Saturday, February 27, 2010

Action packed day - last day of our Olympic fun (Feb. 22)

On our last full day in Vancouver we went to two events - both women's hockey games.  The first game was USA v. Sweden.  Not surprisingly it seemed like all the Canadians in the house were rooting for Sweden.  Even the fan sitting next to us, who let us take a photo of her removable tattoo:
This tattoo is so much better than flags - it's the player herself!  Our seats were pretty good, and this time I opted for a third-party photographer instead of the Liss holding the camera with us hoping we're in the frame.
One of the crazy things about this game is the head of our refs for our Burlington League, Mary-Anne, was officiating.  You can see her in the USA goal photo.
(that's her with her back to us)
We had time to kill between games so we went to Granville Island to seek out some food and diversion.  We ended up at Tony's Fish & Oyster Cafe. Liss opted for the fish & chips.

And I couldn't leave Vancouver without having oysters, so I went for the Kushi - yum!
(okay, I had a couple of bites of Liss' fish as well as a few of her chips.)
Sure, Granville Island was catering to all the tourists brought in by the Olympics; however, it also houses a lot of artisans, and I picked up some hand-dyed sock yarn from one of them. There's also more food in the market.  Real donuts in fact - not just that stuff they pass off at Tim Horton's (apologies to our friend who is a 'baker' at the chain).  Liss wanted to document one of the signs of a real donut, the crust formed by....yes, deep frying!  Yay!

Look at that! That's what your donut should look like.
Amazingly we managed to waddle our way to the bus to get us over to the UBC Thunderbird Arena for a playoff game (for 5th & 6th spots) between Switzerland & Russia.  We hadn't really checked our tickets, so we were quite surprised when we made our way to our seats:

Yes, we were in the very first row, and there were empty seats next to us (later taken up by a couple of boys, perhaps 10 and 11, one of whom did a hysterical play-by-play that often consisted of "The puck is in the neutral zone.  One Swiss player sent it to another Swiss player" and so forth).
This game was good because the teams were so evenly matched.  In fact, it went to a shoot-out, which the Swiss team won.

Of course it all had to end, and we boarded our plane the next day.  Just to totally kill the illusion of any more vacation, I graded papers on the flight.  Oh yeah, party time is over.  But we had a great time.  We got to know D. & S. better (it feels weird not to be able to just hang out with them now) and see so many different skilled athletes compete. Liss says next time we'll have tickets to the gold medal games.  It's going to be a few years for that though.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Quick Digression

I just read the story about fashion bloggers in the March issue of Vogue, and it brought up something that I sometimes find myself considering (or worrying) about - diversification vs. specialization.  I can't help but feel a stress between my desire to engage with, discuss, learn about, and try different things (albeit mostly in the same vein - creation/creativity) and the results that attention to just one thing can bring about.  Jill of all trades, mistress of none?  Is that an outdated notion?  Am I falling prey to conventional ideas or is it time to stop "taking electives" (as my partner might say)?

(Liss insists that I let you know that another Olympic update will follow in a few days - totaling killing the mood I just set.  Oh well.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Canada vs. USA - Feb. 21

It was a leisurely Sunday.  We all went out for breakfast (surprise, surprise) and then went on our individual ways. It was a beautiful day, so Liss and I rambled down Main Street where we came upon an indie craft market.  There was evidence of great local talent, and we picked up some examples to take home - a couple of necklaces, a t-shirt, soap, and magnets.

We opted for a little downtime before heading out to a local watering hole (really?  is that what I normally would call it?  is this an example of literary license?) to watch the Canada/US men's hockey game.  It gave me a chance to start reading Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. the debut short story collection by Wells Tower.  The stories in this collection are tight, the kind of good writing that can depress you (or at least me) because it's just that - so good.  Wells was in a class I took at Columbia before I became a grad student there, but I didn't know him; however, I've heard him read and figured this collection would not disappoint. 

Despite the fact that there are a lot of bars around here, it wasn't easy to find a place to park ourselves.  We (Liss, S., and I) ended up at Burgoo again (see earlier photos of massive grilled cheese sandwiches and French onion soup). Imagine this scene - a restaurant full of people watching the game.  The US scores, and there are only three people cheering, loudly.  That would be me, Liss, and S.  Thankfully we're pretty charming so no one wanted to beat us up afterwards.  If there'd been room at our first choice pub, it might've been a different story.

Women's hockey today - we're going to two games, a semifinal and a playoff.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kul-cha! February 20

We spent Saturday with D. & S.  First we had brunch at Nice Cafe where they make corned beef hash with real corned beef (as opposed to cooking it up from a can).  Sure, between the wait for a table and actually getting our food a good hour and a half had passed, but we didn't have anywhere we really needed to be.

Heading downtown we stopped by Vanessa Kwan's installation/performance piece, Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver in front of the library.  Vanessa hands out these postcards of Vancouver with part of the scenery cut-out.  Your job is to fill in that scenery with something else, take a picture, and upload it to the site.  Here are a couple of my and Liss's collaborations:

Here's the artist herself with S. & D.


Vanessa wasn't there when we first went by so S. convinced Liss and me to stand in line for LiveCity, a kind of City of Vancouver pavillion.  I felt it was important that we actually get into something we've stood in line for, so I was committed regardless of what was inside, which, not surprisingly, was another line for which we did not queue, Manitoba house, and some concession stands.  I did, however, go into Manitoba house where I quizzed the helpful volunteers on why there wasn't a special Guy Maddin exhibit.  While I didn't get a real answer, I did get a Manitoba Olympic pin - free souvenir, yay! Oh, and a photo to remember out time there -

 We then went to Daiso, a kind of Japanese dollar (okay, $2) store, in the Aberdeen Mall in Richmond.  It was in the mall where I had Takoyaki - a kind of custardy octopus ball - sounds gross but tastes yummy!  Exhausted, we went home where we ordered Thai food and yes, watched some Olympics on TV.

The sad news is that we had to give up our tickets for the men's giant slalom.  We just couldn't get our flight changed.  The good thing is the D. bought them for her sister, who is very excited to go.  Olympic karma points, perhaps. 

Skanked at Saxony House but satisfied at DB Bistro- Feb. 19

Our big excursion on Friday was to be a trip to Stanley Park to check out what I'd erroneously called Deutsches Haus.  In fact, it was Saxony House - a regionally-themed German house.

The bus ride out there was long, but we managed to hook up with another German, which we believed would ensure our successful pilgrimage.
Germans or no Germans, the line was long and didn't move.  (This later influenced a rather strange dream in which I was trapped in some kind of conveyor-belt bathhouse, where they only let the children out in order to make people believe you could actually go in and out.  I know, crazy-ass dream, but it was visually compelling.  However, I don't really want to unpack it right now.)  After 45 minutes or so in line Liss and I had to leave to get back in time to meet up with D. & S. for dinner.

The houses, or pavillions as many are called, are predominantly advertisements for countries or provinces (Saskatchewan House anyone?), and I think the main attraction of Saxony House was beer, which I can get almost anywhere.  I don't need to stand in line for a German beer and a bratwurst.  Thanks, though.

Dinner was far more successful.  Liss and I took our lovely hostesses, D. & S., to db bistro moderne, a Daniel Boloud place.  We were early for our reservation so we had a pre-dinner beer down the block.  Look!  No lines!  No crowds!  Beer! (The cream soda in the foreground is Liss's.)

The food and service at db bistro moderne was nice.  I had the pork cheek tortellini as did D., Liss had the coq au vin, and S. had the steak frites.  Seth Rogan was there as well, being preened over by the chef.  I believe he had the salt-baked fish special.  While not being clucked over by the chef, we did establish a nice banter with our waiter, which was probably just as rewarding.  Did I mention there'd be lots about food here?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Second day of Olympic viewing

Yesterday was even better than expected.  Of course we were excited to see the women's 1,000 meter speedskating competition, but little did we know that it would be a historic day at the Oval as well.

Like our day at Cypress Mountain, getting to the Oval required a hike as well.  I'm feeling that the organizers really wanted to make sure that you got some exercise as you were watching the athletes.  Maybe they were afraid of what overweight spectators might say about the state of athletics in general.  Nonetheless, it makes me feel a little better about my Olympic eating.
Here's a long shot of the Oval. The roof was made with wood reclaimed from the mountain pine beetle infestation.  You can see some of the details of the roof here:

Anyway, back to the historic event part - we got to see Canada take the Gold.  How crazy is that?  As I've mentioned, I'm not particularly nationalistic (and I'm not even Canadian), but it was fantastic to be in the home crowd when Nesbitt won the event.  Here she is doing her victory lap:
From speedskating we high-tailed it to Canada Place to see Canada's men's hockey team take on the Swiss.  It was an even better game than expected.  Our seats were in the absolute last row, but who cares?  Here they are warming up:
Canada scored the first goal.  Here it is, courtesy of Liss (as all event photos are) :

And here's another action shot:
What more could you ask for?  Overtime and a shootout!  We were offered tickets to the Russia-Slovakia game (I have no idea of the price), but by that time we'd had all the excitement we could take although that game turned out to be great as well.
Now we're trying to get a different flight out of Vancouver because they moved our men's Giant Slalom event from Sunday to Tuesday (when we're scheduled to leave).  It's not looking good, but we're not giving up.

Today is a free day.  I think we're going to Deutsches Haus to check out my people.  Other than that, we're going out to DB Bistro Moderne tonight (a Daniel Boulud place).  I have the feeling that tomorrow's post will be all about food. (The food at the venues blows! But I'll get into that tomorrow.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic (-sized) Post #1

Here we are coming at you from Vancouver.  Be warned, this post has a lot of photos and perhaps a lot of text.  Peruse at your discretion.

We arrived on the 15th, and let me tell you - the Vancouver airport is really nice.  I made Liss take a picture of the tiles in the women's bathroom:
(The whole bathroom was beautiful, but I thought having Liss take photos inside would be a little...awkward).  I imagine we'll have more time to explore the airport on our way back, but as someone who has traveled a lot, this looked to be one of the nicest and best equipped airports I've seen.

That night, our lovely hostesses D. & S. took us to the Sha-lin Noodle House - they make their own noodles right there.  It was amazing yummy and cheap, which is good since we seem to be spending all our money on food.




Tuesday was a free day (hence the lack of posts as we only went to our first event yesterday), and yes, another crazy meal:
That's my grilled cheese sandwich at Burgoo - mozarella, swiss, emmenthal, & cheddar - and no, I didn't eat both sandwiches by myself.  I gave Liss half of one (hah!) because all she had was this monster French onion soup:
Finally yesterday, we went to our first event - men's halfpipe snowboarding.  
That's the mogul run behind me.  We had to walk a km or so from the bus just to the check-in, but that was nothing compared to the 282 stairs we had to navigate whenever we wanted or needed food or the bathroom:
It was crazy and epic.  Here we are in the classic digital camera self-portrait:

(uh, we forgot our sunscreen - duh!)

Liss interjects: here's the long shot of the venue in the daytime!

The boarders did practice runs before each heat (two qualifying rounds, two semifinal rounds, and two finals).  Oftentimes they really opened up and tried all kinds of crazy shit - it was great.

(close-up of a boarder)

Liss says: And replays on the giant TV - everything is better with TV.


I'm not particularly nationalistic (American, Canadian, or German), but Shaun White was off the hook and totally in a class of his own.  It was crazy to see him ride the pipe.  The crowd went nuts.

Today we're off to see women's 1,000 meter speed skating and then Canada's men's hockey team take on the Swiss.  FYI - going to the Olympics is fun.

Stay tuned - we'll have more photos up tomorrow.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

30 days and beyond

So I finished the 30-day yoga challenge, but I didn't quite make the 30 classes in 30 days.  Toward the end I hit a rather critical point where I had to decide whether I could really do four classes in two days and what the point of killing myself to accomplish that was.  It was a tough decision to let it go, but I had more on my plate than I could really handle at the time (aka last week).  I feel okay about my decision although it has the tinge of giving up to it.  Quite honestly there was a bit of a battle between the "you can do it!" camp (which often had no idea what else was going on in my life) and the "why would you ever want to do it in the first place?" camp (which equated the challenge with an obstacle) that didn't really help me.

Tomorrow we leave for Vancouver to go to the Olympics, and we'll be posting about our adventures while we're there.  It's kind of hard to believe that we're going, but we will be.  It's pretty damn exciting.  Nonetheless, it's already been a site of tension as many of our friends are politically and socially against the Olympics,   However, what can I say?  We're excited!

Stay tuned for our own Olympic-sized shenanigans coming soon! (Think sports, thrifting, sports, fine dining, protests, sports, and more).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Alexander McQueen

No photo right now, just a quick note.  My friend sent me the text - "Alexander McQueen killed himself!"  I was waiting for my train to London (Ontario) and in the midst of grading papers.  I had to call my mom.  She'd heard the news from a coworker, who also had received a text from a friend.  There are not many people with whom I can share the sadness - what a terrible, terrible loss.  First Isabella Blow, now Alexander McQueen.

Of the many things I've read so far, I think what Tim Blanks wrote on is the most heartfelt and poignant.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Commercials

For the most part, they were either boring or super sexist.  What's going on?  Are men really that insecure?  I mean, anytime a woman was in an ad, for the most part, she was either an agent of emasculation or a foil for masculinity.  What happened to the ads that we would talk about for days afterwards?   We drove to Buffalo just to be able to see the commercials during the game (which, by the way, was really good - even for someone like me who's not really into football).  The best ads were for VW, Audi, (fiddling beaver - need I say more?), and Doritos.

Snow Jealous

I am so jealous of the snow my parents got in DC - look at that!  It's beautiful.  What do we get, when we live in Canada, what used to be called the 'great white north'?  Bupkis!  A measly sprinkle of snow in a cold, cold place.  Snow is the reward for the cold.  We're waiting for our reward up here - let's move it on up already. 

Friday, February 5, 2010



These shoes are so beautiful, and so expensive, that I could weep.  The heel has been constructed with wood that's been antiqued with smoke.   The uppers are hand-stitched.  Can you feel the love?