Tag Archives: Prince George

Concert Review: The PGSO Presents Lord of the Dance, With Special Guests Out of Alba and the Old Time Fiddlers!

27 Jan

I had the immense pleasure of attending last night’s Lord of the Dance performance, a very special presentation by the Prince George Symphony Orchestra (PGSO), the Old Time Fiddlers and local Celtic group Out of Alba.

Lord of the Dance

Wow!

As a notorious fan of Celtic music and the PGSO, picking up a ticket to this show was an absolute no-brainer for me.  Without introduction, as soon as Conductor Kevin Zakresky strode onto the stage, the Symphony launched into a stunning rendition of beloved English folk tune Greensleeves, the perfect way to begin the evening.  At the conclusion of the piece, Zakresky took the mic and reminded me why, beyond his incredible musical talent, he is a perfect fit to the PGSO as he introduced the next composition.  Prairie Dawn, a piece from Canadian composer Stephen Chatman, promised to pull the audience further into thrall.  It was Zakresky’s charming excitement that did it for me – that, and his advising that the audience pay special attention during “the fast bit” so as not to miss the bird calls played by clarinet and violin.  His enthusiasm was not misplaced, this piece was amazing and the PGSO executed it with the passion and skill they are so known for.  Prairie Dawn was spot on, sounding exactly like the sonic sunrise it promised.  A brilliant addition to the show.

Few PGSO events are complete without the introduction of a special guest musician, or two.  The first of our contributing acts last night was a small group of Old Time Fiddlers.  These were not just any fiddlers, these were young fiddlers and their talent was absolutely outstanding.  In each of their collection of toe-tapping ditties, these musicians shone.  Murmurs of awe erupted all around my seat during their performance and culminated in hand-throbbing applause at its conclusion.

It was in the second half of the show that Out of Alba took the stage.  To begin, they were unaccompanied by the PGSO.  Alan O’Reilly, Jim Sayle, Carolyn Kelly, Jim and Margaret Coyle and Ross Williams – of Prince George metal band Axis Disrupt, a special guest of Out of Alba for the evening.  I am sad to admit that this is the first time I had seen Out of Alba perform, but thrilled to be a new, eager, loyal fan!  These folks are exceptional musicians with a glowing repertoire.  They have been playing together for years and it shows – not only do they complement each other beautifully and seem to play with an almost supernatural connection, they have a lot of fun doing it!  Out of Alba embodies the reason I love Celtic music: it feels like home.  We could just as easily have been sitting in their living room rather than Vanier Hall, last night.

After a short, amazing set, Out of Alba called Zakresky and the PGSO back onto the stage to play with them.  Thanks to Trevor Hoffman, the PGSO had the orchestrations needed to flawlessly accompany Out of Alba in their next set.  Then, just when I thought the evening couldn’t get any better, the Old Time Fiddlers were back on the stage, adding another layer to the performance.  This show was so well received that the evening’s musicians were called back for not one, but two encores.  Wow!

This was one of my favourite PSGO events.  The combination of Prince George Symphony Orchestra and the tunes of the Celts was perfect.  Thank you, so much, PGSO, Out of Alba, Ross Williams and the Old Time Fiddlers – you absolutely made my night!  Please consider a repeat performance.

 Chatman – Prairie Dawn

UNT.

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Concert Review: Nadina Mackie Jackson and the PGSO

4 Nov

I had the incredible privilege and pleasure of attending last night’s Prince George Symphony Orchestra (PGSO) concert, featuring a homecoming appearance by bassoon Master Nadina Mackie Jackson.

I am a pretty big fan of the PGSO and have attended more than my fair share of exquisite performances.  Each and every time, despite my keen knowledge of their incredible talent and professionalism, these musicians blow me away.  Last night’s event was no exception.

With recently inducted conductor Kevin Zakresky at the helm for his inaugural main stage performance, the PGSO wowed its fans.  We were warmed up with a selection from Handel’s The Water Music, which was brilliantly introduced by Zakresky, who set the stage perfectly with a bit of scandalous Handel history and a lively description of the scene we could have expected had we joined King George I for his concert on the Thames.  Once the King’s barge movement had ended, Zakresky had the fortune of introducing our bassoonist for the evening, the gal with the blue hair, Nadina Mackie Jackson.  With this introduction, my world changed.

Allow me to deviate from the music for a moment.  Before she began playing, Nadina borrowed the mic from Zakresky and humbly thanked the PGSO and her audience for the opportunity to play in her home town again.  She reminded us of the incredible talent housed in Prince George and she, and her prodigious tale of hard work and consequential monstrous personal accomplishments, inspired the heck out of me.

You need only to gaze upon Nadina a moment to know that you’re in for quite a show.  Sporting a shock of Smurf-blue hair, a breathtaking and outstandingly out of the ordinary pair of Canadian-designed gowns and an eye twinkle I could spot from the twenty-first row back, Nadina isn’t exactly what first comes to mind when you think of symphony soloist.  As soon as she puts lip to reed though, all preconceptions ebb.  Nadina Mackie Jackson is a testament not only to Prince George, British Columbia, Canada or the world, she is a testament to the spirit and soul of music.  Through her Grand Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra (Hummel) and Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra in C minor RV 480 (Vivaldi), Nadina so clearly demonstrates the beautiful, joyful passion with which she plays.  I know technical musicians and I know musical musicians; Nadina Mackie Jackson is a perfect marriage between a keen technical understanding and a truly musical, creative and artistic soul.

To conclude this show, Nadina bowed gracefully and allowed the PGSO the opportunity to continue to do what it does best.  Zakresky made a final introduction, just as lively as the last, nudging his audience into a parlour filled with Viennese aristocrats, before luring his symphony into Mozart’s Symphony #29 in A major.  Spell-binding.  The Prince George audience was held in thrall until allowed to burst into applause to show amazed appreciation for the evening’s spectacle.

To see Nadina Mackie Jackson accompanied by our remarkable PGSO was a special treat.  Thank you, and congratulations, to the PGSO, Kevin Zakresky and Nadina Mackie Jackson for the outstanding evening and for continuing to entertain and inspire through the art of music.

UNT.

Concert Review: John Mellencamp in Prince George, BC

18 Jun

Oh Prince George, you have outdone yourself once again!

I was fortunate enough to take in the John(ny Cougar) Mellencamp show in Prince George’s CN Centre this evening!

What a show!

It began with the Cowboy Junkies.  Now I was privy to the thoughts of the people around me who quoted the opening act as boring and just plain not all that great.  I completely disagree. The band may not have brought the upbeat danceable melodies Mellencamp was sure to carry, but they were outstanding!  Cowboy Junkies did not disappoint as a countrified blues rock band – I foresee buying in to their sound and predict a few summer nights around the campfire with Cowboy Junkies providing some pretty fabulous background tuneage.

And then there was John Mellencamp.

When the tickets to this show went on sale a few months back, I was stoked!  I grew up listening to classic rock and I married into a huge (new) appreciation of (and undying affection for) blues rock.  Mellencamp was no stranger to my dancing around the living room days (which are actually still pretty alive and well) – seeing him (and his amazing band) live and in concert was amazing!  His brand of “heartland rock” (a musical inclination which “emphasizes traditional instrumentation” (Wikipedia)) caters to my love of blues rock, folk music and the addition of traditionally not-rock instruments in a purely rock environment.  It’s stunningly musical – a testament to the art.

I’m serious folks, anyone who can rock (the fuck) out with a double bass, fiddle and accordion deserves nothing but my utmost respect.

From the acoustic version of Jack and Diane to the rocking house-party atmosphere of the Cherry Bomb finale – Mr. Cougar asked that the house lights be turned on for this number so that we could very easily rock with him – this will go down as one of my favourite concerts.  Of all time!  Our fair city has been mocked for its “rock retirement tour” events.  Again, I disagree.  Mellencamp, like KISS before him and Sir Elton John before them, proved that he can still rock as hard as ever and time has only refined his skills.

Rock on Prince George!  Thank you, Cowboy Junkies and John Mellencamp, for the amazing show.  And thank you, Prince George and all of your fantastic concert supporters and organizers, for being juggernauts of win!  You are so much fun to party with!

John Mellencamp – Hurt So Good

UNT.

Fuzzhead.

23 Oct

I had a visit to my blog today based on a search for Janzhaus German Shepherds.  In my fantasy world, these folks were looking for testimonials to help them make a puppy decision.  Taking that into account and pairing it with The Awesome that is Ayla, I bring you:

Ayla: Juggernaut of Win Part 2

It has been five months since we brought Little Miss Unholy Terror into our family.  Five months of adorableness, awe and mind-numbing frustration.  We love our puppy so big!  She’s amazing.

One of the first things we did as soon as we were able (after she was completely vaccinated) was take her to Puppy Obedience (with Noel Pepin – for those of you in the Prince George area looking for some serious dog training?  Look no further than Mr. Pepin.  He has our seal of approval all the way and has helped us learn so much).  She was an absolute gem.  Sure she’s headstrong, stubborn and altogether the most challenging dog I’ve ever worked with (there haven’t been many, but Ayla takes the cake), but it was so much fun and she came such a long way!  She picked up the sit, down, stand, wait, sit, watch me, and heel so quickly and loved to play with the other dogs on the agility course.

Sidenote: some parents in my life get irritated with me for this comparison, but I’m amazed at the parallel between raising children and dogs.  The structure they need, positive reinforcement, discipline, attention, socialization and all of the basic needs: food, shelter, and love.  The training is, basically, the same – except I think kids like chocolate chips and stickers as a reward more than liver treats and rawhide bones.

The second thing we did, concurrent with obedience and upon recommendation and invitation of Noel Pepin, was enlist Miss Ayla in Tracking 101.  That was fun!  It was so neat to see our little GSD doing what she was bred to do, what her ancestors have been doing since the inception of the GSD.  And man did that little mutt dominate!  She loves tracking and she’s getting to be a little phenom at it!

Along with the obedience training and tracking work, Ayla’s been on a few long road trips, always a dream in the car, and a great camping trip on which she showed us just how adaptable she is – she is an awesome camp dog!  She gets on great with other dogs, is pretty excited to lick the faces of grinning children (and even the not-so-grinning ones), loves to swim (in rivers, lakes, ponds and puddles), has learned to play fetch without problem, and is a great little cuddle bug.  The only habit I really have to work on with her?  She terrorizes people who come to my door!  This is not entirely problematic, ’cause we all love the idea of Crazy Dog snarling at the visiting salespeople, but she just doesn’t give it a rest.  But, it’s trainable behaviour and she’s a brilliant dog – it’ll come.

I think I’ve spelled it out, but I’ll say it straight out: if you’re looking for another testimonial on Janzhaus German Shepherds, from someone 100% not affiliated with Jan and her dogs in any capacity other than having adopted one, you’ve found it.  I can’t recommend this breeder enough.  mephy and I will be bringing another GSD fuzzhead into our family and when we do we will be contacting Jan for another of her amazing dogs.  (As an added bonus: Jan and her husband are such a joy to deal with.  They are a wealth of knowledge and so eager to help you have the best possible new-puppy experience!)

Ayla: Juggernaut of Win Part 1

Metallica – Whiskey in the Jar

UNT.

Of KISS and Snail Mail.

3 Jul

I tried really hard to construct a proper review of Wednesday night’s KISS concert, guys.  I really did.  It didn’t work.  I don’t have words for the awesome.  Here, have some pictures!  (Fuck it.  I wrote a review, hated the review, privated the review . . . you can read it.  Don’t judge me.  Hard.)

Fucking astounding.  Agreed?  Good.  Moving on.

I want to talk about writing.  (Incredible, I know.)  Not just any kind of writing, correspondence writing.

love emails.  I love them because, as a general rule, they’re not spam (I have my junk filters set pretty high).  When I get an email, if it’s not from dictionary.com, it’s usually from someone.  Sometimes it’s about work (updating me of upcoming events for the articles I write for the bookshop), but mostly it’s about life.  I catch up on all sorts of fun life events via email: baby stories, promotions, graduations, heart-wrenching setbacks and sometimes Saturday night menu plans.

My mailbox, the kind that lives at the end of my street (my mail does not come to my house directly, but is deposited into a block of similar mail boxes), and I are engaged in a tumultuous affair.  I do not have my junk mail filters set on high and am consistently met with menus for Domino’s Pizza, real estate advertisements, and “To the Grocery Shopper of the Household” surveys.  And bills.  (Not to mention pathetic bank statements reminding me of how much I contribute to those bills.)

But!  Things are beginning to change.

That’s right, I’m talking about letter-writing.  Pen pals.  I have (very recently) been getting into the habit of writing letters.  I have to tell you folks, this is a dying art that totally needs to be resurrected.  Let’s just ignore the base bonus of not-bills (or sad bank statements): there’s the opportunity to make or buy fun stationary, the tactile feeling of holding a letter rather than reading it on a computer screen (comparable to the book vs. e-reader argument), the pens – oh the pens!  I have recently come into contact with a fountain pen, which I have not yet used in letter-writing, but am stoked to test out – and let’s not discount the slowness of it.  In this world of I want it all and I want it now, it’s pretty refreshing to slow things down a bit.  Writing a letter takes a fair measure longer than writing an email, sending it takes considerably more time and then you have to wait for your pal to respond and send.  The antica . . . pation makes the process that much sweeter.

I think, if you’re at all curious, you should give it a whirl.  I am so loving snail mailing and I need more people to write to!  What say you, friends?  Thoughts?  Feelings?  Addresses?

(Seriously.  For any of you who are interested, please lob me an email – inorite? – and we’ll do an exchange of addresses.  I’d love to correspond via badass stationary, boss pens and unfontlike penmanship!)

UNT.

KISS – God of Thunder (Country Version)

KISS in Prince George! Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven.

1 Jul

I wanted the best and I got the best!

THE Hottest Band in the World. . . .

KISS!

That’s right folks, I was lucky enough to experience my Holy Grail of rock concerts again on Friday night!  When mephy and I saw the fellahs in Vancouver in the Fall of ’09 I thought I had died and gone to Rock ‘N’ Roll Heaven – I had never expected to see KISS in concert.

I had certainly never expected to see KISS in concert in Our Northern Capital.

There were those who said it wasn’t going to be any good, that Prince George’s CN Centre wouldn’t be able to handle a show of epic proportions, that the sound would be terrible, and there were those who said that Gene and Paul were skipping out and sending a cover band in their stead.

Well?

Not surprisingly, they were wrong.  The show was outstanding!  KISS brought their A-game and treated the small(ish) Canadian city like they would any other venue.  Of course, the Prince George audience WOWed the band.  We always do.  We don’t always get to see the musical elite; when we do, we’re very thankful, very appreciative and very excited!

The show was intimate.  It was comfortable.  It was like a house-party (with 4998 of my closest personal friends in attendance).  Well, it was like a house-party if you have confetti cannons, flame-throwers, fireworks and invite a blood-spewing creature of the night who wears seven-inch leather heels.  The Starchild touched on this when he mentioned that the farther North the band goes, the shorter the buildings get and the more sky you can see, the more comfortable the experience.  It’s like playing for friends and family.  Again I say, Prince George really appreciates a good show and we’re very welcoming.

In fact.  We’re so welcoming that we encouraged Mr. PG to get into the action!

Before:

KISSified!

What I’m trying to say is: KISS is freaking amazing and the show they put on in Prince George did not disappoint!  So.  To the outstandingly talented and gracious men of KISS – thank you.  We appreciated the visit and hope we made you feel at home during your visit.  We’d love to have you again – give us a call any time!  And to the phenoms of 94X – thank you for keeping the enthusiasm up, for being so stoked about the show and for being completely unafraid of calling BS on the naysayers.  Rock radio rules!  Perhaps most importantly, to my fellow concert attendees – thank you for rocking hardYou made the show.

UNT.

KISS – God of Thunder (Country Version)

Before I sign off, I’m going to share something with you.  Those of you connected with me via Facebook are very familiar with this now, but to the rest of you I present The Twenty Days of KISS!  (From June 9th until the 29th I edited KISS song lyrics to fit my Facebook status.  It was a blast and I feel it should be shared!)

vyxen…

…is hot. She has rock ‘n’ roll pneumonia. If someone could please call Dr. Love that would be great. (Calling Dr. Love)

…will let you walk the street beside her, but when she wants she’ll pass you by. (Strutter)

…likes your seven inch leather heels and going to all of the shows. And yes, she loves you. She really loves you. (Do You Love Me?)

…thinks she’s high fashion. She thinks she looks divine. (It helps that that’s what you keep telling her. You tell her all the time.) (Two Timer)

…says “go baby, you make me feel ah, ah, ah, ah yeah! Oh, baby, you make me feel ah, ah, ah, ah yeah!” (Take Me)

…wants the same thing every day. Teach her love a different way. She’ll learn to love you and your sweet pain. (Though she’s sure your love will drive her insane.) (Sweet Pain)

…has been waiting here to be your guide. So come, reveal the secrets that you keep inside. (Psycho Circus)

…is hot, hot, hotter than hell. You know she’s gonna leave you well done. Hot, hot, hotter than hell. She’ll burn you like the midday sun. (Hotter Than Hell)

…will adore you and she’ll floor you with her wisdom and her vision, and you’ll love it and think of it ‘til you lose all intuition. (Firehouse)

…is feelin’ low, no place to go, and she’s a-thinking that she’s gonna scream! (Room Service)

…has got to get up! Everybody’s gonna move their feet. Get down! Everybody’s gonna leave their seat! You gotta lose your mind in Prince George Rock City! (Detroit Rock City)

…looks at you and her blood boils hot, she feels her temperature rise. She wants it all, give her what you got, there’s hunger in your eyes. (Heaven’s On Fire)

…will take you anywhere you want just as fast as she can. (Let Me Know)

…has been broken down, but not defeated. She kept on punching back ‘til she succeeded. (We all need to be somebody, now.) (Raise Your Glasses)

…will always be there trying to grab a hold. She thought she knew you, but she didn’t know that you were sad and wanted her to go. (Parasite)

…doesn’t want to wait ‘til you know her better. Let’s just be glad for the time together. Life’s such a treat and it’s time you taste it, there ain’t a reason on earth to waste it. It ain’t a crime to be good to yourself. (Lick It Up)

…is a dancer, a romancer. You’re a Capricorn and she’s a Cancer. She saw your picture in a music magazine; when she met you, she said she’d get you. (C’mon and Love Me)

…is sorry to have taken so long. It must have been a bitch while she was gone. You mind if she sits down for a while? You’ll reacquaint yourself with her style. (100,000 Years)

…won’t let ‘em tell her that there’s too much noise, they’re too old to really understand! She’ll still get rowdy with the girls and boys, ‘cause it’s time for her to take a stand . . . and SHOUT IT OUT LOUD! (Shout It Out Loud)

…wants to give it all to you. In the darkness there’s so much she wants to do and to(morrow) night she wants to lay it at your feet ‘cause boy, she was made for lovin’ you and boy, you were made for lovin’ her. (I Was Made For Loving You)

…wanted the best and she got the best! THE hottest band in the world . . . KISS!

Lovin’ It Loud!

1 May

First and foremost.

KISS is coming and I scored tickets!  mephy and I are going to see the hottest band in the world for the second time (and we’re going to bring mephy’s brother and sis-in-law along for the ride)!  That’s right.  November 14th, 2009 marked my ultimate concert event!  I got to see KISS, my all-time favourite band, live and in concert!  I never thought I would have that opportunity.  I certainly never thought I would have that opportunity a second time, and in my own backyard to boot!  Epic, folks.  Truly epic!

I think it goes without saying that I’m over the (freaking) moon about this.

Now.

As you know, mephy and I went away for the Easter (long) weekend!  I want to share some of the awesomeness that was that weekend with you.  First, we got an early start, after picking up a coffee before hitting the highway, and that always makes for a better drive.  Then, as soon as we arrived at mephy’s parents’ house, we were greeted by a fantastic breakfast (mephy’s dad makes the most amazing breakfasts.  Ever).  We were also greeted by the family dog, a stunning German Shepherd who is, perhaps not coincidentally, one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever encountered.  We had a lot of fun with Sophie (the GSD).  Now, beyond the awesome visiting, amazing food, and the Canucks losing to the Blackhawks, I learned new things!  For dessert on Easter Sunday my mother-in-law wanted to create pie, but she did not want to do so on her own.  She wanted to teach me!  I learned how to make pie crust from scratch!  NOT ONLY THAT.  My MIL, the amazing woman that she is, also taught me the first steps of knitting!

I feel a great deal more domesticated, folks.  It’s pretty awesome.  I’m so looking forward to making pies of my very own.  Better yet?  I’m stoked on life to be able to finally make butter tarts that will make my Nana proud!  I only wish they could survive the trip to Ontario so that the Butter Tart Queen could taste test them herself!  (My mother has, graciously, offered to taste them for me and report back to Nan.  So nice of her, right?)

And?  Completely unrelated to all of this, but it’s something I have been meaning to blog about.

The #5CC!  Kendra’s “5 Chances Challenge!”  In a nutshell: despite the fact that we all have things we’d like to change in our lives (our health, artistic endeavours, self-confidence, what we read and how often we read it, etc), we’re never ready to actually go through with it.  We always wait for the “perfect time” to start a diet, write a novel, or train for a marathon.  Well, like divine intervention, perfect moments never arrive.  Best to employ Nike’s motto and just do it.  Kendra has challenged her readers to “just do it,” but she’s taken it a step further and has also given us a community of like minded folks who will encourage, support and gently nudge their peers in the right direction.

I have goals.  I’ve been neglecting them.  This shouldn’t shock any of you.  I can sit here and list reasons and excuses, but at the end of the day it only hurts me to not accomplish what I’ve set out to accomplish.  So.  I’m a week late on the just do it, but here I am.  I’ve set goals, and now it’s time to meet them!

It’s been a great week so far, and it’s only going to get better.  Saturday is Puppy Pick-Up day!  That’s right, the fuzzhead is almost with us!

KISS – I Love It Loud

UNT.

Prince George Roller Derby: The Rated PG Roller Girls!

15 Mar

What do you get when you take a group of even-tempered well-mannered ladies, slip them into fishnet stockings, booty shorts, roller skates, fall protection and let them choose names for themselves like Cruely Sue, Malice May, Sistah Viberosis, Mutt Diver, Portia De Saucy or Mortu Mary?

(Flat Track) Roller Derby.

(Image © Richard Krueger.  Used with permission.)

The game is played on an oval circuit track.  Two teams send five members each onto the track for the jam (a two-minute shift during which points are scored).  The two players at the front of the pack are the “pivots” (they sport stripes on their helmets) and set the pace for the pack.  The next six members are the “blockers” and provide defence for their team.  It is the job of the blocker to do everything (legal) in her power not to allow the “jammer” to pass her.  The jammers are the final two players in the pack (who wear stars on their helmets) and are the designated point scorers.  The “first jammer to legally pass all pivots and blockers once the jam begins wins the status of lead jammer for the remainder of the jam. The lead jammer can decide to end the jam at any time before the 2 minutes are up. She does this by placing her hands on her hips repeatedly, which signals the referee to officially call off the jam” (Wikipedia).  The goal of the pivots and blockers is to prevent opposing jammers to pass them and to create opportunities for their jammers to attain lead jammer status.

More succinctly:

My roller derby cherry was popped on Saturday, March 12th.  (This is not to say that I participated in any way other than cheering – I’m a sidelines kind of gal.)  Our Rated PG Roller Girls hosted the Red Deer Belladonnas in a battle royal at the Prince George Roll-A-Dome.  Though our girls did not come out victorious over the opposition, the night was not a loss.  At all.  The two teams played their hearts out, bashing each other left, right and (dead) centre.  The Belladonnas brought their A-game and took home the well-deserved win.  PG’s belles of the track were gracious (well, as gracious as you can be when you hip check someone out of bounds, of course) and encouraged frenzied cheering for the success of their opposition.

Roller derby has struck me in almost exactly the same way that burlesque struck me (this time) last year.  The crowd was there, buzzingly excited to cheer on their favourite girls.  The ladies were there, decked out in hot-pants and fishnets.  Size doesn’t matter at derby.  Shape doesn’t matter.   And the after-party was hosted by GALA North.  It’s all about acceptance . . . and really chic violence.  Come out, have a great time, and leave bullshit social constraints at the door.  I can dig that.

Roller derby.  An amazing time!  The Rated PG Roller Girls.  Amazing women!  I am thrilled to have been able to attend Saturday’s bout and will be there on April 9th!  See you folks there!

Trooper – Raise a Little Hell

UNT.

Nancy O’s, A Prince George Gem.

9 Feb

Prince George (PG) has some of the most amazing culinary venues that I have ever experienced.  I am cultivating a dislike of franchise restaurants, folks.  I do have a special place in my heart for the Whiskey River BBQ Chicken Wrap (with tomatoes) from Red Robin and the Grilled Chicken and Baked Brie Ciabatta at Earls (that fig jam just slays me), I admit it.  However!  In recent years I have begun to hold local fare in much higher regard.  Our Northern Capital plays host to places like Cimo, Thanh Vu, North 54, and Nancy O’s among others.

Nancy O’s.  This one’s new to me.  I am an avid fan of Cimo, Thanh Vu, and North 54, but I had not tried this newer eatery.  Not until last night!

I had the pleasure of hitting this joint with a very good friend of mine.  Neither of us had eaten there before and we thought it was high time we remedied that.  My friends, if you are in the same boat that we were in?  Go.  Tonight.  Seriously.

As soon as we stepped through the door, the cold unforgiving PG winter was forgotten.  The ambience of Nancy O’s is brilliant!  It is as chic as it is comforting and as unobtrusive as it is fascinating.  Balance.  Natural decor spliced with modern art and splashed with eclectic antiques – never a dull moment, I suspect.  My friend and I were greeted by our server, who is clearly quite taken with her workplace and was so helpful and so excited to chat about menu options!

I chose the Mediterranean burger with the spinach salad as a side and J had the vegetarian quesadilla, also with the spinach salad.  Oh.  My.  Word.  Phenomenal, folks.  Absolutely amazing.  The burger was intense!  A little messy to eat in the traditional way, but messy is more fun anyway!  It was topped with bruschetta and feta and served on herbed focaccia.  The quesadilla was no less amazing (J was lovely enough to let me try hers) – caramalized apples, spinach and brie made up this tasty little number.  Of course, we couldn’t stop there.  After indulging in our respective ambrosia, we chose to share a brownie dessert, topped with vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream.  Beyond the obvious awesomeness of the dessert, we were informed that the brownie was not made in house, but was brought in from Sugardaddy’s Bakery – also a local business!  I (being the huge supporter of independent, local businesses that I am) was suitably impressed.

What’s more, Nancy O’s hosts a variety of local events from world class comedy shows to local world class musical acts alike!  The stage is just big enough and the setting is intimate.  It’s a fantastic place to go, have a drink, chat with a friend and support the local Arts scene!

So.  Nancy O’s?  A+.  Great service, amazing food, fun atmosphere and a handle on the importance of keeping it local.  I will go back, I recommend you do, too!

Don Henley – The Boys of Summer

UNT.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

9 Dec

(Image © BustedTees)

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the Santa Claus Debate.

Last Friday (December 3rd) was the 16th Santa Claus Debate (SCD) at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC)!  This event has become something of a holiday tradition between me and two of my girlfriends, so we were thrilled to be in attendance!

As with all Santa Claus Debates at UNBC this one opened with a small choir of carollers belting out well-loved Christmas tunes, warmly welcoming attendees.  To further the welcome, cookies, coffee and tea were laid out invitingly, free for the crowd.  Debate veterans arrived with knowing smiles and virgins chattered expectantly among themselves.  The atmosphere was light-hearted and the SCD was a very welcome break in the monotony of exam preparation, and a great end to the work week.

Of course, since this was a debate, there was a Pro side and an Anti side.  Pro-Claus.  Anti-Claus.  The Anti side hosted an array of clever reasons why the great Santa Claus is mere myth.  Sandor Clauswitz (Peter Zimmer) regaled the audience with his family’s sordid history and informed us that it was an ancestor who began parading about in red velvet outerwear and handing out gifts so that the townspeople would grow to like him – the family had been following in these footsteps for years!  Gary Wilson was the next naysayer to take the stand and shone a light on the red wearing St. Nick and called him for who he really was: Karl Marx.  This North Pole ploy is, in fact, a Russian conspiracy of epic proportions.  Our final presentation in this series was given by the infamous Sarah Palin (Zoe Meletis), who pleaded with us, in a return engagement, not to support this wealthy, unknown European with questionable foreign allegiances who is possessed of loose morals (the obesity, the perpetually red cheeks and the inappropriate visitation of strangers’ children under cover of darkness)!

Then there was the Pro side, those who have invested great time and energy in defending the existence of Mr. Claus.  We heard first from Sufey Chen who brought three points to her argument: 1) Mrs. Claus, 2) the elves, and 3) Rudolph.  Mrs. Claus is married and, thus, must have a husband, who is none other than Mr. Claus.  The elves, as we know, work tirelessly in their shop, and, as we know, all workers have a boss.  In this case that boss is Santa Claus.  We mustn’t forget Rudolph, that little reindeer with his nose so bright who gained great fame after Santa beseeched him to pull his sleigh on Christmas Eve night!  Miss Chen followed her points with a question: if there is no Santa, then who eats all of the cookies that are left out for him?  Surely an apparition cannot leave gingerbread crumbs in its incorporeal stead.  Sufey’s cohort Marcus Lantz followed her statement with the proof of that long Christmas journey: NORAD.  The joint American Canadian organization that has provided aerospace warning and defence for decades tracks Santa each year on his trek to visit the home of each of the world’s children!  Truly NORAD would not make the mistake of tracking a myth and no government affiliated organization would lie to the citizens of North America.  Finally Fredrique (Tracy Summerville) was introduced.  As an elf in the North Pole, Fredrique is witness to the existence of that jolly old man in red.  She did not, however, stand and relate her personal sightings of the man who signs her pay cheque.  Instead, she hefted a large sack of North Pole mail into the centre arena and proceeded to pull from it a letter that had been written by a young audience member (Owen), who had indeed sent his letter, through Canada Post, to the North Pole for Mr. Claus’s approval.

Now it was up to the judge, Dr. Daniel Ryan (dean of the College of Science and Management at UNBC) to make a decision.  First he reviewed the topics of the evening’s conversation.  Then, he called a character witness, someone who could without a shadow of a doubt, answer the question of the existence of Santa Claus once and for all!  With the help of Master of Ceremonies Dr. Todd Whitcombe, Dr. Ryan brought forth the jolly, ho-ho-hoing man in red himself: Santa Claus!

Santa ended the debate when he informed us: “I ho-ho, therefore I am!”

This was, without a doubt, the finest Santa Claus Debate I’ve taken in.  They are always entertaining and the arguments always gain a laugh, or two, but this one was outstanding!  The debaters’ prepared speeches were spot on, the crowd was awesome and the Canfor was the best possible venue choice – much more suited to the audience than the Wintergarden.  I eagerly await next year’s festivities!

Michael C. Hall – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

UNT.