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Alberta

Funniest Night of the Week: Broken City’s Comedy Monday

By IAN DOIG

James Moore, comedian and host of Comedy Monday Nights at Broken City (Photo: Marnie Persaud)

James Moore, comedian and host of Comedy Monday Night at Broken City (Photo: Marnie Persaud)

Some of the biggest laughs happen in small clubs, and Calgary features a handful of such intimate comedy venues. In fact, the longest-running (almost nine years) open-mic comedy show in Western Canada takes place once a week in what happens to be one of the city’s coolest music clubs. A collection of bar stools and booths surrounds the dance floor and stage at Broken City. Here, on Comedy Monday Night, you’ll find funny-man host James Moore and his comic guests surrounded by a semi-circle of laughter.

The show has a reputation among stand-up comics: Zach Galifianakis and Bob Odenkirk have both dropped by. Why is that?

They’re comics, and they like to get out and try new stuff. We have a reputation for putting on a show, and that probably draws them in. Galifianakis absolutely destroyed the place. Odenkirk had some great new bits he was trying out, equating his kids to living with the worst roommate ever.

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On A High Note: Calgary’s Intimate Live Music Venues

By RACHAEL FREY

Hired Guns play to an excited crowd at the Ironwood Stage & Grill (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Hired Guns play to an excited crowd at the Ironwood Stage & Grill (Photo: Jason Dziver)

When the sun sets, the sound of live music and laughter escapes the historic Garry Theatre just east of downtown Calgary. The comfortably worn-in brick heritage building that’s home to the Ironwood Stage & Grill, a music club featuring live performances every night of the week, with two shows daily on weekends. It seats 140 yet maintains a cozy, intimate vibe.

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Edmonton Wayfinding Project: The Art of (Not) Getting Lost

How do you orient yourself in an unfamiliar place — without relying on a car or smart phone? The answer is wayfinding: anything that informs your navigation, such as directional signage and indicators. Relative to other major urban centers, Edmonton lacks any consistent wayfinding design — but that’s beginning to change.

Courtesy Edmonton Wayfinding Project

Courtesy Edmonton Wayfinding Project

When Tim Querengesser moved to Edmonton in March 2013, he noticed it was difficult to navigate the pedway, transit, and pedestrian walkway systems with the existing wayfinding signage. Inspired by citizen-driven wayfinding projects in other cities like Legible London, he started The Edmonton Wayfinding Project (EWP) to advance conversations with the city and engage locals in the discussion about creating better pedestrian wayfinding in Edmonton.

Good wayfinding can help visitors and locals alike navigate and explore the city more easily. Visitors to a city are often car-less, and are inclined to call a cab to take them to their destination because of an apprehension of getting lost. Querengesser says the presence of a detailed wayfinding design would change that: “wayfinding can be used in two ways, in a way that makes it easy to understand how to get from point A to point B, and in an adventure way like, ‘I want to go explore and see what I find’.”

To gather local input on wayfinding, EWP has a feature exhibit through June 2014 at Harcourt House gallery. Their first installation was a chalkboard wall map that people could interact with to create an insider’s perspective of the city. “We think of things in stories and a map is a story, it shows we all think of the city in our own way,” Querengesser explains. “It helps us think of Edmonton as more than just a grid of streets and cars. Our map shows that it’s shops and parks and humans and events… it’s where things happen.”

Querengesser says innovations like Google Maps do not negate the need for good wayfinding: “on Google maps everything looks the same. 104 St. and 106 St. look the same on the map but in real life 104 St. is this pedestrian-heavy, vibrant destination with some of the city’s popular shops and restaurants, and the farmers’ market, and you don’t get that sense from the digital map.” Wayfinding, Tim explains, serves as place-making to create an identity for a location by naming it. For instance, areas like Whyte Ave. and Garneau are popular, well known destinations in the city that encompass several shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues that are local favourites.

In its pilot stage, EWP has built and presented a functional, to-scale prototype, presented a public art installation, had their project accepted for the 2014 International Information Design Conference in London, England, and has designed a consistent set of symbols and labels for use on their directional signage. Now, the City of Edmonton has taken note and begun the first stages of its wayfinding program, Walk Edmonton. Wayfinding signs have been placed around Edmonton’s downtown core and the city is asking users to provide feedback in a survey.

Take the wayfinding challenge and go for a walk! Don’t anticipate getting lost, but rather expect to discover something new. You might just find a new favourite restaurant or unique shop en route to your next destination.

To learn more about The Edmonton Wayfinding Project, visit their installation at Harcourt House, visit edmontonwayfindingproject.com, or visit the City of Edmonton’s Wayfinding Project Page.

 — Breanna Mroczek

For the Thrill Seeker: 5 Thrilling Edmonton Attractions

Skydiver in freefall high up in the air
TAKE THE PLUNGE 
You only need 60 seconds to pack in all the thrills that skydiving has to offer! Whether you want to take the plunge for the first time or are an experienced jumper, dive from Canada’s fastest jump plane to experience an exhilarating 120 mph freefall. Skydive season starts April 1, and several jumps take place daily. Edmonton Skydive, 59523 RR 260, Westlock County, 780-884-5867, edmontonskydive.com

NEED FOR SPEED Race your car or motorbike down the one quarter mile drag strip Fast and the Furious style at Castrol Raceway during JB’s Power Centre Street Legal races every Friday night. If snow is keeping you off the tracks, head to Speeders Indoor ProKarts track to race electric powered pro-karts. Castrol Raceway, Highway 19 & Highway 2, Nisku, 780-468-3278, castrolraceway.com. Speeders Indoor ProKarts, 13145-149 St., 780-451-4377, speeders.ca.

HIGH FLYING FUN Soar 450 feet across the world’s largest indoor zipline with Line Tech Ziplines. You’ll get a view of the World Waterpark, where thrill seekers will want to try water slides like Cyclone where a trap door opens to release riders into a vertical free fall, before they encounter a gravity defying loop. West Edmonton Mall, 8882-170 St., 780-489-8147, linetechziplines.com.

TRIPLE THE FUN If you’re always in line to try the fastest, most topsy-turvy rides at amusement parks, you won’t want to pass up a ride on the Mindbender! It’s the world’s largest indoor triple-loop roller coaster, reaching heights of up to 14 stories and speeds up to 100 km/h. If you’re not too dizzy after the ride, head over to Space Shot to get launched 120 feet high in less than two seconds, all before plummeting back to the ground below. Galaxyland at West Edmonton Mall, 8882-170 St., 780-444-5300, wem.ca.

NATURE AT HIGH SPEED Take a drive off the beaten path and experience the great outdoors on a snowmobile or quad — either one might be suitable for the weather this time of year! Visit altasnowmobile.ab.ca or aohva.com for information on trails and rentals near the city. Pioneer Offroad Rentals, 7907 Davies Rd., 780-454-1010, pioneerrentals.ca. Expedition Rentals, 7012-82 Ave., 780-932-2746, expeditionrentals.ca.

Beauty Picks for Spring at LUX Beauty Boutique

Lux-Beauty-Boutique

Natasha Ross and Danielle Decruyper of Lux Beauty Boutique


LUX Beauty Boutique
 is a beautiful local shop overflowing with top beauty products and has quickly become the go-to spot for local and visiting cosmetic junkies alike! You’ll find products you didn’t even know your beauty routine needed, but will be all the better because of them. Natasha Ross and Danielle Decruyper — two of the in-store beauty experts and makeup artists — share their picks for keeping your routine fresh for spring:

What trends are we seeing in nail colours for spring?
Pastels are really in this spring, in all hues. It is less about the sparkles and nail art and more about pure color in beautiful tones. Deborah Lippmann just released their Spring Reveries collection, which is filled with gorgeous tones that exude the feeling of springtime. My favorite is La Vie en Rose, it’s a pale pink tone with a light shimmer that looks amazing in the sunlight. Layering tones is also really big this spring. Try a coat of a sheer pastel nail lacquer on top of a more vibrant colour you already have — the results are gorgeous.

What about makeup trends for the season?
Spring is all about freshness and renewal, and this really reflects in the makeup for the season. Light, sheer tones are going to win and flatter everyone. Plus they are really low maintenance. Luminizers and cream blushes create a dewy finish, and lip color is moving away from matte and more into light and sheer finishes. Paul & Joe’s new lip colors, especially Poppy and Peony, which are citrus orange sheer and bright pink sheer finishes, give your natural look a little somethin’ extra. 

Can you recommend a great spring fragrance?
How can spring not be about floral fragrances? The key to this season is that scents are being mixed, matched and blended to create a full garden of notes. MCMC perfume oils are very outdoorsy and the oils blend together nicely to create personalized scents. Library of Flowers also recently released mini perfume sets that encourage you to be adventurous and create new fresh scent libraries.

Best of Calgary Shopping Centres: Southcentre

By SARAH SUSSMAN

The 962,000 sq ft shopping centre contains more than 180 stores (Photo: courtesy Southcentre)

The 962,000 sq ft shopping centre contains more than 180 stores (Photo: courtesy Southcentre)

Located in the city’s southeast, Southcentre has been renovated over the past few years to make way for new independent retailers and emerging businesses. While the mall still features department stores and franchises, it also includes many independent and niche stores as well as the flagship locations of several local retailers.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
This gourmet chocolate shop carries a sumptuous selection of handmade fudge (including rocky road and peanut butter), brittle, caramel apples and individual chocolates, as well as Kookaburra red licorice from Australia.
• Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, 403-265-1950, www.rmcf.com

Blu’s Womens Wear & Shoes
Alberta-based Blu’s features high-end designer women’s wear and shoes at reduced prices by brands such as Hugo Boss Woman, Eileen Fisher, Ellen Tracey Company, Teen Flo and Blu’s own namesake private label.
• Blue’s Womens Wear & Shoes, 403-225-8315, www.blus.com

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B-Side Dinner & Drinks: Eat at the Bar in Calgary

By ANGELA NEUFELD

Bartender Travis Whitney shares a laugh with patrons at Avec Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Bartender Travis Whitney shares a laugh with patrons at Avec Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)

When you’re out for dinner and drinks in Calgary, consider requesting a seat at the bar. Bartender banter, cocktail clatter and the sociable setting of a communal elbow rest deliver an instant dose of nightlife. Also on the plus side, most venues’ dinner menus can be enjoyed at the bar sans (typically) reservations. Below is a guide to a varied assortment of great restaurant bars.

AVEC BISTRO
The Bar: Bright and contemporary, its blonde wood backbar and red bar seats are a fun and modern twist to this French bistro.
The Appeal: You can cozy up to your dinner date at this intimate six-seater. The rustic French food far exceeds its price tag.
The Feel: Refined yet happily casual.
Specials: Occasional weekend special: homemade ice cream sandwiches, seafood du jour.
Bar Reservations: Call ahead on Fri and Sat.
Recommends: Steak frites with béarnaise and aioli paired with a fine French red. Or the Drink French Fluently cocktail made with St. Germain liqueur and Champagne.
Hours: Mon – Thu, 11:30 – 2:30, 5 pm – 10 pm; Fri, 11:30 – 2:30, 5 pm – 11 pm; Sat, 5 pm – 11 pm; Sun, closed
• Avec Bistro, 105, 550 – 11 Ave SW, 587-352-0964, www.avecbistro.com
Map and reviews

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Hip(ster) Hangouts in Edmonton

The cozy rustic interior of Three Boars Eatery. Photo courtesy Three Boars Eatery.

The cozy rustic interior of Three Boars Eatery. Photo courtesy Three Boars Eatery.

Exposed wood, craft beer, chalkboard accents, creative cocktails, and clipboard menus… You can’t help but feel cool in a place where an Old Fashioned is a staple on the drink menu and the dining room exudes a rustic, chic feel. Please your palate at one of these hip eateries in Edmonton!

The vintage Victorian motifs and vinyl record library are striking features of The Common, though the chicken and waffles will be the most memorable part of your dining experience — in a good way! Its ambiance, innovative menu, and cocktail list make it fit for dinner, drinks, and dancing. 9910-109 St., 780-452-7333, thecommon.ca. 

The Sugarbowl’s gooey, oversized cinnamon buns are the definitive menu item at this popular breakfast spot. It transitions nicely into an all-day dining room and late night retreat with upscale comfort food and craft beers by the bottle. If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth and prefer a savoury late night nosh, go for a bowl of their addictive smoked paprika popcorn. 10922-88 Ave., 780-433-8369, thesugarbowl.org. 

Score one of the 38 seats at the tucked-away Three Boars Eatery and you’ll find a weekly-changing menu based on the seasonal ingredients that the chef picks up at local farmers’ markets. Plan on sampling a few plates — they’re designed for sharing — or just having a light meal. If you simply want to relax with a drink, the bartender will be more than happy to concoct something special for you. 8424-109 St., 780-757-2600, threeboars.ca 

Best of Calgary Shopping Centres: The CORE

By ERIN LEGERE

The CORE features 160 stores, including flagships Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen (Photo: courtesy The CORE)

The CORE features 160 stores, including flagships Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen (Photo: courtesy The CORE)

Calgary’s largest downtown shopping centre boasts four levels lined with designer shops, unique boutiques and local retailers, and its recently renovated Devonian Gardens is a lush shopping-spree rest stop. For the third installment in our Best of Calgary Shopping Centres series, here are five of The CORE’s top shops.

Holt Renfrew
This upscale department store specializes in men’s and women’s designer apparel and accessories, featuring three floors of international fashion, shoes, designer handbags, cosmetics and fragrances. Boutiques include Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and Hermès.
• 403-269-7341, www.holtrenfrew.com

Harry Rosen
A Canadian high-end retailer of men’s designer fashion, Harry Rosen carries formal attire, sportswear, casual apparel and accessories. Exclusive in-stores boutiques include Tom Ford, Canali, Ermenegildo Zegna and Armani Collezioni.
• 403-294-0992, www.harryrosen.com

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Calgary Can’t-Miss Events in April

The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo spans more than 418,000 sq. ft. of space, packed with programming, vendors, artists, and special guests. (Photo: courtesy Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo)

The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo spans more than 418,000 sq. ft. of space, packed with programming, vendors, artists and special guests. (Photo: courtesy Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo)

As the snow melts, the city’s festival season kicks off. April is also jam-packed with concerts and cultural events, particularly the last weekend. Check out our roster of can’t-miss dates for this month.

The Calgary Spoken Word Festival
April 1 – 6
Devoted to literary expression, this festival features a plethora of poetry performances, workshops and panel discussions by Canadian and international artists. Highlighting the week is the energetic Ink Spot Poetry Collective slam competition, in which writers have three minutes to recite their work in front of a rowdy audience.

Kings of Leon
April 1
After a three-year hiatus, rockers Kings of Leon are back on tour following the release of their sixth album, Mechanical Bull. While the band has matured, their trademark gritty Southern blues sound remains.

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Best of Calgary Shopping Centres: Market Mall

By SARAH SUSSMAN

Market Mall is located in the northwest, near the University of Calgary (Photo: courtesy Market Mall)

Market Mall is located in the northwest, near the University of Calgary (Photo: courtesy Market Mall)

Located in the city’s northwest, Market Mall features over 200 retailers, including numerous big-name fashion labels and lifestyle brands, upscale houseware stores and various independent boutiques. For the second installment in our Best of Calgary Shopping Centres series, here are five top Market Mall shops.

Lush
A specialty boutique carrying ethical, eco-friendly bath and body products in a variety of sumptuous scents. The intimate store is packed to the brim with products—think of it as a candy store for the bath-obsessed.
• 403-288-5870, www.lush.ca

Good Taste of Britain
This family-owned boutique specializes in British novelties, sports attire and newspapers. It also carries specialty foodstuffs, such as Irn-Bru soda pop and Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars, that will activate a keen sense of nostalgia for British expats, like.
• 403-247-4739, www.goodtasteofbritain.com

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A New Rush: One of Calgary’s Top Restaurants Reinvented

By IAN DOIG

Rush Ocean Prime's Seafood Tower (Photo: courtesy Rush Ocean Prime)

Rush Ocean Prime’s Seafood Tower (Photo: courtesy Rush Ocean Prime)

Soon after opening in 2008, Rush was declared one of the country’s top restaurants, and according to Wine Spectator, the contemporary, upscale eatery also maintains one of its best wine lists. It was also certainly one of the city’s most beautiful rooms, featuring lux seating, glass dividers and a visible wine cellar. Despite its glowing critical reputation, the trend-setting eatery has undergone a major reinvention that even includes a new name: Rush Ocean Prime.

Pat Soul, vice president, premium brands, of Vintage Group, which owns Rush, says the critical acclaim didn’t always resonate with patrons. Two and a half years in the planning, it has been given a major renovation as well as new lunch and dinner menus. This carefully planned evolution, Soul says, retains its fine-dining ambitions but is simply more approachable.

“You can expect a less pretentious, more relaxed vibe,” he says. “An open, upbeat atmosphere in the lounge and that same luxurious dining room. Like the new model year of a great car, it’s just a revised, better version.”

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