Friday, August 15, 2008

The Olympics- Everybody’s a critic!

The following post is sincere in being light-hearted and positive. I am really proud of our best:

Welp, I admit, I didn’t think I’d weigh in on the Olympics, but seeing as there is little else to discuss in the final languid days of summer, and there is nothing else on TV except for Reba re-runs, I suppose I oughta get cracking, at least weigh in, put in my two cents- which is not worth much, considering I am not much of a sports spectator. The only sport upon which I can hold a decent conversation is Hockey, due largely in part to my years in a job where I was required on occasion to work graveyards, during which excess down time between completing office duties and the remaining 7.4 hours left in the shift allowed me sufficient time to read the entire newspaper (a feat few of us often do) sparing not even the sports section as I generally would but limiting myself to the hockey stats only to save myself from the depths of insanity. From this point on, if it doesn’t involve Luongo, Alfredsson or pondering the deeper-rooted questions such as “Can they even grow ice in Tampa Bay?” I am quite limited.

Ne’ertheless, I trod with fear and trembling into the world of summer games. I shamefacedly admit that despite being a student of International Affairs, I lack the basic knowledge of the Cuban judo; am ignorant that the Slovaks are formidable kayakers and am only now realising that Armenians are the juggernauts of Greco-roman style wrestling.

Yet the question everyone is wondering is, of course, “have we gotten anything yet?” I see that this is a valid interest, but am still stuck on researching the origins of kayaking, following up on some leads which I believe will blow some tightly held national sport security secrets ‘out of the water’ so to speak: “Wait a second! Didn’t the kayak originate in Nunavut? I mean, we should be good at that, right?”

And I am sure we are. The Canadians who competed in kayaking were probably very pleased- they did their personal best, and they are looking forward to the next Olympics where they can do even better. They probably set a Canadian record even. They are very proud. We are very proud. They paddled their heart out and it was a good day. Congratulations to the Slovaks.

You know at first, I was a bit abysmal about the fact that our best just doesn’t seem to be quite good enough. But there are so many issues pulling here: On the one hand, our kids get chubbs cuz we don’t invest enough in physical education. On the other, do we prefer to invest in athletes or health care? Aren’t they closely related (preventative vs. reactionary treatment some might say)? And where are those big bad corporations- shouldn’t they be trying to prove that they are not out to rape and pillage the world by sponsoring these l’il guys? But do we really want our athletes selling out to the man? It seems a loose-loose sitch.

But I have had some food for thought. It has been drawn to my attention that the first things our athletes say when they come fourth or fifth or fifteenth is how pleased they are with how things went, then I say we should be proud along with them. Minutes after finishing their bit, cameras are pushed in their face, while they try and de-sweatify themselves. The world waits, hanging on their every word. It can be hard to do that with grace and ease, especially if you are secretly disappointed that the Chinese girl who is and always will be skinnier than you just beatcho’ass. If the only competition we win is that we are the nicest losers, then that’s a damn good medal in my estimation. We don’t gotta be number one, we are small but proud country. We are peace-loving, and moderate. So you didn’t get the gold- you did well and Tim Bits are on me, kid.

This all intertwines with some things I have been challenged on personally: namely that it is really easy to be critical and cynical and confuse that for high-brow intellectual discussion. Its not, and if it is, then I would rather be content and stupid than smart and cocky. Thus, therefore and thereby, to the Canadian athletes with the stiff upper lip, at the risk of being a cheese ball, I will cough in a manly way, give them a figurative slap on the butt and say, ‘well done slugger,’ for being so bright when the light is on them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A few observations from a downtown experience by an uptown kinda girl

The following has been floating around in my head during my week's forays into the City:

Number the First: (During a stroll down Main at King Edward) What is it precisely that causes hippies to have a fetish for drawstring waistbands? From my keen observations I have learned the following hard fact: If you are wishing to wear natural fibres and make conscious consumer choices then you must also naturally have a penchant for pyjama-esq outer-wear and a decided aversion to business casual based solely on the high incidence of zipper-front closures. This is a difficult fact to swallow for many of my readers. Rest assured that I am as disquieted as any. I prefer to be one of those conscious consumers. But I find wrap-tie pants to be so frightfully unreliable.

Number 2: (During a walk on 1st avenue at Arbutus) Kits is supposedly the swanky laid-back west coast hipster joint. City volleyball leagues and micro-brews on the patio with views of lazy tankers are generally images that come to mind. Kosher burrito barns and an Italian panini places are the only restaurants that can get legitimate licensing here. And yet, as I "stroll" down the sidewalk, and over to the beach I notice how wretchedly fast-paced it is. Even the bikers coming off the bridge from work are tour de francing it so they have to get home in time for their ultimate frisbee tourney. I have to choke myself back on my ridiculously complicated coffee beverage to stop myself from shouting: "Slow down! Use your road sense!"

I feel like this might be an appropriate time to make a hasty generalisation regarding my culture. Let's be clear- I am proudly Canadian, and a Vancouverite at that- so I am humbly centrist and yet am quite comfortable telling you how incredibly centrist I am and how much better it is to be centrist in a light rain at 20 degrees celsius than in -40 with a windchill factor. With that disclaimer, I think I have to point out something that I don't appreciate as much.
I have been discussing with various people general cultural characteristics. At the lecture last night they talked at length about how Egyptians are world-famous for their hospitality. Central Americans will always have my love for being so outgoing. So what about us Vancouverites? You know what I think of when I think of the good old laid-back, casual left coast living? Fastidious. We are demanding when it comes to our lattes, picky about our yoga mats, and we have delicate palates and we expect that the majority of vehicles will get out of our way without inconveniencing us as we hurdle along in our audis and our minis and our Mini-van-sport-utility hybrid that is truly a worthy environmental investment.
We may not be perfect. But we are shiny.

Number 3: Yes, coffee at 8pm. Because you really can sleep when you are dead. There is a couple in the coffee shop and neither party seems to believe him or herself truly responsible for how the child with them came into the world.

Number 4: (A vignette observed at Kits beach near the paved promenade at sunset) A man is dragging his wonderfully cute little pregnant wife in a Oprah Winfrey-style power walk. I don't think he's doing it on purpose, he seems to enjoy her presence. Its just that he's so thickly built and taking very, um, "purposeful" strides and in contrast, she is little. Close behind is another couple with the woman as the central figure- I appreciate any woman between 35 and 45 who will wear a tulle underskirt, black leggings and doc martens and still look fresh and bright. Finally, for the young hollister couple- walking barefoot holding sandals along the beach seems more sensible in it's romance when actually on the beach, and more uncomfortable when you are on the cement walkway beside the beach. I also appreciate the child of 6 or 7 who scolded his older sister (let's suppose she's 10) for missing the sunset. A kid's gotta know a good show when he sees one.

Number 5: Is it even possible to be desensitized to the mountains?

**Finally, a correction to the previous post. I have called into question the existence of an Azerbaijanian populace. In view of recent facts that have surfaced to the effect that they have won four medals already in the Olympics, I stand corrected. There are 4 men who hold confirmed citizenship in that country. Their residence is, however, a moot point. Suriname remains an enigma- however, using that gauge, so does Canada.