Thursday, February 18, 2010

Random Rants

OK, first of all I wait a whole week all atwitter in suspense and anticipation for the next episode of Republic of Doyle...only to be met with a rerun of the first episode at 9pm. What the hell, CBC?

And now that that is off my chest...

We (well, I, really) have been doing a lot of looking into the free/low cost events and venues we could hit whilst in Vancouver over the weekend, and the sheer multitude of possibilities makes planning some sort of schedule/route (which falls to my partner, since he is more familiar with getting around Vancouver) a little overwhelming. I have picked plenty of options and plenty of back-ups if, for some reason, they fail. However, what astounded me most of all was the amount of negativity expressed on some of the websites I've been searching in regard to wait times, disappointed reactions, and inconsideration/rudeness. I am sincerely hoping things are not as bad as those people are making them out to be or this will be shaping up to be a rather unenjoyable experience. While I can see the point of those people who have shelled out mega dough to take part in other Olympic activities, only to have an underwhelming, mediocre (or worse) experience, I think one maybe has to put it into perspective in this case and realize that these particular things are available for free or close to it and perhaps keep the whining to a minimum. Then again, I guess there is no real excuse for poor planning and bad communication in some cases. We will see what tales I can tell when I return though, hey?

The fact that the amount and/or lack of French content in the opening ceremonies is being so hotly debated is becoming a tad annoying, as well (Why all the fuss over French content?, Opening ceremony lacked French content, Fight over French sours Quebec Day at Games). Admittedly, I did perceive some noticeable gaps of French representation in the Olympic ceremony proceedings and it does irk me at times how some British Columbians view French Canada - then again there are people throughout the country who hold those views to a certain degree (as well as those francophones who happen to have more than their share of issues with us anglophones), although I think being so far removed from the eastern provinces contributes a little more to western bias. A simple illustration of it's lesser importance out here is reflected in BC schools, for example, where core French is taught from grade 5 to grade 8 by classroom generalist teachers and students are allowed to opt out if parents make enough noise. I am not sure how it stands today, but I know that when I went to school in Newfoundland, the importance of learning French was made known to me early on and core French was mandatory from grades 4 to 9 and taught by specialist teachers. However, I do think that VANOC did a decent job of including French in the ceremonies. And really, do we need another blemish on the face of the Vancouver Olympics right now or another excuse to keep the anglophone/francophone fight going? Why ruin the games by bitterly fixating on these things?

Moving along, I am a little disturbed at all the negative media attention Canada is receiving as of late - whether deserved or undeserved. I have always been proud of my province and proud of my country and seeing it's image being slammed from multiple angles has thoroughly bruised that pride. It is more than a little upsetting and embarrassing to see our reputation on the world stage becoming so tarnished. While I'm on that note, I am even more embarrassed to see the negative feedback on Atlantic Canada House at and a bit offended that someone wrote that Newfoundlanders are suspicious and rude in the comments section as well. I sincerely hope that is not the way we are being perceived these days, because that would be a real tragedy. We have always been lauded for our friendly, down to earth people and I would hate for us to lose that. I'm sure it takes more than one random comment from a single visitor to turn the tide, but still....

Finally, my partner happened to stumble upon PETA's newest logo which stems from the anti-seal hunt campaign via the Vancouver Olympics. While normally I would not even bother to acknowledge them and give them free publicity (which is also why I am not including a link or photo here), I have to say the ads and logos they have created this time are even more ridiculous than usual. And, seriously, other than Atlantic and Northern Canadians who have relocated here, how much of a connection do they honestly think western Canadians have with the seal hunt, good, bad or indifferent?...Although I will admit that I was appalled and incensed to the point of *almost* going inside to give the owners a piece of my mind to see a sign outside a hostel in Kelowna a couple of years ago declaring that Canadians are embarrassed by the seal hunt or some such nonsense to that effect...and I was also gullible enough to be brainwashed by the propaganda and be ashamed of that part of my Newfoundland heritage when I was younger. Of course, then I grew up and looked into the reality of things. I must say, it is amazing what you see when you open your eyes and look past the cute white poster pups they like to flaunt everywhere in the hopes of pulling your heartstrings and emptying your wallet for their cause. I know they lump the whole country together as taking part in the hunt and/or being responsible for it, and I get that it is about how they can portray us to the world at large and get them to buy in, but still it seems utterly stupid to me to connect the two.

On a completely unrelated note, I heard on the radio the other night that there is a raven at the Green Castle Golf Course that has been stealing golf balls...more evidence that I am right to be creeped out by them and their crow relatives...damned David Suzuki documentary...
Anyway, it's late, I've had a long, rough day and I don't even know if what I have written even makes sense at this point so I'm thinking it is high time I shut up and went to bed. Good night!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Visiting the Olympics

Yup, we are going to the Olympics...well, I use that term loosely...we are attending the Cultural Olympiad portion of the events on Friday to see Hey Rosetta! at the Orpheum :-D. They are opening for the Montreal indie group Stars (who I had previously never heard of but recently checked out on MySpace and approve of listening to for a night in order to see Hey Rosetta!). I am stoked!

We were actually holding out hope that perhaps we would be able to check out a sporting event while we were down there - funny, I know. I went searching online just to see what might be available and, initially, was a little excited to see ticket prices listed at $140 for men's Canada vs USA hockey...until I signed in and researched the whole auctioning process and the fan to fan marketplace to discover that available ticket avenues are actually boasting prices ranging anywhere from $975 to $39 000 for the privilege of viewing that game. Ludicrous. I moved on to other venues and events with similar results. So, needless to say, there went any hopes of attending an event. It's rather ironic, actually. When we heard the initial announcement that the Olympics were headed to Vancouver in 2010 a couple of years ago we thought it would be cool if we could be here to attend but largely ignored it, thinking we most likely wouldn't still be in BC right now...and here we are...ticketless.

Let the Games Begin

After the longest torch relay in Olympic history, the Vancouver Olympics are finally set to start.

I'm sure the opening ceremonies garnered a huge global audience - including moi. I tuned in somewhere towards the beginning. There were a few things that stuck with me throughout the broadcast. Some curious, some heartwarming, some heartbreaking, and some just plain odd.

Firstly, it was very shocking and sad to learn that 21 year old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died tragically due to complications from his horrific crash during a training exercise earlier today. However, the way his teammates rallied and showed their solidarity and respect for him through removing their hats and wearing black armbands in his memory when they entered BC Place this evening was rather touching. It was also fitting that his death was acknowledged a couple of other times during the ceremonies and marked with a moment of silence.

I was moved to hear the story about the Indian team (consisting of 3 athletes, if I remember correctly), who showed up with mismatched uniforms. The Indo-Canadian community (in the Vancouver area I believe) drew together and got them a matching set, even going so far as to provide them with spending money and funding for future training. Also falling into this category is the news that the parents of one of the Turkish athletes could not get tickets to watch their daughter compete, and so an anonymous donor came forward and provided them.

I find it disgusting that 5 Russian athletes tested positive for banned substances and still took part in the opening celebrations and will probably still be competing for their country, as no one has stepped up to do anything about it yet. Oh...the Russians did say they will take care of it after the Olympics are done. That's some kind of BS, if you ask me.

It was interesting to see the myriad of countries being represented at Vancouver 2010, and quite remarkable to see each team of athletes proudly marching into the stadium, no matter the disparities in their numbers (they ranged from 1 to over 200). The entertainment portion was obviously carefully engineered to display the great diversity found from coast to coast in Canada - both through the peoples who inhabit our vast country to our wealth of extraordinarily talented performing artists...although I have to wonder whether there could have been better choices to represent some of those aspects, and the appropriateness of others was questionable. For example, Nelly Furtado's outfit for her less than impressive performance with Bryan Adams, KD Lang's choice of Hallelujah towards the end (the music itself fit the mood, but I am not so sure the lyrics themselves relate to the Olympics at all), and Nikki Yanofsky's rendition of Oh Canada , with the very American over the top vocal theatrics thrown in, which I was not a fan of at all. I mean, the kid's got a great set of pipes, but the Olympic opening ceremonies are not the time to butcher our national anthem to show off the fact that you know how to stylize when belting out a tune. All in all, though, the ceremonies provided a great, well-rounded showcase for Canadian arts and culture (aside from the overwhelming componenet of famous musicians) - from First Nations performers to the Alberta Ballet to tap dancers and fiddlers.

Among other notable flubs (in no particular order):

- the First Nations leaders who were made heads of state for the Olympics causing confusion when they showed up late, resulting in an awkward pause in the proceedings punctuated with lots of shuffling around

- The VANOC CEO's inability to correctly pronounce the few French words and phrases thrown into his speech, then having to stand next to IOC President Jacques Rogge as he delivered his significantly more fluent bilingual version

- Nelly Furtado opening her mouth to sing Bryan Adams's line in their duet and ending up mouthing the words with no sound(I'm sure that did not help the rumblings that have sprung up of it being a lip synced performance)

- the hydraulics failing at the crucial last moments when the indoor cauldron was being lit, leaving Katrina LeMay Doan standing there, torch in hand, without a pillar to light after the other three finally made an appearance. I found it quite entertaining that the cameras captured the confusion on all the final torchbearer's faces as they stood there in the awkward moments leading up to that point, wondering what the hell was taking so long.

...and while I'm at it...I still fail to comprehend why Arnold Schwarzenegger got to carry the flame on the final day leading up to the games.

Lastly, Wayne Gretzky looked kinda nervous at times on the last leg of the torch run to the waterfront in the pan of that truck. Although I can't say as I blame him - I would have been mighty tense too, what with reports of 25 000 protesters being outside BC Place at the time. Not to mention the crowds lining the streets, some of whom began to swarm the truck, run alongside it, or dash in front of it.

Ah well, better or worse, all of the lead up is finally out of the way and the hunt for medals is now underway. Let's hope someone can

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Republic of Doyle Episode 6

Yes! They clinched it! After a great opening, we were treated to an equally great show this week. Republic of Doyle hit exactly the right note and stayed there the whole way through episode six, aided in part by the use of flashback and rewinding, which was a nice touch.

It was also interesting to find out more about Jake and Rose's respective pasts. Jake apparently WAS a bit of a bad ass when he was younger (burning down the Goulds rec centre, stealing a car, and smashing the windows in his high school at different points as a heartbroken adolescent), and the secret behind Rose's mysterious post card was a conveniently forgotten husband/convict. Incidentally, the scene with Rose and her ex in the kitchen of the home she shares with Malachy was a tad tense and steamy, n'est-ce pas?

I was a bit perturbed at the jumping from one kiss between Jake and the Constable at the end of the last episode to them rolling around in bed together in the middle of the day until I figured out what was going on with the story, but I like how the plot kept their current and prospective future interactions interesting.

Other random impressions:

The speech (mainly the use of dialect and expressions) was much more natural and flowing this time around, which was a relief. I am wondering why Tinny was completely absent from this episode (but it worked for me!), nonetheless, it was a nice touch to see Des make an appearance for consistency's sake. Oh, hey, and I just realized that Nikki was nowhere to be seen either. How about that?

The only (mild) criticisms I have this week are that:

1. I think there should have been a few more seconds of build up before the (then incognito) blonde RCMP officer discovered Jake following her. It seemed like there wasn't even enough time for her to have registered him on the street let alone figure out that he was on her tail...unless we were meant to believe that she had noticed him during other exchanges that we weren't privy to?

2. I found it a bit hard to buy into the car chase. It seemed a bit forced and farfetched to me...I guess problem with suspension of disbelief could also be due to a familiarity with the territory in question and a failure to have ever witnessed anything like that in Newfoundland (although I guess they do probably take place from time to time)


3. (Note: this had no bearing on the quality of the show whatsoever, nor am I trying to start any debates about physical appearances and their importance, or lack of, but) Jake's old flame annoyed me...something about her face and the protruding upper lip. It can't be helped. I have the same issue with Kirsten Dunst and a few others.

More good news: next week looks to be equally promising! ...well the potential is there anyway...although the preview included some of the "other stuff" in there...we'll see. I'm keeping my fingers crossed though...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Had A Dream

Literally. I dreamt last night that I was home...sort of. I was alone and traversing parts of my native province unknown to me with someone I did not know. It was very odd in some ways, yet strangely comforting and familiar. We drove, we window-shopped, we talked as we sat and watched the ocean (about what I know not now)...and when I stood to walk, I was suddenly gripped with a paralyzing fear when I started putting one foot in front of the other and realized I was standing a lot closer to the edge of a cliff on the shoreline than I would ever purposely go (I have a very big fear of heights...perhaps even a phobia). I was acutely aware of the fact that I was on an island and it felt like there was nowhere to go, even if I did get out of my current sticky situation. My mouth was dry and I was clinging to clumps of tall grass with white-knuckled hands, shaking and shivering a little in the cool breeze that had come out of nowhere, all the while attempting to hide my face - and my fear - from my travelling companion...who eventually clued in and helped me to reach more stable ground further inland. I remember thinking as I was standing there that the fear I felt was not one I had experienced in BC...which strikes me as odd, considering the heights in these parts are a lot higher than back home. Perhaps it was being above the ocean that did it? Anyway, we went and knocked on the door of an old weathered house that was reminiscent of the blackened, forgotten farm buildings and homesteads dotting the sides of the highway in some parts of BC (I had seen a man walk in and be greeted by a woman while I was feigning bravery amongst the rocks and grass earlier. I knew they were not married, but I also knew they were related somehow, either by blood or - more likely, through marriage). No one answered, but I could clearly see one side of the man's body sitting in a rocking chair in what I assume was the living room, through the connecting door frame of the kitchen as we stood on the ancient porch/patio(?) and somehow I knew he was reading the paper and that the woman was down the hall.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tragedies and Miracles

I was browsing a little while ago and a couple of things piqued my interest...

The first was an article titled 10 Things That Aren't As Cheap As You Think. I followed the link to get to page 2, and ended up here. Most items on the list were not news to me, but the controversy surrounding coltan - a mineral used in cell phones and other technological items - I had previously been unaware of, so I moseyed over to War Resister's International from there (which I had also never heard of until today) and read about the No Blood In My Cell Phone campaign to check it out. This enlightening pit stop prompted me to investigate further. I found this documentary online soon afterwards, which is quite thought provoking. The impressions I got in the beginning of the documentary began to transform at about the halfway point, I think. Like all good documentaries, nothing is clear cut and there are no easy solutions (...well except maybe the fact that it is a problem that needs to be addressed and that a good way of doing that would perhaps be for companies to look at bypassing the majority of middlemen involved and find more direct and ethical routes to mining/collecting the coltan to lessen opportunities for exploitation by all the dishonest and/or desperate individuals and corporations the coltan is channeled through on it's journey from the mines to the production plants - themselves included if current practices continue) but the intricate web surrounding the issue is somewhat untangled for the viewer to ponder and perhaps to do something about. At the very least it will create increased awareness. The documentary mentions Nokia and Motorola a couple of times and their supposed positions on the use of coltan from the Congo. However, it has got me wondering about my beloved BlackBerry. more thing to feel guilty about... (Also of interest on this topic: http://Mvemba's video report on coltan's role in Congo's civil war , Appfrica Maps Coltan From Congo to Your Cell Phone and War, Murder, Rape... All for Your Cell Phone).

And now, on to the miracle...

which also stems from a tragedy...

Four weeks after the 7.0 quake that devastated Haiti comes this incredible report:
Doctors: Haitian may have survived 4 weeks in rubble . It seems a little far fetched and hard to believe (hence the title on CNN, I suppose), but, like the doctor in the video, who am I to argue? If it is real and not a publicity stunt or something (which would be in seriously bad taste), this man may be one of the luckiest to have ever graced our planet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Crows (and Republic of Doyle, Episode 5)

I've been really busy with rehearsals and performances of late, and have therefore been neglecting the blog. However, I thought I would post a quickie tonight before heading to the bunk here in a bit.

If you haven't seen this, I recommend you watch it. I haven't been able to look at crows the same way since. It never occurred to me to consider their intelligence and I never dreamt they could be so crafty. On the one hand, this program was very informative and it was extremely cool. On the other hand, to think of how watchful crows are and to now realize that there is a thought process going on behind those cold, hard stares has resulted in them totally creeping me out now!

And now, on to my reactions to episode 5 of R.O.D....

I was a little more interested in the story again this time around, which was a good thing. I thought some of the stuff with Nicki was overdone. I was a bit disappointed that Jake and Cst. Bennett were making out at the end (still too soon), although it was good to maybe see a light at the end of the tunnel of what is fast becoming the Jake/Nicki annoyance. Tinny was tolerable. I am intrigued to find out what's up with Rose's mail (in particular, what came from the jail). I got a kick out of the line about Des being from Gander and the shot Malachy took near the beginning of the episode about skeets (both totally inside jokes thrown in for the native Newfoundlanders and Labradorians). I enjoyed seeing St. Pierre et Miquelon. I'm not sure yet what to make of Gordon Pinsent's performance, but I enjoyed the scene with the gun on the table between him on one side and Jake and Malachy on the other. I did not enjoy Mark Critch(?)'s character (I'm not sure if I got that looked like Mark Critch to me though...)at all...and the rest I'm going to have to sleep on and maybe come back to later...