Outshine Hair & Aesthetics by emailing (SUBJECT:PEDICURE) and make all their holiday dreams come true!

Get Your Cirque On!

8 12 2010


Got a circus fan on your must-buy list this holiday season? You’re in luck—Cirque de Soleil just announced that they’re returning to Victoria with a production of their newest arena show, Dralion.

Running from June 22-26, 2011,  for just eight performances at Memorial Centre, Dralion has thrilled more than 8 million people worldwide since its debut in 1999. Deriving much of its inspiration from Eastern philosophy with its perpetual quest for harmony between humankind and nature, Dralion features an international cast of 52 world-class acrobats, gymnasts, musicians, singers and comedic characters performing a fusion of ancient Chinese circus traditions and Cirque’s usual avant-garde style.

Tickets range from $36 to $105 and are on sale now at Cirque de Soliel’s own site, locally at Memorial Centre or by calling 250-220-7777.

Another Side of Jason Collett

3 12 2010

Photo credit: Victor Tavares From the "Idols of Exile" photo sessions

I am pretty sure that if Zeus, or God or whoever, was motivated enough to make an attempt at incarnating Grace (with a capital “G”) into a human form, the result would look, walk and sing much like Jason Collett.  Grace incarnate came to our town on Saturday night to do a one-off, of sorts.  It was his second visit to our town this year, yet each performance was vastly different the other in almost every way.

Last time Collett came through, he brought a big ol’ crew with him, namely, Zeus and Bahamas.  I reviewed that show, and decided to “take this one off” and take it in without having to fully analyze it and put it into words.  Essentially, I just wanted to get drunk and have a good time without thinking about anything at all: Collett made that impossible, however and so, I write this.

It takes a lot of talent to hold a crowd’s (especially if that crowd is gathered in a bar) attention with only a guitar, microphone, glass of wine and, at times, harmonica at your disposal.  Some artists, such as Jeff Tweedy, when he decides to go it alone, have actually called their audience out on the chatter between and, even worse, during songs.  I’ve always felt, being an avid Dylan fan, it is up to the artist to quiet their venues dull roar.  Dylan could/can do this: his words seemingly hypnotizing the most rambunctious of crowds into silence.  Jason Collett can do it too: as we all were quick to find out this Saturday night.

Like Dylan, boots, tight pants and all, Collett transfixed his audience (sadly, of about only 100 people or so) immediately upon stepping to the stage.  It was an incredibly intimate show, partially due to the venue (Lucky Bar), but mostly because of Collett’s gracious and candid presence.  He shared stories about what had inspired the composition of some of his songs, most notably, my personal favorite, “Almost Summer”, before playing impeccable acoustic versions of his ever growing canon.  At times, when Collett paused to take a breath, or a sip of his red, red wine, I could hear the hum of the fans above the dance floor: I have never heard Lucky Bar, so deathly quiet.

But he made us laugh too: quite loudly, at that.  His stories about the tour and about growing up in Catholic School (both, from the sounds of it, difficult to endure, at times) were as polished as the wine glass sitting on the chair next to him.  A master story teller and an even better musician, Collett never once let go of the adoring gaze of those of us “Lucky” enough to be there.

I must admit, before I go on, that I was a bit worried about the show.  I have come to love Jason Collett’s new, collaborative album (he enlisted youngsters Zeus, to back him up on this one), Rat A Tat Tat so much, that I was kind of scared that hearing the stripped down versions of the songs would be disappointing, if not boring: they were not.  Instead, we were given the rare opportunity to see the seeds of these songs, seeds which, somehow, are every bit as beautiful as their eventual studio flowering.  The phrase, “singer songwriter” is often abused. I choose to reserve it for an elite group of folk such as Karen Dalton, Neil Young and, of course, Bobby himself and, if Saturday night told me anything, it was that Collett too, might be a more contemporary member of this distinguished party.

Upon finishing his encore, Collett immediately ran back to the merch Booth to autograph copies of his album and be hit on by the more courageous/intoxicated members of the audience.  Again, Collett was consummately graceful, smiling bashfully at all the attention he was receiving.  Some of us were bold enough to tell him about a show going on at Logan’s and he actually came out, trying impossibly to become invisible and get to know some of ‘our music’: again, he was swarmed, again, he was graceful.  It was really great to see someone handle himself so well.

We were spoiled this year, having seen two very different sides of Collett.  I think we were all pretty happy to find out that Jason has a brother out here, so hopefully we can expect to see him again soon: it will be interesting to see which Jason Collett shows up next time.  Until then, we spin our signed records and try to graft a bit of his seemingly infinite grace into our own lives.

— Nick Lyons

Look for upcoming reviews from Nick Lyons here at the Monday Mag blog and on our website. You can read his blog at

Calendar: Cheesecake Burlesue Review

1 12 2010

Cheesecake Burlesque brings Victoria it’s Naughty But Nice Peep Show on December 3. Email (SUBJECT: CHEESECAKE BURLESQUE) to win two tickets to the show!

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