Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

That’s the sound of a nation roaring

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

In case you’ve been under a rock, Canadia just won the Olympic gold medal in men’s hockey. As of right now, streets are shut down in every major city (and probably all of the small ones too).

Impromptu street hockey games have broken out in Manhattan and Toronto. Expect none of us to be sober tonight, nor awake tomorrow.

Without being a Canadian, it’s really hard to explain our relationship to hockey, and to this gold medal. It’s a religion, it’s a transformation. We, who are always so quiet in our patriotism and loyalty, have simply ENJOYED loving our country and our athletes.

Holy Mackinaw.

On equality

Friday, February 26th, 2010

and the right to drink beer: http://bradcran.com/vancouver_verse/on-women’s-gold-equality-and-the-ioc/

Guts – they has them

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Two more Olympic moments:

Joannie Rochette. Decent skater, but like all skaters, it seems, from Canada, a bit dicey on the jumps. Her parents arrive in Vancouver last weekend to cheer her on. Her mother has a heart attack and dies. It would be easy to quit, not do the games, and go home to a small town in Quebec that loves her and mourn in privacy. Instead, she decides to skate anyway. And lays down a program with no hesitations, beautiful jumps. Solid end to end. The sobs begin before she can get off the ice but no one can take this from her and she did it. She did it. She’s 3rd going into the long program and I’m not sure it matters what happens now. That was a beautiful skate.

Clara Hughes. People have studied her pain threshold. She was well on her way to being “that girl” before she got into athletics. Then she got serious. Won 2 medals in the 1996 Summer Olympics in cycling. Won bronze in 5k speed skating in the 2002 Olympics. Won a gold and a silver in the 2006 Olympics in speed skating. Knew coming into the 2010 games that this would be end of her competitive career. At the age of 37, she’s already much older than the women skating with her. In the 3rd-last pair, she pushes to a new venue record that lasted for a few minutes. And she hangs on for a bronze. That’s 6 medals in 4 Olympics. Thighs of steel and the kind of humble hutzpah that makes you glad to be a chick. And she is unconditionally happy about her goodbye to the sport.

Pretty awesome.

Best dinner party evar

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

or maybe just party, would be:

  • Jon Montgomery
  • Rick Mercer
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Tom Robbins
  • Mark Morford
  • Jann Arden
  • Ron McLean
  • kd Lang
  • Joss Whedon
  • Kate Winslett
  • + Melle, Melissa & Andrew

There would be booze. Melle would have to cook.

Glee and beerz

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Okay. Olympics so far. We may not be “owning the podium” but we’ve had some awesome moments. Maelle Ricker was trippy and exactly what we expect a boarder to be.  It’s not hard to picture her enjoying of the apres ski and brownies.

But, the best victory so far, even with our now beloved Alexandre, was by the gloriously exuberant and all-around Canuck Jon Montgomery. Arms outstretched on the podium like a kid who just won “king of the castle”, his helmet painted with a first nations spirit guide (ironically, a turtle), and a roar of happiness that every person in Russel, Manitoba (population 14,000) echoed.

Since being a world-class skeleton slider isn’t exactly the same money as the hockey career Jon wanted as a kid (“they live in a mansion and I live in a small condo, but it’s all good,” says Jon), our Jon is an car auctioneer by day.

And here’s the moment: the victory stroll through Whistler with friends and a camera crew in tow. An “every guy” with a reddish beard, a grin on his face and the Canadian maple leaf tattooed over his heart. Someone hands him a pitcher of beer, which he does his best to finish off in one long gulp. He reaches the stage and wants to spend his time whooping it up with the crowd. Even when the tv personality is trying to get him to talk to the camera, he ignores her question in favour of singing loudly  with his new fans in their spontaneous rendition of  ”Oh, Canada”. And as Canadian manners dictate, he was sure to finish the pitcher before he left.

If Alex is a hollywood story, Jon is an excellent Canadian road trip movie….

Update: Melle provided the video: http://www.ctvolympics.ca/video/index.html?assetid=39001719-39bc-4297-9c69-1acc4c3d4452&cid=rss

A class act

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Alexandre Bilodeau is trending #1 on twitter right now after he won the gold for us in men’s moguls tonight. Even more wonderful though is his humble and encouraging after comments – he was more focused on how well the whole Canadian team is going to do than on his own great achievement. And the first person he wanted to see after his medal was older brother Frederick – who has MS and who was not supposed to be able to walk anymore. Needless to say, Frederick was standing the whole time, with his hand in the air or on his heart. Alex says his brother is his inspiration.

Alex Bilodeau – look for him on a Wheatie’s box near you. He’s a gentleman. And now a champion.

The “what” in “what’s new”

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Except for the torch malfunction at the end, an awful version of the national anthem sung by an annoying tween, some really bad Vancouver French and whatever the hell Nelly Furtado and Brian Adams sang, the Olympic opening ceremonies were pretty damn good.

There were a few of us tweeting away – as Melle pointed out – the newest version of our frantic BlackBerry texting in ’02 (and for most of Buffy, but that’s another story).

I’ll try to reconstruct my impressions as the ceremonies unfolded from the tweets:

“sugared peaks”? I miss the CBC already. Yeah. Even if Donald Sutherland is narrating. Though looking back on it now, maybe they really weren’t referring to the mountains in the distance…

Mounties! You’re in Canada now… but sadly, they are not on horses. The sadness due primarily to the fact that of what a horse can do for you (Ed. note: this commercial is from the Superbowl and not the Olympics but it is very important).

Crap, the “I Believe” chick is singing the anthem. Badly. The national anthem is not a tween pop song, people. And she has awkwardly long arms that were very distracting. This was really bad.

Somewhere around here we were welcomed by four different First Nations peoples, which was lovely and all, but then they raised up these totems with their arms stretched out like Fright Night mummies or something. And then began the parade of athletes…

Austria’s in suits. What’s up with that? They need some kind of wool product. There seemed to be two camps on the athlete costume front: winter cool or formal chic – Italy has some wonderful tailored coats, and Bahamas went for their full formal wear – including the shorts.

Kazakhstan rocks the head gear. Flying nun means exotic bling. I highly recommend that you stop and appreciate. Far more creative than the team baseball caps that many were wearing.

Native dancers now exhausted. Should collapse in heap around scary totems shortly. The big thing to explain here is that the dancers were dancing the entire time that the athletes were coming into the stadium. And there were other dancers who danced for the whole ceremony (mostly doing variations on the white man shuffle and the wedding sway) – that’s a pretty long dance, people.

Now I get all smiley and shit. Stupid national pride. When the Canadians were walking up the small ramp into the stadium, it was like a wall of red coming through the mist, and pretty fucking cool. Suits weren’t all that imaginative, but the plaid scarves were a nice touch. Clara Hughes was a good choice for flag bearer.

It’s a bear. They made a bear! (thank you, Spike)/okay. the whales are cool. In fact, much of the special effects were cool. Big LED bear and the whole audience had their LED lights as well. The whales were truly beautiful.

My first clap out loud. I need a scotch. and some spoons. Awesome. Hundreds of fiddlers dressed kind of goth-plaid cum bordello voyageur, with tappers and celtic dancers. They did a bit of a fiddle-off, then Ashley MacIsaac showed up and blew the roof off.

Spin around, ninja, spin around… Snowboarders and skiers suspended in the air twirling around the “mountain” (the jellyfish chandelier) put in my mind of the best literal video evar. Melle noticed the ninja-ness first, though. This part was okay.

Yeah, zed! Slam poet Shane Koyczan from Penticton gave us a little “I am Canadian” of his own – biggest cheers for “Please and thank you” (we’re so predictable”), but overall it was exuberant and a little cheeky and he rocked the Amish beard.

oon eekipp? Can’t tell if that’s Inuit or French :) While I appreciate that all of the officials tried to do their French bits, the Western guys really struggled. Then Jacques Rogge does his speech and it’s actually understandable in both official languages.

Canadian quotient reached! kd Lang does Leonard Cohen…/And, I should say, butch looking good in a men’s suit singing a song about getting tied up in the kitchen. Booyah. Far and away the best performance of the night. I think everyone agrees this rendition of Hallelujah was even better than the one she did at the Junos. And no, we don’t give a shit if it had anything to do with athletes or doing your best, it was powerful.

Mom! The Olympic flag was carried out by Bobby Orr, Ann Murray (my Mom’s doppelganger), Jacques Villeneuve , Betty Fox, Donald Sutherland himself, Barbara Ann Scott, Romeo Dallaire, and Julie Payette – kind of like that they mixed up athletes with luminaries.

No swearing, Hayley. I did find it rather amusing that Hayley Wickenheiser read the athlete’s pledge. Totally believed her on the no drugs, but not so sure on the sportsmanship.

It’s a torch standoff. I think everyone was not at all shocked that the Great One got the torch. Rick Hansen was a natural as well. Steve Nash? A bit of a surprise but what the hell. How very Canadian to have all of them light the cauldron together, and everyone has heard of the cauldron malfunction by now. And yes, it looked like giant penii. Seeing Gretzky afterward, riding through downtown in a pickup was the kind of moment that every small town everywhere could get into.

And then it was pretty much done. hash is #van2010 if you want to contribute or catch up.

Red & white

Friday, February 12th, 2010

It’s Olympics time – can’t wait for the opening ceremonies and I’m wearing my official shirt. However, the horrible crash in which luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died has certainly pulled up the over-the-top glee. They decided to show it on the news, and that’s not something I wish to see again.

All and still, I love the idea of everyone from everywhere being in one place to celebrate, watch some crazyass skiers and skaters and downhill sports. And while I can understand that if we spent half the money on the poor, that would be something, that ain’t the way it works and there’s something to be said for the symbolism and inspiration that comes from these events.

So I give a somewhat sombre “Go, Canada, Go”.

Vaguely threatening

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Every visit to the WC at work is an exercise in probabilities and conditional decision-making. The first level of assessment that must be made is the basic bathroom stall usage rules. I know most people think the rules only apply to urinals, but there is a stall version and it’s equally applicable to women. To wit:

  • If possible, you must leave an empty stall between you and the next person.
  • Therefore, if you are the first person, select an end stall to allow the maximum number of people to maintain 1 empty stall distance until the maximum is achieved.
  • If the stalls face each other (let’s say a row of 3 each) and stalls 1 and 3 are occupied on one side, then you are obliged to take stall 2 on the other side to maximize empty stall space peripherally and diagonally.

Now, if you really have to go, this seems like enough cogitation to really push the limits of patience, but as adults, we all seem pretty good and triangulating the coordinates of the appropriate stall and getting to business.

However, if your office building facilities have not been updated in a while and there are additional quirks, calculations can become more complex:

Stall 1 left has a toilet that requires you to hold down the handle until it’s fully flushed, and then the stopper thingy often gets stuck and must be jiggled to stop it from running. You can take your chances with this one with a 50% probability that the previous person didn’t flush long enough and/or that it’s been running the whole time and is without the requisite level of water. Stall 2 left is mostly okay, but due to location, is not always in optimal triangulation (see above). Stall 3 left also requires you to hold the flush and wait to ensure that there has been successful draining, and then take at least 2 minutes to stop its refill cycle, during which time you can’t flush again. This means if you prematurely abandon a flush, you must wait for the full cycle before being able to flush again, and if you choose the stall and cycle is not complete, you must wait for it before you can flush again. Stall 4 right is also okay and is often the best choice. Stall 5 is the wheelchair stall, so you must also make sure that no one with a wheelchair is coming in if you want to use it, and then it is one of those toilets where the water comes within millimeters of breaching the rim so there’s a moment of panic at each cycle.

There’s an air of menace in the room at all times – what with the rules, and the constant threat of overflowing.

And also last week, while I was in a meeting, someone anonymous left an “egg checker” on my desk. It appears to be a little doodad that you put into the water when you are boiling eggs. It looks like a little read magic eight ball, except it says “hard boiled” or “soft in the middle”.

Here’s what I don’t get: I don’t recall ever talking about eggs at work, so what should I make of this gift? Am I hard boiled, soft in the middle? Good egg? Bad egg? Did anyone else get a random boiled egg indicator?? I just don’t know.