Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Good Ol' Hockey Game Part 2

This is a photo essay - the story of the game told through the big screen/scoreboard. So even though we were sitting as far away from the ice as humanly possible (while still being INSIDE the stadium), we always had a handle on the action. This was a fairly big game - as two teams battled it out for the bronze medal.

Did you know:
It all starts with the dance of the Zambonis.

The game begins! And then the inevitable:

Audience participation: the KISS cam.

The best Kiss Cam moment was when it was turned on a young South Asian man and woman. He laughed, shook his head and mouthed the words "she's my sister!". We laughed. And then we speculated how long it might take for them to turn the camera on same sex couples. I mean it IS 2010 after all!

And there were lots of these:

More audience participation:

Let's make some music already!! We'll get the people on the left on the tambourine, and the rest of you can give us some:

And that sort of noise just leads to this:

Which then led to victory!

And disappointment for the team from Sweden.

And then they kicked us outta there so they could get ready for the big GOLD MEDAL GAME!!

We had fun though as we were turned out onto streets that were pounding with pre-game energy. And you all know how THAT turned out! It was Canada all the way!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Good Ol' Hockey Game Part 1

While this news is old as the oldest city in North America (which happens to be St. John's, Newfoundland - in case you didn't know.) (Oh. And when I mean "oldest", I am talking about the oldest English founded city. Because of course, Mexico has a few spots that are even older.) But I digress.

I had tickets to a single Olympic event, and that was the women's bronze medal hockey game. So, on Thursday, I set out with some old friends, Buffer and Leslie to watch me some of Canada's favourite sport.

We set our meeting place at a Starbucks. I have to say that I had a bit of a brain fart, because of course I showed up at the WRONG Starbucks (which was a block away from the ACTUAL meeting place) (which means the moral of the story should be "DO NOT PICK STARBUCKS AS A MEETING PLACE BECAUSE THERE'S ONE ON EVERY CORNER". Which is kind of like saying, "Let's meet by the silver car on the corner.)

Eventually, we did find each other and began our trek to the arena. This was the first time I'd been on the other side of the security fencing, and, say what you will about the lack of winter at these games - the traffic flow has been brilliantly managed. I have worked on a fair number of special events, so I feel like I can use the phrase "brilliantly managed" with a modicum of authority.

It's a long haul, and you have to clear security, but it doesn't matter. You get a bit of a work out, the volunteers are incredible, and along the way, you feel this amazing comradery with hundreds of other people who are all taking part in this big adventure. And if you're a person with a disability or an older person, there are vehicles that will pick you up and deliver you right to the door.

When you get close to the venue, you can even have your photo taken with one of the mascots.

Here's Lesie and Bev now as we prepare to make our way into the venue,

where we hook up with Hanna. Both she and Bev are working on various production crews for the big event.

They compare accreditation.

Clearly, it was baby-day at the game! They were pretty darn cute.

But one of the things I loved best was the image of these two young women proudly cheering for Sweden. Alas. They didn't win... (just in case you haven't been following the non-stop action)

And these guys, proudly cheering for Canada. I didn't have the heart to tell them that Canada wasn't playing til later that day....


Yesterday was another action packed day on the West Coast. First of all, for the first time in AGES it rained. The skies opened up and dumped on us like there was no tomorrow. This wasn’t such a bad thing EXCEPT that Mister Man and I attended an outdoor performance art in the evening. But, as with so many things of late, the weather turned for the better (JUST as the Canadians were kicking some Russian butt in men's hockey). And we headed out under clear skies.

Performance art, you say? If you didn't know this before, I can tell you that performance art and theatre are not the same thing. Oh they may be distantly related, like that cousin you met at another cousin’s wedding back in the day. That is to say, they’re on a first name basis and share some common elements. (unless of course you’re a total performance art purist and shun your older cousin). Here's a thumbnail sketch of some differences:

Theatre involves acting and costumes and props.

Performance art MAY involve costumes and props. It doesn’t involve acting.

Performance art emerged out of the visual arts in the 60’s in response to a need to push the boundaries of art.

Last night we went to see the dynamic performance collective NORMA, present a piece called BRAWL in Andy Livingstone Park (which is a huge soccer pitch in downtown Vancouver covered in the most amazing and unnatural looking astro-turf you've ever laid your peepers on). NORMA'S performance examined the intersection between spectacle and sport. Using quotes from popular culture and real life history, wearing matching nylon jackets and armed with megaphones and some really sweetly choreographed formations, NORMA made the field come to life. The thing that's so great about watching a group of skilled performance artists is that they know how to stay in the moment and respond to the energy that is being generated between them and the audience. PLUS, they gave out free scarves. What more could you ask for really? A great hockey game, followed by a great performance that involved swag. Picture perfect. That's what we call it around these parts.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fire With Fire

On our way back from a performance art piece (that I'll talk about tomorrow), we paused in front of another installation that's been burning up the streets of Vancouver as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Isabelle Hayeur's stunning and haunting installation called "Fire With Fire" (and curated by Marlene Madison) is currently installed in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. Here's what Hayeur's website says about the piece.

"The Downtown Eastside is the oldest neighbourhood in Vancouver; it is also the most run-down. This historic area is infamous for being plagued by social problems due to poverty. Before falling prey to serious urban decay, it has known brighter days, and was even the city’s business hub until the 1980s. Derelict for over twenty years, in more recent ones, it has started to be sought after again. The Downtown Eastside is undergoing a major mutation —witness the newly renovated buildings and the constructions sites that now dot the area.

The coming of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games is accelerating the Downtown Eastside’s transformation by heightening real estate speculation and gentrification; new condo towers and big box stores are appearing. The revamping of the neighbourhood seems more responsive to the expectations of people who are better-off. Tensions between real estate developers and members of the community are palpable, with fears of a form of implicit "social cleansing".

It is striking that the history of the Downtown Eastside began in destruction and disappearance. In 1886, soon after the city was incorporated, the Great Vancouver Fire swept down on the neighbourhood and razed almost all of it to the ground. The video installation
Fire with Fire recalls this troubled period of Vancouver’s history. It also alludes to the neighbourhood’s present conditions by reminding us that many lives have been consumed there, worn down by years of homelessness, drug use, street prostitution, and violence."

Check it out at the W2 space located at 112 West Hastings Street. And while it does play during the day, I urge you to see it under the cover of darkness.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Night of Privilege

Over the past week, I have not only stuck my eyeballs to the TV set to watch people ski, skate, fall, shoot pucks (only to reclaim those very eyeballs when it's time to have a wee cry), but I've worked on 3 additional freelance projects (along with that fabulous job I am honoured to have). Each of these extra-curricular projects has been an amazing experience and I'll start by sharing with you what I did tonight.

If you are a lover of culture (Canadian culture in particular) you've probably heard of the theatre/film doyen, Robert Lepage. I first saw him in a life-altering production called Circulations which was presented at The Firehall Arts Centre in the late 80's. This was before he was famous and I can tell you that it was a show that left me sitting slack jawed and speechless in the theatre, my brain ignited with possibility. After that, I happened to be in the right city at the right time over the years, and was fortunate enough to see The Dragon's Trilogy, Tectonic Plates, Polygraph, Bluebeard's Castle, Far Side of the Moon, The Anderson Project, Ka and The Blue Dragon. Many of these shows are some of the most memorable experiences I've ever had in a theatre, because Lepage creates masterfully staged, multi-layered works of interdisciplinary art.

The Blue Dragon is currently playing in Vancouver at the new Fei and Miltong Wong Experimental Theatre downtown. And while it's not Lepage's strongest work to date, it's still impressive. (and hey - anyone with a track record like his should be allowed the odd weak link right? I mean, the man is a genius.)

Over the past 6 months or so, Kickstart Society for Disability Art and Culture, has trained a handful of individuals to work as audio describers. (and if you clicked on that link, please pardon the crazed look on my face. I was seriously mid sentence when the photo was snapped!) Essentially, what we do is describe the visual aspect of specific shows for visually impaired audience members. Those audience members wear a receiver and a headset over one ear, and the audio describer transmits via a microphone what's happening visually. This way, a person who's visually impaired can still experience the joy of live theatre with other living, breathing souls, but still walk away with a visual picture as well as the aural one. Try watching a play, or a film with your eyes closed. Sure you'll pick up a lot from the dialogue and soundscape, but imagine what you can't understand because the information is all visual. It's sort of like this post. I've not included a single visual here - I'm just relying on what you can hear on the screen. Well, that's where we come in. It's pretty neat. And adrenalin inducing. And scary. And fun. And satisfying. And the best part is getting to talk to the visually impaired members at the end of the show.

Tonight? Tonight, I got to describe The Blue Dragon. My colleague Rick wrote and delivered the pre-show notes which give detailed information about sets and costumes. And I described the show. What an honour. That's all I have to say. What an honour.

I am still wired.

Still wired.


Probably won't need to sleep for a week.

Hmmm. I guess I could go wake Mister Man up and get him to talk to me.

Or not.

I'll just go now.

Did I mention what an honour it was to audio describe The Blue Dragon?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my people (though we've never met) is a blogger named Barry Parsons. Not only does he make ornate Victorian style gingerbread houses, but he hosts a blog called Rock Recipes (as in - recipes from "the Rock" AKA Newfoundland)

Always in search of something new to bring to the table, I found myself drawn to his Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have to say that, if you enjoy the delicious taste of espresso and chocolate, you'll probably enjoy these. I realize that I've been a bit hung up with the chocolate/espresso combo of late, but I think it just speaks to my desire to merge two perfect worlds. (I promise I'll find a couple more new worlds in the coming weeks!) (Though can there ever REALLY be "too much chocolate"?) (Um. That was a rhetorical question...)

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3/ cup cocoa powder
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp instant espresso powder

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.

Sift together the cocoa, espresso powder, flour, baking soda and salt. Add the sifted stuff to the creamed stuff along with 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Mix well until a dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. You want this dough nicely chilled.

Roll into 1 inch balls and then roll in sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment and bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan before putting them on a wire rack.

And soon - back to our regularly scheduled programming with blogs about a couple o' big events coming up this week!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

That Must Be Worth a MINT!!

One of the highlights of last weekend (YOU: "my god - you mean there are MORE??"), was our visit to the Canadian Mint Pavilion. We'd made an attempt earlier in the day and were turned away due to a private function. It was so high on the list of priorities for Lisa, that we knew we'd go back and stand in that line no matter HOW long it took! It was entirely worth waiting for an hour and a half. Also, how could you possibly say no to this face?

By all reports, our wait was NUTHIN' compared to the line ups THIS weekend, which have seen people hugging the sidewalk for up to 4 hours! Here's a little photo essay about our time at The Mint. First of all, they issued white gloves with which to hold the medals. This was the first time in Olympic history that the medals were available to be manhandled by the public.

They let us hold a bar of gold (even though it WAS chained down). Mister Man was beside himself. And that sucker was HEAVY!

There was a coin in there worth 1 million dollars (weighing 100 kgs).

Even the ceilings were opulent.

But the real highlight was getting to hold the medals which are works of art, designed by First Nations artist Corrine Hunt. They are truly beautiful. Each medal is part of a larger design, so if you had all of the medals together in one room, they'd each play a part in a larger canvas. Beautiful.

And, of course, at the end of the night a certain someone couldn't help but to insert herself in the Inukshuk while coins were projected from above, like loonies from heaven.