Archive for February 2010

Feb 14th, 2010 Olympics, Cultural Olympiad

We woke up to sun.  Yes, sun. The mountains can be seen.  I had a quiet morning – time to work out at a Centre a block away.  My body needed that! 

Twas a cultural day, and a darn good one.  Met Susan Celms Baldwin, a colleague from Expo 67 days, and also from Vancouver and Crofton House, at the SFU’s bran new theatre in the stunning Woodward’s complex in downtown Vancouver.  Our purpose?  Matinee of Robert LePage’s The Blue Dragon. I saw this production a couple of years ago during the Cal Performances season at UC Berkeley and loved it. This time I found myself standing back from the production, watching it’s many components and the interweaving of them together. Mr. LePage’s is a story teller, a simple story teller who uses technology – simply.  I don’t mean that it’s simple to do – cause it’s not – but the show isn’t about technology, its focus is the story with the technology helping to move the tale along.  Three brilliant performers made this a wonderful afternoon.

Afterwards we meandered.  For those of you in Vancouver or coming, check out Urbanity, a store on Abbott Street. They have stylish clothes in “real” fabrics  coming from various parts of Scandinavia. Then we ambled over to the Aboriginal Pavilion which is housed on the Plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  Both of us were excited to go – the aboriginals are making a major contribution to these Olympics.  Well, we all know you win some and then you don’t.  Here was an amazing opportunity to tell their stories, stories from their wise ones, stories of their culture. But, this was not their choice. We were offered 360 degree screen of pictures – yes of their art and of their people and their places but none of it seemed to pull into a whole. We went away feeling sad about that. 

After a hearty dinner we headed to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for Dance Canada Dance – bringing together dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada.  This concept was born twenty five years ago by David Y.H. Lui – a dance impresario – for Expo 86.  It worked then, (Les Grands Ballet, from Montreal were also involved), and it worked now – brilliantly.

Susan and I made a very wise choice and bought balcony seats – several weeks ago.  We like seeing patterns.  Well, there tons to see. 

We were offered three ballets beginning with the National Ballet dancing to Chopin with choreography set by Marie Chouinard, an avant garde choreographer. I know, you might ask: did it work?  Yes, it did. Ms Chouinard had them moving – not ballet steps (although they did slip in) – mostly it was movement. I was fascinated.  The evening continued with As above/So Below combining National Ballet and Royal Winnipeg dancers. The piece was choreographed by Mark Godden.  I loved this work. Musically it began with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and then segued into John Adam’s Fearful Symmetries. This mesmerizing music gave a flow that had me wondering where I would be taken next. And each time, I was moved to something new. During this piece I had the flash of how nice it is to see the work of other ballet companies.  We have a fabulous company in San Francisco, but I see them often. And, they have their artistic stamp.  It felt refreshing to see new dancers, different choreography.

The final piece was my favorite.  The Royal Winnipeg Ballet doing Hikarizatto choreographed by Itzik Galilli to percussive music – strong, powerful, percussive sounds. The lighting in this piece added an important ingredient holding each segment – sometimes only ten seconds but mostly longer – together. This was a collaborative effort – it must have been – to reach such heights.  At it’s conclusion Susan turned to me and said: That is why the RWB is so great.  They are truly innovative. 

 Before Susan headed home we walked across the street to Live City – Downtown.  This location has the large screen which carries the live entertainment that Sue is overseeing at the David Lam Park, a mile away.  The Canada Pavilion is in this location and worth visiting. It is a good place for kids into computers, great computer games to be played – about Canada, hockey, skating etc.  etc.  And, for those tourists who are dying to see a Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their Red Uniform and brown hat – they are there.  I don’t know about you but know I have been asked by several foreign visitors:  Where can I see a Mountie?  Well, now I have the answer. 

By the way, I have a correction to make.  In my first report from the Olympics, I mentioned that Sue had been my assistant at Expo 67.  Wrong!   She was with me at Expo ’86.  Susan Celms caught this error. Sorry Sue. 

And, others have been asking for the name of the bar where I watched the Opening Ceremonies. Here are the details: It’s called Jimmy’s and it’s at the corner of Robson and Homer.   If you are planning to watch a game there, I suggest you go into the temporary tent – the one with the peak.  It’s right on the corner of Robson and Homer. Entrance is through the bar.  And, they do serve food. 

Good night.  It’s been a lovely day.

Feb 13, 2010, Olympics, Cultural Olympiad

 I know this website has a dyslexic/hyperlexic theme but thought I just add some other spice.  My time at the 2010 Olympics.  This is Day Four, Saturday, Feb 13th, 2010

Good morning:

Oh my gosh, there was no way I was writing last night!!!!!!!!   Not even for myself.  I got back to Katherine’s at 12:30 am.   It was POURING RAIN and the streets, even her street in the West End was teaming – well, about ten of us – with Olympics people – all volunteers heading wearily home for a good night’s rest.  The guy I chatted with as we walked the block from Denman to K’s apartment is from Montreal – He’s a volunteer – driving artists all over town and loving it every moment.  He’s was all decked up in his “blue and green uniform with his identification hanging down in a pouch from his neck, feeling very proud  He’s having a blast!!!! 

Day Four, yesterday, began with a quick trip to the Vanoc Box Office – looking for a medal’s ceremony ticket.  No luck yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Then my day four really began. 

Whistler.  Now, can you believe the last time I went to Whistler was 1964.  Haig and Mary took me along with Jane and Charlie Kimbrough who were in VCR performing at the Vancouver International Festival and Romilly.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  All I remember is a colorful meadow with many sorts of wildflowers and a stream, a rushing stream and Mary’s generous picnic including a bottle of red wine.  Those were my drinking days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    We had a great time.  

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that has all changed. Thank heavens I had pre-arranged my transportation which departed at 9:10 promptly – leaving many behind to wait for the next bus.   I had a cup of hot milk from Starbucks to keep me company as we set off.  I was lucky to garner a front seat – my seat partner was a pilot with Fedex who had dead- headed from Connecticut via Memphis and then VCR.   I learned a lot about FEDEX behind the scenes but mostly we kept questioning our bus driver – what’s that, oh, what’s this.  It was one of British Columbia’s typical winter days – overcast.  The clouds were hanging every so low as we journeyed into the mountains.  The new road is beautiful – does hang a bit on a cliff at times – not unlike Highway 1 going out of San Francisco to Santa Cruz. 

 We passed through Britannia Beach. Remember how at school we learned about businesses in Canada and how copper came from Britannia Beach.  Well, there we were going through Britannia Beach.  Kind of a sad town now! 

And, then two and half hours later we were in Whistler. The bus driver admonished us.  Be sure you take note of where I have dropped you off.  Remember Seven-Eleven.  Whistler Village will all seem similar and for the Olympics our stop has changed.  We leave on time so get back here – find your way in plenty of time.  I knew I would get lost, directions are not my best!  Seven-Eleven, that I can find, ‘cause I can keep asking until I find it. 

The first thing that struck me about Whistler is the architecture.  Some of the hotels seem reminiscent of the old CPR and CNR train hotels with their peaked roofs – no not copper – but still. Whistler didn’t feel like a quaint old ski town.  Hmmmm 

Then I realized, I have no idea what to do here. I asked one of those Vannoc volunteers in their blue and green outfits – you can’t miss them, you know:  Where is the Tourist Bureau.   You go turn left and then right and then left.   Grump.  I got lost twice (didn’t care – kind of fun) but then, voila, there it was.  I asked:  How can I best take advantage of my day in Whistler;  I have a ticket in the evening to The Nix but nothing else. 

Well, it began with a trip up the gondola – me and six others. They all had skis and those funny boots.  Have you watched how people walk in ski boots – it’s like they tip toe – only they are in these clumsy, not flexible boots.  I would HATE that experience.  They seem unconcerned.  Our gondola headed straight up, over snow, mounds of snow.  We even watched for a few minutes – from our bird’s eye view – a practice session of the salalom (sp) race – you know, know the one where they have to wind their way around poles.  I learned it’s okay to hit them??????    My fellow travelers in my cubicle high above the snow told me:  Be sure you get the clear floor when you go peak to peak. They were referring to the next top of the mountain ride I was going to take.  Okay, Okay I said.  We arrived at the top of whatever, I think it was Whistler and it was darn cold as we exited.  There were people, and skis and people and skis everywhere.  I looked to my left and was befuddled.  What in God’s name is that?   It looked like a Jackson Pollock painting– you know the one where all the paint is spattered on the canvas – only this was huge.   I approached and laughed and laughed.  It was rows and rows of skis waiting their owners to pick them up.  Kind of like lost children. 

I wandered about a bit and decided – time for peak to peak.  Now, it’s an overcast day and fog – yes – fog was about.   So, the drama of this trip was minimized somewhat for in the valley between each peak was scattered fog – seemed like SF home.  This is an extraordinary ride:  It’s a suspension ride.  One very tall tower on one mountain whose stable cables are driven deep, deep into the group holds three cables strung across this immense valley to the next mountain and another very tall tower.  I decided for my first trip across I would choose a cabin with the solid floor – didn’t want to scare myself to death.

Had great fun chatting with all the skiers from ALL OVER THE WORLD, each with a unique story.   We made it across, whew!!!! – took twenty minutes.    I wandered this mountain for a while.  I would love to come back and hike here!!!   Then, my tummy told me – eat Ann.  So I headed in.  Awful food – but who cared.  I chose a hamburger – needed protein and of course chips.  It’s so great to be back in Canada – they serve vinegar with chips,, the one redeeming lunch feature.  I found myself sitting at a table with four volunteers, in their late 50’s. They are from Thunder Bay in Eastern Canada.  Guess what they are doing?   Preparing the courses for the skiers.  Today the gals – went in tandem sideways down the steep course sideways stamping down the course so it is flat and pristine and their husbands stood on the side of the course and had huge whisks on long handles gently brushing aside the powder snow that their wives have unsettled.   They had been up since 5 am and it was now 1:30 pm. Famished, exhausted and hilariously funny.   Didn’t matter my lunch was so awful. 

Time to return on the gondola back to the original peak.  I never did figure out when I was on Whistler and when on Blackcomb.  Didn’t really matter.  This time I went in a glass bottom gondola. LOVED IT.  It was like sitting on top of trees ladened (sp) with snow.  It would have been fun to be able to swing from those tree tops.  The fog was doing its fog thing, swirling about.  We all took each other’s pictures.  Lot’s of fun.

2010 Olympics: Ann atop Whistler Mountain on a gondola

Ann in a gondola atop Whistler Mountain

I hung out on the other mountain top for a while, just taking it all in.  So beautiful.  And, I wasn’t cold at all.  Had one of Mum’s hand knitted sweaters – the bright orange one –  with its high neck.  No cold could get in there!  And, then it was time to return down the mountain.  This time I got a gondola all to myself.  What a treasured time that was.  And, guess who called on my cell?   Haig and Mary – They are in Hawaii  sunning.  What a hoot that with all the technology no matter where you are you are connected! 

My late afternoon in Whistler Village was figuring out where the Seven Eleven is.  You know, the village all looks alike so I need to get my bearings for I was taking another bus up to Lost Lake for a performance at 7:30 pm and knew everything would look different later.  I finally felt like I had it figured out, found a Starbucks for my afternoon Chai and then headed to the large screen to watch the first part of the Canada and ? hockey teams play.  Canada was well ahead when I meandered on for my theater.  Now, I had to take the number 6 six bus to get there.  It was jammed with tired skiers and visitors.  A man said to me: Lost Lake, theater.  I don’t think so.  Oh yes, I said. At which point an Asian couple said, yes, she’s right, we’re going too.  It took the bus half an hour to get us there.  Nearly the last stop.  And, suddenly we were left – the three of us in the dark.  A lady appeared with a flash light and said welcome to THE NIX.  Just walk down this snowy path and you will come across a tent.   Now, I could see why the instructions I printed off their site had a BIG warming.  DO NOT WEAR HIGH HEELS.  This was a snow adventure.   

The play took place in snow sculpture.  It was a good enough play – you know about being uphappy and finding love.  It was the environment that was unique.  I had a little blanket that stored into nothing that I brought along.  This young New Zealander was sitting by me – he was dressed for the summer, so we shared my blanket.  I didn’t want his teeth chattering!!!     I told the guy taking tickets that I had a 9:30 bus to catch back to Vancouver.  After the half hour trip to get to the “theatre”  I was a bit apprehensive about the reality of my making my bus.  Oh, he said:  I will get you a taxi.  Seemed somewhat impossible out in this wilderness – but by gum, it did happen.  The return trip was no more than five minutes and he knew where the Seven-Eleven was.  Yes, I made my bus. 

 Predictably, the bus was jammed.  We were all tired. The chatter soon stopped.  Before we knew it we were back in Vancouver – two and a half hours had flown by disembarking at the Hyatt, next to the subway.  It was just past midnight.  Vancouver was jumping.  Oh my goodness.   

 A wonderful day.

Feb 12, 2010 Olympics, Cultural Olympiad

Kla how ya Tillicum.   (Indian, for how goes it)  With me, just fine, in fact, more than fine.  I know this website has a dyslexic/hyperlexic theme but  I am departing for a few blogs to share my time at the 2010 Olympics.  This is my day three, Feb 12th.  Opening day. 

I am sure many of you watched the Olympic opening tonight.  That show speaks for itself – they did a wonderful job!!!!  For me, a highlight was seeing Barbara Ann Scott one of the eight carrying the Olympic Flag.  I remember when she won her gold.  I was so excited for her!!!  (for those of you who have NO IDEA who she is, she was the winning figure skater!)   I did talk with my nine year old nephew, Owen and my eleven year old niece, Jane as they sat in BC Place before the show began.  Jane said, Ann, if they don’t do anything else I am happy.  BC Place is beautiful and they have given each of us a packet of stuff:  a white jacket, a drum, a light.  We are going to be part of the show.  We are going to bang a drum. !!!!!!!!!.  I am so excited.  Then, Owen came on.  Ann, it looks like someone is going to ski here – there is a ski run.  Oh, it’s so wonderful.   I was just so excited those kids were going to have this special evening.

Choosing where to watch last night’s spectacle was my challenge. I couldn’t make up my mind.   I was toying with going back to the Live City – Sue’s venue – for there are two huge screens. In fact I set out to go there when it started to rain.  I decided tonight was not the night for rain, I really wanted to see the show, not darting umbrellas – so I headed for a bar. It took me a few trys before I was satisfied with my environment but then I settled in.  A restaurant had been very smart and enclosed their veranda at the front of their venue – room for six tables and a huge screen.  I joined a table of two Swedish guys here for the entire duration of the Olympics – determined that Sweden will take back the hockey gold. We had a great time.  Around us were tables of Canadians who knew the names of the Canadian athletes and singers so we were well informed.  There were about twenty of us – we had our own party. All of us were cheerers – and cheer, hoot and holler we did.  It was a fun evening marveling at the creativity and talent – both sport and artistic being displayed before us. And, when Wayne Gretsky took to the street with the torch, we were just a block away and could see him start on his journey through the city – down Georgia to Thurlow, turn right and down to the water on the Stanley Park side of the huge Canada Pavilion from Expo 86. 

 It’s odd, I walked by that site this afternoon and said to myself, what a shame that Vanoc (Vancouver Olympic Committee) has put up a wall along here blocking the beautiful view of the mountains.  Well, there was method in their madness.  They were hiding the form that created the base for the flame. I have just come in from viewing the flame, there.   It is truly spectacular.  My little phone camera doesn’t do it justice unfortunately – there is so much light emanating from flaming sculpture that the subtle blues get lost in the picture.  Oh well.  I have it in my mind.

 The streets of Vancouver are in a celebratory mode – especially around Robson Square. Everyone is having fun!!

By the way, I did get up early this morning to watch the flame go down Denman.  I woke up and thought, well, how silly not to make the effort even though I saw it last night.  I wasn’t disappointment.  The street was lined with cheering crowd three rows deep.  One young couple had just come racing from Stanley Park.  They had wanted to see Arnold Schwarzenegger (sp?).  It seems many others did.  Interesting eh?

And, another woman told me that her brother, who is policeman in Manitoba is here with several of his colleagues.  These and many more security types are staying on three cruise ships in the harbor – being treated with great care.  Fun eh?

Today I was dealing with basics, like picking up my ice skating ticket for Tuesday. That was easy.  It was awaiting me and no line!!!. However, I have been trying to get a ticket to the Awards Ceremony on Monday night with no luck.  Finally I discovered why.  Vanoc has tickets, they just parcel them out in small doses and one has to be in the right place at the right time to get one.  Most frustrating!   I will keep trying.  Somehow I will win.

I decided to explore pavilions today.  Now, the definition of a pavilion here is not like a World Exposition.  These are, for the most part, tiny centers with some info – some better than others. Be sure to check out the Bell Pavilion if you are coming.  In my journey to find pavilions I was wandering down by the old Train Station – it has another name now????? – to discover that the parking lot has been taken over by the Germans who have created a beer Haus.  I was hungry and felt sure they would have sausages.  Correct!!!!.  The place was a mad house – noisy and crazy.  I got my sausage, asked for a non alcoholic beer – they thought I was crazy – so I ended up with water.  I found a place to sit – and began chatting with a couple from Beijing.  Quite fascinating.  He’s thirty seven, made his money in technology in China, has retired and is now searching for his next whatever.  He seems to think he ought to go to Harvard for an MBA.  His friends tell him he is over qualified.  We had quite a conversation.

 Time for bed.  The days just flew by.  I must have walked nearly eight miles today.  My body is looking forward to being prone!!!!!

 Several of you have responded saying you are enjoying these reflections.  I am glad.  Writing them is a great way to relax after my day

 PS.  Walking home I passed a rather proper type couple sitting under an umbrella drinking coffee.  They had the tiny drums in tow.  I asked:  Was it fun playing them?   Oh, it was marvelous, and what was even better, we didn’t have to clap – we could just bang, and bang and bang!!!!!!!