Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category

Please don’t take this person-aaaaaaallllllll

Never Not Funny Live

Pardo & Woods - the world's worst Vaudeville team. I didn't realize until later that Scott Adsit from 30 Rock was in the background. Ha!

Photo by Me!.

I’m always impressed with people who can maximize a festival, particularly the ones that go longer than just a day or two – like the Vancouver Film Fest or Global’s growing comedy festival. But, I do what I can and go when I can. Yesterday, Chris from the Speedway Squad podcast invited me along to a taping of Never Not Funny live. LA comedian (warm-up man for the Tonight Show) Jimmy Pardo and company sat down in a conference room at the Westin and yukked it up for well over an hour. Chris got to talk to Pardo et al, as well as get some words in with surprise arrivals like Scott Aukerman, and I got to clunk up the show by taking them serious when they said “What’s Weird Al’s real name – let’s look it up.”

It’s not my fault I have an iPhone. It’s… Fido… no, sorry, it is my fault.

The episode of their podcast that was being taped should be up next week – I’ll make you wait until then to find out what Al’s real name is. You will be disappointed. The rest of the episode, fantastic. And it’ll be just like being there, only you weren’t and that means you didn’t give Jimmy any money, you jerks.

I’m not sure how many people would consider themselves comedy fans, other than everybody insisting that they like to laugh, but if you’re not inclined to hit the Yuk Yuk’s every once and awhile, you should consider the Comedy Festival, seeing as it’s a one week period where a lot of heavy talent from around the world come to Vancouver to play.

The festival wraps up today, with David Cross, Steve Martin, and Carol Burnett – however, there’s a second show added for Carol Burnett this coming Tuesday, where the audience gets to ask her questions. A great evening for anyone over 40 or idiots like me that watched too much TV as a kid.

Word Under, as well as On, The Street

Celabrate Literacey! C'mon... that was funny.

Celabrate Literacey! C'mon... that was funny.

Photo by Freedryk.

This Sunday, September 27th, the 15th annual Word On The Street festival is happening at the Vancouver Public Library downtown. As usual there’s a lot going on, from book readings, Q&A, a tent where you can write a postcard of encouragement to Canada’s Winter athletes, and even a stage where the Vancouver Comedy Festival is sponsoring some funny musical comedy and sketches. Basically, the block the library is on will be covered in tents filled with people, by people, for people, that like books and magazines.

But the best kept secret, is The Word Under The Street, which is the gathering of local comic and ‘zine creators and publishers in the Library basement – DO NOT MISS IT! If you’re planning on going down, don’t leave without swinging by.

Fireworks saved by food.

After it looked like the end of the road for Vancouver’s better-than-the-rest-of-the-world fireworks display, The Celebration of Fire Lights Festival, The Keg has stepped in to save the day. Details aren’t known, but apparently the old sponsors have signed back on as well, making it look a lot like they were previously willing to pay some, but not all of the pricetag, and the addition of The Keg’s support made it more feasible for all sponsors. So, get out your beach blanket, and fire up the police helicopters, the fireworks will be back this August!

Celebration of Light snuffed out

photo by Jon Rawlinson

Well, that’s a crappy way to start the news day – The Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society has announced that sponsor funding wasn’t able to make up the $4 million required to hold the event this year.

The Vancouver Sun has the full article here [VS], which outlines some details on the event. The fireworks event, notable as being the largest fireworks festival in the world, has been going for 18 years, draws 350,000 on each of the four nights every year, and generates $37 million.

Reaction has been mixed, with some arguing that the people downtown are happy to see the event go and other wondering why the government (at all three levels) don’t step in to help.

I dismiss the first as being a not uncommon, selfish attitude – while it’s true the event does disrupt the downtown core and those that live there suffer various inconveniences, it should be said again; $37 million to downtown businesses (plus whatever those people selling pop and water on their lawns get) and top-ranking, world-class event. There’s something important about having a world-class event and while some people might be happier without them, cities are diminished when they’re gone. Kart racing anyone?

As for the second point, you can probably thank the Olympics. A great deal of money has already been committed to finance this one-off, world-class event, most of which will be held in an entirely different town. In any other year, even the municipal government might have been able to top up the pot, but this is the final 11 months run-up to the 2010 Olympics.

I’d like to float a suggestion that perhaps one world-class event, one that will fade over time (for example, is Vancouver still dining out on Expo 86? No, no we’re not) might consider saving Vancouver’s other world-class event, the one that will ideally return every Summer for years to come. I suspect that this is a fantasy world and those organizing the Olympics are more than happy to see it die, but imagine it; The Vancouver Celebration of Light, presented by The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics! Part of the event is turned into a giant press event – a sneak peak of the Olympic torch, which is ceremoniously used to set off the fireworks, which end with five fireworks exploding into the Olympic rings!

But until then, I guess I better find something else to do with my August.

The Stanley Park Ghost Train Rides Again

glowing skulls, originally uploaded by cathycracks.

Every year Lydia talks me into going into Stanley Park on a late fall evening and ridding around on the Ghost Train [vpb]. Since 1999 the train has run throughout the fall celebrating Halloween. Since I’m too old to put on a costume and go trick-or-treating it’s pretty much the only thing I do for the holiday. It’s a shot of child-like goodness, as the ride and the other things going on around the park really capture what made Halloween one of the best holidays back when we were kids.

If you’ve got kids then this is almost a must. Apart from free admitance into the petting zoo, and the chance to make their own pirate hats the ride is really for kids. It’s still enjoyable without children, as we’ve gone the last few years. If you don’t need to worry about getting the kids into bed by a certain time then going later on at night is a good idea because the lines seem to subside by 8:30.

If you do have kids this year is a pirate theme, and dressing up for ride is encouraged.

For times and ticketing information visit the Vancouver Park Board’s website [vpb].

Strange new PNE discoveries

One food vendor (the funnel cake people) was selling deep-fried Oreos this year. I could not resist.

Deep Fried Oreo

Alas, it’s two great tastes that are wasted together. The dough was quite puffy; I think a crisper, thinner dough would have suited the Oreos better. Not recommended.


This thing is a beehive. It was even better than the mushroom exhibit, which I believe is one of the highlights of the PNE each year.

And it’s hardly new, nor a discovery, but the bizarrely overproduced Superdogs show is always a charmer, if only because beneath the deeply layered hype, noise, and lighting, you’ve got a bunch of dugs, and they’re both impressive and random. My favorite moment of the show was the Jack Russell Terrier that ran straight at a three-foot-tall turnaround barrel, violently knocked the barrel over with its face, and then ran back to the start as if this was how it did all its obstacle runs.

Feisty dogs, those terriers.

So, anyone here win the prize home? A few nice details aside, it seemed a fairly shabby effort, with lots of little corner-cutting misfeatures and fair bit of tasteless decorating. The kitchen in particular was an ergonomic disaster: what kind of idiot architect puts the fridge nearly 15 feet away from the sink and main prep counter? It was as if the designer had anti-learned every lesson of the Frankfurt Kitchen.

PAX – show of hands

So, who all here in town is headed down to Seattle for the Penny Arcade Exp…

…sorry, what? Oh, right. Vancouver angle. There’s a good one – this year, local Lovecrafty rockers, The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets are playing at the Penny Arcade Expo! It’s been a long trip since they played in an arcade parking lot in Burnaby for a proto-PAX Necrowombicon, but they’ve…

…what? Yes, I realize it largely gibberish. Hang on, I’ll see if I can help a bit.

So, there’s a web comic called Penny Arcade, which some, as I do, find hilarious. It’s creators have grown it into a yearly convention, attended by 40K+ people, called, The Penny Arcade Expo. There’s lots of video games, board games, games games, panels about gaming, panels about web comics, and a concert, with performances by people like Jonathan Coulton, Freezepop, and The Thickets.

Little known fact is that PAX (the expo, short form) started as a fan gathering called Necrowombicon (for reasons I do not remember, nor will you care) here in Vancouver. Or, more accurately, Burnaby, thanks to things like hotels hooked up to malls with big arcades. The Thickets, as mentioned, played one of those gatherings. In a parking lot. It rocked.

More Vancouver ties, Vancouver companies, such as Hothead Games (who worked with Penny Arcade to produce their recently released video game) will be there, or are at least sponsors.

Which brings me full circle – I’m going. I would like to see The Thickets rock thousands of people. I want to meet Wil Wheaton. I want to meet Felica Day. I want to meet the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters (whom/which I will marry and run away with – if I’m turned down, Felicia Day is my second choice. I don’t know if Wheaton is my alternate third – we’ll see how it goes day-of.)

So, surely others from Vancouver are going? Anyone? I’m not there Friday, but I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday, most likely helping man the Thickets merch table… because I promised.

Or is everyone going to Bumbershoot instead?

[UPDATE] Triangle Productions (as you may have spotted in the comments – you do read the comments don’t you?) will be at PAX and posting some video here. So if you can’t be there, keep an eye out there for vids. Then start saving for next year.

International Lantern Festival

Dragon Lantern

Looking for something to see and do at night? Wondering who ever goes to Fantasy Garden anymore?

Well, there’s been an ongoing International Lantern Festival that’s been happening since July 1st and will be running until September 21st.

This lantern festival has been making it’s way year after year to various cities around the world. Having been exhibited in Seoul, Tokyo, Austrlia, and landing in Toronto for the past two years. It’s finally here in Greater Vancouver! During this festival it runs at night from 7:30 – 11:30pm with the lighting of the lanterns happening at 8:30pm. If you want to see the lanterns during the day, they have day showings on the weekends from 11am-2pm.

Fantasy Garden
10800 No 5 Road

Businesses show their pride

A funny sign, originally uploaded by jelee_unleashed.

I have to admit I don’t pay as much attention to the annual Pride Parade and other festivities as I should, but it’s hard to avoid the build up if you live downtown. Walking to work today past a number of the floats as they prepared, I noticed that everyone seems to have funding. By funding I mean advertising.

I realize that it’s not my place to tell the homosexual community how to run their events, but the amount of advertising versus actual content seems surprisingly uneven. I suppose every business in Vancouver wants to be seen as supporting gay rights, and that’s great, but at what point does the parade go from being a parade to being an advert on wheels?

Viva la revolucion!

Your revolution

If you aren’t doing anything tonight, there’s a “Celebration” of the Cuban Revolution at Trout Lake, meeting up at the beach concession stand.

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