Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo 2010

Day 1: Saturday, April 24, 2010

My first Comic & Entertainment Expo. The only reason I went at all was to see and hear Leonard Nimoy, who was as charming and witty as I had hoped. If he were ever to chance a look at this I would like to thank him. Mr. Nimoy may not be Spock, but Spock lives because of him. After listening to Mr. Nimoy speak at his discussion panel, I believe both Mr. Nimoy and Mr. Spock are good life mentors.

While standing in line to get in on Sunday, I discovered that with Mr. Spock there are no age boundaries. I asked the preteen standing in front of me if she were there to see the actors from the movie Twilight: New Moon.

Her mother pretending mock surprise turned to her daughter and said, "How did she know?"

"Well," I continued. "I think most people are here to see either the Twilight group or Leonard Nimoy, and you know, Mr. Nimoy is kind of old."

"Oh, but he's Spock!" the preteen exclaimed. "And Spock is cool."

We then plotted the best strategy for her to get autographs and photos of the Twilight actors.

Most of my weekend was spent in line ups. At a couple panel discussions the announcers bragged that over 15,000 people would be attending the Expo this weekend, making this the largest comic expo in the west. Now, that many people might be impressive to some and might be considered a good thing to others. It's not a good thing if you are one of the crowd trying to figure out where the end of your line is and there are four lines merging. Crowd management for Saturday was horrible, although I was told by someone who attended last year that this year's was more organized. (Gads!) I bought an advanced weekend pass, which was supposed to allow me to get in quicker than people buying tickets at the gates. Didn't happen. When I arrived around 10:00 am there were no line ups at the gates, and a one mile long line (I do not exaggerate) of advance ticket holders. Having an advanced ticket gave me no special favors except that I can go back and feel like a spawning salmon again on Sunday.

The costume aspect was fun. Many people dressed up; quite a few didn't even enter the costume competition. I'm not an avid comic book reader, so I did not recognize some of the costumed characters. Liana K. (of the television talk show Ed & Red) and Mark Nguyen (from the 404s comedy troupe) were the MCs for the costume competition. They were wonderfully funny and the costumes were well done. I was totally blown away by Liana K.'s knowledge of gaming, comics, you name it, she probably knew about it. No wonder she's considered a Fan Queen.

Day 2: Sunday April 25, 2010
Spawning like an intelligent salmon today. As soon as the doors open I head for the Palomino room where celebrity guests will take part in the Ed & Red mini talk show. The other salmons must have went to the autograph table, because I'm the second person to get in the hall. I score a seat near the stage, which means I get some really excellent photos of the celebrities being interviewed by Liana K and a dirty little sock named Ed. My best shot was of Yukon-born actor Tahmoh Penikett.

Afterwards, I thought I'd check out the exhibitions. A mob held back at the exhibition hall door changed my mind. I decided to find the Brent Spiner panel line up, instead. Good thing too, because that line was getting pretty long. When we got in the MC told everyone that the previous Twilight discussion panel had a battle between the vampires and the werewolves to see who had the most fans in the hall. He said it looked like the android won, because Brent Spiner fans totally filled the hall.

All in all, crowd control was actually pretty good on Sunday. Believe it or not, someone who avoids lines at the best of times actually learned that standing in line can be a cool thing. You meet the most interesting people. Like the young man from Edmonton who was there to "get away." Then there was the UK guy who claimed they had nothing like this in England. And the woman who wondered if her teenage sons, who were perusing the exhibitors hall, would find her in the Leonard Nimoy panel discussion line-up (they didn't). The discussion by two married men on the possibility of scoring with the beautiful spandex-clad superhero, I could've have done without. They laughed, though, when I turned and told them she would probably kick their asses. They then speculated on whether their spouses could be convinced to dress up as superheroes. We were all there, sharing what we love. Kind of like Facebook, only in 3-D.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Water drop

Originally uploaded by Wanderfull1
a water drop
hanging by a twig
(nature's thread)
captures a tree

The Kerby Chorals Present: Alberta Afternoon

When Alison Demeter began instructing the Kerby Chorus in 2004, the class was a small group of seniors who did not necessarily have music skills, stage experience, or for some, even talent. As the members faithfully attended each week, Alison began to realize what this group did have to offer was an incredible love for singing, an endless amount of enthusiasm, and an unquenchable desire to perform.

After watching the film “Prairie Home Companion” in 2006 Alison could not shake the idea of writing a simulated live radio broadcast for the Kerby Chorus to perform. Combining ideas from “Prairie Home Companion” with her twenty-five-year love of CKUA radio, she introduced the concept to her class, and on June 7, 2008 the first performance of “Alberta Afternoon” was received with a standing ovation. With similar response to the 2009 Christmas and spring shows, audience members were also reported to have laughed and cried throughout the show.

Click here for a larger view of the poster.
“Alberta Afternoon” features a tapestry of commercials, stories, monologues, regular features such as “The Listener’s Corner” and special guest appearances woven together with familiar songs to form the broadcast. There are currently 17 regular performers in the Kerby Chorus ranging in age from 65 to 86 - each and every member valuable to the show in his or her own way.

Utilizing their quick wit and humor, it is with natural ease that both Allan Cloutier, a former jazz musician, and Dick Hehr, an “Elvis” impersonator, step back into their roles as hosts of “Alberta Afternoon” for the spring 2010 show. Making her debut in her role as the third announcer, former singer, Shirley Martin, will provide a good contrast to Allan and Dick’s flamboyancy.

Margaret Walker, Marion Taylor, Mary Young, and Tom Kosaka will join Shirley, Dick and Allan in utilizing their vocal talents as solo performers. While the newest member of the Kerby Chorus, Eileen Sutcliff, completes this group of soloists, she also contributes a flare for drama that is realized through monologues. The show could not possibly go forward without the remaining members who make up the chorus. They back up the soloists, participate in skits and commercials, take responsibility for the visioning of songs, and inspire others with their energy and solid commitment.

Although feature artists are invited to perform, the basis of the music that supports the Kerby Chorus is performed by a group of five musicians that range in age between 17 and 75. With piano, Celtic harp, mandolin, guitar, auto harp, bass, banjo, drums, harmonica and percussion to choose from, they provide a true “Alberta” sound that is never predictable.

The Kerby Chorals are currently working toward a new edition of “Alberta Afternoon” that will be presented on May 1st at St. David’s United Church and on May 15th at the Kerby Centre. Both shows begin at 1:30 and include refreshments. Tickets are $15.00 and are available at the Kerby Program Office or on-line at http://tickets.pumphousetheatre.ca

Here's what people have said about past shows...

“Alberta Afternoon has always been a favourite of ours. We decided to take my brother and his wife, visiting from Ontario, to the June show. They were as delighted as we were. We all loved the originality of the program, the humour, the enthusiasm, and the musical talent of the performers. We came away with our spirits uplifted, our hearts warmed, and our toes tapping! An entertaining and very enjoyable afternoon!”
Ruth and Don Dunsire

“Similar in structure to Prairie Home Companion this show provided wonderful, musical and humorous entertainment. I enjoyed every minute of the presentation. Bring the entire family. It's well worth it.”
Will Mehew

"It is increasingly difficult to find affordable entertainment the entire family can enjoy. This show fills the bill! The music was wonderful and the humour tasteful. Suitable for all ages, I highly recommend it."
Mairian Mehew

Sunday, April 11, 2010

middle of the night

middle of the night
Originally uploaded by Wanderfull1
Going through older shots, this one kept coming to mind. Although technically it is out of focus, shaky, and dark, the scene strikes a mood of solitude; and makes me wonder why someone would be walking alone in the dead of night, in the middle of winter.

Quite often I hunt through the Public Library's online catalogue for inspirational photography books.  Last week I decided to have a look at what is on the shelves at the downtown Central Library.  I'm going to need more time and a bigger backpack. The size of the collection, and some of the books, is huge.  One book that grabbed me was a thick little yellow book entitled Drive-By Shootings: Photographs by a New York Taxi Driver by David Bradford.

Formerly an art director for an ad firm, David quit his job to become a taxi driver because it gave him the freedom to do what he really loved - taking photos.  Originally, he had planned on painting pictures of the photos he made, then he realized the photos were his art.  The book's added text by Gerhard Waldherr gives  wonderful snapshots of what it is like to drive cab in New York.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

ice bank over pond

ice bank over pond
Originally uploaded by Wanderfull1
"When standing still... the water is in the most perfect state of repose. Let that be your model. It remains quietly within, and is not agitated without."
- Tao, Chuang-Tzu

Maybe in China, but going through my photos I found not one where the water was "in the most perfect state of repose." The water's stillness was disrupted by wind ripples or circles from bug steps. Even though I can't see below the surface, I imagine there is a world of activity there with bugs being eaten by fish, which are being eaten by bigger fish and the microscopic things that the human eye cannot see. Which begs the question: is there such a thing as a perfect state of repose?

These are musings induced by an  "East Meets West" course I'm currently taking through Athabasca University. The course involves reading novels written by Huxley, Hesse, Pirsig, and Le Guin and translations of Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist texts, then looking for the eastern influences in the western writings.  It's probably a good thing that a comparison is all that is required.  As you can tell, inner calm remains illusive. [sigh]

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bands at the Grand

The Grand Theatre and the CBC showcased several Alberta talents at the Bands at the Grand event, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The shows were filmed for future release on CBC television. I had to work Tuesday, but I caught the fantastic Wednesday night performances by Colleen Brown, Tim Hus, Kris Demeanor and His Crack Band, and The Dudes. Host Tim Tamashiro, a very entertaining nose-harpist and funny man, kept the crowd lively in between performances.

Colleen Brown opened with her quirky ‘70s-style love songs. The fantastic sound system at the Grand was a great match with Colleen's beautiful crystal clear vocals.

Tim Hus performed twangy truck-driver, oil-rigger country songs and told tongue-in-cheek stories about his truck-driver, oil-rigger country songs. Normally, I'm not a fan of twangy country, but Hus' group was alright.

Kris Demeanor was as awesome a word-smith as ever. My favorite song of the evening was One Shoe. One Shoe documents the freezing deaths of several Saskatchewan First Nations -- deaths caused by certain RCMP officers habitually dumping drunk Natives in prairie fields during -40 degrees Celsius weather. The first time I heard Kris perform One Shoe it was acoustically last Fall at the Alberta Arts Days Sound Off on the Arts. The driving force of the Crack Band added a new dimension of drama and power to the song. Chantal Vitalis, lead guitarist for Kris Demeanor's Crack Band, served up some very tasty guitar licks throughout their set.

The Dudes finished the show with high energy rock with most of the energy emanating from their very high test, highly entertaining drummer. I could have photographed him all night.

CBC will combine filming from the Tuesday (March 30th) and Wednesday (March 31st) shows and broadcast the performances sometime this July or August.