Calendar: Pre-Christmas Fun

30 11 2011

The Christmas party season is upon us, but before you get partied out enjoy some nice, relaxing events. Maybe an afternoon browsing a craft fair, a quiet Scottish tea or an boat parade.

Christmas Lights Across Canada  – Watch the Seqoia tree light up and enjoy performances by the James Bay Community School Choir and St. Andrew’s Regional High School Choir & band. THURSDAY 4:30pm at the BC Legislature (501 Belleville). Free.

Holiday Magic at Mattick’s Farm – Entertainment, food tastings, special offers and enter to win  prizes at all the shops, valued up to $ 200. THURSDAY & FRIDAY 5-8pm at Matticks Farm (5325 Cordova Bay). Free.

The Owl – Designer fair featuring locally made gifts. With live music by The Ramble and Mark Ednie. FRIDAY 6-10pm & SATURDAY 10am-6pm at the Fernwood NRG (1240 Gladstone). $2.

Sea of Lights – Enjoy hot chocolate or coffee and watch lighted boats parade down Victoria’s coast. Proceeds support the Salvation Army and the Oak Bay Kiwanis. FRIDAY 7-8pm along the waterfron of Cattle Point, Willows Beach and Gyro Park. Free.

Christmas Craft Fair & Family Festivities – Includes craft fair, activities, silent auction and more. SATURDAY 9:30am-5:30pm at the Cook Street Village Activity Centre (1-380 Cook). Free. 250-384-6542.

Clothing Swap – Bring along your beloved but outgrown items to exchange for new duds, or come empty handed and fill up a bag! Please bring items in clean and gently used condition (no ripped, torn or dirty items). SATURDAY 10am-1pm at the Fairfield Community Place (1330 Fairfield). Free. 250-382-4604.

Christmas Holly Tea  – Enjoy a festive holiday tea service in traditional Scottish fashion, served on fine china, and provincial Tartan tablecloths. Includes tea, sandwiches, shortbread, christmas cake, truffles, raffle prizes and a craft and bake sale. SATURDAY noon-4pm at United Chapters Hall (3281 Harriet). $8.

Ross Bay Villa – Tour the house and grounds of this restored historic site. SATURDAY2pm at Ross Bay Villa (1490 Fairfield). $5. 250-995-0022.

Dickens Fair – A festive winter market with juried artisans and crafters, farm produce & meats, baking, greenery, demonstrations, Chicken Lady, children’s choir, family entertainment, a variety of musical performances and cafe with light meals. SATURDAY 3-9pm at  the James Bay Community Centre (140 Oswego). By donation. 250-381-5323,

Santa Visits North Park Village – Enjoy festive treats and caroling. Bring your own camera and get your picture taken with Santa! SATURDAY 5pm in the parking lot at Cook and Grant streets. Free. 250-208-1584.

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

Email (SUBJECT: BEAUTY QUEEN) to win two tickets to Langham Court Theatre’s production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Hurry! The last performance is Dec. 3.

Calendar: Christmas Light-up

23 11 2011

The season of giving is nearly upon us, so get an early start with this weeks events. Help the Lymphoma Foundation and the Victoria SPCA by attending their fundraisers or head out to an Out Of Hand Artisan Fair or the United Way Book/Record Sale. And don’t forget to top of your weekend events with the Christmas Tree light-up in Centennial Square.

PMAFund Lymphoma Foundation Silent Auction – With special guest performance by Daniel Stolfi, comedian, actor and Lymphoma survivor. THURSDAY 5:30pm at the Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad). $30.

Out of Hand Artisan Fair – An incredible selection of handmade, beautiful and sometimes delectable gifts. Fashion shows, cocktails and DJ Friday night and live music in the lounge Sunday. FRIDAY 10am-9pm, SATURDAY 10am-6pm & SUNDAY 10am-5pm at  the Crystal Gardens (713 Douglas). $8/$7 students & seniors.

Victoria SPCA Silent Auction FundRaiser – A night of fun with appetizers, beverages and a silent auction, Proceeds support raised the Friendly Neighbor Organization. FRIDAY 7pm at Vshoen Boutique (620 Broughton). By donation. 250-361-6709.

Nautical Wreath Workshop – Give this Christmas a nautical flare with your very own Nautical Wreath. Includes rope and ribbon. Please bring any other decorations you may wish to add and gardening gloves. Registration required. SATURDAY & SUNDAY 1- 5pm. Cost is $29. 250- 385-4222, ext. 113.

4th Annual Christmas Tree Light-up – Bring the family to the annual lighting of the giant sequoia tree and enjoy musical performances, roving entertainment, ice sculptures and free treats. SATURDAY 4-5:30pm in Centennial Square. Free. Followed by the Island Farms Santa Light Parade on Government. Visit and click on What’s New?

United Way Book & Record Sale – Discover thousands of great reads and catchy tunes for $2 each. A silent auction of typewriters, collectable books, records, and rarities runs the duration of the sale. Proceeds support the United Way of Greater Victoria. TUESDAY 9am-5pm, WEDNESDAY 9am-8pm & Dec. 1 9am-5pm. in the Michele Pujol room, the Student Union Building (UVic). Free.

Looking for more excitement? Send an email to (SUBJECT: GIVE) to win this weeks mystery prize.

Calendar: Christmas? Already?!?

16 11 2011

Has the twinkle of tinsel started to catch your eye? Are you finding glitter in inexplicable places? Has peppermint been added to your latte? If so, then you might be suffering from the side effects of “Early Christmas.” The solution? Vaccinate yourself with this weeks events.*

*May include Christmas Craft Fairs, politics, goodies and fun.

Urbanite – This South Asian-infused evening will feature live music and video performance, collaborative storytelling and of course some custom cocktails and seasonal drafts served up by Canoe Brewpub. FRIDAY 8-11pm at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (1040 Moss). $13/$11 AGGV members. 250-384-4171.

TEDX – 14 speakers with ideas worth spreading, three live performances, and interactive media exhibitions. SATURDAY 9am-6pm at the Victoria Conference Center (720 Douglas). $50.

Greek Christmas Bake Sale and Snack Bar – Featuring delicious home-made Greek desserts and pastries associated with the Xmas season. Souvlaki, Gyros, spanakopita, other delicacies and freshly made loukoumades will be available at the Snack Bar. All proceeds support of the Victoria and Vancouver Island Greek Community Society cultural programs and for charity purposes. SATURDAY 10am-5pm at the Greek Community Centre (4648 Elk Lake Drive). Free. 250-479-9391,

Scandinavian Craft Fair – Crafts, baking, jewellry, Norwegian sweaters and more. SATURDAY 10am-4pm at Norway House (1110 Hillside). Free. 250-598-2603.

Goward House Society Craft Fair – Find the handcrafted presents your loved ones adore. Tea room open. SATURDAY 10am-4pm at Goward House (2495 Arbutus). $2. 250-477-4401,

Victoria Downtown Farmers’ Market – Farm tables loaded with the best locally produced meat, cheese, bread, ice cream, honey, produce, sprouts, jams, mushrooms, salt, preserves and more. SATURDAY 11am-3pm at Market Square. Free.

Rally for Political Reform – Find out what’s wrong with our political system and how to fix it. Listen to great speakers, Dr. Budd Hall, Dr. Janni, Ken Wu, and others. Presented by the People’s Assembly of Victoria. SATURDAY noon at Centennial Square. Free.

Crystal Singers’ Holiday Shopping Fair – With Partylite, Epicure, Jockey, Guatemalan Scarves, Arbonne, Avon, Universal Books, Tupperware, Silpada and Nelia C. Caye Jewellery and more. SATURDAY 1-3pm at St. Peter’s Church (3939 St. Peters St.). Free. 250-727-3538,

Christmas Bazaar & Tea  – Featuring Crafts, Books, White Elephant, Jewelry and More. Proceeds support the Victoria Cat Rescue Corps’ Spay & Neuter fund. SATURDAY 1-4pm at Knox Presbyterian Church (2964 Richmond Rd). Free. 250-656-1100,

Nautical Wreath Workshop – Give this Christmas a nautical flare with your very own nautical wreath. Please bring any other decorations you may wish to add and a good pair of gloves. We recommend thick gardening gloves. Materials provided.  Registration required. FRIDAY-SUNDAY & Nov. 26-27 1-5pm at the Maritime Museum of BC (28 Bastion Square). $29. 250- 385-4222 ext. 113,

Not enough? Email (SUBJECT: MYSTERY!) to win our ever-popular mystery prize! Tickets? Books? Fairy dust and magic? Enter to find out.

Ugliness Overcome: Blackout Beach’s Fuck Death ((or, “An Ode to the Overwhelming Weight Wikipedia Inflicts on Our Futile Internet Generation in D#,”) or, “Dusk Only Ends with a Plosive; Dawn Arrives in a Similar, Tentative Manner”))

15 11 2011

When are we going to realize that in Carey Mercer, North America has her sole living and deeply gasping genius?

“Genius” is not a word this reviewer uses casually.  In fact, I would probably only bestow the adjective upon two artists of the last fifty years or so.  First (and only because I use chronology as my guide): David Foster Wallace, author of Infinite Jest and more recently, the tragically posthumous Pale King.   Wallace took his own life in 2008; accordingly, Mercer’s genius is of a solitary vintage.

If Fuck Death, which will be set loose tomorrow via Dead Oceans, is any indication, genius is happier alone.  Mercer’s new album burns brilliant in front of the pale dross our society promulgates at a rate most terrifyingFuck Death is the work of a very lonesome and tortured human being; the results are painfully superhuman.

Now in recent years, Mercer has handcrafted some mighty large boots to fill.  Arriving hot on the heels (pun intended) of two masterpieces (Paul’s Tomb, A Triumph and Skin of Evil) which were released under the respective monikers of Frog Eyes and Blackout Beach, Fuck Death forces a privy, fortunate few to wait, breath baited, in line (undoubtedly alone) in front of record store’s familiar glass door to pick up a double gate-fold (we can only hope) pressing of Mercer’s most recent release; this is an album which won’t disappoint even the most dedicated fan in the slightest, I can assure you.

Fuck Death is at once a testament to beauty and to ugliness; its ambiguity guides a fortunate listener’s open ear into a wholly other realm—we are confronted with the divine as we listen, and we’re probably surprised by what we see.  Sure we see Beauty, but mostly we bear witness to a whole mess of ugliness.

Upon being subject to many-a-listen of Fuck Death, my wife said something to the effect of “that guitar – it reminds me of so many mosquitoes”.

I have come to agree, be it begrudgingly (we are married, after all).  There is undoubtedly an element of ugliness on Fuck Death; in fact there are several.  But this immaculately informed rendering of the underbelly of the aesthetic world would, quite simply, be impossible if not for Mercer’s equally familiarity of beauty, which is so obviously (in a most subtle way) evident on the record.

We, the fortunate few who pay attention to Mercer’s recent and captivatingly prolific output, find Beauty a form most pure on Fuck Death’s third track “Deserter’s Song”.  Weighing in at an anorexic one minute and seven seconds, “Deserter’s Song” is absolutely perfect—it is worth the cost of the album, and then sum (again, pun idended).

It is apt that a “Deserter’s Song” is as brief as it is beautiful.  In a landscape of war-mongering psalms (the very next track boasts war’s bloody, singular mantra—“War, war, war, war is in my heart…”), the “Deserter’s Song” instills in her listener a much needed solace, especially in the context of such an abrasively beautiful album— Mercer’s black document of vengeance and bees.

Be it the ever-ticking clocks of “Drowning Pigs” or the dissonant moans of the “Broken Braying Sound of the Donkey’s Cry”, Fuck Death is an album in desperate need of fleeting beauty to counter disturbing and chaotic themes which threaten to overwhelm the sullen ear of its listener.

Miraculously, one minute and seven seconds of beauty in its most distilled incarnation manages to at once counterbalance and, in fact, trump Mercer’s best attempts at manufactured ugliness.

This is a gorgeous album.  In spite of an insipid abrasion and ugliness, Fuck Death spins norms on their heads.  In the vast confines of this album, ugliness is beauty; and beauty, in turn, ugliness.  Go buy it now.  It will challenge you for a brief eternity.

Nick Lyons

Bonehooves and Mo-Staches

13 11 2011

On Saturday night, The Fort Café hosted a fundraiser for Movember.  For just five bucks, patrons were treated to an evening most musical: four bands, one stage, and better yet, all proceeds went to prostate cancer research.  The evening’s headliners, Bonehoof, much like the Fort Café itself, are one of Victoria’s best kept secrets.  Here’s why.

Let’s start with the band.  Bonehoof is one of those special bands devoid of gimmick, arrogance, and pretense; instead of putting their energy into such futile trappings, they channel their collective musical prowess into something immortal—they make great music.

While the band wears its influences on their sleeves (Being There era Wilco, and modern day Zeus are the first bands that come to mind), they never fall into the fatal trap of mere mimicry; the band nods in the direction of their Amercana tinged predecessors and then take their infectious breed of soul instilled, alt-country in a brand new, vital direction.

The Fort Café proved to be a venue most perfect for “the Hoof”.  Not only is the establishment owned by drummer Benji  C., it also pays homage to an illustrious line of underground clubs; it reminds me of the type of places the Beatles played in before they broke.

While comparing Bonehoof to the young, fresh-faced lads from Liverpool may seem an extravagant exaggeration, listening to this band in a live setting puts all anxiety to rest.  Bonehoof forgoes the cheesy pop sensibilities of the early Beatles, and move right into the meat of White Album angst (though clearly, the members of Bonehoof still like each other).

So, this is a band to keep an eye on.  Rumour has it that they will be recording with a certain someone from Wolf Parade fame very soon, a rumour confirmed by his presence at Saturday night’s show (I fail to recall if he was sporting a moustache).  While we wait with baited breath for the album, we can see an early Bonehoof perform almost every week at the illustrious Fort Street Café; the nachos are to die for, by the way.

To read more of Nick Lyons’ writing, visit his blog here.

The Himalayan Bear’s Triumphant Homecoming

13 11 2011

2011 has been an exciting year for Ryan Beattie’s Himalayan Bear.  This year has seen the release of the exquisite Hard Times, and subsequent touring in both Europe, with Katherine Calder, and down the West coast by his lonesome.  If Saturday night was any indication, all of this touring has resulted in a live set that somehow manages to surpass the recordings; the songs are even sexier draped in a live skin.

The experience was reminiscent of Desire-era Bob Dylan.  While Desire surely as one of Dylan’s best works (and Beattie may agree as his ‘other band’ Chet does an amazing cover of “Oh Sister”) the resulting Rolling Thunder Review Revue tour gave songs such as “Isis” and “One More Cup of Coffee For the Road” a context in which to become fully realized (compare, for instance, the studio version of “Isis” to the live version featured on Biograph).

On Saturday night Beattie sang every track of his latest master work with an excitement and vigor only hinted at on the studio recordings.  Surrounded by members of Chet, Beattie quickly set to work establishing this most recent incarnation of the revolving cast of musicians that is Himalayan Bear, as the best.

Particularly noteworthy was the return of Matt Skillings.  Skillings’ interpretation of the percussive craft is less rhythmic than that of Beattie’s other drummers– his style is less John Bonham and more Glenn Kotche.

Beattie will soon be leaving us again, this time for a tour down the East Coast of the United States.  But he won’t leave before opening the show for Kathryn Calder’s CD release party at Lucky Bar later this month.  If you weren’t at Logan’s on Saturday night (or even if you were), be sure to buy tickets to Calder’s release NOW; catch the Himalayan Bear before he migrates (hopefully, “just for the winter”).

To read more of Nick Lyons’ writing, check out his blog here.

Finishing Up: An Evening With Dan Mangan

12 11 2011

Shrouded in deep blue light, flanked by a stunning five piece band, Dan Mangan owned the Alix Gooldin Hall’s small stage on Thursday night, playing to an adoring sold out crowd.  This was the last stop on Mangan’s six week tour of Canada and the United States; it didn’t end with a bang, it ended with several.

From the moment Mangan eased his way into the title track of his new record, Oh Fortune, it was obvious that he has grown tremendously since the last time he played the Gooldin.  Mangan’s new material, a textured weave of beautiful and abrasive elements, was at once challenging and charming.  It was a delight to see the crowd gathered at his feet (mostly composed of star struck juveniles) singing along to every song at the top of their lungs.

Particularly noteworthy was Mangan’s hired gun, trumpet player JP Carter, who nailed every crescendo with his delay-pedal adorned horn.  Though the Oh Fortune features an entire brass ensemble, Carter proved more than capable of making up for missing players; it was a treat to watch the revenge of the band nerds on stage.

Mangan’s magnetic charm spilled over after the show when he took the merch booth to say hello, sign autographs, and have pictures taken with his fans, including this one who is often mistaken for Mangan himself (apparently we also look like Seth Rogan).  Do you see a resemblance?

Calendar: Have a Socially Responsible Time

9 11 2011

This weeks events cater to our socially responsible side. Be part of a political public forum or indulge in guilt-free locally handmade crafts. It’s up to you. Don’t forget Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.

IconoCraft Christmas – A DIY crafting fair where local artists teach people how to make a wide range of different crafts. THURSDAY 5-11pm the Victoria Event Centre (1415 Broad). $10.

Public Forum – The Conservative Omnibus Crime Bill: Will it make Canada Safer or Meaner? A public forum and panel discussion moderated by Victoria MP Denise Savoie. THURSDAY 6:30-9pm at First Metropolitan United Church (932 Balmoral). Free. 250-363-3600.

Remembrance Day Service – Hosted by the Vancouver Island Ex-Cadet Club. FRIDAY 10:40am in the Italian Garden next to Hatley Castle (2005 Sooke). Free.

What Matters To You? – What Should the Federal Government’s Priorities be in 2012 and Beyond? A public meeting hosted by Victoria MP Denise Savoie. With guest speaker Stephen Salter discussing the green economy. SATURDAY 2-4pm at 970 Blanshard. 250-363-3600.

Global Interdependence and You – A public symposium offering the public an opportunity to hear speakers affiliated with UVic’s Centre for Global Studies discuss their work. Symposium MONDAY noon-2pm in the First Peoples House Ceremonial hall, followed by the Centre for Global Studies Open house 2:30-3:30pm in room C173, the Sedgewick Building (UVic). 250-853-3218.

UVic Hearts & Hands Craft Fair – Talented artisans from the UVic community offer a wide range of crafts for sale, including cards, soap, jewelry and handmade clothing.  Proceeds support the United Way fundraiser. TUESDAY 10am in the University Centre Lobby, UVic. Free. 250-721-4357.

Email (SUBJECT: MUGGER) to win a copy of Sandy Frances Duncan’s & George Szanto’s Never Hug a Mugger on Quadra Island in time for their book signing on Nov. 15 (7pm at the Cadboro Bay Book Company, 2840B Cadboro Bay).

Calendar: Pumpking Smashing? You bet!

2 11 2011

Learn something new and make the world a better place with this weeks events. Compost pumpkins, plant trees or learn how to look after them. Or get interested in politics with Oak Bays All Candidates meetings.

Pumpkin Smash – Help pumpkins rest in peace by smashing them in giant compost bins. THURSDAY-SATURDAY 8am-5pm at the Ellice Recycling Diversion Facility (524 David) & the Garden Waste Drop-off Facility (605 Canteen). By donation. 250-386-9676.

Oak Bay All Candidates Meetings – All eleven candidates for Council and two candidates for Mayor have been invited to take part. Moderated by Jamie Chicanot. FRIDAY 7-9pm at the Monterey Rec Centre (1442 Monterey) & Nov. 8 7-9pm at The Emmanuel Baptist Church (2121 Cedar Hill Cross). Free. 250-595-6284.

Standing Tall for Epilepsy: Rights and Research Conference – Speakers discuss epilepsy research, treatments and rights. 9am-3:15pm in the Michele Pujol room, Student Union Building (UVic). $50/$35 for VEPC members.

Tree Banding for Winter Moth Workshop – Learn how banding your trees now will help prevent Winter moth damage. Rain or shine. SATURDAY 10am-noon at the Beacon Hill Park Maintenance Yard (Nursery Road). For more info, visit and click on What’s New?

Tree Appreciation Day – Plant trees and shrubs for future generations to enjoy. Please bring your own tools and gloves as supplies are limited. Includes info sessions on how to select, plant and care for a tree, and how tree banding now prevents Winter moth damage in the spring. Rain or shine. SUNDAY 10am-noon at Arbutus Park (2925 Washington). 2925 Washington Avenue. Free. and click on What’s New?

The Greater Victoria Animal Crusaders – Annual general meeting. SUNDAY 1pm in room 36 of the James Bay New Horizons Centre (234 Menzies).

Super Bowls of Hope – Support the Youth Empowerment Society by eating soup. You even get to keep the bowl! Includes silent auction, celebrity signed bowls and get-aways. TUESDAY 11am-1:30pm In the Palm Court & Crystal Ballroom of the Empress (721 Government). $25.

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