Tag Archives: March 2016

At the Rose and Crown for Story Slam

Have you ever heard of a Story Slam? It is when a bunch of people get together and tell stories to each other. Rad, right?! You can imagine my excitement when I found out about the Story Slam that takes place at the Rose & Crown on 4th St. SW. every two months. We arrived and put our $5 in the bucket. On Thursdays, the Rose & Crown has half priced bottles of wine, so it was clear to Ryan and I what we would be ordering. We learned that each Story Slam has a different theme and this evening’s theme was: Oops! There is room for twelve storytellers who must tell their mostly true, themed story within the five minute time limit, or risk losing points. The host of the evening reminded us that this is supposed to be a fun, competition free evening, but that there is a prize at the end.

The storytellers began. We heard a story about a woman peeing in a forest, a man whose junior high jazz band career ended just as soon as it began, and a man whose childhood bike story includes a plywood jump, a rock, and a gin & tonic. A man told us about his trip to Indonesia ending with too many drugs and an epic, Frogger-like run across a highway, and a woman told us about the time her son was gifted, by a homeless man straight out of a dumpster, a bong, which is now a vase on her mantle. We heard from a woman who once spent an entire first date discussing preparations for a zombie apocalypse in Calgary, and we heard a story from a woman who was temporarily stranded on a Panamanian island after entrusting a sketchy captain with her passport. We heard about a man who was caught sober skinny dipping by a policeman who was surprised only to find out he wasn’t drinking, a mother who made the mistake of buying her kids the same winter Splasher suits as every other kid in school, and last but not least, a woman whose drunkest evening had her trespassing on the train tracks, being kicked out of Cowboys, and breaking a few laws, BEFORE 10pm!

The evening was over. I could have sat and listened to stories all night! The scores were tallied up and the winner was the mom who now has a bong from a dumpster holding flowers on her mantle. Then I asked the host about the idea for the slam and where it came from. “Poetry can sometimes be esoteric”, she said, “but anyone can be a storyteller.”

The Story Slam usually takes place once every two months, but they will be holding Story Slams in May AND June! For more information, check out the Facebook page! Thanks for the stories, Calgary!


Getting out of a Locked Room

I remember loving riddles as a kid but never actually being very good at them. What gets wetter as it dries? What word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it? I would sit there and rack my brain trying to come up with the most complex answer. Then the riddler answers, “towels,” and “short,” and you laugh because it was so simple all along!

Speaking of riddles, the newest location of The Locked Room just opened in Calgary! These guys were the first Locked Room in the city, and this is already their third location! If you aren’t familiar with how this activity works, you and your friends are locked in a room, and you are surrounded by clues you need to use to help you get out of the room. The Locked Room has three locations and a total of twelve rooms with different themes and puzzles.

I had the chance to try out the Hipster Hangover room with my friend Ryan. We arrived and watched the quick briefing video. We closed our eyes and were led into our room. The story of the Hipster Hangover is that we were at a giant party the night before and drank ourselves into a stupor. We passed out in the laundry room of someone’s house and now have to find our way out.

In each room, there is an emergency key that can unlock the door in case a team member needs to leave, and a button that summons an employee to the room to deliver a hint. There are cameras in each room so the employees can make sure you are treating the room nicely and being safe, and so they can check on your progress. We figured out a few things on our own, but needed the hint doorbell once or twice. We continued to overthink things and had to remind ourselves that it shouldn’t be THIS hard.

We were able to escape the room in about an hour and fifteen minutes. We were pretty darn proud of ourselves. The production value of the room was so spot on, I actually felt like there could have been a party there the night before. The clues were difficult, but doable, and each time we figured out how to open another lock, we could hear the employees cheering for us at the front desk. The Locked Room is about $25 per person. Each room is built for different sized groups and so calling ahead to book a room ensures you get the right size room and right level of difficulty! Thanks for the rad riddle, Calgary! I can’t wait to go back and try another room!

Listening to Tim Williams play the Blues

You know when you’re northbound on 14th St. SW? You know when you pass Heritage Records and you see that big, ol’ mural of that cool looking old guy playing a guitar? Did you know that the cool old guy playing a guitar is international Blues legend, Tim Williams? Did you know he plays Blues guitar every Tuesday at Mikey’s Juke Joint? For free?

It’s true! Every Tuesday night, Mikey’s boasts Blues night with Tim Williams. Ryan and I rocked up around 9 pm, took our seats at a table near the stage, and ordered our drinks from the breezy, hip young bartender. Our ice-cold beverages arrived at our table and the music began.

Tim Williams was born and raised in California. As a musician growing up in Southern California in the ‘60s, the stories this man tells are not surprising. He introduced the song Summer Land by saying, ”back when I was in school in Santa Barbara, [this beach] was full of a bunch of crazy musicians and painters and artists drinking wine and dropping acid and watching the sunset. It was too good to last… Anyway, this song is about that.”

It is hard not to smile while he plays. His voice blends beautifully with the music, and his fingers move effortlessly on the strings. He played covers of some of his faves, introducing each song— the time period, the songwriter, the story— and played some of his own tunes too. “I wrote this song from out of nowhere” he said, “I thought, it’s either start drinking now and watch daytime television OR write a song. So I wrote this song.” The song was titled ‘Rehearsal for the Blues.’ For something written in a dingy hotel room in the middle of Camrose, Alberta, this song was beautiful.

Then he played his cigar box guitar. This instrument really is a cigar box, with a piece of wood stuck in it, and a few extra pieces attached in specific ways. Tim plays this guitar with a slide on his finger. I have never been to the southern US, to the Mississippi River, and am not a connoisseur of the Blues scene, but I feel like Tim Williams playing a cigar box guitar is the real thing. Thanks for the Blues, Tim! Thanks for the rad musical evening, Calgary!

Mikey’s Juke Joint is located at 1901 10 Ave SW and hosts Tim Williams every Tuesday night at 9pm (unless Tim is out of town).

Eating Village Ice Cream on St Patrick’s Island

On an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in the city, my friend, Chris and I did what any Calgarian would do on an unseasonably warm afternoon in the city: went for ice cream! The city of Calgary has a plethora of ice cream places. My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe in Marda Loop, Peters’ Drive-In on 16th Ave NW for a delicious milkshake, and Amato Gelato in Kensington, just to name a few. This afternoon, Chris and I decided to stay downtown and wandered towards East Village to Village Ice Cream!

We joined the line outside the shop. Honestly, I am not one for lines, (who is really?) but there is something about the line at Village that is unlike any other. A certain buzz flows through the crowd. It’s the kind of buzz that only exists among people about to buy delicious and creamy ice cream. I have a rule that I must try three flavours before ordering – today,  Earl Grey, Chocolate Coconut Milk, and Snickerdoodle. They were all so good, but Snickerdoodle won me over. Usually for me it’s a Cardamom cone at Village, but the Snickerdoodle was just too good to pass up! Chris doubled up his scoops and had Village Vanilla Bean and Snickerdoodle piled high on a freshly pressed waffle cone.

With ice cream in hand, we hopped in the car, motored over to the riverfront, parked by Fort Calgary, and walked across the Skipping Stone Bridge. St Patrick’s Island is a relatively new park in the city that opened its bridges in August 2015. With a giant toboggan hill that doubles as a movie theatre in the summer, a huge playground, and “The Point” which has some of the best downtown and river views, St Patrick’s Island was the perfect place for a stroll and to eat our ice cream. We ignored the looks from the other park-goers when seeing our fingers turning red in the brisk weather. We walked through the trees and along the river, watching the geese slide about on the ice. The sun shone through the branches. It was a magical place to enjoy our ice cream.

As the sun went down, it began to feel a bit more like February. We walked back to the Skipping Stone Bridge as I took the last bite of my cone. Perfect timing! Thanks for the ice cream and the beautiful walk in the park, Calgary!

At Happenings 3 at Arts Commons

When I hear “gallery opening” or “art exhibition”, I am immediately intimidated. Maybe it is because every art exhibition I have ever seen in a movie includes a demographic of people I might not fit in with, or perhaps it’s because when you Google “gallery opening” the first links that pop up are “art gallery opening etiquette” and “10 things you shouldn’t do at an art gallery”. I am not an impolite, or uncivil person, and I do know how to act in public, but any event for which there are that many rules intimidates me!

Arts Commons wishes to change this negative perception that sometimes goes along with galleries and art exhibitions with its own kind of celebration of art. It is called Happenings. On February 29, my friend Ryan and I attended Happenings #3 in the Upper Centre Court of Arts Commons. This was unlike any gallery opening I could have imagined. We walked in and it smelled sugary sweet; my attention was immediately drawn to the person making cotton candy on one side of the court. Across from him was the adult colouring station, and next to that was a silvery stage showing off some delightful live music. We made our game plan: we wanted to hit up everything we could!

The nice thing about this event was that it had an anything-goes itinerary, during which people could come and go as they pleased and hit up the activities they were most interested in. For Ryan and I that was cotton candy, buttons, and having our portraits drawn by a local artist, Kelsey Fraser. We were too late to see the film, The Peel, but from the looks of the line-up to get in, I can only guess it was a total hit.

The man making the cotton candy flowers was covered in sugar. Sugar wisps hung all around his face, his hat, his arms, the ceiling straight above him. We watched as a stick and some sugar was miraculously spun into a strange fibre-glass-like treat. We put our names down to have Lindsay Sorrell create beautiful, personalized monogram buttons. We waited patiently in line for Kelsey Fraser to do a blind contour drawing of us and paint it with watercolours.

Happenings #3 was free and it was the perfect way to spend a Monday evening. Happenings #4 will be on April 19 and Happenings #5 is on August 18. Arts Commons isn’t telling us what you shouldn’t do at an art gallery, but instead asking us what can’t you do at an art gallery? Thanks for inviting us to celebrate some art, Calgary!