On Theatre Thursdays, I discuss topics related to theatre. I also write about local productions that I think #yyc should see. Today I’m talking about a show that I was supposed to see almost two years ago – Vertigo Theatre’s Cipher.

vertigo theatre cipher
Poster lovingly stolen from Vertigo Theatre. Credit to Tim Nguyen.

Cipher was originally set to open just a few days after what almost everyone I talk to cites as the “start” of the pandemic in Canada. (March 13, 2020, if you were wondering. Though there were cases in the time leading up to this, March 13 is when everything really came crashing down around us.) And, yes, I had tickets to opening night.

Almost two years later on January 20, I had tickets to opening night once again. And, yes, it was well worth the wait.

So, what’s Cipher all about?

There are lots of articles around that talk about the plot of Cipher and I’m not going to do that here. Better reviewers than I have already done that work and you know I’m not here to be helpful. Only emotional.

And the thing is, though it has a great plot crafted by Ellen Close and Braden Griffiths, I would argue that Cipher is about the experience, not the story. This story is a story meant to be told as a play. No other art form would do it justice. A good portion of the story is told entirely through choreography – some narrated and some not. I admit that it took me most of the opening sequence to “get” that it was choreography (I couldn’t understand why The Beacon Hill Body [Kaleb Tekeste] was moving the way he was), but once I got it, I was hooked. The choreography adds to the sense of mystery, obfuscating reality in the symbolic, and allows the characters that Grace [Ellen Close] imagines to populate the Beacon Hill mystery be ever present.

I also have to shout out the set and lighting design by Narda McCarroll. It is easily transformed and visually striking, allowing the actors to weave through different settings or moods in an instant. It is especially successful when paired with the sound design by Torquil Campbell and projection design by Jamie Nesbitt in order to establish the digital world that Grace and Ameen [Antoine Yared] navigate through.

Should I see Cipher?

Y’all should know by now that I only write about shows that you should see. Cipher is not what you think of when you think of Vertigo Theatre, but it is both thrilling and enthralling. You’ll want to talk about it with your seatmates after you leave. The show runs until February 13th and tickets can be purchased by visiting their website or calling (403) 221 3708. Do it, yo!


What I Read: December 2021

I didn’t realize it until I saw everything I read together, but December was a big speculative fiction month! I also got on a crazy Seanan McGuire (also known as Mira Grant when she writes sci fi) kick. This is pretty typical – once I read one of her books, I need to just keep reading them. Thank goodness for libraries!

The Desert Prince by Peter V Brett

The Desert Prince is a big book! I actually started this one back in November, but it took me a long time to read it, despite being a good read. I will admit, I think I need to go back and re-read the Demon Cycle books, then tackle this one again. There are a lot of references to the original series and Easter Eggs, which I think I would appreciate more if I brushed up on my Leesha, Arlen, Rojer and Ahmann…

Finale by Stephanie Garber

Finale is a super solid ending to the trilogy. As we know from my “What I Read: November”, I love Tella’s messy nonsense and I was glad to see more of it in this book. Plus a deeper insight into The Fates, a bit of a love triangle with two bad boys, some daddy issues… what a fun, easy, YA read!

Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Okay, again – just like The Desert Prince, Iron and Magic is the first of a spinoff series. The authors recommended reading this book between Kate Daniels #9 and Kate Daniels #10. I haven’t read a Kate Daniels book since the early days of the pandemic and I should have read in the suggested order. I’ll give a better review on the re-read, lol.

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant

This sweet little novella in the Newsflesh world is what hooked me back into Seanan’s books. Don’t get me wrong – San Diego 2014 is a book about a zombie uprising so it’s not sweet at all. No novella where you know most of your protagonists are doomed is sweet. But it is so compelling to see how they get dead and Seanan is incredible at researching/crafting her worlds.

Angel of the Overpass by Seanan McGuire

Despite being linked to her Incryptids series, the Rose Marshall books read very differently. I would compare the feel of Angel of the Overpass to the Diviners series I read at the end of 2020. In these books, we are building an American ghost story and it feels like all the good, bad, and messy pieces that make up America. (But also… ghosts!)

Feed by Mira Grant

This is the first book in the Newsflesh world I referred to above. I first read Feed long enough ago that I sort of forgot exactly what it was about. If you love books with solid science about living in the far aftermath of a zombie outbreak, you’ll love this book. If you love Seanan McGuire, you’ll love this book. Oh, and if you love World War Z (the book), you’ll love this book – it feels similar without copying at all!

When Sorrows Come by Seanan McGuire

You knew this was coming. I always pre-order the new October Daye book and read it when I’m on holiday break. When Sorrows Come doesn’t drive a lot of the world forward, but it does some awesome things for Toby. Besides. I love Toby and Tybalt, I love Quentin, and I don’t mind a light book. It felt like the characters deserved this break from heartbreaking nonsense for some old-school hijink-y nonsense.

I feel like I’ve been wrapping up a lot of my TBRs lately and now I’m getting back into re-reads. Which is totally cool, but I’d love to know – what great things have you read lately? I want to read them too!


Happy Saturday and happy Blogmas Day 18, friends! It’s the weekend, it’s mildly chilly outside, and I am getting ready to snuggle in on my couch. I have a mug of Sleigh Ride and I’m ready for a perennial Christmas tradition – Hallmark Christmas Movies!

You know the ones. Someone is way too busy or jaded for the season but a series of hijinks leads to both love and festivity.

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Real talk time. I totally get that I’ve been writing about a lot of “going out and having festive fun” things so far this Blogmas. And I know that’s not everyone’s vibe. Maybe your going out comfort level is different than mine. Maybe you always prefer “home” to “not home”. Maybe you just need a little break because you’ve been out too much. Maybe you live where the air hurts your face.

We all have our own reasons to prefer to be at home. So, this week, I will be featuring activities that I’ve done at home this holiday season and ideas to keep your home time festive.

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Market Collective Entrance

Let me start by saying that I get it – this picture looks like a medium bustling conference centre in the year of our lord 2021 where we can gather if we are double-vaccinated and wearing masks. (And look at how I snuck the COVID mitigation tactics that are in place right in there at the beginning – so smooth these days!) But once you take just a few more steps further, you’ll see that you are in a quirky, festive world of local artisans – you’re at Market Collective!

Market Collective Bathrooms

If you didn’t get it before, these festive bathrooms will leave no doubt that you are at a kitschy, quirky, holiday market. Calgary regularly hosts a ton of holiday markets. You could probably hit up a different one every weekend between the beginning of November and Christmas, if you planned carefully. Some of these are higher end, premium artisan markets, like Art Market at the Telus Convention Centre. Others are held in community centres and feature all the amazing home artists that you didn’t know were in your community.

Market Collective strikes a perfect balance between the two ends of the spectrum. Sure, there were several big name breweries on site and a few artists were definitely at Art Market as well. But for every artisan I recognized, there was one that was completely new to me. I can’t show any of my purchases because many are gifts, but let me just say… I bought quite a few awesome things and I did not break the bank. And it was so exciting to support people in my community.

Vintage cars

I feel like it is shockingly hard to describe the vibe at Market Collective. There are hipsters, grandmas, young couples with babies, skateboarders… (In fact, there is a full-on, though little, skateboarding park right next to a kombucha stand.) It just feels like a welcoming, open-hearted place for everyone. You can buy vintage clothing, beard oil, yummy treats, and jewelry to fit any style you want.


This picture is… questionable (in terms of quality). But it gives you a bit of the vibe – you can see Ol’ Beautiful growlers on the left (yes, they were selling beer as well!), clothing in the foreground, and shoppers gathered around some cute jewelry in the background.

The best part? You still have an opportunity to hit up Market Collective next weekend (Dec 17-19)! I bet you still have some holiday shopping to do and supply chain lines are sketchy… shop local! It’s only $6 for the weekend and I bet you’ll love it.

No summary question here… just a rant

I’m only a very tiny blogger so I haven’t dealt with this much. Oh my god, its hard to take good pictures in public! I didn’t want to obviously get anyone’s face in the pictures. I didn’t want to linger at any stand for too long, because I wanted to let people see the wares. Ugh. I will get better but… not today, my friends. Not today.


In an absolutely shocking and astonishing turn of events, it is December 10th and I’m already posting about what I read in November. Is it my new format for book posts? Is it Blogmas?

what I read: Nov 2021

Or is it because I only read four books? (And only took pictures of three?)

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Oooh, boy! It’s been almost a year since I wrote a “What I Read” post and I am hyped to be here! Don’t y’all want to hear about all the books I read… erhm… two months ago? (Don’t judge me! I was planning to write this in November and I took all the pictures. Then November was crazy but… I took all the pictures!)

With this relaunch, I want to keep my book posts shorter and sweeter. And also with less of my truly atrocious book photography. (I will get better at that, I swear…) So, without further ado – What I Read in October 2021!

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Books I Read January

How are we already talking about books I read in January 2021? How is it already 2021? Time is going by so fast these days, my dears, and while the part of me who wants to hug people is totally okay with that, the part of me that needs to somehow complete a research project by April is less so. Along those lines, I was really afraid that I would not have any books to talk about this month. As evidenced by the stressed out side of myself, school is really ramping up in my second last semester so I have lots of work to do and lots of Freire to read. Maybe by the end of this semester, I’ll finally be able to explain to people what praxis means.

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What I Read: December 2020

Well well well, my friends. It’s mid-January and I think by this point you know exactly what to expect. A book post! Let me tell you, this beauty is going to be long because I was on break. So, without further ado, let’s get into What I Read December Edition!

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Culture, Life

How I'm Celebrating my Christmas Break Alone Because of Covid

It is December 23, 2020 and yesterday was my last day of work until after New Years. Almost two weeks off! Plus? I am done school for the semester and don’t go back until January 11. (Don’t worry, I am starting up both things hot after the break – the next course I coordinate starts first day back and I literally have my first school zoom on the 11th). On the one hand, this is super exciting. On the other hand, this is the time of Covid and I’ll be spending most of my Christmas break alone.

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