Calendar: Freshen Your Spirit With the Great Outdoors

30 03 2011

It’s been a long wet winter. Sure, the garage needs to be sorted out and the house needs a thorough scrub, but consider taking a break from your spring cleaning to step outside and onto the town.

Art In Bloom – A week long celebration of fine art and all things botanical. The bi-annual fundraiser heralds the beginning of spring to Vancouver Island, and supports exhibitions and programming at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. THURSDAY-SATURDAY. For a detailed schedule of events call 250-384-4171 or visit

Performing Arts Festival – Several thousand Victoria-area performers and students of music, dance and theatre arts are on stages throughout the city receiving adjudications from renowned experts in the arts. THURSDAY- May 14. Free. For more details call 250-386-9223 or visit

Outdoor Adventure Expo – Satisfy that outdoor craving or find out just what Vancouver Island has to offer. FRIDAY noon-9pm, SATURDAY 10am-6pm & SUNDAY 10am-5pm at Pearkes Rec Centre (3100 Tillicum). $8/$4 children/free children 5 years and under.

Fair Tartan Day  – Experience the power of tartan. With Scottish Cultural booths, tartan weavers, Scottish baking, pipers, Highland and Scottish country dancers, a Highland dog breed competition, Island Farms “Daisy the Cow”, Scottish entertainment and Celtic bands. SATURDAY 11am-4pm at Market Square (560 Johnson). Free. 250-382-0572.

Armageddon Fighting Championships – If you love watching people get beat up, this championship is for you. SATURDAY 7-11pm at Bear Mountain Arena (1767 Island Highway). $30-$150. 250-686-5111,
Abkhazi Garden Open House – Stroll the grounds, enjoy the house and peruse the gift shop. SUNDAY 11am-4pm at the Abkhazi Garden (1964 Fairfield). Free. 250-598-8096.

Counterfeit and Fraud Prevention – Seminar topics include, but are not limited to, counterfeit currency, banknote security, and various types of fraud and the proven techniques used to protect your businesses from these types of crimes. Registration required. TUESDAY 8:30-10am at the Hotel Rialto (1450 Douglas). $25/$20 for Downtown Victoria Business Association members. 250-386-2238,

Ladies Night – Learn how to repair and maintain vehicles, how to check oil and fluid levels and tire pressure, how to change a tire, and much more with the mechanics at Victoria Transmission and Auto Care. Registration required. TUESDAY 6pm at Victoria Transmission and Auto Care (1885 Government). Free. 250-382-2833.

If all that fun isn’t enough to leave you feeling renewed, win a 30 minute facial and brow design from Tonic Spa-tique by emailing (SUBJECT: TONIC).

Many Voices, Many Paths

30 03 2011

On April 15th, Victoria non-profit the Men’s Trauma Centre will team up with the National Victims of Crime Awareness Week to present a special event fundraiser at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa Ballroom.  The evening promises to be a celebration of the human spirit, and will feature a wide range of local talent such as poet Carla Funk, singer/songwriter Georgia Murray as well as many others.

                The Men’s Trauma Centre, which is located at 1022 Pandora Avenue, provides support to males 16 and up, who are survivors of physical, emotional or sexual trauma.  The tenacity and courage of such survivors will be celebrated at this year’s event, entitled “Many Voices, Many Paths”.

                The evening will also include door prizes, hors d’oerves and a silent auction featuring goods from a number of local businesses such as a Long Beach Lodge getaway, Pacific Opera tickets, Whale Watching Adventures and much more.  Tickets to the event are only $10, and are available at The Men’s Trauma Center and Rebel Rebel Clothing.  Hope to see you all there!

Calendar: Cherry blossoms and Charities.

23 03 2011

The cherry blossoms are out and so are the charities. Head out for a night on the town for a good cause.

If your into Canadian music, and waiting with bated breath for the Juno’s, this week’s giveaway is for you. Win the 2011 Juno Award compilation album by emailing (SUBJECT: JUNO).

Dining Out For Life – Over 65 generous restaurants from across Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands will donate 25% of your food bill to AIDS Vancouver Island. THURSDAY. For a complete list of participating restaurants, please visit

Twestival Victoria – An evening of food, entertainment and silent auctions. Proceeds support the Victoria Cool Aid Society. THURSDAY 7pm at the Empress (721 Government). SOLD OUT.

VIKPA Silent Auction – Presented by The Vancouver Island Kidney Patients’ Association. Learn more about kidney month and help raise funds for VIKPA. Cash or cheque only. FRIDAY 9am-5pm at Royal Jubilee Hospital (1952 Bay). Free.

The Magic of Origami – Join Stephen Tran for a lesson in playing with paper and experience the magic of turning a flat piece of paper into a three dimensional sculpture. Ages 9-12, registration required. FRIDAY 2:30-3:30pm at the GVPL Saanich Centennial Branch (3110 Tillicum). Free. 250-477-9030,

Fossil Fair – Bring fossils for identification. Kids can follow a scavenger hunt, make fossil and dinosaur rubbings, look at tiny fossils through microscopes, dig for fossils in a sandbox and take a fossil home as a treasure. SATURDAY-SUNDAY 10am-4pm at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary (3873 Swan Lake). by donation. 250-479-0211.

Domlander 2011 – British Columbia’s largest fetish farce competition and play party. With presentations by V.H. Studio Designs & the Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good. SATURDAY 8pm-1am at the Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad). $25/$20 Sagacity members.

Hitchcock and Hemlines – Charity fashion show featuring clothes inspired by Alfred Hitchcocks’s films. Proceeds support Victoria Women’s Transition House Society. SUNDAY 2pm at the Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad). $7/$5 students.

Domlander 2011 – British Columbia’s largest fetish farce competition and play party. With presentations by V.H. Studio Designs & the Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good. SATURDAY 8pm-1am at the Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad). $25/$20 Sagacity members.

BC SPCA Wild ARC Open House – Come meet Beaker the Burrowing Owl and learn about the BC SPCA. Reservations required. SUNDAY-MONDAY noon-4pm at 1020 Malloch.

Art In Bloom – A week long celebration of fine art and all things botanical. The bi-annual fundraiser heralds the beginning of spring to Vancouver Island, and supports exhibitions and programming at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. MONDAY-April 2. For a detailed schedule of events call 250-384-4171 or visit

St. Patrick’s Pilgrimage: An Evening With Destroyer

21 03 2011

This St. Patrick’s Day I forsook my customary afternoon tradition of green beer debauchery to pursue a musical odyssey.  Joined by a handful of fellow Victorian music lovers, backpack filled to the brim with bread, wine, and other necessities, I boarded bus, boat and train in search of Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom where the enigmatic Destroyer was scheduled to appear. 

Those of us who got to the Ballroom early enough were greeted by some familiar faces as Victoria’s own Blackout Beach took the stage.  Drawing almost exclusively from last year’s tragically overlooked Skin of Evil, Carey Mercer showcased his remarkable poetic gifts as he bellowed terrifying invocations to Donna, the album’s mysterious muse. 

 Mercer’s approach to vocal delivery is diametrically opposed to that of the evening’s headliner.  Whereas Destroyer’s most recent album has been praised for Dan Bejar’s vocal detachment, Mercer fully embodies the voice of his jealous, lovesick speaker.  Channeling this speaker, Mercer blushes while singing about Donna, and snarls at her boyfriend William (“I SHALL CRACK HIS NECK AND PERFORM ONE MILLION CASTRATIONS WITH HIS BONES”—The Whistle).

Those familiar with the album were undoubtedly surprised to hear how different the songs sound in a live skin.  Whereas the album is a swirling, atmospheric composite of layered sounds and distant voices, the live versions are more rhythmic: drummer Melanie Campbell and keyboardist Megan Boddy at once corral and propel Mercer’s frantic yawps and yips.  The set was more akin to a recent Orange Hall performance than the album itself, but equally as powerful: the band left the stage all too soon, after signing a t-shirt for a fan.

Next to take the stage was Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs.  While the band has received a lot of press recently, largely due to Kurt Vile’s solo efforts, their conventional Americana seemed kind of, well… boring sandwiched between the other bands.  The War on Drugs lacked the intensity of Blackout Beach and the expansiveness of Destroyer’s new sound, indulging an obvious mimicry of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty instead.  While the dance floor was packed, I chose to explore the rest of the Commodore, and can assure you that there is not a bad seat in the place. 

When Destroyer finally took the stage, it was immediately obvious that the newest incarnation of the band is completely different than anything they’ve done before.  The eight-piece ensemble stands in stark contrast the band’s early lo-fi work such as City of Daughters, but it is also much different than more recent albums such as Trouble In Dreams or Destroyer’s Rubies.  If Thursday night is any indication, this might be the best version of Destroyer yet.

The critical response to Destroyer’s newest album, though tremendously positive, is frustratingly reductionary.  A lot of genre-talk has been thrown around: phrases such as “soft rock” or “easy listening” being the most common, but such descriptions are inherently deceiving.  While the new record can be compared to a very specific moment in music (that being late seventies/early eighties sounds), there are several other components in the mix as well which are especially evident in a live setting: the new songs are not ‘soft’, nor are they ‘easy’.

As Destroyer went to work on an amazing set mostly composed of Kaputt material, it became increasingly obvious that ‘front man’ Dan Bejar is quite content to sit back to let his musicians take over (he often crouched down in front of the drum kit as if trying to hide).  And so they did with stunning results.  The interplay between trumpet and saxophone was particularly evocative.  While such arrangements might cause some to think of Jenifer Warnes, the digital delay pedals through which the horns are filtered also recall Miles Davis at his most experimental.

 I longed to hear This Night-era songs interpreted by the brass tongue of Destroyer’s current line-up, but the band only ventured out of Kaputt territory on a few occasions in order to play material from Yer Blues.  The fact that I wasn’t too disappointed is a testament to the strength of the band’s newest studio effort.

The evening’s highlight was undoubtedly an encore performance of the sprawling “Bay Of Pigs”.  Originally released in 2009 on an EP of the same name, the song has recently resurfaced in an attenuated form on Kaputt. “Bay of Pigs”, in its longer form especially, is Destroyer’s masterpiece.  Those of us fortunate enough to be in attendance on Thursday night grinned as the 13 minute epic came in to full bloom in front of our tired eyes.

And so, this St. Patrick ’s Day came as a welcome deviation from the norm.  Not only did we manage to avoid much of the faux-Irish madness that painted the rest of Granville’s strip green, we also bore witness to a band who is only predictable in its unpredictability.  It will be most interesting to see where Destroyer goes from here.

Calendar: Spring?

16 03 2011

Spring keeps teasing Victoria with glimpses of her ever lovely ankle. A few flowers, a sunny day here and there, maybe even temperatures warm enough to shed our winter woolies. Take your mind of her frustrating flirtations with this weeks events.

Art in the Park – Join a CRD Regional Parks naturalist to create nature-inspired activities and crafts. THURSDAY 11am-2pm at the nature centre (Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park). Free. 250-478-3344,

Rock & Gem Show – Featuring gems from BC and all over the world. Presented by The Victoria Lapidary and Mineral Society. FRIDAY 12:30-8:30pm, SATURDAY 10am-6pm and SUNDAY 10am-4pm at the Da Vinci Centre (195 Bay). $5/$4 students and seniors.

24 Hour Dive Relay – Members of UVic’s Scuba Club partake in activities such as an underwater poker tournament and underwater Olympics, while non-divers will have the opportunity to try diving for the cost of a donation to TLC. Proceeds support TLC. FRIDAY 3pm in the McKinnon Building (UVic). $30 to dive.

Rink Of Dreams – A unique, 24-hour hockey marathon fundraiser to help Vancouver Island children who face life threatening conditions through the Help Fill a Dream Foundation. With That ‘70s Band, Wharf Street Band and Invasion 62. (All ages). SATURDAY 11am at  Bear Mt. Arena (1767 Island Hwy). By donation/free. 250-412-3413.

Persian New Year Celebration – Live music and dance performances by local artists, Iranian and Afghan arts and culture show, children’s play zone, plant sale, ethnic food and more in celebration of the rebirth of the earth and communion of families, friends, and neighbours in the most joyous time of the year. SATURDAY 11am-3pm in Centennial Square. Free. 250-388-7336,

Goldstream Gold Rush – Challenge our gold rush scavenger hunt to earn your miner’s license, try your luck at panning for gold in our troughs, or get your face painted! SUNDAY 11:30am at Goldstream Provincial Park Nature House (2930 Trans Canada Highway). $2. 250-478-9414,

Sass Class 101 – Learn how to shake it with the Cheesecake Burlesque Revue. Registration required. SUNDAY 2-2:30pm at Base Lounge (1303 Broad). $50/$40.

Canadian Federation of University Women – The Canadian Federation of University Women Saanich Peninsula present Women in Politics: Influence, Opportunities and Challenges.  TUESDAY 7pm at the Mary Winspear Centre (2243 Beacon). Free. 250-656-0275.

Embracing Candor: An Evening with the Born Ruffians

15 03 2011

From wolf shirts to obscene moustaches, tinted glasses to tattered plaid, irony is the prevailing doctrine of an ‘indie culture’ which has taken North America by storm.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that generations of folks who grew up engrossed by television’s endless stream of sitcoms choose to hide behind the veil of ironic detachment: sarcasm is a second language to most.  Irony offers us protection and safety– she grins condescendingly at her obnoxious and ill-tempered younger brother, Candor, who never ceases to embarrass her with his unabashed giddy excitement.  Thankfully, there are a few indie bands choose to embrace a more emotive and honest approach to song: the Born Ruffians, who came to Sugar Nightclub on Friday night, are one such band.

The evening began as Sheezer, an all female Weezer tribute band, took the stage.  At first, it seemed odd that the Born Ruffians chose to bring a cover band with them for the Western half of their cross-Canada trek, but all reservations were assuaged by the time Sheezer ripped into “My Name is Jonas”.  Those crammed into the packed dance floor soon became a loud and drunken choir, belting out Rivers Cuomo’s juvenilia (for the band mostly drew from Weezer’s first two albums) with tremendous gusto.  Many wept as they sang the chorus of “Say It Ain’t So”, a soundtrack for many a nineties break up, I’m sure.

All four members of Sheezer were obviously having a great time as they played their short set.  While the band stayed true to the albums, and the songs would have benefited from more interpretation, less dictation, they were received well and definitely got the crowd involved— at one point, the band went so far as to invite a few fans onto the stage to join them for a song.  After a group hug, Sheezer gave up the stage to the evening’s headliners.

The first thing we noticed as the Ruffians took the stage was that the band has added an extra player, multi-instrumentalist Andy Lloyd, to their roster for this tour.  Lloyd provides an exciting sense of balance to a band that has tended toward rhythmic dominance in the past.  If the Born Ruffians’ new album “Say It” is any indication, their sound is moving in a more melodic direction, and they will increasingly rely on Lloyd’s atmospheric flourishes to compliment lead singer/guitarist Luke LaLonde’s thin guitar tones and frantic wails.

Also immediately striking was LaLonde’s composure throughout the set as his vocal acrobatics are anything but.  Indeed, LaLonde seems to be a shy and reluctant conduit for the voice of an inner child who isn’t sure if he wants sandwiches or sex, choosing to demand both just to be sure.  Such is a voice that might be more suited to the body of Ruffians bass player, Mitch Derosier, who bounded around the stage like a madman for the entirety of the set, at one point tripping on an amp in all his bombast.

That being said there were also times during the show when the voice became a more tender incarnation of the inner child, as it confessed a rather homey and domestic desire to simply cook a meal for “ma and pa and grandmama” (Hedonistic Me), or to follow love wherever she happens to lead him (Little Garcon).  The voice is delightfully childlike in both its ADD-induced demands and its transparent vulnerability, a refreshing change from hip indifference.

And those who gathered at Sugar on Friday night managed to serve two masters (realizing, by the end of the night that they are, of course, one and the same).  We certainly obeyed the demanding child’s plea to dance without worrying about how silly we looked, but we also took heed of a more tender voice, a voice that begs us to put our arms around the ones we love and sway to the most tender of love songs.  On Friday night, we were truly able to engage a more genuine, and at the risk of sounding naïve, sentimental side of ourselves which is often tragically neglected in an ironic world.  For that, we owe much to the Born Ruffians.

To Read Nick’s blog, please visit

Calendar: Festivals, festivals everywhere

10 03 2011

Let out your inner predator with The 100th Hunt, Victoria's largest game of urban tag.

Got a case of the bad weather blahs? Perk up with an injection of culture this week with French Fest and the Celtic Festival. It won’t make the rain go away, but it might make you notice less.

French Fest – Enjoy four days of French culture from around the world. Discover Francophone music, art and culture for the whole family! Full program listings available at THURSDAY-SUNDAY. Free.

World Kidney Day Walk – Promote kidney health awareness by participating in this 45 walk. THURSDAY 10:20am t-shirt handout, 11am walk starts at the main entrance of Royal Jubilee Hospital (1952 Bay). Free. 250-721-3405.

Culinaire – Savour signature menu items and inspired dishes restaurants, lounges, pubs, cafes, specialty food producers, and sip from a fine selection of local and regional wines and craft beers. THURSDAY 5-7:30pm & 7:30pm-10pm at the the Crystal Garden (713 Douglas). $25.

HAT Gala – Join Habitat Acquisition Trust, A TV’s Erick Thompson and keynote speaker Dr. Chris Darimont  for HAT’s premier fundraising event. Includes dinner and silent auction.  THURSDAY 6pm at Fireside Grill Restaurant (4509 West Saanich). $65. 250-995-2428,

Visual Arts Showcase – See and hear what each of the departments in the Faculty of Fine Arts has been creating over the past year at Sprung, a collaborative night of spoken word, arts and crafts, curated art shows, collaging, mask making, dance parties, interactive projections and demonstrations from classical musicians. One night only. THURSDAY 7-11:30pm at the Visual Arts Building (UVic). $5.

Queer Youth Social – Calling all GLBT2SQQQ teens and allies, here’s an event just for you! Board games, rad crafts, open mic… Bring your instruments! We’ll provide everything else, including snacks, drinks, and bus tickets. Youth under 18 only. FRIDAY 7pm at the Solstice Cafe (529 Pandora). Free.

Celtic Festival – Featuring live entertainment, bites of Irish food, Celtic dancing, demonstration of Celtic Arts and a leprechaun handing out gold chocolate coins. SUNDAY noon-5pm at Bastion Square. Free.

The Hundredth Hunt – Manhunt Victoria’s 100th game of urban tag SUNDAY 3pm at Centennial Square. Free. 250 884 4792,

If these events aren’t enough to put a smile on your face, email (SUBJECT: UNNECESSARY) to win The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks by Bethany Keeley.

Calendar: Seeds and Charities

3 03 2011

Last weeks winter wonderland sure did surprise. But never fear, shake of winter’s last hurrah with this weeks events.

Website Makeovers – George Plumley, web designer and author of 100 Questions to Ask before Building a Website will help your site shine. Registration required. THURSDAY 2-3:30pm at the GVPL, Central Saanich Branch (3110 Tillicum). Free. 250-477-9030.

Relaxation Workshop – Learn how to destress with Julia James, CPCC, PCC, MSC, Certified Life Coach and author of The Mini-Retreat Solution. Regristration required. THURSDAY 7-8:30pm at the GVPL, Esquimalt Branch (1231 Esquimalt). Free. 250-414-7198.

Seed Starting workshop – Learn how to start your own seeds. Several varieties of heritage tomatoes, salad greens and edible flowers will be planted for participants to take home. Registration required. THURSDAY 7-9pm at SJ Willis (923 Topaz). $25. 250-383-5800,

The Next Generation – Conference and AGM. Topics include alternative crops, apprenticships, research findings, land-access models, slow money and sustainable agriculture, on-farm energy and distrobution systems. FRIDAY-SUNDAY at the Mary Winspear Centre (2243 Beacon). $99 per day. 250-385-7974.

Urbanite– Enjoy the sophisticated future club sounds and custom visuals by sub|division’s DJs Eames and Longshanks, cocktails and beverages by Canoe Brewpub, screening of stop motion film “Wurld” by scavenger artists Emi Honda and Jorda, art corsage and boutonniere making with local artist Scott Evans and Curator’s tour with Nicole Stanbridge. FRIDAY 8-11pm at the AGGV (1040 Moss). $11-$13. 250-384-4171.

Orchid Show and Sale – See what the Victoria Orchid Society has propegated. SATURDAY 9am-5pm & SUNDAY 10am-3pm at the Student Union Building (UVic). $7/$6 students and seniors.

Canadian Boat to Gaza – Fundraiser dinner followed by Ramzy Baroud presenting People Power: What the World Can Learn from the Palestinians. Registration required. SATURDAY 5pm at St. Luke’s Church Hall (3821 Cedar Hill X). $20/$15 unwaged. 250-721-2303.

Rock & Roll for Little Souls – Join the Saanich Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation for an evening of live music, refreshments, and a silent auction in support of pediatric care at Victoria General Hospital. Proceeds also support BC Guide Dog Services. SATURDAY 7pm at Pearkes Rec Centre (3100 Tillicum). $20. 250-514-7667.

Good Soup For Good Food – The talented chefs of Camosun’s Culinary Arts program are donating their expertise to create delicious gourmet soups. Proceeds support the Good Food Box program. SUNDAY 11am-2pm at the Rootcellar Green Grocer (1286 McKenzie). $5 per bowl. 250-893-7635.

Start your growing season off right by winning a springtime fresh copy of Carolyn Herriot’s The Zero mile Diet: A Year-round Guide To Growing Organic Food. Email (SUBJECT: ZERO MILE) for your chance to win!

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