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The HSBC Celebration of Light is a fireworks festival that is held in Vancouver over four nights every summer. It has been an annual event since the early 90s and the event has grown into one of the largest fireworks festivals in the world where almost 2 million people over four nights reportedly take in the show. It is held in English Bay, on a barge just off of Vancouver’s densely populated West End, but is viewable from many points around the city and surrounding areas. My friend in Burquitlam (is that even a place?) about 30 km away, says that she can see most of the show from her condo!

With such a captivating, popular show, you’d expect people to come from near and far to take them in- and you’re right, they do. For better or for worse, the West End gets taken over by tourists and bridge-and-tunnel suburban detritus (Editor’s note: I can say that, I used to be one, but if you must cross a bridge to get to Vancouver, at least I came from one of the better ones – North Shore represent!) Haha, just a little local humour for you all. But seriously, it can be mayhem if you battle the crowds down by the beach, which is why most downtown dwellers get smart and either host or attend fireworks condo parties. It pays to have friends with great views!

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As most Vancouverites are well aware, each summer season Bard on the Beach hits the stage (just west of the Burrard street bridge, in Vanier Park at Kits Point). For the past twenty years The Bard has been presenting Shakespeare’s finest works, integrating new-age thematic into some of the world’s most famous literature. This year in particular, four unique Shakespearean performances are being presented on both the Mainstage and the Studio Stage on the Bard grounds. The Mainstage is showcasing both Othello and The Comedy of Errors, whilst All’s Well That Ends Well and Richard ll are being performed on the Studio Stage.

Thankfully, due to the giving nature of the Bard, some of the Homorazzi cast was granted the opportunity to take in some of the shows. The first show I attended was The Comedy of Errors (Header Photo by David Cooper). But let me rewind for a minute to mention that I first hear of the Bard five years ago, with my first actual live event being two summers ago when they presented a new-age spin on the classic, Romeo & Juliet. Needless to say I was spellbound, and my expectations for the future of the Bard were endlessly high.

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I was getting my daily dose of news the other day when I came across a piece written by one of their younger occasional contributors who writes from the perspective of a young Gen-Y twenty-something navigating his way through life. His column argues that, of our generation, no one in their right minds would ever want to live a life of service to their country and become a politician in this day and age; and I couldn’t agree more with him.

It’s not that Generation-Y (those born in the late 70’s to the 1990) is devoid of political activism and is not engaged in public life. In fact, the columnist argues, we are arguably the most involved generation in decades. Look at the Obama election, the recent Iranian election, Gay Marriage rallies, anti-war rallies, and more where youth have played a leading role in these political movements. We are definitely an opinionated bunch and have shown that we are not afraid to get behind issues and organize ourselves to fight for what we believe in order to bring about political change. The problem is that when you talk to most people our age, most have an opinion about what they want changed and how they want it done, but no one wants to step forward and enter the political three-ring circus to do it.

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Everybody in Burkas? Not in France

In: Politics & Issues, Stephen

Yesterday, the French government officially moved toward banning the burqa and niqab in all public places in that country. This issue has promoted tensions between the cultural traditions of Islam and the Christian and secular values of the West in our increasingly globalized world. The burka- a tent-like face garment worn (mostly) by Afghan women- seems to be ground zero for this battle at the moment and people are taking sides and seeing it as either a woman’s right to wear or a symbol of degradation and subservience.

I completely disagree with the approach that the French government is taking. I fully support the choice of a woman to wear the burka should she feel that she would like to cover her skin and/or hair for religious reasons. As soon as it becomes forced and situation where a woman’s agency is taken away or she no longer has the right to make that decision for herself. We can’t really understand the cultural context, or simply judge others, if we haven’t walked in their shoes. And, that goes for everything! Read the rest of this entry »

Coldplay in Concert

In: Dan, Kevin, Music, Stephen

Kevin: Sunday night, Dan, Stephen and I all went to see Coldplay in concert here in Vancouver. Our friend Channa was also with us and I’m pretty sure I speak for all four of us when I say: “It was AMAZING“. Dan, Stephen and I are each going to write a couple paragraphs about the experience.

With the phenomenal Snow Patrol opening, along with The Howling Bells (which we unfortunately didn’t get to see), the show was destined to be a success. Having seen Snow Patrol with Daniel a year or two ago, I knew they would deliver a solid performance that really primed the entire crowd for the main event. And, let me tell you, Coldplay really knows how to put on a great show. The music sounded flawless, Chris Martin sounded phenomenal and the stage setup was fantastic. The globes they had suspended from the ceiling reflected the video footage, which was also shown at times on the enormous screen behind the band and really added to the overall visual effect of the show.

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My Secret Obsession: The Weather Network

In: Stephen

I know the difference between partly cloudy and partly sunny. I can convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius in two seconds flat. I know my sleet from my freezing rain and ice pellets. I, my friends, am an obsessive weather freak. There, I said it. And I’m beginning to think that I may not be the only one…

When I was young, I used to come home from school, I’d make a snack, jump on the trampoline for a couple of hours, then turn on my favourite TV channel: The Weather Network (Canada’s answer to The Weather Channel for our friends in the States). I could sit there for hours at a time watching the local forecast on the tens, the national forecast on the :03 and :33 of the hour, and I would wait on pins and needles until the Weather News came on at the :15 and :45 minutes. Honestly, if the phone rang during that time, I would let the answering machine get it; I would not leave my spot in front of the TV (thankfully we have PVR and TiVO these days to remedy that problem).

Every Saturday morning it was a fight over the clicker with my brother who wanted to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Smoggies while I was clambering to watch the international forecast to see what the current conditions in Perth, Australia were. And since the International forecast came on only once an hour on the :56 minute, if you missed it, you waited another hour! 

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Much Ado About Baby Seals

In: Politics & Issues, Stephen

It’s attention grabbing, it’s been getting a lot of press, and a lot of it negative.  Doing anything but petting and cooing over a baby seal causes outrage from far-flung places like Europe and New York and Australia. But to eat a seal heart amongst local Inuit dignitaries commands nothing less than global consternation. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has had a field day with this issue over the past week.  (Interestingly enough, as a bit of a side note, this past week also featured a photo shoot with baby seals on an episode of Canada’s Next Top Model off the coast of Prince Edward Island – a very unique, very cool choice of locations in my opinion).

In case you haven’t heard, Canada’s Governor-General Michaelle Jean has been busy up in Nunavut, Canada’s Arctic territory, doing what she does best: forging relationships, strengthening ties between communities, and above all representing Canada as our representative ‘Head of State’. It was all pomp and circumstance until she attended a ceremonial meal with local Inuit leaders and partook in the culinary offering du jour: seal hearts. After a few bites, being the guest of honour, she expressed that the meal was “delicious.” As you can imagine, the PETA people were furious, European bougeois were up in arms, Manhattan aristocrats were aghast. They were calling for her head! How could she partake in such a vile, bloodlust act? She’s giving Canadians a “neanderthal” image abroad. By participating in this act, she is supporting the annual seal hunt in Eastern Canada! Michaelle Jean personally kills baby seals! Well, to hell with them I say. 

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The Eco-Gays Get Green Thumbs

In: Behind The Cast, Stephen

Kevin and I are now the proud owners of a small patch of green in the heart of the city in the local community garden. We are so excited! When we found out last week, we couldn’t wait to get down to the local nursery and start buying up every vegetable plant in sight. After our first few initial discussions about what we were going to plant, how much space we had, and issues about harvesting times, we realized that we probably needed to put a bit of planning into this if it was going to be a success. Here’s a few things I’ve learned as someone new to urban gardening having just gone through the process:

Know how much space you have to work with and organize it accordingly – if you want a flower garden, a vegetable garden, or some hybrid form of the two, look at your plot and see how you will lay it out. Maybe you want to stake out in simple rows to easily separate the plants and assist in irrigation, or maybe you want to organize your plot into sections where one area is for flowers, one is for vegetables, and one is for your carp pond (yes, someone constructed a tiny pond in their plot- it sounds tacky but it’s kinda cute). Because we were dealing with a triangular plot, Kevin and I organized it by creating diagonal rows and planted different veggies in different rows. The first was for green beans, the second for beets, the third for peppers and tomatoes, and the corner for our herbs.

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