A blog post

Feb 15th, 2010, Olympics, Cultural Olympiad

Posted on the 20 February, 2010 at 11:45 am Posted by in 2010 Olympics

Feb 20
2010 Olympics: Medals Ceremony

2010 Olympics: Medals Ceremony

This blog usually focusses on dyslexia and hyperlexia but I thought it would be fun to add my experience at the 2010 Olympics and Culural Olympiad.  This is day six, Monday, Feb 15th, 2010.

Today, I joined my nephew, Jason, his wife, Sarah and their energetic and curious kids, Jane (age 11) and Owen (age 9) and off we went exploring.  First Stop: Code 1.  Another digital location – this time Great Northern Way – a humoungous warehouse that is draped in blacks to create many large spaces for digital installations of all sorts.  It began with us wandering through a series of hanging plants which when you touch them make noise.  The four of us had quite a cacophony of sounds going.  That was a great beginning – it gave the kids the sense of – hey, anything goes here and they were off and exploring. And, so were we. The kid in us had a great time.  In one room were “ Condemned Bulbes” yes, that’s how it was spelled!!  – large, like a foot tall and 8 inches in diameter incandescent blubs hanging shoulder height. It was quite a beautiful, peaceful sight until we began wandering through them and they began to make sounds back at us. At first we thought movement was important so we began rushing the space – then Jane said:  stop!..  We stopped, different sounds happened and so it went.  Great fun. 

At one point we entered a room where the kids were invited to put on a cloak with many buttons.  Then, they ran up and down this forty foot space which caused the huge pictures on three large screens to change – from the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa – to a pyramid – etc.  There was one magic button on this cloak.  Push it, and the world exploded on three screens – that caused much merriment.  Owen’s favorite exhibit was Papparazzi;  a camera followed you, just like those insidious paparazzi –  and your picture was constantly imaged on a large screen.   And, so it went.  We were there an hour and half exploring.  A wonderful time had by all.  And, as I muse on the experience now, I am wondering, are digital artists only interested in the interactive – is that how they measure their satisfaction with their creativity?

2010 Olympics: Jane, Ann, Owen and mascot

2010 Olympics: Jane, Ann, Owen and mascot

 On to the Russian Pavilion. We were traveling in Jason and Sarah’s car.  The question was: Where to park?  Parking is non existent these days.  Can you believe, we turned down a side street off Main, turned right again, by the old CNR railroad station and there was one block one with one parking space and no signs that said we couldn’t.  NONE. We blessed Mother Kabrini, Katherine’s patron saint of parking, and headed off for Science World, you know that huge dome at the end of False Creek. Currently it has been taken over by the Russians. As we waited a few minutes to enter, we looked across False Creek at the four huge apartment blocks that make up the Olympic Village for the contestants to discover they are draped with the flags of each country participating – a wonderful sight. 

The Russians have gone all out. All, and I mean all, of the Science World Exhibits are gone.  The place has been painted a warm white and Sochi, a tiny town on the Black Sea is the feature. This city will be the host for the 2014 Winter Olympics.  It seems this city has a very warm climate – 60 degrees –  in winter.  (sorry, I have no idea what that is in centigrade). And, it’s a tiny town, much smaller than Victoria. There are many screens and wall pictures showing this tiny town and the mountains an hour away. It seems it gets colder than Whistler!   Must be a fast descent.

 At the moment, Sochi is busy building a railroad which will have a solar and electric train running, taking all the visitors up. That is not all they are about to construct. They have to build several huge arenas to handle hockey, ice skating, etc.  Vancouver thought they had a lot of construction to undertake.  Nothing like Sochi:  Nothing exists yet.   

Jason, Sarah and I had a chuckle when we discovered who were these young Russians decked out in black suits with white hats.  They work for the railroad!  It was hard to see what their job was here as they headed for the room with computers, went on-line – we guessed sending an e-mail home.   At that point we were being entertained by six women in traditional colorful costumes with lovely voices dancing their way around the temporary stage. I suddenly thought I would love to go to Sochi and said: Hey Jane how about you and I volunteer for Sochi – it could be fun.   She’s not to sure.  We’ll see when we get closer. 

We headed on – to other pavilions – there was a huge line to get into Saskatchewan pavilion – we continued on, went into Quebec – it’s nothing, we continued on to Ontario:  They have a six minute film – but at least a half hour wait so we decided to check out their “common”  space.  Large screens allowing us to see some of the sports activity on Whistler and women’s hockey in Vancouver. 

We were close to BC Place.   I ran to see if I could get a ticket to the Medals – no go.  Sarah kept saying, you are taking my ticket – we have tickets for another medals night and are going again, I will get to see it.  So, that’s what I did.  But first we had to eat.  Not much around so we headed to Tinsletown and a Chinese restaurant.  A strange building with a huge movie complex and no people activity at all.  The dinner was delicious. 

Back to BC Place for the ceremony.  I must say I was grateful to Sarah. I loved being in the space, feeling it. To warm us up for the ceremony there was a French Canadian group – good solid entertainment – almost folk like.  Then, it was ceremony time. The energy of all 20,000 people was throbbing. They were going to see the first Canadian Gold Medal winner.  He got a heroes welcome.  And, when it was time to sing O Canada the place rocked.  Finally they played the anthem as it was written – not like the opening ceremony.  That romantic version drove me nuts!!!!! 

I, of course, got caught up in the lighting technology.  So many different tools – vertical lights, streaming thin lines of different colors into the audience, the moving lights wafting back and forth in different colors, the “movies”  playing behind the action. All this action, in itself, creates an ambiance that says, it’s exciting. I was really surprised that the flags which are raised as the gold medal winner’s anthem is played are not reaching as high into the space as I thought.  On TV – which is the only way I have seen it before, it always seemed to me to be stretching way up into space.   Not so.  Maybe 30 feet.  That’s not much.   Hmmmm.   Then we watched the medal ceremony in Whistler.  I had passed that location just a few days ago – now it was jammed with swaying people in colorful outfits and with flags of many countries being waved.  It didn’t matter that the sound didn’t work, at first.  Yes, it was perplexing but eventually It corrected itself – or rather technicians rushing about probably corrected it. 

A rock band took over as the ceremony concluded.  Not long after the kids were done – We had been going eight hours and they had been troupers.  So we headed off into the night.  I bid fond farewell.  They headed for buses and home. I am grateful to Sarah.  When I go home and see a medal ceremony I will know the truth of how it’s produced.  I like that. 

I headed for Live City – thought I might be able to get in. I suppose I could of but it would have been an hour and half wait and the rain was starting.  So I ventured off to find a bus.  By the way, Sue did say yesterday that they now are handling 10,000 a night.  There’s no question Live City is a huge success.  

Returning to Katherine’s was a giggle.  To explain.  The crowd around Robson Square keeps getting larger and larger – spilling down Robson toward Stanley Park making bus travel on Robson nearly impossible.  Last night I couldn’t find a bus coming down Robson at Burrard.   It was almost midnight.  I asked a policemen.  He said:  They are rerooted. Go to Davie.  I hopped a bus to Davie.  No luck there, so I jumped in a cab. 

So, tonight I wondered what will happen.  Success, I found a Davie bus and we went down Davie to English Bay.  I jumped off, and went to the bus in front which I expected would continue down Denman to Robson and go up Robson.

I said to the driver: Are you going down Denman?  Yes.

I got on.  Then the bus driver from the one I had just exited got on to talk to my bus driver.

He said to his colleague driving our bus:   Okay, I now have three stories on what route I am to drive. The two of them started howling with laughter. And, the rest of us with them. One driver said he was going to go down Robson until he couldn’t – the other said no, I am going down Georgia turning left on Burrard.  We all chimed in with ideas.   It was time for our bus to leave. Our bus driver turned around to us and said:  Anyone expecting I am going down Robson:  

Yes, chimed in several.

Okay, that’s what we are going to do.

We left.  I exited before the bus turned on Robson.  I will see tomorrow what is up.

What is delightful is that somehow it all works and everyone is just going with the flow having a good time.  And, these bus drivers don’t seemed hassled at all. In fact, our driver said, it’s fun, adds to the merriment of the experience.  (He’s very British with a distinct Brit accent). 

Before I forget it each day I am sending these e-mails from a coffee house, MUM’S on the corner of Denman and Haro.  If you are in the neighborhood, drop by. They make all the muffins, breads, etc daily in their kitchen and they are DIVINE.  Fresh, large – I know, not good for the waist – but what the heck, they are delicious!!!

 Time for bed.

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