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.

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.

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.