Tag Archives: History
Video

The Name of the Game is… Eugene Jarvis!

30 Nov

Gunpowder & Sky’s Filmbuff and media brand Futurism are teaming up to release Finnish documentary The Name of the Game, on November 30th worldwide. It will be available on streaming services such as iTunes, Amazon Video, VUDU, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, STEAM, and Vimeo

This feature-length film gives unprecedented access into the video game industry, documenting the collaboration between legendary arcade game designer, Eugene Jarvis and the Finnish game developer, Housemarque.

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Great Canadian Ghost Stories, and Where to Find Them

21 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Book launch on Oct 23, 7pm at Bolen Books
1644 Hillside Ave #111, Victoria, BC

Fans of supernatural lore can easily find a wide selection of Barbara Smith’s books collecting ghost stories in many a public library. Each of them focuses on a specific region and as she wrote in her latest work, Great Canadian Ghost Stories from Coast to Coast, “Please know that all my books of ghost stories, including this one, have been written to entertain and inform, not to change anyone’s belief systems.”

From Labrador to Vancouver Island, this work does a great job at offering the best-known tales to read before bed. I found The Isle of Demons from way out East particularly sad — a newlywed family was left to fend for themselves there, but its reputation got the better of sailors when they needed help — and for Victoria, British Columbia, my home, to decide on which story is best to spotlight must have been tough. Two are offered: the shade at Beacon Hill Park (too common of an entry in many works for my taste). I had an experience at Hatley Castle, and that’s my number one choice. Understandably, the administration wants to play that down, but the stories and what I heard says it all.

Another I’m trying to encounter is the Time Slip on Shelbourne street. I drove through this path many an October night for the past several years. The thought of this path becoming country is theoretically an illusion because when tired, the autumn foliage can trick the mind. I have a slip of paper in a plastic mylar bag to drop to test the theory of, “If you find this note, please find me in the years of 1978 and onwards.” My interest in the paranormal started in that decade.

This superlative collection covers favourites like The Dungarvon Whooper, The Ghosts of Fort George and The Banff Springs Hotel. I’m still looking for mention of the Sooke Staircase and feel this piece of folklore is overlooked! Another entry to note about my home province is that no, the doll Mandy did not inspire the Nicolas Cage movie of the same name. The movie took place in the Shadow Mountains of California, and it has its own demons for visitors to deal with.

I particularly enjoyed how this work represents the Great White North as a whole. The folklore from Nunavut is most likely still being pieced together. When considering how widespread and isolated citizens are, I firmly believe we have a lot of cabins in the woods scenarios. To find one that’s not akin to Evil Dead will be difficult.

The content offered in this collection is reading time well spent. Smith’s prose is easy to follow. Although I know more than half the stories already, they are worth revisiting when the mood strikes. She’s been writing these books since 1993, and her experience shows. She tells these tales as though she’s passing knowledge from one generation to another so that certain aspects of Canada’s past are not forgotten. The loss of lives at sea will always be hard-hitting. Mariner tales, especially “Mysterious Rescue,” early in this book sets the tone. Sometimes, those “Ghostly Footsteps” are just that; the dead has no interaction with the living, but are fleeting memories so we can at least acknowledge their presence. The entry on “Historical Hamilton House” hits all the right notes not only about the rise of Spiritualism in Canada and why many took to it, but also explains the Ackroyd connection. This family’s interest spanned generations and the comedian took ideas to pen the comedy classic Ghostbusters.

Barbara Smith’s books are often found in bookstores when the Halloween season arises. This latest work updates a few details. There’s no denying we all love a good ghost story by the campfire, but when we want to go find answers, that’s a different kettle of fish. My advice: just do not try (not many books stand out) and simply enjoy discovering Canada’s past from a supernatural angle. I feel that’s this book’s purpose, as I would love to ride those haunted railways once again.

The War of 1812 Hits the 2018 Victoria Fringe Festival, and it’s a Hoot!

31 Aug

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Location:
Langham Court Theatre
805 Langham Ct.
Victoria, BC

Remaining Showtimes:
Aug 31 7:15 pm
Sep 01 12:00 pm
Sep 02 8:15 pm

Wes Borg, Morgan Cranny, Mike Delamont, and Rod Peter Jr. need to teach Social Studies! While I can find them performing at the Victoria Fringe Festival, I have to wonder how they can handle a classroom of attention deficit youths. Back when I went to high school, I found Canadian history boring. The War of 1812 gets unpolitically correct. No one is being blamed for how it started, but to see how all three sides (Britain, USA and Canada) dealt with the annexing of trade was explored in comedic context. With this heavyweight of comedic talents—all of whom are well known in the Victoria, BC theatre scene—I can ace any final exam!

I am not sure how accurate the information in the “historical reenactments” is, but this comedic revue had a lot of moments which made me laugh out loud. There were cross-dressing and innuendo. To witness how this country was built certainly puts one song from Jefferson Starship to shame. While it’s easy to build a city on rock and roll, what about the politics and businesses involved? There were pointed shots which I loved. There was never a moment which did not have me in stitches.

When this show started with a student (played by Borg) giving a presentation (it was obvious he had no sense of patriotism) and faster than anyone could say Charles Dickens, he gets visited by the ghost of Pierre Berton and they go back in time to learn how this country was made free. After several battles, role switches and home invasions, this boy gets it. I doubt the adults in the room (the audience) needed reminding, but to see two burly men, an average and one thin figure (Peter Jr.) just have fun made my night. There was singing and clapping, and even wiffle balls being thrown. The gang was not intentionally tripping each other up; I saw moments where giggles had to be stifled.

Borg’s artistry is infectious. He and Paul Mather originally wrote this work back in the late 90’s, and this show has seen revisions over the years and infrequent performances. It was an all musical production back in the early days, and just how much of it was revised requires knowing how the past versions looked. YouTube is great for looking some iterations up. With this new version, I empathized with the wrapping narrative. Plus, I want to see this show (and see Delamont in drag) again. Borg’s lyrical stylings are comparable to that of The Arrogant Worms. Both are similar in content, but to say I love to see all Borg all the time requires paying full attention to what goes on in the theatre scene. Yes, I have been assimilated.

5 Stars out of 5

100+ years of Cinema and the Sequential Art, A Primer

22 Aug

Blondie Movie PosterBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Movies based on comic strips/books are big business, and not all of them were based on superheroes. The idea to adapt popular titles began way before Marvel and DC comics formed and this essay offers a highlight reel of these other popular works. In the early days of cinema, French journalist Georges Sadoul believed Louis Lumière‘s L’Arroseur Arrosé (1895) was an adaptation of L’Arroseur (The Gardener), a strip by artist Hermann Vogle. [1] The next work which followed was based on the British comic Ally Sloper (1867). Three films were made.

In the golden age of cinema, superheroes did not command the screen. Instead, these projections were humourous looks at everyday life. Harold Teen (1928) may well be the first to arrive on the big screen in North America. Blondie (1930) was immensely popular because of its look at middle-class suburbia. The early years followed the romance of this eponymous character to Dagwood, the comic relief, and the media buzz upon their marriage is comparable to the media hoopla when Peter Parker aka Spiderman married Mary Jane.

To be fair, certain key heroes like Batman and Superman will be explored. Also, television played an important role in popularizing this genre. Periodic looks at what happened on this front will also be offered.

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