Maxed out 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the Festival of belief, it was the Festival of incredulity, it was the... excuse me.

"Hyel'lo. You're kinda interrupting me here. Wazzup? Been done before, you say. Who? Charles who? The Dickens you say. How long ago? So what's the problem? Public domain, isn't it? The contract says I'm supposed to come up with original material each week. Define 'original'. Never been done before... changing epoch to Festival doesn't cut it, eh? Y'alright. Gotcha. Leave it for now but the rest has to be original. 10-4."

Where was I? Editors, jeesh. The only thing worse than editors are publishers... and the only thing worse than publishers are drunken publishers. You'd think after half a week of power drinks and something aptly named Detox, a guy might be cut some slack if he inadvertently borrows a couple of words from some dead author. I mean, originality is so last year. The only original writing today is all being done on Twitter. Besides, what's so special about... excuse me.

"Hyel'lo. What, again? This is getting annoying. What is it this time? I'm confusing original with banal. Again. Hang on." Where's that damn dictionary. B...ba....n.... Here it is.  Hmmm... Meaningless... hackneyed... trivial. "Damn, when you're right, you're right. Sorry 'bout that. Can I blame it on the bar scotch they were serving last night? Damn stuff left me with a headache the size of our property tax increase. And I hadn't gotten rid of the one from the night before when that witless girl kept screaming into the microphone. One long vowel movement after another. Okay, got it. I'll do my best."

Where was I? Oh yeah, the Festival. That'd be the TELUS (pays the bills) World Ski and Snowboard Festival for those of you just emerging from the skunk cabbage patch, much in evidence as winter recedes and spring springs. Funny how the stuff seems to cluster around the mainstage though.

If ever there was a year when we were sorely in need of a festive boost, this would be the year. After a season more plagued than the Old Testament, in a year the word economy - at least when used to refer to the wealth-generating capacity of nations and individuals - threatened to become almost as meaningless as the word sustainable, in a time when sponsors and advertisers were vanishing as fast as high-end real estate sales, we desperately needed something, anything, to celebrate.

The Women of Watermark came through like goddesses of creative rage. From the Skate & Deploy kickoff event that'll probably never happen again once our municipal leaders turn the parkade at the conference centre into another slush fund generator, to the opening power chords struck by Thornley on the sunlit mainstage, the 14 th edition of WSSF has punted the naysayers squarely in the tush. Any doubt about the Festival becoming a tired, pale ghost of itself has been laid to rest. The energy's been abundant enough to power our collective psyche into, if not a state of bliss, at least a higher level of excitement than it's reached since the heady days of hope last autumn.

The performers, at every event, have shone like highly buffed hopes. Ozomatli absolutely kicked it on Sunday's mainstage, whipping the crowd into a Latin, hiphop frenzy. Arkells' sonic assault could be heard from the day skier lots. And Whole Lotta Led were whole lotta great, Robert Plant eat your heart out.

Icon Gone deserved a larger audience than showed up for the head-to-head, what's more Whistler about Whistler event. In a field of entertaining, passionate presenters, Bob Brett's droll advocacy for Canada's national rodent, the beaver, carried the day. Maybe with that show of support, the valley's growing beave population will be able to withstand the inevitable calls to trap 'em out now that they're ravenously foraging the trees along the edges of Nick North.

Monday's maiden voyage of ThreePointOh excited the assembled audience who came not knowing exactly what to expect. There was creative anarchy on the screens and deeply disturbed minds in evidence. There were also more than a few people vowing to pitch their own projectible potpourri into the mix next year, suggesting Sue might want to think of opening the other half of the Borg for what is destined to be another big hit and another full house.

The Borg, actually, is emblematic of the Festival's never-rest-on-your-laurels mindset. Sprung on an unsuspecting and highly appreciative audience half a dozen years ago, the six-sided AV wonder meant there were no longer any bad seats in the house. Every sightline was a good sightline. No one suggested the design needed to be tweaked. But Scott McPhee, the Rocky Mountain Productions whiz who dreamt it up, saw its flaw. The new, improved Borg this year boasts screens sized in keeping with the wide-screen format that's become the video standard. Did you notice?

You can be forgiven for missing it at Tuesday's 72-Hour Filmmaker Showdown. From Feet's nearly nekkid intro on, the incredibly high quality of the evening's films was so dazzling you might not have noticed how much better they looked in the new format. What you probably didn't miss was the not-so-subtle segue in thematic content. In keeping with the trend toward embracing depression-era escapist entertainment, three of the 10 films, including Jonny Fleet's winner, were musicals. Musicals!

So we're halfway through. Spirits are soaring, there's much anticipation for the Pro Photographer's showdown and new MC Mike Douglas. Fashion to follow, lots of bands, DogFest's free-for-all Dunking for Dogs.

And, of course, the Chairlift Revue to cap it all off. If I start now and end Sunday evening remembering again, I'll almost be able to thank Heather Paul enough for, let's not split hairs here, taking everything over this year. It's been a trying year for me and I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be a show Sunday night had it been left to my energy, focus and spare time. But we've got some highly entertaining plays from old favourite writers and from brand new names. There'll be highlights and lowlights, cheap laughs and, yes music. Not to mention something never before and probably never again seen on stage. Suspend your disbelief and please, leave your fruit at home. We're starting at 8 this year so we can all be bright-eyed when school starts Monday.

There's plenty of entertainment left this week. For all you folks who talk the talk about art and culture rising to an important place in the fabric of this town, now's the time to walk the walk. I want to see you out there. I'm taking attendance. Don't say you weren't warned.

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