Category Archives: Fun

Nuit Blanche: Metro doesn’t close tonight

What, you were planning on sleeping tonight? What are you, crazy?

The city opens up with free exhibits, events and parties all across downtown from the Old Port to the Canadian Centre for Architecture for the Nuit Blanche all night (though most of the fun ends around 3am).

All-night metro

The STM, which runs free shuttles between locations, has agreed to keep the metro running all night long, and even has a contest going related to finding metro art at various stations throughout the night. Details and forms are available at the Berri-UQAM service centre or Nuit Blanche info kiosks.

The extension of service doesn’t apply to buses though. Most day routes are timed to coincide with the last metro trains, which depart Berri at 1:30am on Saturday nights. If your trip home involves bus travel, you might want to be on that train.

Otherwise, the night bus network runs as normal, and because it’s Saturday the busier routes (358 Sainte-Catherine and 361 Saint-Denis) run about every 10-15 minutes.

Stuff to see

I was going to give some suggestions for stuff to go to, but I’m not an art critic, so I’ll leave it to these guys instead.

The official site (unfortunately) has been turned into a Facebook page, and the link to the official PDF is dead.

Here are some quick tips for tonight, for those still near a computer who are going out:

  • Go to the Old Port. Some of the best free stuff happens there and it’s a fun atmosphere
  • Bring something to drink if you’re planning on being out all night
  • Dress warmly, preferably in layers if you’re spending time inside and out (or, like me, just ignore that and bring a big coat you can put on and take off)
  • Don’t try to go to too many events, especially if they’re far from each other. The shuttle system is efficient, but with all the people on them they’re not terribly fast.

Finally, it seems my favourite event, the free 5am breakfast at Complexe Desjardins, isn’t happening this year.

See you out there.

Board games I’d like to play

Sure, there’s Montreal-as-Boardwalk Monopoly, but how about some board games that are all-Montreal?

Metro

From metrodemontreal.com

From metrodemontreal.com

I have no clue how this game is supposed to work, but it looks fun. Spotted in a metrodemontreal.com forum post.

Montreal Risk

Montreal Risk

I played this at a Geek Montreal GeekOUT, and won. (Hint: Controlling the West Island is key.)

Sadly, I wish I could point you to somewhere to buy/download/copy these things, but my searches have come up empty. So just stare at the pictures and imagine the fun of some day conquering the Plateau.

Corporatization of fun

Friendly game of tag, or an ad for Orange Crush?

Corporatization of fun: Friendly game of tag, or an ad for Orange Crush?

As an observer of society, I belong to some Facebook groups that may or may not turn into things. One of them was a generic flashmob group, which had hopes of organizing something fun at some point, but never actually did so.

Today I get an email from the group, which has been taken over by a “street marketing company” with big ambitions:

Objet : Hi flashmobers !

I am taking in charge your group.
My name is Ludovic and I am working in Trako Media, a street marketing company. We want to create an EVENT. A giant EVENT with thousands of flashmobers. We are already planning some future events where we would like everybody to activly participate. We gonna work full days and weeks to make it better than any other one in any other town.
Montreal is full of enthousiastic people who love having FUN.
We are already 46 members. Can you send invitation to your friends ? Talk to others ? Print and pomote the group on school or university walls ?

We need 1000 flashmobers for the first offical Flash Mob. Don’t worry, I’m sure you ‘ll like our ideas :D

So let’s start and feel free to message me !

Sorry for my english :P Je parle un peu mieux français…

Maybe I’m just picky, but nothing kills the spirit of a flashmob than having it be organized by a marketing company, which will no doubt have some commercial motivation behind such events.

Snow + forts + hundreds of people = epic

Rather than put all 60 photos in a post, I’ll just link to my Flickr photo set from yesterday’s epic snowball fight at Mount Royal Park (the one I told you about and was announced on Facebook and Craigslist).

I wasn’t the only one taking pictures. Another Flickr set is up and I’m sure more will follow.

There are also lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of YouTube videos.

For those unclear, the fight was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Guerre des Tuques.

Post-coverage

Quebec City goes crashy-crashy Saturday night

If you’ve never seen Red Bull’s Crashed Ice event, you need an immediate injection of testosterone. Every year, “competitors” in this event gather in Quebec City to “skate” down a 550-metre track whose grade is better suited for tobogganing than anything one would do on skates. (It’s a 56-metre vertical drop, according to this PDF press release).

The point is not important, I guess it’s a race of some sort. The fun is watching everyone crash as the tumble down the ice. And this year, for the first time, they’re opening it up to women.

Of course, because it’s harmless fun, there’s gotta be someone out there to spoil it. The Mouvement Montréal Français, apparently confused because this event is in Quebec City, is demanding that Red Bull give it a proper French name. The government, desperate to appease francophone activists, has passed on the request with official backing, though they’re stopping short of asking Red Bull to change its own name.

I think it’s a bit insulting to have an event like this in Quebec City with an English name. I’m sure Red Bull’s marketing people could come up with a bilingual one or a clever French name that would solve this situation easily. (They’ve already done it for Italy’s Toro Rosso F1 team) But this should be a result of grassroots pressure, not government fiat.

Either way, let’s not let the political discussion ruin the fun.

Crashed Ice is being broadcast live at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday in French on TVA and in English on TSN HD.

Giant snowball fight planned for Sunday

Apparently a giant snowball fight is being organized on Facebook to take place starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Participants are encouraged to build snow forts a day earlier, and to abide by various rules of fair play (adults only, no ice, no ink, no shots to the face)

The event page says Jeanne-Mance Park, but they actually mean Mount Royal Park, near the Georges-Étienne Cartier statue near the corner of Park Ave. and Rachel St. (Jeanne-Mance Park is the one on the East side of Park Ave.)

The Facebook event page has 280 “confirmed” in attendance, but those numbers are always heavily inflated. Expect a few dozen to show up.

No Pants Metro Ride revealed

You might recall last week Montreal attempted its first No Pants Metro Ride. Only there were more journalists than participants and the organizer decided to cancel it.

Here’s the thing:

No Pants participants (that's me on the left)

No Pants participants (that's me on the left)

Don’t believe everything you hear. There was a No Pants ride, it just wasn’t covered. Until now.

Everything I told you in last week’s post actually happened. There weren’t enough participants, and the organizer did yell “It’s cancelled” prompting people to take off in different directions.

But before that, she whispered to participants that they would regroup elsewhere, away from the prying eyes of the media, so they could perform this stunt properly.

Surely, I thought, that wouldn’t actually work. The TV people would just follow everyone into the metro. But it did. Everyone left in small groups, some walked to Mont Royal metro from St. Louis Square (a long, cold trek I might add).

From there, the plan was to regroup at Jean-Talon, near the last car on the Snowdon-bound platform.

Unfortunately, along with the media, the group lost all but eight of its members, including the five above (others didn’t want to be photographed pantsless).

Pantsless on the metro after all

Pantsless on the metro after all

They decided to proceed. A single car, with eight pantsless participants spread around, pretending not to notice each other. The media was represented by a single person, The Gazette’s Amy Luft (who went through the trouble of actually talking to organizers beforehand and didn’t come with a photographer). She writes about the event in today’s paper.

Since Amy was already covering it, I decided to go as a participant instead of a journalist. When the time came, I removed my pants, and placed them in my bag. As you can see from the photo above, I had shorts on. This I considered a public service, as nobody wants to see me walking around in my underwear, even as a stunt.

During the event itself, what seemed to disturb me most was how little the crowd reacted. Some giggled, some looked twice, but most just sat there, thinking either nothing was strange with people pantsless in January, or that it wasn’t worthy of their attention.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any photographers present (beyond my really crappy cellphone). The top photo was taken at Berri-UQAM, after we had finished, just in case someone needed proof that people had indeed taken their pants off.

Although the event ended up happening, there’s still a lot to learn for next time. How to deal with the media, how to photograph the event without people noticing, and how to get more participants to show up.

Elsewhere

Reports from other No Pants events have come in. Improv Everywhere has a summary of what happened in New York, with links to similar events around the world. Improv in Toronto has a report about their event (the second-largest behind New York).

No Pants Day and the observer effect

Evil media vampires plot to suck out the fun

Evil media vampires plot to suck out the fun

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle, according to Wikipedia (and the article sounds nerdy enough to be true) is a theory about observation in quantum physics that says you can know the position or momentum of a particle, but not both (it’s an argument used against Star Trek’s molecular transporter device, which the show’s writers conveniently solved with the creation of a mythical Heisenberg compensator). It’s a principle often confused by idiots like myself with the observer effect, in which observing an event alters it. For humans, psychologists call this “reactivity

Today, as I walked to St. Louis Square to participate in Montreal’s first No Pants metro ride, I noticed an abnormally large number of television cameras and professional photographers gathered behind a hilariously small fence. They’d been banished from the group by its leader.

This event, which was supposed to catch metro riders off-guard, got a bit too much media attention in advance. My post begat some others (including one from Dominic Arpin) and culminated in an article in La Presse the morning of the event. From there, it seems to have made every assignment editor’s desk and with nothing else going on today, they decided it would make a great photo op.

Of course, if any of the journalists had familiarized themselves with Improv Everywhere or had bothered to talk to the organizers in advance (only The Gazette and La Presse made any effort to do so), they’d have learned pretty quickly that a giant television camera and journalists with notepads would ruin the entire event.

No Pants metro ride participants

No Pants metro ride participants

Complicating matters was the fact that, despite the attention it got, there were only about a dozen people who showed up to participate. More people came to observe the event than take part in it.

After waiting for stragglers and discussing it with some of the people gathered, organizer Robin Friedman yelled “It’s cancelled!” and everyone went their separate ways.

Later, she told me she was really pissed about the media presence (myself excepted), and slightly less so by the fact that when Facebook says someone’s going to be there, it’s anyone’s guess if that’s actually true.

So don’t expect any big articles or front-page photos about the event in Sunday’s paper. Instead, you’ll read an article next Saturday in the Gazette about how the media ruined Montreal’s participation in a global day of fun.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to publicize an event like this to get enough participants but not so much that the news people get wind of it and blow everyone’s cover. A solution to that problem is being thought out, hopefully in time for Montreal’s Second Annual No Pants Subway Ride.

Elsewhere

The event in Toronto seems to have gone off well. The Sun has a story with video (though I couldn’t make it play) and there’s already a video on YouTube as well.

Other regional reports can be found at Improv Everywhere along with the reports from New York.

Montreal’s No Pants subway ride

No Pants Day in New York (Improv Everywhere photo)

No Pants Day in New York (Improv Everywhere photo)

Robin Friedman, who has been behind metro parties, scavenger hunts, bubble battles and other fun free stuff in town, is putting together a Montreal event for Improv Everywhere’s famous Global No Pants Subway Ride next Saturday. New York-based Improv Everywhere has been performing this stunt every January since 2002, having its “agents” ride the subway with no pants on (in the middle of winter) and pretend that it’s perfectly normal.

Here’s the Facebook event. For the benefit of those not on Facebook, the details are as follows:

Meeting point is 3pm at Carré St. Louis (near the fountain). From there, agents will receive further instructions and be sent to nearby metro stations to prepare for the no-pants ride. Bring a backpack to hide your pants in, and don’t wear underwear that’s indecent or is designed to attract attention.

Full details are copy-pasted below.

For those of you worried about the legal implications, the STM’s rules do not require the wearing of pants, though they prohibit being barefoot, subject to a fine of $50-$500. So make sure to wear shoes or boots.

An important note: The event is contingent on at least 25 people participating and will be cancelled if it doesn’t get that amount. So make sure to indicate your presence if you plan on going (and bring your friends).

A similar event is also being planned for Toronto.

UPDATE (Jan. 6): Someone should call the police or something. I would not want my children/nieces/nephews to have to be subjected to this.”

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The Question Period Drinking Game

Question Period has gotten downright entertaining now that there’s an actual power struggle going on. But, like a bad sitcom, our politicians are just repeating the same talking points over and over.

So let’s turn this into something fun: a drinking game!

WARNING: This is extremely dangerous and can quickly lead to alcohol poisoning. Take small sips.

Drink every time you hear one of the following:

  • “Canadian jobs”
  • “Socialist NDP”
  • “Separatist coalition”
  • “Confidence of the House”
  • “Mandate”
  • “Order!”
  • “Let us vote”
  • Jacques Parizeau
  • “Democracy”

Underground Scavenger Hunt 2: Can you do better than me?

Winners of the second Montreal Underground Scavenger Hunt

For those of you who missed the underground scavenger hunt a few weeks ago, above is the winning team (they were also the only team with four players, which helped). But if you divide the score by the number of players to get a proportional score, I alone come out on top. So in a way I won.

In any case, there’s no real reason why you can’t try it out on your own if you have an hour and a half to spare. Here’s the list of stuff to find in the underground city:

  • Cinéma du parc monthly handout
  • One-cent stamp
  • Car rental company business card
  • Something with the Travel Cuts logo
  • La Mini lotto results from last night
  • Two medical professionals’ cards (must be two different doctors in two different offices) (2 points)
  • Chopsticks
  • A store reward card application
  • Underground parking stub
  • A packet of brown sugar
  • A beer coaster
  • A catering menu
  • Three spa treatment pamphlets
  • Something with the Bluetooth logo (your cellphone is not eligible)
  • Something Hanukkah-related
  • Something Halloween-related
  • Nightlife Magazine
  • Weekend edition of the Metro newspaper
  • The old Bell logo
  • A flyer for a Montreal-area attraction (must be in the 514 area code)
  • Four napkins from different coffee chains (must have establishment’s name on it) (2 points)
  • Something that smells like a green/granny smith apple (+1 if it is a granny smith apple)
  • A banking services flyer (2 points)
  • A bus schedule for a route with the number 3 in it (+1 if it’s bus #3)
  • A photo of an outdoor pool with people swimming in it (must have a member of the team in the photo) (5 points)

I got 15 points. Can you do better?

Underground City Scavenger Hunt 2

Alex and Kristin check their lists during February's scavenger hunt

Alex and Kristin check their lists during February's scavenger hunt

After a successful event in February with about 40 in attendance, a second underground city scavenger hunt is being organized next weekend on Facebook and through other channels.

Here’s the details:

Saturday, Nov. 8, 12:30pm at the Central Station food court (which is near the gates for the Deux Montagnes commuter train line). The game starts at 1pm and ends at 3pm at the same place.

No entrance fee, age limitations or secret code words.

What you need to bring:

  • A team of between one and four people
  • A bag (you know, to put all your stuff in)
  • Some money (at most $5), though if you think you can get everything for free go nuts
  • A camera (anything, even a cellphone camera, will suffice)
  • A watch or other time-telling device
  • Comfortable shoes

For those of you who weren’t aware of the previous hunt, you can read my post about it, which includes a full list of the items people were searching for. It’s almost all stuff that’s worthless and can be picked up for free in the underground city. You can also read the piece I did for The Gazette about it.

Robin inspects the goodies

Robin inspects the goodies

For those who were there in February, organizer Robin (that’s her above) has made some tweaks to the rules for this time around, mostly concerning what happens when a team arrives late (which happened a lot last time, causing many items to be disqualified). Also note that the meeting point is different.

There’s no RSVP required, but doing so on Facebook would help with estimating how many people will show up.