Posts Tagged ‘2010 Olympics’

Feb 17th, 2010 Olympics, Cultural Olympiad

Usually this website is about dyslexia and hyperlexia.  This is a diversion – report on my 2010 Olympic trip – to Vancouver.  Day eight, Feb 17th, last day.

I am sitting at the airport, gone through security – more thorough these days – had to open my computer and turn it on.  That hasn’t happened for a cat’s age. And I have gone through customs. No line. Now I have my Starbucks cup of chai tea and a muffin from Mum’s on Denman and am sitting at a long counter with huge windows in front of me giving me a spectacular view of the Coast Range Mountain.  Tucked behind them is snow-capped Whistler. It’s a beautiful twilight. Word has it that this coming week there will be sunny weather.  I am so glad for all the visitors – they need a break from rain. 

Guess what, I lost my umbrella yesterday!   

Riding on the subway to the airport I sat next to a woman coming to meet her brother coming for the Olympics.  One thing led to another and we ended up on the topic of security. She commented: I worked at Expo 67 in Montreal – we had none of this intense security.   Well, said I. So did I work there and we were off and running on many topics.  She worked in the office at Ile de Cite – sp?  And of course, had a great time.  This caused me to share with her an ah ha I had yesterday.  One of the reasons these Olympics seem so much fun for me comes in part from the fact that I was never a “tourist” at Expo 67 or 86.  I was too busy working and occasionally dashing to see a Pavilion when I could squeeze it in.  Now, I have the privilege of seeing the results of so many other people’s hard labor.  They have done a fabulous job. 

By the way, I meant to tell you about Jap a Dog.  The other day on the bus I passed a hot dog stand with a line that was a block long.  Four people were feverously selling hot dogs.  The bus moved on.  A few blocks later I saw the same thing and it was then that I grabbed the name. Jap a Dog.  This street side concession is very popular in VCR.  And, not all the patrons were Asian.    Wonder if this is anywhere else?  

I did have one disappointment today. I wanted to buy a pair of the Olympic mittens – they are bright red and adorable.  It turns out that Vannoc gave the concession to two large retailers:  Zellers and Hudson’s Bay.  There’s no Zeller’s downtown so I high tailed it to the Bay.  Can you believe there was a line that would take me and hour and half to go through to buy a pair of mittens?   You are right, I didn’t do it.  Isn’t odd that Vannoc didn’t want their merchandize sold all over the City!!!!

I was on my way to have lunch with Rae Ackerman – a former Expo 67 colleague who now manages all the Civic Theatres.  I was early so I jumped into a bar to see what sport was happening and to be viewed on a big screen. Women’s down hill.  Oh my God, did you watch?   They go at a speed that’s terrifying.  But with the sun out and the blue and green mountains in the background juxtaposed again the white snow with those strange watery blue lines to give the skier a sense of where she is and then the skier in her outfit – the sheer beauty of it all took over. I sat with two guys who kept their eye on the stop watch –  Hey, one would say – she’s losing time or  look at that, she’s under.   And, then together the three of us would hoop and holler. 

Hey, Mam, won’t you have a beer. 

Sorry, no.  I am going to a meeting at noon.

Oh, Okay.

And, soon I left them.  They were good company.

 Rae bought me lunch – delicious ribs and stuffed potato.  I cleaned my plate.  There is something about the Olympics.  I eat and don’t seem to gain.  I like that.

I did go back to the Ontario Pavilion – had heard the film was worth seeing.  Well, it was okay – would give it a six.  It’s 4-D.  If you haven’t seen a 4-D film yes, go. Otherwise, it’s a pass.  There is a half- hour line.  I was glad, however, to go back by GM Place area– for the crowds were energized – half of them were exiting after a hockey game (Finland versus Belarus).  You probably know Finland won.  And, then half the crowd was just about to enter for the next hockey game.  It’s that kind of energy that is fun to be around.

 And, then it was time to get back to Katherine’s, grab my luggage and head for the airport. 

My plane is now loading.  So, let me say, thanks for listening – you’ve been a great audience.  It’s enriching to record my experience and share it

PS.  Those of you in Vancouver or coming:  don’t forget the short train ride from the Athletes Village to Granville Island.  It’s fun.

Feb 16th, 2010 Olympics, Cultural Olympiad

Yes, this blog is usually about dyslexia and hyperlexia but occasionally I am adding other topics.  This sequence is describing my Olympic 2010 experience.  Day Seven, Tuesday, Feb 16th, 2010.

Another full day – now only two things but ………  After a few errands I headed to Northern House (corner of Hastings and Seymour).  Peoples of the Northern Territories have transformed an old bank – you know one with high, high ceilings and a few posts to hold the next floor up –  into a pavilion.  This Pavilion wins my top marks. They organizers gave much thought – so much imagination is oozing out of that space.  The entire space has a natural feel.

Northern artists – different ones – were engaged to create poster art for the columns. They are splendid! 

2010 Olympics: Northern Pavilion: Ann's Rock Sculpture

Northern Pavilion: Ann's Rock Sculpture

And, the environment brings out the artist in us – the visitor. On a table are stones, stones from their land.  We are invited to create sculpture.

 Mine actually stood up!!!!  

And, athletes are present showing us some of the competitive games they play.  They are mostly feats of strength like hanging by your wrists on a pole as you are carried around the stage or the head to head pull – a strap around two person’s heads and they pull.  It’s fascinating to watch.  No, I didn’t try but many children and adults did.

And, they have beautiful art, simply displayed – including hand made clothes.

Go, you will enjoy. I stayed two hours.   

Then I caught a bus to the Coliseum for a late afternoon – into the evening of Men’s Figure Skating:  Short Program.   Well, it was short for the artists but four and a half hours for us.  Now, I am not complaining, I loved it but when I looked at my watch and it was 9 pm, I went wow.  Time has flown by. 

I am glad to have seen the skating before the elimination.  We saw thirty skaters – only 20 move on to the final competition tomorrow.  We didn’t see the list of who made it into the finals but there were some very young skaters who did wonderful work.  They were just not in the league with the stars. The stars, Russian, American and Japanese were spectacular. Their choreography was complicated, their skill amazing, their music appropriate. They deserved being the top three.  What saddened me the most was the tumble.  So many of the skaters tumbled.  Nerves, I guess. 

I do have one complaint – nothing to do with the skaters but with the media.  Surely to goodness, in this day of heightened technology, some creative technician can come up with a way to film events like this without disturbing 2,000 people.  My seat was terrific – except that the media was a boom with a camera that kept jumping up in front of me and blocking my and so many other’s view.  This is not the time to penny wise and pound foolish. I feel sure the technology is there.  Producers need to put their foot down, stamp it down, and say to the media:  this kind of disturbance is unacceptable!    Solve it. 

And, programs. They are non existent at the Olympics. I searched the Coliseum yesterday.  I was told there was a souvenir program – couldn’t find it but was also told it said nothing about the skating athletes.  I, for one, like to know!   All there was, was a piece of paper scotch taped to the wall at the entrance that gave the list of when the skaters were performing   Same things goes for the Cultural Olympiad.  So little information about the work and the artists.  I felt sad about that.  Yes, I know it is green not to have programs with a decent amount of information but…………..If this is a harbinger for the future I feel sad for future audiences. 

By the way – here’s the current solution to the Robson Bus.  It is cancelled until March 1st.   They have created a downtown bus which goes up Georgia, down Pender to Homer loops around to Richards, up Richards to Davie, down Davie to Denman and then repeat.  So, all of you coming and staying in the West End, be prepared. There are lots of buses, the route is just different.  And, someone needs to give these bus drivers a huge pat on the back.  It is amazing how good their cheer is. Tonight coming back – 10:30 ish – downtown was jumping.  An amazing amount of action on Davie.  The party continues.

By the way, I see posters all over town for Nixon in China:  It’ an opera by John Adams a much respected contemporary composer being produced by the Vancouver Opera. If you still have a few pennies in your pocket – go – it’s in mid-March.

Feb 11th, 2010 Olympics, Cultural Olympiad

I know this blog is about dyslexia and hyperlexia but I thought it would be fun to add some diversity and share my wonderful time at the 2010.  This report is my day two, Feb 11th, at the  Olympics.

A weary voyager is checking in. We were on a 12 hour marathon today.  It was wonderful, fun, entertaining and informative.  And, now I am just wondering what it was we did, there was so much. 

To set the stage, it was cloudy, at times pouring with rain. Neither mattered, we just soldiered on.  My friend Marie had done a lot of reconnoitering so our time was well spent. 

To start the day was a visit to London Drugs to get me a backpack and thank goodness we did for throughout the day we picked up SO MUCH STUFF, maps, tour guides, a book.  A hint to those of you still coming.  Forget purses.  Bring a wallet belt for around the waist and a backpack.  You have much more freedom, especially if it’s raining.  Gives a free arm for the umbrella.

 Our first Cultural Olympiad stop was the Vancouver Art Gallery and a show with original and copies of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings of the body, detailed drawings, more detailed than most books that exist today.  It seems that he and a doctor in the early 1500’s collaborated and the result is some of the most beautiful and factual explanations of how the movement system of how the body works.  It’s a sobering show – sobering to think that five hundred or so years ago so much information on the body became available. And, as we were viewing almost simultaneously we said to one another – how brilliant of the Gallery staff to present this show – what are the Olympics but about the body, a healthy body. Leonardo wrote thoughts in the margins by the drawings: most of them encouraging anyone viewing these works, to think about themselves, the way they lived and the importance of treating the body with love and care. And, all of this happened a half a millennium ago!  The setting of the show is done with simplicity. There is aesthetic space to breathe, to take in the achievements. 

We headed back out into the rain to take in the “wrap” of the Vancouver Art Gallery – the old court house.  In this rainy day, the colorful huge flowers covering the immense space added life and lightness.  And, then we noticed that many of the high rise office buildings have huge hangings welcoming the visitors and athletes. It was very exciting to see and feel.   As we waited for the bus, in the pouring rain, to take us to Granville Island we watched with awe a free ride: Zip ride: two very tall towers, like two hundred feet have been constructed in either end of Robson Square. A cable is strung between – about one very long city block apart.  You can climb one tower, don a suit, hooked to the cable and “fly” along the rope to the other side.  One guy was very brave and kept turning himself upside down on his journey.   Amazing.   I think I will pass on that one.  I understand the Premier of the Province, a gentleman well into his sixties took the ride when it debuted.  Brave man!

We began to realize that we were very lucky to be viewing/sightseeing today.  Tomorrow the crowds will burst on the scene. We were able to get with ease into everything we wanted.  We spent quite amount of time at Code 2:  The digital show at Emily Carr. (Code 1)  I have not been very interested in digital art and its many ramifications but today I became intrigued. Artists are using technology and coming up with very satisfying results.  We loved the “costume” show.  Beautifully constructed “costumes” with digital elements make them alive – one dress whispered, another had lights that twinkled, subtly when you walked by and on an on. We also sat in a theater – miniature  – two rows, donned headsets listening as we watched. There were two purposes for the headsets. To tell the tale of the film we were watching and to disturb, interrupt – it was quite disconcerting at first – a voice was whispering in our ear – want popcorn or did you leave the stove on at home.  And then we could hear someone chewing on popcorn.  I hate popcorn, so I got really annoyed for an instant and then of course realized it was only on the headset.  All the while we were watching a very odd film.  Marie became very annoyed with the audio and took off the headset.  I had no idea she had done that until the end.  It was a disconcerting but interesting experience. 

In the middle of all of this we had lunch at the Granville Island Market:  I inhaled protein.  I was starved and then we headed back out into the rain and more digital art.  We discovered a train running from Granville Island to the Olympic Village that has been built on old railroad tracks.  It seems that 100,000 people have taken this train since Jan 1!!!!.  They use it as a commuter getting across the City.  We just marveled and then  returned to the Market to relax at the Granville Island Tea Company. I had the best cup of tea in years.  A special brew – kind of Lapsang Suchong but softer.   We had great fun sitting at the counter and chattering with the visitors that passed by asking them where they were from. Everyone seems to wander in groups wearing skiing jackets to identify them. Our challenge was guessing where they were from.  The Swedish jackets look not unlike the VANOC jackets – only have yellow. We were very forward, stopping them and asking.  Some guys sat down next to us and they were chattering away in what sounded like German – they were Swiss – musicians – here to perform for the President of Switzerland who was about to arrive at the “Swiss Pavilion” – located in Bridges, a large restaurant on Granville Island.  And, so it went.

Then it was time to head to the other side of the Creek to LiveCity Yaletown – Sue’s project.  We took the tub: an adorable boat which gave us a trip down False Creek by the new Arthur Erickson building:  Another legacy that is so distinctive. Disembarking we were right at the Live site – stood in line – for an hour – to get in. The security was major – like the airport. Nobody seemed to care about waiting.  Royal Bank and Coke, two sponsors, were busy giving out freebees and everyone, even in the pouring rain, were in good humor. Once in, we had a good time.  We saw three pavilions – Aker from Italy with many interesting technologies which we tried.  Yes, we did! Samsong – left me rather uninterested and then on to the: Laneway House, an efficient and most attractively designed house using green technology. It’s a product of two designers in North Vancouver.  Haig, if you and Mary do decide to build – I suggest you look at this company!!!! 

Then it was time to find a place for the show that began at 6:30 pm. We discovered that tonight the feature was the arrival of the Olympic Flame.  The rain stopped, thankfully, umbrellas went down which meant we could see the stage.  (Yes, there were large screens so you could see but I like also to see people, in their real selves, not blown up.) And, I had great fun watching the “moving lights” that are computer programmed and hang above the stage in full view.   As we waited for the Flame there were entertainers and at one point Marie whispered:  Ann, did you leave the stove on?  The two of us howled with laughter. And, then came the moment for the arrival of the flame through these thousands of people and up onto the stage.  It went right by me – two feet away.  I got some great photos on my phone camera.  To cap the event was a fireworks show.  Sue had a triumph tonight.  It all worked beautifully and thousands of us had a wonderful time.

Marie and I looked at ourselves and said, let’s find a place to sit – we had now been standing for nearly five hours.   Several blocks away we came across a Starbucks.  That chai latte never tasted so good.

And, now to bed.   I am so glad I am here.  It’s very special.