Saturday, February 20, 2010

February 20th, 2010 - Olympic Fever :)

Go Canada Go!! Oh, Canada, eh?

Yes, Olympic fever is in the air and there really are no words to describe how this city has been taken over by pride, patriotism and having the World's eyes upon us. We've known the Olympics have been coming for what, 8 years now? And yet it hasn't actually become a reality until they actually got here... and then the city exploded almost over night. Hahaha... and to think I actually was a tad bit concerned about whether anyone would actually show up at the games except for locals? I mean, who plans their vacations around where the Olympics are going to be? Well, I'm not sure if we'll ever have actual numbers and stats, but there is no doubt that I was way off base. This city is teaming with visitors from all over the world, and many, many languages being spoken everywhere.

Mind you, I must give out some awards tonight... both Gold medals for outstanding hosts, and Party Poop awards for the negative folk that are still around. The negative folk are having a hard time grumbling and being heard, not to mention, getting no sympathy or empathy. After the games are over and the streets downtown go back to being silent, can people grumble and complain about how much this party cost or how difficult it was for them to get from point A to B. But for the next week, throw the negative grumblings to the wind and just enjoy the magic that has brought this city and country together!

Ok, first Gold Medal goes to VANOC who actually listened to the public. Back in the planning/security stages, they had fencing put up to protect the glassed side of the Convention Centre which is the main Media Centre. It was on this site, on the waterfront, that the outdoor Olympic cauldron was placed, so the fence actually did double duty. It fenced off the media centre, as well, protected the cauldron. As everyone has seen, with the legs/arms, it would be very easy (and I'm sure tempting) for people to want to climb up the arms... and would find themselves surprised that they have severe burns (not to mention what damage might be done to the cauldron itself). What VANOC did not realize... just how many people would be coming down and wanting to take pictures. Oh sure, there would always be some, but there have been thousands coming down every day and night. One of the stats that has already been confirmed is that there are more people on the streets of the host city than any previous Olympics in history... and hahahaha... I believe it! There are thousands 24/7 and crowds that can be downright scary! So a major complaint was this ugly chainlink fence that would be in the pictures people took. People complained, the media complained and VANOC listened. There still is a fence but they cut it basically in half and put up plexiglass, so now pictures can be taken without the chainlink getting in the way. They also opened up a landing on the next level up from the ground where there is no fence and people can go there to take pictures, without actually having access to the cauldron itself. So Gold Medal for VANOC for actually listening and doing something about it.

Gold medals also go to the staff and volunteers up at Whistler and Cypress for keeping those courses maintained and prepared. For all the complaints of the "lack of snow" up at Cypress, it's amazing how they have kept the ski courses in great shape. The media have either been very negative about the weather (IE: the British press) or making fun of us (the rest of the world), but there hasn't been one complaint from the athletes who are actually competing on these courses. Oh sure, we've heard how difficult they are, how fast they are, how icy at the bottom, etc., but the athletes who have been interviewed have all said how much they love the courses. Go figure? And everyone has been praising the staff/volunteers who maintain the courses with dry ice and even manually spraying the jumps with the dry ice from fire extinguishers. One thing our locals up at Whistler and the local mountains know is their mountains and how to maintain them. Meanwhile, the spectators have been watching these events in the brilliant sunshine and daytime temps in the high 40 - low 50F temps :)

Gold medals must also go to the local police, the RCMP, the police depts. from across Canada and other visiting police who are all here to maintain peace and keep the Riff Raff at bay. Other than that one mini-riot incident we had a week ago, the day after the Opening ceremonies (which was caused by a group of 20-30 self-proclaimed Anarchists who weren't even from around here), we have had very well-behaved crowds every day and night. I'm sure there have been the odd incident of too much to drink and rowdy partiers, but when you consider the numbers of people, numbering in the 100's of thousands day and night, the police are doing a fabulous job. Tonight (Feb 20) is going to be a real test since they are expecting unprecedented crowds and public drinking.

Now for the Party Poop awards... top prize goes to the British Press! Who stuck thorns up their behinds??? Seriously... they have not had a good thing to say about these games or the city or anything. They have complained about the weather, the lack of snow, the rain, and now the sun. They have complained about the mountains, the crowds, the cheering, the courses, the ice rinks. Just who are they trying to impress or, not impress? The 2012 Summer Olympics are going to be in London... do they really think the world media who are here are going to forget in two years how much they bitched about a host city?? Just wait London, your turn is next and you won't be getting off easy after the completely rude and snarky way your media has behaved.

Another Party Poop award goes to the complainers of the track for the luge/skeleton track. Unbelievable the stories that are being said. "The track is too fast, that's what you get when you just throw a track together overnight for a competition". Hello? This track that supposedly has just been thrown together over night has been around for 4 years... that's a long overnighter! Not only that, it was used for a World Championship before being used for these Olympics, so all these athletes have competed on it already. Not to mention, they all were up here in Oct/Nov for pre-Olympic training and did over 4000 runs on it. So now that the media is here, to complain that it's a fast track that was thrown up overnight... is plain sour grapes ;)

Party Poop awards also go to the locals who are still holding on to their grumpiness and saying things like, "I'll be happy when the Olympics are over... I never wanted them here in the first place." It's almost as if, rather than join the majority they want to be seen as different. The Olympics will be over soon enough, for heaven's sake... can you not put your grumpiness aside for 2 weeks and just admit that people are having fun, so why not join the crowd? You can always bitch about them after they are over... but I guess they see this as selling out and how can they bitch about them after they are over if they actually admitted they had fun while they were here?

Oh... and a definite Party Poop award goes to the USA House/Pavilion. They do not allow the public into the pavilion (and they have a choice spot right on the corner of Seymour and Georgia) unless you have a valid American Passport or proof of American citizenship. Now what kind of attitude is that, to isolate yourself from the host country and all the visitors from around the world? Boooo! And it's not as if they are just keeping it a private facility for the athletes and their families... the public IS allowed in too, but only if you are American. If a Canadian is married to an American spouse, then the spouse is allowed in, but the Canadian is not. Booo! No medals for USA House or their organizers!

Anywho... we get to have 8 more days of this fun and excitement. I was one who voted "No" to having the Olympics here. I, too, am not happy with how our government lied to us every step of the way, have sunk millions of $$ into this event, yet make no qualms about cutting 90% of government investments into the Arts here in this province... even though they took great pride in the Opening ceremonies where were put on by Canadian talent from the Arts. I can do a whole blog entry on this slaughter of our Arts and culture and maybe I will, but that will have to wait until after the Olympics because I am not going to bring down this incredible feeling that people are going through having the Olympics here :)

Ok, first, just for document's sake, I'm going to record some links here that make for either fun reading regarding Canada and Canadians, informational reading or just opinions from journalists outside of Canada...

Column written by ESPN Magazine writer, Rick Reilly,0,1735148.column

Los Angeles Times, Chris Erskine

The New York Times, Timothy Egan

So then we have the British media, and the article that started the British whining:

Mind you, here is an interesting article from another Brit that may somewhat explain this. Journalism, like politics is a game and is quite possible all about who is getting paid and by whom:

Ok... enough of that, if you even managed to read them. But if you do have time, they all make for fun or interesting reads, so I recommend a second cup of coffee or a fresh cup of tea and go back and read the articles :) :)

Now... how many of you, my friends out there in bloggyland are Stephen Colbert (of The Colbert Report) fans? I love the man and his humour! Ok, maybe I even have a teensy weensy crush on him since any man who can make me laugh like he can gets a part of my heart ;) Well, for those of you who don't know him (his show is on late at night Mon - Thurs... 11:30pm on the Comedy Network or 12:30am on CTV), he became a supporter of the US Speedskating team when their main sponsor went bankrupt. He teased, cajolled, made up stories, etc. and got his audiene/fans to donate so that the US Speedskating team could come to the Vancouver Olympics. With his acerbic sense of humour, he would call Canadians "Syrup-sippers" and "Canadian Iceholes" and accuse the Richmond Oval of not giving his speedskaters practice time on the ice, etc. All done with tongue in cheek, of course, and his fans, both American and Canadian just ate it up. So we all cheered when he announced he would be coming to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics as assistant Psychologist for the Speedskating team . Two days this past week (Wed and Thu) he was taping for two future episodes (that will be aired next week)... and the taping was done on an outdoor stage. Only in Vancouver can you film outdoors in gorgeous sunshine in February .

I would have loved to have been there, but since there was no parking close by and I knew that, with the crowds we have seen on the downtown streets, there would more than likely be a good turnout for his tapings. It's a good thing I didn't go... there is no way I would have been able to stand for a couple of hours and with that many people... the park's grass was turned into mud! A lot of people I knew were there and one of them was my friend Adam, who managed to tape a bit of what it was like to be there. Here is Adam's video of being down at Creekside Park (next to Science World):

Oh, geez, I have rambled on, haven't I? Ok, next entry I will put up some pictures. I've been collecting pictures that friends have taken and created a 2010 Olympic Experience Album on Facebook, but for those of you who aren't on Facebook, I would have to send you a link individually in email. Feel free to email me if you'd like that link, meanwhile, I'll put some of the pictures up here on the next entry... not all of them, because there is getting to be close to 100, but I'll put some of them here :)

Have a great rest of the weekend and Happy Olympic'ing!!



Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday, Feb 14th, 2010 - Go Team ▌♥ ▌, Go!!

Hello Olympic Bloggies!!

Wow... Vancouver is rockin' in a way it has never rocked before! Olympic fever is definitely contagious and this city is definitely the place to be!! Where did all these people come from?? Hahahaha... I have to admit, I have had to stay clear of the crowds. Walking, being a challenge at the best of times, I'm just a little too nervous about trying to get myself around in the big crowds! And they are huge! It now makes total sense why they have so many streets closed down as "Pedestrian Corridors"... it's a necessity!! :)

Well, I'm going to assume that many of you saw the opening ceremonies on television. And I'm hoping you all enjoyed them as much as I did. I am a total sucker for the magic of theatre, dance, song, music and now of slam poets :D A few pictures for those of you who are not on Facebook so aren't able to follow my 2010 Olympics Photo Album which is a combination of photos I take/will take and those of friends...

One of my favourite shots... the Vectorial Elevation lights behind the Burrard St. Bridge... which are just down the street from where I live.

Very impressive opening to the Opening Ceremonies. Just prior to this, there was a whole montage on the big screen of Vancouver and the surrounding areas, including the mountains... with a snowboarder starting at the top of a precipice, coming down the mountain and making his entrance into the stadium.

One of the neat moments where they had skiers and snowboarders fly in over a mountain on harnesses.

A very pretty sight at night. The 2010 outdoor cauldron, down on the waterfront. I know this is going to be one of the 2010 Olympic legacies that are left with Vancouver, and I know the flame will remain lit for the duration of the games... what I'm not sure is if it remains lit forever now. So, I will have to get somewhere where I can take a picture myself at some point :)

Gee, the games have only been on for two days and so much has happened. Yes, we had our token riots and I'm not going to dwell on them in this blog entry because that is only giving them the attention they just don't deserve. Suffice it to say, it's a gang of hoodlums who aren't even from Vancouver or nearby. Roving hoodlums who travel to wherever there is international media to try and get their 15 mins. of fame and disrupt everyone's enjoyment. Boring!

After all the rain we've had recently, today was a gorgeous sunny day... perfect for all the partying and fun times people were having! What just melts my heart is seeing thousands and thousands of young people with excitement on their faces, eyes so bright, and they just can't stop smiling. They are feeling, most for the first time in their lives, what it is like to be so proud of their country and fellow citizens. That excitement and pride keeps growing and growing and will probably be a frenzy by the end of these games :)

Here's a perfect example of what I mean. About a month or so before the Opening, the Vancouver Arts community put out the word that they were going to see if they could organize a "flashmob" event on the first Saturday of the Olympics. For those of you who don't know what a flashmob event is, one of the more famous ones was the one that happened at a Belgium train station. Those participating mingle with the crowd and then, on cue, break into dance --

Antwerp Station, Belgium
-- I LOVE this Sound of Music one :)

Well, here in Vancouver, they had about 4 sessions where anyone interested in joining in were to meet at a dance studio on 4th Avenue. They were taught a fairly simple dance choreography and their assignment was to get as many friends together who would participate and teach them the dance. Then the day before, they would announce on their Facebook page where everyone was to meet.

Sure enough, Friday morning they announced that everyone was to get down to Robson Street, between Bute and Thurlow and to mingle with the crowd. When the music started, they were to stop what they were doing and start dancing the steps they were taught. When it was over, they were to mix back in with the crowd. There was no way of knowing if a handful of people would show up, or if over a hundred would show up.

Here's what happened - Vancouver Dancing In The Streets Flashmob

Oh, I'm sure there is much more to yak about, but I can't believe it... it's almost 2am!! There are not enough hours in the day. Of course, I'm totally wide awake, but alas, in a few hours, it will be time to get up and I haven't gone to bed yet! I do think I will be going in to the TUTS office tomorrow afternoon, although something tells me I won't be going in as often during this next two weeks. Too much to do and keep up with! Even though, there is also lots to do at the office! Hahahaha... I need a clone of myself :)

For those of you who don't live in Vancouver... I wish you could be here, if for no other reason, than to experience the excitement and energy in this city right now! All I can say is WOW!!