; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: September 2012

Sunday, 30 September 2012


It all began with a Tweet.

That's right, Madonna's manager Guy Oseary sent out his tweet to legions of fans asking who should be deserving of Golden Triangle tickets for the Madonna shows in Vancouver. The Golden Triangle is the "pit" area right by the stage. It's standing room only, but roomy enough to dance and jump and scream and shout!!

So at midnight on Friday evening/Saturday morning, I replied to tell him how much I loved Madonna and that I blog about her on this site as much as possible, whenever I could! I got an instant direct message. I had won Golden Triangle tickets!!!

Cut to the next day, after hours of scrambling to try to get rid of the seats I had already bought, and coordinating with other friends who had also won Golden Triangle tickets, it was time for the show! Now, she did not come on stage until well after 10pm. That's fine. Because she is WORTH THE WAIT.

I have seen her Drowned World, Reinvention, Confessions, and Sticky and Sweet tours live, with Reinvention being my favourite and Sticky & Sweet being my least. Where does this current MDNA tour fall? It's MUCH better than her last visit here on her Sticky & Sweet run. The songs are way more fun, the stage more elaborate, and the show just overall better. I Loved IT!

What was with the guy in the front who didn't know the lyrics to Open Your Heart when Madonna herself thrust the microphone at him????!!!  How do you not know them? When you're in the Golden Triangle!?

Highlights of the show for me: I loved the Majorette sequence, especially when she sings EXPRESS YOURSELF and fuses Lady Gaga's Born This Way right into it. Amazing. Dancing with mirrors for HUMAN NATURE was awesome. The opening I loved, which led us right into her gun-toting numbers GIRL GONE WILD, REVOLVER, and GANG BANG. The mini motel scene for GANG BANG was sensational! LIKE A PRAYER everybody went Ballistic for! I wish there was more of HOLIDAY and more of her son ROCCO, who was totally cute! And also cute was manager Guy Oseary who was in the Triangle as well, keeping an eye on things and posing with us for photos! Thank you again Mr Guy Oseary for the Golden Triangle tickets!! (Also, is there any news on those Reinvention and Blond Ambition tour DVDs? Just asking.)

Was Madonna pissed at the crowd for being lame? Probably. We were. People who just stood around trying to pose for pictures while she's singing? Come On. She's giving you a SHOW. She is working her ASS off. Yeah, I get it. She's freaking MADONNA, and when else are you gonna get a chance to take a picture with her, unless you're near the stage and she's RIGHT THERE. Trust me, I KNOW. But still, give her all your luvin, folks. She's giving it her all. Dance, scream, clap, sing, everything you can!!

Madonna performs again tonight at Rogers Arena.  And I will totally be there again!!!!

VIFF: The Invisible War

On Saturday morning, I went to watch the documentary The Invisible War, which tells the harrowing story of sexual assault in the US Military. Basically, if you're a woman and you want to join the military, expect to be raped. What a horrifying and infuriating look at an issue that has been going on for far too long. What's sad is that it continues, rapists in the military go on to bigger and better things, while their victims' lives fall apart as they try to put up a good fight in this closed-off system.

Check out The Invisible War website for more info on what you can do to help create change.

I know at least six people in my life who have been a victim of sexual abuse. There are probably more of my friends and loved ones, acquaintances, coworkers, who have also been a victim. It's time to speak up so they know they are not alone.

The Invisible War is the Audience Award winner for Best Documentary at Sundance this year. I don't see any future showings of this for the rest of the Vancouver International Film Festival, though if it's popular enough, they may add a screening. Keep checking VIFF for updates. Otherwise, there are so many more other films to go check out. I'm glad my first one was a hit and not a miss.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Chelsea Hotel - Firehall Arts Centre

Okay, seriously. W T F.

I mean, I just did not get it. If you're going to go see Chelsea Hotel at the Firehall Arts Centre, do NOT expect one of those jukebox musicals like Mamma Mia where they make a story out of songs from ABBA. Yes, this show centers completely around songs of Leonard Cohen, but storywise, the plot is as thin as the paper walls that make up the set.

I invited two of my friends with me who are both big Leonard Cohen fans, so they knew all the songs, all the poetry, everything that was included in the show. But even they thought it was not so great. They did appreciate the different versions of the songs that were presented, though.

I mean, all the actors were wonderful. They can sing and dance and play instruments! A highly talented group, there is no doubt about that. But as a show, if you think of this as a "Leonard Cohen revue" of sorts, then you will be pleased. I however, was not expecting that, so was sorely disappointed. But I did enjoy the music and their interpretations of his work and am intrigued to go out and get me some Cohen on my playlist.

Chelsea Hotel must be a hit with audiences though, since it was brought back for a second run after premiering last season at the Firehall. This time around, it's here for a healthy length of time! Chelsea Hotel runs at the Firehall Arts Centre until November 3.

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Duchess - UBC Theatre

The Duchess is the story of Wallis Simpson, the American socialite who ended up with the King of England, causing him to give up the throne. If you're not a history buff, you might recognize the story from the Oscar winning movie The King's Speech, in which Wallis and Edward appear as one of the side stories. Taking a more central look at this dramatic event in history is Madonna's film W.E. which explores what happened during that time.

In Linda Griffiths' The Duchess now playing at the Telus Studio Theatre at UBC, I guess I expected a bit more of the same. However, instead of a serious piece on Wallis, the show was more of a comedy most of the time, bordering on farce.

Guest blogger Elizabeth, who attended with me, writes about this production:

"It's an ambitious play that interprets in its own way this infamous time in England's history. Pippa Johnstone shines as the lead as she thrusts herself into the exciting role of Wallis Simpson and manages to make her compelling yet cunning."

If you are still hankering for that slice of Britain now that the London Olympics are over and you've already gone to see A Room With a View at Jericho, then The Duchess might be your perfect cup of tea.

The Duchess plays at UBC until October 6.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Madonna Weekend in Vancouver!!

This upcoming weekend is a lot of things: Moon Festival, Word on the Street Festival, but mostly it's gonna be all about MADONNA!!!

This marks the 2nd time that the Queen of Pop has come to our fair city. The last time was on her Sticky & Sweet tour at BC Place. This time around, she's giving us TWO nights at the more "intimate" Rogers Arena!

Are you ready for MDNA?!!?

Victoria Duffield - Break My Heart

Here's the third single from Victoria Duffield, whose debut album has now been released!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Word on the Street Festival - Sept 29/30

So, this weekend will be host to the annual Word on the Street festival here in Vancouver. It takes place all weekend long down by the Vancouver Public Library! Pray for sunshine as it's an outdoor event!

As well, I will be doing a reading there!!! Yes, that's right! Me! Why? Because I wrote a children's book that just came out last month!! It's called Maggie's Chopsticks and is available at Chapters, Book Warehouse, and online through Amazon and Barnes & Nobles, all over the world! Check it out, it's great for kids of all ages, including you! :)

You can find me on Facebook or just come visit me at The Word on the Street festival this Sunday at 1pm. I'll be in the Kids Tent! See you there!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival - Saturday, September 29th

Yes it's time we faced the truth. Summer is coming to an end, and Autumn is well upon us. I love Autumn. It's actually my favourite season. Fall colours, new tv shows, kids heading back to school, there's a crisp energy to it that revives me and kicks me into gear after the lazy days of summertime.

So what better way to celebrate than by heading down to the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival? This is a fun community gathering to help celebrate the Harvest Moon. In Chinese culture, we usually have a family dinner and stock up on our "moon cakes" that we eventually give out to everyone we know.

So on Saturday September 29th, head on down to Slocan Park (by 29th Avenue skytrain station) at 4pm for the Harvest Fair. There is live music, food, and a homegrown vegetable contest. Then at 7pm, join in on the Twilight Parade, featuring lanterns, stilt dancers, a jazz band, fireworks, fire spinning, and a giant puppet show. Fun for all ages!

For more information, head on over to the Still Moon Arts Society website!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Nelly Furtado - Parking Lot

Here's the 3rd single from Nelly Furtado's album The Spirit Indestructible. It's rather catchy, and maybe should've been the first song to be released as it might have caused more buzz than what she had out.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Postcards: Inside BC Place Stadium

Here are some photos I took with my iPhone from inside BC Place last weekend at the BC Lions game. It was a gorgeous sunny day out and they had the roof open.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Spitfire Grill - Pacific Theatre

I love musicals. So when one comes along that I haven't heard of before, and it's put on by a local theatre company as opposed to one of those big glitzy touring Broadway productions, I tend to get a little skeptical. However, I've been proven wrong time and time again this past year. Altar Boyz this  summer was brilliant. Last Spring's Grey Gardens was fantastic. Now for the Fall, we have the opening show for Pacific Theatre's new season - The Spitfire Grill.

Please note, the last musical I saw at Pacific Theatre was Godspell...and it was kind of godawful. But they more than made up for it with  this phenomenal season opener, The Spitfire Grill. When lead actress Julie McIsaac takes the stage and lets out her song, the room was immediately transfixed. I saw shades of Tony award winner Alice Ripley and could easily imagine McIsaac as the depressed mother from the musical Next To Normal. Both share that urgency and tenderness in their performances. I was completely captivated from the get-go.

The story focuses around McIsaac's character Percy, an ex-con who has come to this small town of Gilead, Wisconsin to start a new life. She lands a job at the only restaurant around, The Spitfire Grill, where the wounded characters of the town intersect with one another. When we meet Catriona Murphy's character Shelby, I'm immediately drawn to her and ponder throughout the first act, where have I seen her before? Turns out, SHE played the depressed mother from Next To Normal at the Arts Club recently! And who knew? She can also play violin and guitar!

The entire musical felt like Next To Normal meets Once, for those of you who are musical-savvy. And what I mean by that is, it deals with heavy topics and issues the way Next To Normal did, and it features all the actors on stage also playing an instrument or two, a la Once

The Pacific Theatre is a small space, and at times awkward, due to the stage being in the middle and having the audience on both sides. So when one person is singing or talking and facing the other way, it can be a bit difficult to hear. However, the way they integrate the actors and musicians was seamlessly done. I could definitely imagine this being mounted on a bigger stage somewhere.

The music itself consisted of melodic ballads that tug at your heart. I was annoyed that I had to review this, because really I just wanted to sit back and enjoy it because it was so good! The entire cast sung with that wide-eyed musical wonderment and both McIsaac and Murphy have voices that simply soar. The Spitfire Grill is as powerful a musical as any.

The Spitfire Grill plays at the Pacific Theatre until Oct 27.

Friday, 21 September 2012

VIFF - Canadian Films

Itching for some Canadiana at this year's Vancouver International Film Festival?

Inch'Allah looks like an emotional tour-de-force and possibly Oscar-bound. Set against the backdrop of Palestine and Israel, this modern day journey into war may be a sell-out at the festival!

Laurence Always is the new film from director Xaviar Dolan (Heartbeats, J'a Tue Ma Mere). Filmed in Dolan's stylistic aesthetic, it tells the story of a man named Laurence who tells his girlfriend that he wants to become a woman. Judging from the trailer, the film looks beautiful inside and out and I can't wait to see it!

One Canadian film that's been getting buzz is Antiviral, mainly because the director is Brandon Cronenberg, son of David Cronenberg. It looks twisted and creepy!

Another disturbing looking film is Blackbird, about a young boy who is accused of plotting a school shooting. It looks heavy, but I'm definitely gonna try to make it for this one!

Local Vancouver (or Vancouver-related) Films!

Crimes of Mike Recket - directed by Bruce Sweeney

Random Acts of Romance - directed by Katrin Bowen

Camera Shy - directed by Mark Sawers (this film centers around a corrupt Vancouver city councillor, hmm, I wonder where he got the idea for that!?)

In No Particular Order - directed by Terry Miles & Kristine Cofsky

The Film Festival would not be complete without their documentaries. Here are some from Canada that might be worth taking a look at:

Lunarcy! - a film about those who love/are obsessed with the Moon! Just in time for this month's Harvest Moon Festival!

The Last White Knight - this one peaked my interest, as it's about a man who was assualted by a KKK member in the 60s and now years later, the two have met up to discuss that event.

Occupy Love - a film about the Occupy movement.

The Carbon Rush - Environmentalists will flock to this film about how projects around the world are destroying our Earth

The End of Time - This film looks trippy. It's a meditation on time.

High Five : An Adoption Saga - a film on one family's struggle to adopt 5 brothers and sisters from Ukraine

Check out the Canadian Images page on the VIFF website for more info!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Tobias Wong exhibit at Museum of Vancouver

On Wednesday night I attended the opening reception of a retrospect on art wunderkind and Vancouver native, the late Tobias Wong. During the reception, there were speeches made, including one from his mother, Phyllis. However, in true Tobias Wong style, instead of a short Asian woman heading up onto the stage, we got a tall Caucasian man (my friend Peter) speaking instead. This was a wonderful little tribute to when Tobias had a tall Caucasian man accept an award on his behalf, pretending to be him.

 I knew Tobias back in the day on a personal level and when he moved to New York and made a splash in the art scene, he allowed me to interview him for an article in Ricepaper Magazine. During one of my visits to New York, he invited me to an art opening in SoHo that he was a part of, and I was honoured to have the privilege to attend.

Here's a personal photo I have of him:

There was always a bit of cheekiness to him, a humour and wit that was intelligent and biting, and I believe that comes across in his work. Here are some of my favourite pieces that are currently on display at the Museum of Vancouver.


This marks the third time I've seen his work featured in a museum. The first time was at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and he had his bulletproof broach and bulletproof duvet cover there. This was when he was still alive.

After his death, I saw the exhibit that was done at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and I remember it being really small. It was exciting to see all his work together like that, but at the same time I felt slightly disappointed by how it was presented.

Now, here in his hometown, I can honestly say without bias that this show is splendidly done! It's in-depth, well-rounded, and informative. Each piece is accompanied by a little story from a collaborator, friend, or fellow artist. There are three rooms dedicated to his work, and each piece is fascinating to look at. This is the perfect showcase for Tobias Wong and his work.

Oh and here's a tip for when you go! When you get to the piece about his pop-up shop that never opened, be sure to pick up the telephone receiver underneath the picture and take a listen!! 

Object(ing): The Art/Design of Tobias Wong is on now at the Museum of Vancouver until February 24, 2013. To find out more about Tobias Wong, you can do a Google search and read the many articles written about him, and you can also visit his now defunct website BrokenOff.com


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

VIFF - Focus on Youth

At the Vancouver International Film Festival, there are always films that are open to all ages in an effort to encourage youth and families to attend!

Starting with the restoration of China's most "lauded animated feature" we have The Monkey King - Uproar in Heaven in 3D.

From France, there's Ernest et Celestine, which looks absolutely charming, non?

For youth under 18, VIFF has compiled the following list of films that may be of interest:

Come As You Are - Belgium

Crocodile in the Yangtze - USA/China

The Iran Job - USA/Germany/Iran

I Am Not a Rock Star - Canada

Kinasha Kids - Belgium/France/Congo

Off-White Lies - Israel

Two Little Boys
- New Zealand

Becoming Redwood - Canada

Teen Tales and the Reel Youth Film Festival - compilation of shorts

Then there's The Unlikely Girl from France/USA which looks full of suspense, for a youth-oriented movie!

Student Ticket Packs are available online, as well as the VIFF High School Program.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Vancouver International Film Festival - Sept 27 - Oct 12

The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) begins next week!! I am so stoked for this because it is just another reason why I love Autumn! It's definitely my favourite time of the year! Film festing!

I'll be devoting much of the next two weeks to VIFF! Are you heading down to catch some amazing films? Have you gotten your tickets, your pass, your program guide? You can check out the Sneak Preview guide online, as well as surf the VIFF website to see all the films.

One film I am totally looking forward to is the Closing Gala, HOLY MOTORS, which stars Kylie Minogue!!

What films are you looking forward to?

Monday, 17 September 2012

Baldwin House

I'm on an Arthur Erickson kick lately, and for some reason I can't believe that I haven't blogged about Baldwin House before. Situated at Deer Lake in Burnaby, this mid-century dwelling is probably my favourite Erickson design in Vancouver. I'd love to get a group of friends together and rent it out for a weekend just to take in the breathtaking view and interior design. Check out these awesome photos of Baldwin House that I scoured from the net:

Baldwin House is available for rentals, so does anybody want to chip in with me and just go hang out there for a week? :)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Jericho Park Rabbits

Did you know that Vancouver has its own live version of Watership Down just over by Jericho Park? It's true! Apparently this became a dumping place for unwanted bunny rabbits, and now the population of these lapines has exploded because you know what rabbits like to do! Multiply! (And I'm not talking about the times table!)

So head on down there to visit these wild feral bunnies, bring a carrot with you or lettuce, or any form of vegetable really. Check out more information on them on the Venture Vancouver website.

(photos from Flickr)

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Clybourne Park at the Stanley Theatre

Last night I went to see Clybourne Park at the Stanley Theatre.

Maybe it's because I had high expectations? A friend of mine who had seen this in Toronto had said, "It's sooooooo good! You HAVE to see it!" and thus, the play was hyped. Not to mention the fact that it's also won the Tony Award and the Pulitzer. It HAD to be amazing, yes?

Meh. I was completely underwhelmed. The production itself is fine, and the cast were wonderful. But the story just didn't scream out Pulitzer to me. Not to my companion. We were both befuddled and left scratching our heads. This won the Tony and the Pulitzer? Really? This?

A brief summary of the plot: Act One features a white family in the 50s who have sold their house to a black family, and the community is outraged. Act Two skips to the present day and things are reversed, with a white family moving into a black neighbourhood. So race is still an issue in this day and age, yeah I got that. For me, it wasn't groundbreaking. Maybe it's because I am a person of colour and this play is just stating the obvious. Meh.

The start of each act I found to be slow and boring. There was a lot of yelling, but is somewhat balanced out by the forced attempts at humour. Things do pick up as each Act closes, and I definitely enjoyed Act Two more.

And check out Colin Thomas' (much more articulate) review from the Georgia Straight, who also wasn't too keen on this play.

I try to stay positive on this blog, so the bright side of this is that I do applaud the Arts Club for bringing shows like this to Vancouver audiences. If I missed something on Broadway, it's great to be able to see it reincarnated on a Vancouver stage for us. And the cast were terrific:

Clybourne Park runs to October 7 at the Stanley Theatre.