23rd Vancouver International Writers Festival

As one of North America’s premier literary events, running October 19th to 24th, the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival aims to:

  • advance literacy by introducing young readers to the wonder of books.
  • deliver the world’s best writers to Festival audiences.
  • promote new and undiscovered British Columbian, Canadian and international writers.This is accomplished through a variety of literary events/readings held throughout the year, Spreading The Word; the festival’s in-school programs for children and the Festival itself.Under the eye of artistic director Hal Wake, the Festival attracts an impressive array of local, national and international writers.  Over the years renowned names such as: Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, Maeve Binchy, John Irving, P.D. James, Rohinton Mistry, Frank McCourt, Alice Munro, JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Carol Shields have mingled among the thousands of readers who decend upon Granville Island each year.

    This year over 100 writers will participate in readings, seminars and lectures over six days in various venues at the Festival’s home grounds on Granville Island. Tickets have already sold out for a number of events so visit the Festival website now to experience the World Of Words!

  • Davie Day 2010

    Sept 11th marks the third annual Davie Day in the West End. From Burrard to Broughton, Davie Street is closed to traffic and is taken over by entertainment, activities, information, food & beverage vendors.

    The event really is for the while family, with something to keep every age (and attention span) interested: 
         Great entertainers are on the main stage (near Burrard); especially the very  popular Kim Kuzma and Shawn Hlookoff
         Movies and lots of activities for the younger crowd are in the KidZone at the Jervis end of the festival site. 
         Heritage & Arts displays for those looking for some culture and eductation with their day out. 
         Of course what street festival would be complete without some great food from the local merchants.

    Come out and support the Davie Street and West End and be a part of the community!

    (sadly I’m not there this year so have fun for me!)

    Vancouver Pride Parade 2010

    Vancouver Pride Parade: August 1, 2010

    The day started out under cloudy skies as the masses, some 600,000+ strong, gathered in Vancouver’s West End.
    Even before the parade began the camaraderie and revelry was evident in the large diverse crowd.  Sitting with my friends from gayvancouver.net I was wedged in beside a lovely older lady, a recent retiree to Vancouver, who, with her partner, was very excited to celebrate her first Pride Parade.  On the other side of me were two happy little girls, excitedly blowing on their whistles and cheering loudly when the parade came by.
    As the parade began with the traditional ride by the ‘Dykes on Bikes’, like clockwork the skies began to clear and the sun emerged to brighten and warm the afternoon.

    As the weather got hotter so did the parade participants…both literally and figuratively!
    The crowd was treated to over 100 spectacular floats and entries covering the whole spectrum of the community: corporate entries from banks and retailers, LGBT sports organizations and support groups marched alongside elected officials of most political parties who were followed up by nightclubs and restaurants.  Costumes ranged from simple shorts & tees to elaborate drag queens/kings to bikini clad go-go dancers.  The main 2010 Pride theme of Liberate was evident in many of the floats and groups as everyone aimed to get their particular message across, whether political, educational or just plain fun. And judging from the crowd…they had fun.
    After nearly 3 hours the parade wound down but the party didn’t. People headed to the Sunset Beach Pride festival to continue the festivities into the evening….and organizers probably began thinking about next year…will you be there?

    If you think this is something you’d like to see next year, why not enter Tourism Vancouver’s great contest…Party of Five to Pride! You and four friends could win flights, accommodation and food to Pride 2011. Enter at TourismVancouver.com

    Drake with guests

    Drake – The Centre for Performing Arts in Vancouver – July 26, 2010

    On what would regularly be a quite Tuesday night, May, David and I were able to head to The Centre to catch hip hop phenom Drake wrap up his “Away From Home” Canadian tour here in Vancouver.
    May & I went a bit early to check out the opening acts; DJ Charlie Brown, P. Reign and Francis & The Lights. Sometimes you ‘find’ a gem when you watch the support, this was not one of those times.

    DJ Charlie Brown

    While DJ Charlie Brown was putting down a good set and trying to work the crowd into some excitement, there was just too many empty seats and people still coming and going from their seats to really get any momentum. He spun solo for a few songs then introduced P. Reign, the self-described “best unsigned rapper

    P. Reign

    in Canada”. At least he has the giant ego of a rap star…too bad he didn’t have the goods to back it up! (that’s just my opinion…the legion of front row 16 year olds seemed to be into what he was putting out)
    After about a 20 minute set from P. Reign and a very quit stage turnover,

    Francis & The Lights

    on came New York based Francis & The Lights, who said very little to the audience, just performed a handful of very radio friendly pop-rock songs to a stoic audience and then left with hardly any fanfare. Sadly I they were an odd match to be on this bill and it did them a disservice, in a small club venue with the appropriate audience they would be a good show…possibly.
    It didn’t matter because in no time the audience was back in a frenzied state as the lights dimmed and anticipation built for the headliner, Drake.

    Drake

    It was worth the wait! We were super impressed with his stage presence, for a relatively young, new artist he commanded the stage like some of the veterans that he has worked with: Little Wayne, Kayne West, Jay-z to name a few.
    His acting skills (he appeared on Degrassi: The Next Generation for 8 seasons) really help him create the persona and build the rapport with the audience. Non more so than when he brought a young lady from the crowd up to the stage to ‘seduce’ during a slow jam (but being a responsible Canadian artist of the YouTube generation, he did preface it with a warning about what she might experience:
    groping, licking, kissing, etc plus verified her age, 26) If all the guys didn’t want to be like him and the girls didn’t want to get with him before this moment, this definitely won them over…he has the swagger that makes a star.
    Besides all the persona and bravado, the main product – his music – was excellent! Drake can rap with the best of them but he also has an outstanding singing voice (as heard on ‘Find Your Love’). As the evening wrapped up, Drake brought the house lights up and really interacted directly with some of the audience members, pointing out individual women and men, commenting on their ‘fineness’ or what they were wearing. This really brought the bond between artist and audience to a new level…the crowd ate it up!
    So, after a rocky beginning, the night ended on a surprisingly good high from an artist I would definitely recommend to see again.

    MGMT – lives up to the buzz

    MGMT – Commodore Ballroom – July 24, 2010

    Last minute tickets to a sold out show are always a bonus even more so when it turns out to be a great show! I must admit I have probably heard more buzz about MGMT than actually have listened to them. I missed them the last time they stopped in Vancouver so was really happy when my friend David called with the opportunity to catch this show.
    The mostly college/university crowd seemed to be really really happy to see them as well.  The energy from the audience really kept the mood of the room on a high, as the band fed them a stream of poppy dance-rock sounds from the albums, Oracle Spectacular and Congratulations.  The frenzied energy peaked with singles like Time To Pretend and Kids, the band really seemed to feed off of the energy too and were as bouncy and boisterous as the fans. A great vibe!
    It would have been a perfect crowd except for those few excessively inebriated student types with really bad concert etiquette (sadly mostly female) who pushed their way through the crowd, to dance all over and into anyone nearby usually with a drink in hand…then look at you like it’s your fault they spilled on themselves.  Hopefully they’ll ‘adapt’ as they attend a few more concerts and ease off on the binge drinking (and thus endth my ‘old dude’ rant)
    If you get the chance to see MGMT, especially in a small club, do it, they’re a fun night!

    Over Vancouver – Flightseeing

    Flightseeing – Grouse Mountain – July 24, 2010

    This week I was able to take my friends, Brian & Teresa, on a fun adventure from YVR to Grouse Mountain – The Peak Of Vancouver as we repositioned a helicopter from our hanger to the mountaintop.  Each day in the Summer Helijet operates amazing flightseeing adventures from our pad next to the Grouse Mountain chalet, starting at just $99/person. 

    On this day our adventure began with an easy Canada Line trip from downtown to Bridgeport Station and a short Community Shuttle bus to the Helijet office/hanger at the airport. After a short safety briefing and familiarization by Kim our great pilot,  we departed from the south side of YVR and headed north over the airport.
    It was a beautiful clear morning so the views seemed never-ending.  As Delta and the South Arm of the Fraser River fell behind us, the varied skyline of downtown Vancouver mirrored the majestic North Shore Mountains beyond.  This high vantage point gives places and sights we see every day a new and unique perspective.  A sneak peak down into BC Place looking at the renovations happening to the roof-less stadium is a sight not many will get to see. Climbing over Burrard Inlet, North Vancouver and into the mountains, (trying in vain to see if we could spot the black bears that Kim had seen earlier in the week), we soon landed at the Grouse Mountain helipad.  It was a short flight but the memories won’t soon be forgotten, I think Brian and Teresa enjoyed their first Helijet experience and helicopter flight over Vancouver.
    The last few years, the Staycation (vacation at home) movement has really taken off and a visit to Grouse Mountain really highlights how much there is to see and do just a few minutes from home.  Many locals think of Grouse Mountain for winter skiing or in summer, the famous Grouse Grind, a hike up to the peak from the valley below. 
    Grouse has so much more to offer! In addition to the amazing Helijet Helicopter Tours, there is a whole host of activities to make the most of your trip to the Mountain.  Included with your Grouse Mountain Super Skyride admission is the Theatre In The Sky-a high definition film about the history of Grouse Mountain, the Grizzly Bear habitat (it was feeding time for Grinder and Coola when we were there), Birds Of Prey demonstrations, Logger Sports Show and Chairlift ride to the top of the mountain. Sitting in one of the patios and restaurants at the chalet offer breathtaking views over the whole of Metro Vancouver and, if it’s clear enough, on to Vancouver Island and Washington State. The observation deck in the Eye of the Wind (a power generating wind-turbine). ZipLining and Paragliding are also available on the mountain for additional fees.  
    With all this available, it’s easy for the whole family to spend the day on the mountain and not run out of activities. If you are looking for a getaway from the everyday think about a heading up to Grouse Mountain…stop in and say “Hi” to our Helijet staff if you’re there!

    [cincopa AEMAGhKNM0Kn]

    12 Weeks Done

    As promised after 6 weeks, here’s the update of the next 6 weeks of healthy living.  It’s now been 3 months since getting up and into the Steve Nash Sports Club in an attempt to have just a butt instead of a fat butt.  
    I’ve lost 28 lbs so far but that’s not really an accurate depiction of the physical changes that have happened, I’ve gained inches in some body parts, lost inches in other parts and definitely feel muscles where there used to be sponge.  Mentally I’ve grown as well, feeling stronger and more confident, this is boosted whenever I bump into friends I haven’t seen in a while who are so surprised by the change in my appearance. One friend in particular I had to call out on the street as he didn’t ‘see’ me and was walking right by…since then he’s been telling all our other friends about it.  Even though I’m doing it for myself, these little ego boosts makes all the effort worthwhile. 
    This week was my final session with Personal Trainer Alex Jack.  I know I paid for it, but I cannot thank him enough for the guidance, motivation and encouragment he’s provided over these weeks. I think he was genuinely impressed and a little proud with how far we’ve come since April. Back then I couldn’t even make it through the first session, I was so drained I thought I’d throw-up! Now, the sessions make me feel good and motivated to do more next time.  
    At about the 8 week period I changed up my regular routine of 2 personal trainer sessions plus 5 cardio session and traded a cardio day for an extra weight session.  Alex would give me a routine each week to do as my ‘homework’ session.  Then last week, after 22 sessions of full body workouts aimed at getting me ‘fit’, he set me up with 3 strength routines to proceed with through the summer.  These programs are mostly weight driven so trying to grow and exceed the starting weights will give me the drive and challenge I’ll be missing from Alex looking over my shoulder (plus I’ll know of at least one friend who is ‘watching’ so I don’t slip).  The fact that ‘this’, working out and being active, is now part of my everyday routine will also push me through to the autumn when I’ll check-in with Alex again for an assessment, updated routine and new challenge.  In the meantime I’ll keep you posted on achievements and everything else happening in my world, here or on twitter @jminter.

    Happy Summer!