When your kids don’t want to go to bed or won’t give up the TV remote, it is annoying, but it’s not an emergency.

When the newspaper is missing from the doorstep in the morning, it is disappointing, but no one’s life is at risk.

If you need a wake up call or your cellphone is stuck in the garbage, it’s a hassle, but it definitely does not warrant a call to 9-1-1.

Apparently, some people think these are appropriate reasons for calling the emergency line, E-Comm, the regional emergency communication centre for southwest B.C. reports in its 2013 list of the most absurd reasons to call 9-1-1.

“What people don’t realize is that when they call 9-1-1 for information or any other reason that is not an emergency, they’re tying up valuable resources that are meant to be at-the-ready for people who are in serious need of help,” said E-Comm 911 call-taker Matthew Collins.

The emergency line is intended only for calls involving police, fire, or medical emergencies that require immediate action because someone’s health, safety, or property is in jeopardy or a crime is in progress.

If that’s not the case, your call to 9-1-1 is just a nuisance.

“9-1-1 is not an information line, it’s a lifeline. 9-1-1 call-takers cannot answers questions about power outages, when the clocks turn back or local or international events,” said E-Comm spokeswoman Jody Robertson.

E-Comm’s top-ten 9-1-1 nuisance calls for 2013:

1. A caller phoned 9-1-1 to ask about renting a fire truck to block off a street for a party.

2. A caller phoned 9-1-1 to get their date’s contact information so they could confirm details of their plans.

3. A caller phoned 9-1-1 to report a missed newspaper delivery.

4. A caller asked 9-1-1 if they can get the ‘OK’ to drive in the HOV lane because “traffic is backed up and they are late for an important meeting.”

5. A caller dials 9-1-1 to activate voicemail on his cellphone.

6. A caller phones 9-1-1 and says, “I threw my phone into the garbage can and can’t get it out.”

7. A caller dials 9-1-1 to ask for a morning wake-up call.

8. A caller dials 9-1-1 to ask how to call the operator.

9. A caller calls 9-1-1- to ask, “Can an officer come over to tell my kids to go to bed?”

10. A caller phones 9-1-1 and says, “My son won’t give me the remote control.”

B.C.'s E-Comm releases top 10 list of absurd 911 calls, 'Can I rent a fire truck?' tops list


If you've visited friends or relatives south of the border for the holidays, or vice-versa, you may have dealt with a quizzical expression or two after taking off your toque inside and setting aside the two-four case of beer.

That was the inspiration for Jules Sherred, a blogger for GeekMom.com. Citing several instances when Americans were "baffled" over what she calls her "Canadian English," Sherred began a survey of the most Canadian words ever -- the ones that non-Canadians had either never heard of or do not use regularly.

She surveyed 175 people from Canada, the United States and other countries and compared how familiar they were with 55 words and terms that she calls "Canadianisms." The ones that more Canadians were familiar with, and less familiar for all others, could be considered the "most Canadian" entries.

Sherred noted that, unlike the U.S. where dozens of dialects and region-specific terms can ensure moments of confusion between someone from Boston and someone from Memphis, most Canadianisms were at least familiar to people across the country. 

A Canadian version of the New York Times dialect quiz, which maps out your use of certain words and phrases according to its frequency in the U.S., then, would probably have far less variation.

She did note, however, that Toronto and some parts of Alberta had below-average usage of some of these terms, perhaps giving credence to the Toronto-versus-the-rest perception many Canadians have of the city.

Among some of the best-known Canadianisms:
1) Tuque: the woolly dome that keeps your head warm and your hair ruined is best known in the U.S. as a knitted cap, beanie or ski cap. Sherred gave a shout-out to a story by CBC News Edmonton from earlier this month that explored the origins and multiple spellings of the tuque...or toque...or is it took? It was also the only term that she rated as 100 per cent Canadian, meaning every Canadian she surveyed were familiar or used the word.

2) Homo milk: 92 per cent of Canadians surveyed knew this term for milk with 3.25 per cent fat, while some Americans surveyed were offended by it. Sherred notes that the word "homo" is often used as a slur for a homosexual person. It's worth noting that calling homo milk "homogenized milk" isn't strictly accurate, since most of the milk you'll find in supermarkets are homogenized, regardless of its fat content.

3) Mickeys and two-fours: 88 per cent of Canadians were familiar with the mickey, otherwise known as a 375 ml bottle of alcohol. Sherred notes that "mickey" is more widely known as a slang term for a date rape drug in the U.S., similar to "roofie." 
The two-four, or case of 24 beers, enjoys 90-per-cent Canadian familiarity, while non-Canadians refer to it more generally as a case.

4) Donair: A late-night favourite from the Maritimes, this pita wrap shares its lineage with the gyro or doner kebab. Unlike those two items, which use lamb meat, the donair is known for sliced beef and a distinctive sweet white sauce. Sherred noted that the only Canadians unfamiliar with the donair were from Ontario, and then most of them from Toronto. The Halifax staple has only recently begun to appear in a handful of locations in the GTA.

5) Runners: 85 per cent of Canadians referred to their running shoes as runners, while Americans know them as sneakers, tennis shoes or as "Nikies" regardless of whether the pair in question are made by Nike. One American surveyed told Sherred that the word "runners" was most commonly used to refer to a thin table cloth that runs under a centrepiece and across the sides of the table.


Squamish is perhaps best known as a pit stop on the way to the slopes and trails of Whistler.  But that all may change in just a few months.

The new Sea to Sky Gondola is officially scheduled to open in mid May 2014, putting Squamish firmly on the tourist map.  The enormous gondola, situated on a strip of land between the famous Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and Shannon Falls, will carry visitors from sea level to a height of 885 meters – climbing into high alpine country in a quick 10-minute ride.

Up top, there’s a lot more than just beautiful vistas to enjoy. Finishing touches are being put on an entire adventure facility high in the Coast Mountains.  The centrepiece is a 9,000-square-foot lodge, where visitors can enjoy a beer or bite to eat while soaking up the stunning views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains.

From the lodge, a network of gentle walking trails spread out over the mountain.  The Panorama Trail winds 1.6 kilometres through woods, crossing cedar bridges along the way and leading to a truly vertigo-inducing viewpoint.  A special platform cantilevers over the side of the mountain, hanging hundreds of metres above the ground.  Meanwhile, the 400-metre Spirit Trail offers an interpretive account of the local First Nations history in the region.

The facility also features a 100-metre-long suspension bridge (for comparison, the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver is 140 metres long).  The wobbly bridge spans a deep gully, offering 360-degree views of Howe Sound far below and the dizzying alpine scenery.

Once up top, hardier adventurers can also access some serious backcountry trails into more rugged terrain.  Options range from rewarding day hikes to multi-day excursions along routes like the Sky Pilot Valley Trail, Skyline Trail and Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail.

The Sea to Sky Gondola is slated to open in mid May 2014.  Adult tickets are $34.95.

Photo courtesy of Sea to Sky Gondola


Does the thought of cooking a turkey give you a panic attack? Can your oven even fit a turkey? On vacation in Vancouver with no kitchen in your place? Just feel like doing something different this holiday? Why not get out of the kitchen and go out this Christmas to enjoy a meal cooked by the professionals!?

While most restaurants shut down for the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day holiday, there are a few that remain open to make sure you’ll get properly fed. Whether you’re looking to try a Turducken, or you just want a good ol’ turkey dinner with all the trimmings, the local Vancouver restaurant scene has you covered.


1. Turducken Sandwich at Meat & Bread

The infamous Turducken was first popularized by John Madden and features a chicken stuffed into a duck, which is then stuffed into a turkey. Couldn’t get much more carnivore than that, eh? The delectably delicious Meat & Bread sandwich shop is taking this meat monstrosity and creating sandwiches out of it for two days only. Today and tomorrow (Dec 23, 24) you can get a taste of turducken for yourself at the shop. Likely you won’t even need a Christmas dinner as that’s enough meat to fill you up for a few hours, at least!

2. Sutton Place Hotel

Acclaimed at having some of the city’s best holiday fare, the luxurious Sutton Place Hotel provides plenty of Christmas & holiday themed festive feasts, including: Yuletide Luncheon Buffet, Festive Sunday Brunch, Christmas Eve Dinner, Turkey-to-Go and more. Prices range from $40 to $70 and include a varied selection of salads, carved meats, soups, and desserts.

3. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Similar to the Sutton Place Hotel, Hotel Vancouver is also decking the halls for a warm, seasonal celebration. Their festive offerings include a lunch buffet ($45), afternoon tea ($49), turkey-to-go ($350), ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas buffet ($109), and more. Reservations are highly encouraged as these events can be quite popular!

4. Christmas Lunch at Grouse Mountain

With a view to die for and food that makes everything better, the Christmas Lunch at Grouse Mountain is a favourite for foodies from all around. The lunch features a variety of choices, including Arctic Char, Truffle Parmesan Crisp, and Egg Nog Crème Brûlée. The fixed price for lunch is $50.

5. Dockside “12 Days of Turkey”

Ever wanted to eat turkey for twelve days straight? Now you can, at Dockside!Dockside restaurant is offering lunch, dinner and a buffet full of your favourite holiday poultry: turkey! Prices range from $17 to $70 for fantastic food that includes… a lot of turkey!



Vancouverites can finally do something that drinkers across the country have been able to do for years: Enjoy a happy hour.

British Columbia will become the last province in the nation to endorse happy hours – the time-honoured rite of discount drinks after work. The change is one of eight new liquor reforms announced last week by Premier Christie Clark, which are set to go into effect this spring.

The happy hour reform will wipe off the books an old regulation barring bars and restaurants from changing their liquor prices over the course of the day.  Now, licensed establishments can offer discounts on booze during off-peak hours, wooing patrons with cut-rate beer, wine and other alcohol.

There’s more good news for local drinkers.  The antiquated law requiring customers to order food with their drinks at certain “food-primary” establishments is also on its way out.  This hated rule required drinkers – even those with no interest in eating – to shell out for food in order to be served alcohol at certain venues, regardless of the time of day or night.

In addition, children will now be permitted inside neighbourhood pubs at certain times of the day, for instance during Sunday brunch, lunch or dinner. Consumers will also be able to carry their drinks between the lounge and restaurant sections of an establishment.

Behind the scenes, liquor licenses will now be available to cooking schools, galleries and spas, chain restaurants will be allowed to transfer liquor between locations and the province’s Serving it Right responsible beverage program will be beefed up.

The changes are part of 70 proposed modifications to B.C.’s outdated liquor laws included in a recent report compiled by the Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform after extensive public consultation. Already endorsed by the premier are rules that will allow liquor sales within grocery stores and also allow farmer’s markets to sell local booze.

The entire report will be released in February and approved changes are expected to be implemented in the spring.

Photo credit: QuinnDombrowski | Flickr


Enter to win a package of tickets to your favourite productions and events this winter, featuring 2 tickets each to various arts, dance, theatre and music events in Vancouver. The package also includes a $100 Tickets Tonight gift certificate.


Tickets include:

And much more!

Enter at: ticketstonight.ca



The dance of the sun and earth has inspired celebrations of the human spirit, expressed through art and music, throughout the ages. Honouring many cultural traditions, the annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival illuminates the longest night of the year with lanterns, fire, singing, drumming, music and dancing!

Celebrate the longest night of the year this Saturday, December 21st at the 20th AnnualWinter Solstice Lantern Festival, the “secret” December event takes place across multiple neighbourhoods throughout the city. This mostly free community event works to transform four Vancouver neighborhoods to celebrate the returning of the sun.

Whether you find yourself strolling through a lantern maze,  making a lantern, or joining in with the fiery procession, these four little festivals emit a strong feeling of community and reflect upon the unique nature of each area. Most of the events start at 6pm and go until 9pm, but timing varies for each location.


East Side - This all-ages dance party will have you celebrating Winter Solstice with live music at Astorino’s Hall (1739 Venables Street) for $10. If you’d prefer something quieter, you can also check out the Britannia Community Centre which will have a community celebration of the return of the light with live music and refreshments. (full details)


Yaletown – Hosting lantern workshops and multiple processions, Yaletown is not one to skimp out on the Winter Solstice festivities. The Gathering Place will host a day of celebrations with free food and live music, before lantern processions and fire dancing. You can also visit the Roundhouse for a stunning array of festivities including the mesmerizing Labryinth of Light (entrance costs $5). (full details)


Granville Island -You will be able to see a lantern procession as well as fire dancers on Granville Island, and you can warm up inside the False Creek Community Centre with an array of performances and music. Granville Island will also have a Labyrinth of Light, which you can walk through for $5. (full details)


Chinatown – Celebrate the Chinese winter solstice, dong zhi, which marks the rebirth of the yang qualities of light and energy. Start in the Strathcona neighborhood with a procession of light, and head to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen gardens, which will be absolutely filled with lanterns! Live performances, music, and other entertainment will accompany the stunning, (some times) life-size, lanterns that mark the coming Year of the Horse. (full details)

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival Vancouver 2013


This past year has seen a slew of great releases from Vancouver artists. Although few if any have been topping best-of lists in U.S. publications, quite a few of them have been popping up on lists by music critics closer to home. Here are some Vancouver releases that writers here and in Toronto have been picking for their 2013 10 best lists.


Veda Hille, Peter Panties – For this high-concept album, East Van singer/songwriter created a musical version of Peter Pan with a playwright with Down syndrome, and performed it with a group of 15-year-old boys. On his blog, MacLean’s music critic Michael Barclay writes that Peter Panties “is 18 songs of less than three minutes each that have better melodies than Broadway has heard in at least the last 20 years. Despite the odd concept and appropriated pop culture references, Peter Panties is not just silly and fun, it has actual fist-pumping anthems and tender ballads. In a career as productive and varied as Veda Hille’s, it seems strange to elevate something called Peter Panties to the top of her discography. Until you hear it.”

Louise Burns, The Midnight Mass – On her second album, Louise Burns worked with Sune Rose Wagner of Danish band The Raveonettes. The result, Vancouver writer Trevor Risk says in his list of Top Ten Indie Albums of 2013, is “a darker record than one might  expect from her.”

The Ballantynes, Liquor Store Gun Store Pawn Shop Church – Trevor Risk again: “Vancouver’s The Ballantynes may be one of the only acts doing a straight-ahead version of this style [Northern soul], but they’re not lazy about it. With vintage Hammonds and powerful backups vocals, they are being true to the genre and making even young fans nostalgic for a time they don’t remember.” The release is actually a six-song EP, and you can hear it on The Ballantynes’ bandcamp page.

Shawn Mrazek Lives!, Thought He Was Dead – In his picks for 2013′s best, Alex Hudson, writing in Vancouver weekly The Georgia Straight, says “The title of ‘Love Is Bursting Through the Walls’ sums up the life-affirming spirit of this local drummer-turned-frontman’s big-hearted indie-rock anthems. With just eight songs in 19 minutes, it’s short enough to be considered an EP, but it has the emotional scope of a much larger project.” You can hear Thought He Was Dead on the Shawn Mrazek Lives! bandcamp page.

Nicholas Krgovich, Who Cares? – Hudson again: “The Vancouver-based P:ano/No Kids frontman goes solo for a collection of sad-sack acoustic laments, which are softly strummed and sung in a whisper. It takes restraint to release music with this much negative space, and the results are beautifully intimate.” Listen to it here.

Jordan Klassen, Repentance – Michael Barclay (again): “Yes, it’s another sensitive soul playing a lilting banjo on hushed songs and occasionally singing wordless choruses in falsetto. It doesn’t help that he describes his own music as ‘fairy folk.’ Except that this Vancouver songwriter has songs that silence any doubts, and instantly transport the listener away from urban hustle on a Rocky Mountain high.” Listen to it here.

Baptists, Bushcraft – Gregory Adams, in the Straight: “Baptists’ molten metalcore blasts and muck-mired doom riffs make for a most earthshaking debut.” Listen to ithere.

Tough Age, s/t – John Lucas, writing in The Georgia Straight, calls the song “The Heart of Juliet Jones” “a perfect sock-hop bopper” and says that the Vancouver band “is pretty damn handy with fuzz-bombed garage rock, too.” Listen to it here.

We Are the City, Violent – Lucas calls this second album from the Vancouver trio “jaw-droppingly accomplished” and says We Are the City “uses pop songcraft, prog-rock bravado, and serious compositional chops as vehicles for lyrical introspection.” Watch the video for the song “Baptism” here.

Said the Whale, hawaiii – Lucas, again: “I’m not even going to say what a great, impeccably crafted indie-pop record hawaiii is because I don’t want it to go to Said the Whale’s collective head.” (Said the Whale plays two shows at the Commodore Ballroom Dec. 28.)

We Are the City at Summer Live in Stanley Park, July 10 2011. Photo credit: Anja Weber.


Ready to get into the holiday spirit . . . and save some money on the slopes at the same time?

Whistler Blackcomb Mountain is running a rather unusual holiday-themed promotion this Saturday, Dec. 14.  Skiers and boarders decked out in full Santa gear – that includes everything from the pants to the beard – will get a free lift ticket.

Yes, it might be a bit of a challenge to navigate all those black diamond runs in a big red suit. But consider that you’ll be saving the cost of a full ticket, $109 this year.  That’s some serious incentive to look your jolliest.

There is some fine print to bear in mind.  First off, in the event of a Santa overload, only the first 75 Santas (or Mrs. Clauses) will hit the slopes for free.  To be considered for a spot, participants must queue up at the base of Whistler Mountain at the Garibaldi Lift Company Bar and Grill by 8 a.m.

And, of course, you’ve got to look the part.  According to official rules, Santas must wear “full outfits.”  This includes red or black pants (or, optionally, a skirt for Mrs. Claus), a red jacket with white trim, a black belt, a beard for Santa and a jolly Santa hat.

At 8:30 a.m., Santas and Mrs. Clauses will proceed en masse up the mountain. Photographers will be on hand to capture the scene as the red and white hoard swooshes down all at once, carving up the slopes while white beards and Santa hats whip in the wind.

No word on whether you actually have to keep the costume on the entire day.  After a full day on the Whistler slopes you might be one soggy St. Nick, unless of course you manage to track down a breathable, Gore-Tex Santa suit.

Photo credit: Stéfan | Flickr


The London Heritage Farm is decorated inside & out in its Christmas finest, waiting for your visit. Join us for traditional Christmas Tea & Baking in our Tea Room, visit or extended Gift Shop to find that special Christmas gift. Featuring our London Lady Tea, homemade jams, scone mix & a variety of hand sewn aprons, oven mitts, doggy treats, hand warmers & other gift items. View the outdoor light display & visit the museum in the old farmhouse. Admission is by dontation to London Heritage Farm. Christams Tea: $12.50 per person. This is a popular tea, please reserve in advance.


 6511 Dyke Road, Richmond,  
British Columbia, V7E 3R3


London Heritage Farm


If you’re looking for New Year’s Eve family fun in Vancouver, you’re in luck! Vancouver offers many opportunities for families to come together for safe and fun events around town to ring in the new year (without having to stay up until 12am!)

While the city council is still trying to work on setting up a downtown public party to celebrate New Year’s Eve, there are still quite a few options for family-friendly New Year’s celebrations, including:


1. New Year’s Eve Celebration at Robson Square

Cost: Free
Where: UBC Robson Square
Description: The centre of downtown will host a family friendly 2013 New Year’s Celebration filled with live entertainment, free glow sticks, and noisemakers for kids. Vancouver’s only outdoor ice rink will be open until 11 p.m. with free skating, roving performers, and two early countdowns at 7pm and 9pm for those whose bedtime is long before midnight.


2. Family First Night at Mount Seymour

Cost: $10 for spectator: $15 for entry + tobogganing (bring your own or purchase one up there), or $25 for entry + tubing
Where: Snowplay Park, Enquist Lodge on Mount Seymour
Description: Mount Seymour is now known as one of the top places for family-friendly NYE activities in Vancouver. Celebrate Family First Night at the resort with fire pits, apple cider and s’mores, music, party favors, live entertainment (which includes light, spinning and fire!) and a countdown at 9pm.


3. Whistler Presents: New Year’s Eve Celebration

Cost: Free or $15 for certain activities
Where: Whistler village
Description: Take the trek to Whistler Village this New Year’s to experience their fun, alcohol-free evening of family entertainment and celebration. Free activities include the fire & ice show (which starts at 11pm) and fireworks (at 12am), or you can opt to purchase a wristband which is $15 for adults and children 13+, or $10 for children 12 and under. Purchasing a wristband will get you access to skating, family songs & sweets, entertainment, live music, bouncy castles, and more. There will be an early countdown at 9pm at various locations, as well as one at midnight.


4. Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens

Cost: $0 – $14.25
5251 Oak St (37th and Oak)
Description: While this event doesn’t have an official countdown, the Van Dusen Gardens has set up an astounding display of lights that will be sure to dazzle on this special night. The night includes a dancing lights show, a mischievous Grinch, shadow puppets, a model train, and more.


5. Bright Nights in Stanley Park

Cost: $0 – $11
Where: Stanley Park miniature railway
Description: Bright Nights in Stanley Park is a tradition for many families in Vancouver, and the train is a great idea for a New Year’s celebration. Stanley Park is transformed into a magical light display that makes up for the lack of fireworks in Vancouver. Entry to the Bright Nights train plaza is by donation, which already has holiday lights and entertainment. Riding the train costs $11 for adults, and $7 for child and youth (0-3 years), as well as for seniors (65+).

Image courtesy of Tourism Whistler / Mike Helfrich


Ready for outdoor NHL hockey in Vancouver?

Tickets are on sale this week for the NHL’s 2014 Heritage Classic, which will see the Vancouver Canucks face the Ottawa Senators on March 2.  But it’s not the matchup as much as the venue that matters.  The game will take place on a specially built rink insideB.C. Place. – and, if all goes well, the roof will be wide open.

Judging from ticket sales, enthusiasm in Vancouver is high.  Since going on sale on Thursday, the cheapest ticket categories ($62.20 and $104.20) have already sold out on Ticketmaster and a sellout of the entire 54,500-seat stadium seems in the cards,according to the Vancouver Sun.

Outdoor NHL games have surged in popularity in recent years.  The first Heritage Classic – which pits two Canadian teams against one another in an open-air venue – took place in Edmonton in 2003. A second was hosted in Calgary in 2011.  Meanwhile, since 2008, yearly Winter Classic games between American teams have been held in the U.S.

For fans and players, the appeal is obvious.  There’s the excitement of playing in a stadium venue, with crowds easily twice as large as anything an arena could accommodate.  Then, there’s the idea of playing outdoors, which evokes childhood memories of a simpler game played on icy ponds and in backyards.

But all that excitement doesn’t come without risks.  Past outdoor games have been plagued by poor ice conditions and even snow and rain.  If rain is in the forecast when the Canucks take the ice against the Senators, organizers may even have to resort to closing the stadium’s retractable roof.

This upcoming Heritage Classic in Vancouver is one of six outdoor games lined up this season to accommodate increased fan demand.  Fittingly, the Canucks and Senators will be facing off on March 2 in throwback uniforms.  The Canucks will don the maroon-coloured Vancouver Millionaires jersey, which the team wore when Vancouver defeated Ottawa to win the city’s only Stanley Cup back in 1915.

The 2010 Winter Classic in Boston.  Photo credit: misconmmike | Flickr


Cat Santa is coming to town! Find some unique gifts for your loved ones and expect these fun things at the annual Blim Holiday Market:

- Cat Santa photo booth
- Festive DJs
- Ugly Christmas sweaters
- Hot food by in-house cook Open Sesame
- 50+ local vendors featuring handmade accessories, jewellery, vintage, pottery, cards, gifts, sweets and more
- Two free raffle draws for prizes at 2pm & 4pm

Entry by donation


Chinese Cultural Centre

50 Pender St E
VancouverBC V6A 3V6

(604) 658-8865

When: Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:00 pm

Blim Holiday Market


It might be Vancouver’s strangest holiday tradition.  Once every December, in the midst of all the shopping and decorating, Vancouverites set aside a moment to celebrate one of the more obscure events of the season: Keith Richards’ birthday.

Keithmas, the annual holiday tribute to Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards, is back for its fourth instalment this year, Dec. 20 at the Electric Owl pub on Main Street. At least nine bands will take the stage in a charity concert marking the 70th birthday of one of rock’s timeless (if not ageless) icons.

The concert serves as a fundraiser for the Greater Vancouver Foodbank Society.  Bands, all of whom play a short set of Rolling Stones or Keith Richards covers, perform for free. All proceeds from ticket sales go the food bank, and guests who bring non-perishable food to donate get discounted admission.

True to its namesake, Keithmas is usually quite the rager of a show.  Throughout the night, band members drink from a giant bottle onstage filled with Jack Daniels, the drink of choice of the Stones’ hard-partying, take-no-prisoners guitar player, according to an article by the Vancouver Sun’s Pete McMartin.  Meanwhile, crowds have grown bigger every year, with the event now raising upward of $2,800 for the food bank, plus several hundred pounds of canned and boxed goods.

So why does Keith Richards’ birthday bring out the masses year after year? It has a lot to do with the aging star’s anti-hero image, Keithmas organizer John Hewer explained in the Vancouver Sun.  The deep lines in his face testify to more than a half century of drug and alcohol abuse, living dangerously and heeding no one’s rules but his own.  In 2010, English journalist Peter Hitchens famously called Richards, “a capering streak of living gristle who ought to be exhibited as a warning to the young of what drugs can do to you even if you’re lucky enough not to choke on your own vomit.”

But, amazingly, he’s still here, which is a Christmas miracle worth celebrating.

The fourth annual Keithmas is Friday, Dec. 20, starting at 9 p.m. at the Electric Owl. Bands featured include No Sinner, Rich Hope and His Blue Rich Rangers, The Ramores, The Rentalmen, The Highway Kind, Spoon River, Skinny Kids and The Ancient Weavers. Tickets are $10.  

Anyone been to Keithmas before? How was it? 

Photo credit: Kris Olin | Flickr


Get ready for a wild ride! Theatre Replacement (Winners and Losers, Dress me up in your love) returns to blow the roof off the brand new York Theatre with An East Van Panto. With words and music by Charles Demers (CBC's Debaters, Vancouver Special) and Veda Hille (Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata), and direction by Amiel Gladstone (Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata, 100% Vancouver). This upside down version of the classic holiday pantomime -- complete with bad guys, good guys, hissing and cheering -- will be a sweet and whacked-out treat for the whole family.


The Cultch

1895 Venables St
VancouverBC V5L 2H6

(604) 251-1363


Tomorrow, December 4, 2013 7:00 pm 
Sunday, December 29, 2013 2:00 pm 

Cost: 18.00

An East Van Panto


You might not know what parkour is, but Vancouver will soon have a park for it.

Popularized in France in the 1990s, parkour involves leaping, diving and tumbling off and between buildings and urban structures.  It combines elements of gymnastics, rock climbing and track and field and makes for some pretty spectacular YouTube videos.

Once seen mainly in action movies, like James Bond’s Casino Royale, parkour has apparently taken to the streets and earned a significant grassroots following here in Vancouver.  Now, to accommodate all the hardcore parkour going on, a new outdoor obstacle course is planned for Hastings Park, the area adjacent the PNE and Hastings Racecourse.

The first of its kind in Vancouver the course will be part of a larger $10.5-million renovation plan for Hastings Park, which also includes a street soccer area, BMX bike dirt jump course and ping-pong amenities, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun.  The upgrades are slated to be finished by the summer of 2014.

The outdoor course will complement an existing private indoor facility on Main Street that’s already a magnet for parkour enthusiasts.  At 10,000 square feet, Origins is the largest gym of its kind in Canada, filled with custom-made wooden structures meant to emulate the urban environment.  Inside, members learn to run up walls, flip off of buildings, vault over obstacles and master the parkour repertoire.

The idea for an outdoor public parkour park was apparently inspired by a 10 year old.  The young son of Vancouver park board commissioner Sarah Blythe fell in love with the sport, and she thought it would be a perfect fit for Vancouver.  ““He’s not a big fan of other sports but he loved jumping and learning to run up walls,” she said in an interview with News1130. “I thought it was interesting because he doesn’t need any gear to do it.”


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