Category Archives: sports

Eye to the Telescope Submission Call

anthology, writing, submissions

Creative commons: photosteve101, flickr

Lisa Trimpf, editor of the Eye to the Telescope submission call on sports and games gives some insight into what she’s looking fr.

Wanted: “Sports and Games”-Themed Speculative Poetry

Star Trek’s three-dimensional chess. Quidditch, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. The race to solve a gaming challenge in Ready Player One. Those are only a few examples of sports and games popping up in speculative literature, movies, and television—sometimes in a feature role, and sometimes as a side interest.

When the call went out for volunteer editor for Eye to the Telescope, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association’s quarterly online magazine, I put up my hand. Tasked with suggesting a topic, I thought, why not sports and games? Having played a variety of sports throughout my lifetime, it’s an area of long-standing interest for me. Plus, the field is wide open for more speculation, more thought, more invention.

From where we’re standing in early 2019, it’s hard to predict with any certainty what the

trimpflisa1aresized

Lisa Trimpf writes and plays sports.

future of sports and games might look like. We might guess wrong, and we might guess right. The reality might surprise us, because it’s something we didn’t foresee at all. I can attest to that from my experiences as a female athlete.

When I was growing up, there were no girls’ hockey teams in my home town, and as for playing on a boys’ team—at the time, it just wasn’t done. So my friends and I played pick-up ball hockey instead, or rented the local arena occasionally for a game of shinny. We wore the jerseys of our favorite NHL hockey stars, because those were our only role models.

balero(1)In the space of just under 40 years, so much has changed. Girls’ house league and rep teams abound in many areas of Canada. Women’s hockey is now in the Olympic Games—something that I would have found difficult to imagine in the late 1970s.

There have been, and continue to be, female role models young players can aspire to emulate, people like Hayley Wickenheiser, Marie-Philip Poulin, Cassie Campbell—and the list goes on. Women are now sports announcers and commentators. A handful of female hockey players have even been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, something I can assure you my friends and I never saw coming back when we were shooting a tennis ball at a goal my friend’s father cobbled together from two-by-fours and plastic netting.

There are other trends, too, that many of us wouldn’t have imagined a few decades ago. marblesFan participation in certain aspects of sport has broadened—all-star voting, for example, or fantasy leagues, in which fans get to pick their “dream team” and see how they perform. The Olympic Games now include events like aerial skiing or half-pipe snowboarding, sports that weren’t even a thing back when the modern Olympics were re-vitalized in 1896. And, of course, there are increasingly sophisticated sports-themed video games, a notion that seemed light years distant back in the 1970s when we thought Atari’s Pong was a big deal.

So, here we sit in 2019, almost 2020. What will sports and games look like four decades from now (or later) here on Earth? What new twists might we see on existing traditions? Will we eventually see gender parity in sports? Will parents of the future opt for genetic tweaking to produce the ultimate athlete? What sports and games will colonists bring with them to Mars, or the moon, or asteroid mining operations, or even further afield? What pastimes might aliens enjoy? Those are examples of ideas that might be explored or entertained in a speculative sports poem.

But the great thing about speculative poetry is that thinking about the future is only one avenue you might pursue. Speculative poetry opens so many other doors: magic and magical creatures, alternate histories, parallel universes, and so on.

Just one caveat: every editor has their own biases, and while I’m looking for good poems, I’m also looking for poems in which the link to the theme of sports and games is direct rather than oblique.

Some people like to participate in “theme-related” submission calls, while some do not. While everyone is entitled to their preference, I can say from my personal experience that themed submission calls such as the ones provided in Eye to the Telescope have spurred me to create works I might not have created otherwise.

In some cases, I’ve had success with submissions. In other cases, I’ve had submissions declined by the publication they were initially inspired by, but have later placed them elsewhere, making it worth the effort. Over the course of time I’ve learned not to look an inspirational gift horse in the mouth.

I’d encourage anyone with the inclination to do so to send in a poem or three Eye to the Telescope: Issue 32, Sports and Games. The complete guidelines can be found at the Eye to the Telescope web site.

So, why not give it a shot? Deadline is March 15, 2019, and all submitters should expect to receive an acceptance or decline by April 1, 2019.

Simcoe, Ontario resident Lisa Timpf first started writing speculative fiction and poetry in 2014 after retiring from a 26-year career in human resources and communications. She has had more than 30 speculative short stories and 70-plus speculative poems published. Timpf’s work has appeared in several magazines and anthologies, including Star*Line, New Myths, Neo-Opsis, Enter the Rebirth, and Tesseracts Twenty-One (Nevertheless). You can find out more about Timpf’s writing projects at http://lisatimpf.blogspot.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

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Another Stupid Way to Objectify Women

lingerie football, sexism, discrimination, chauvinism, objectification, women's sports

Women are still the butt of society’s joke. Creative Commons: John Pozadzides flickr

The news recently reported that Vancouver would be subjected to a new sport. Well, not really a new sport but played a new way. Lingerie Football. I do not kid you. It seems that the only way for women to actually get to play the sport is take off their clothes. The organizer, a man, was most serious about how these women had sports skills (they could run, they could throw) but really, if you have half-disrobed them what exactly are you hoping people will watch?

Is this the only way that people will watch women’s sports, if they’re objectified and showing titillating bits of flesh? One friend said, “Well, they have a choice in joining, don’t they?” He couldn’t see anything wrong in this. Let’s look at a few problems: if you happen to be the best runner or catcher ever but you’re a stocky woman, or not particularly beautiful, or missing the right curves for wearing skimpy underwear on the field, do you think you’ll be picked to play football? Is there even a woman’s team anywhere where they get to wear the protective football uniform? What else is wrong? Oh yeah, let’s go look at the sex kittens. Who cares if they can run or throw a ball; we’re not going to take them seriously anyway.

Sure, a woman can choose to join or not but it’s not putting this on par with men’s football, nor will it be considered a serious game. To think this is the only way women can play football galls me. Sure, women will volunteer for this. Many of us will do a lot for money. Sure, they’re not being forced, but a woman might wear a burka but not be forced to because it’s been drummed into her head that she should cover up (or be uncovered) while men can do as they please. It doesn’t make it right. I do not agree with any group that decides men and women should be allowed different rights. If this is the way football is going to be, then make the men run around in jock straps and runners only.

lingerie football, sexism, discrimination, chauvinism, objectification, women's sports

Men’s football gets shoulder pads, but women’s gets cleavage as well. Housey Lei, Design You Trust

Oh and let’s talk about the ludicrous, sexist costumes. They’re wearing uniform bikinis, I suppose,with runners, shoulder and knee padsand helmets. And then to make the utmost of stupidity and objectification there are adjustable garters (the straps for holding up stockings) and a garter around the leg. The men who organized this should be ashamed but they’re too idiotic to understand that this continues to put women in a category where even the police have said, don’t dress provocatively or you’ll get raped. The last is based on a real example in Canada and was yet another example of how the blame is placed with the woman.

The organizers are businessmen of course, exploiters of people, and they see it as a great money-making venture, as pimps always do. Now do not get me wrong, women and men should be able to dress up or down or sexy as they please. But it shouldn’t be a requirement for a place to work, as it often is. (Do the women at one of your restaurants/bars have to wear tight/short/skimpy/low-cut clothes as part of their “uniform?”)  Are there any men working the same job? This is just yet another case of where society considers women nothing but sexual victims (whether for rape or exploitation or coveted possessions). It’s not right and it certainly isn’t harmless. Any other job and it would be grounds for sexual discrimination or harassment. Consider that.

This makes me very angry and I would hope people would boycott it but I’ve found the masses to be self-centered, unthinking and as stupid as the organizers. Next up, watch for burka baseball or some other version of women sexually exploited for your viewing pleasure.

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What to Do With Vancouver’s Rioters

riot, Stanley Cup, Vancouver riot, car smashing, hockey, rioters, looting

Creative Commons: Mike Carlson, Reuters (The Calgary Herald)

It’s already made news throughout North America and farther; the rioting in Vancouver over the Canucks’ loss of the Stanley Cup. While countries like Yemen and Libya have people fighting for their lives and freedom, rioting where they are dying, we have a bunch of goofs rioting because a sports team didn’t win the Cup, because they have too much time on their hand, because they have no respect for anyone else.

A million dollars could not have got me downtown last night where over 100,000 people gathered, and as CBC news reporter Priya Ramu said, many of the people were drunk before the games began and the streets were littered with beer cans and mickey flasks. She heard people saying, if the Canucks lose, riot. There were even people interviewed saying they were down there for the riots. While the percentage of rioters would be a small amount of the total people attending, the fact is that many pictures show gangs overturning cars and fighting with police while many more onlookers cheer them on.

Are these our modern heroes? Is this what’s important in the world? The issue wasn’t just the crowd during the game. There were crowds of people harassing the Bruins at the hotel where they were sleeping, with cars driving through the parking lot all night honking horns. As well a s twitter flash mob gathered in the hotel parking lot to scream and try to keep the Bruins awake. Wow, what a proud record Vancouver holds. I’m sure the Canucks are ashamed to call Vancouver home with this sort of attitude. I guess the term good sportsmanship means nothing to fans and “sore loser” has become the order of the day. People wonder why I don’t watch hockey. With this kind of attitude, which included booing the presenter in Roger’s Arena being so loudly that he couldn’t be heard when handing out the trophies, it’s no wonder I can’t find the sport in these games.

But I have an answer on what to do with the rioters, the looters, the thugs who threatened people and tore apart our city. Like the picture above, many people are recognizable and many of these people will be caught. Here’s some of the things these people should have to do; be charged with the crime, pay for the damages and do volunteer work (that’s no pay) cleaning the city and feeding the poor. But what would be best, since these yahoos have way too much energy and aggression and no sense of what’s important, is to draft them. I’m not fan of war and the draft but it seems to me that if these guys were sent into the army and made to serve without pay (that pay equaling the cost of the damages they inflicted) that at least their aggressions could go to a purpose, a good purpose. I have no sympathy for these jerks, whether men or women. Let them taste what riots are really like from the other side when people’s lives are at stake.

After a rant by one person elsewhere I want to say, it’s not to unleash dynamos of war, rape and torture on unsuspecting victims in other countries but to bring discipline and purpose to these people. Most of them are men with too much time and aggression. Maybe it’s anger, maybe it’s lack of structure. Few of those are going to be sociopaths. Most are able to be trained and I bet that many of them would be crying like babies by even having to face a boot camp, let alone follow army discipline or get blown up. If this seems too hard-edged for some, then give them a choice: five years in jail or two years in the army. They’ll come out of the army with a better perspective than sitting and stewing bitterly in jail, and not contributing to society, which is what they’re doing already.

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Winning, Losing and Just Being One of the Gang

There has been a lot of talk lately about sports for kids and how their parents take a walk on the crazy side in berating their children, other children, referees and coaches to get their child to win. They sometimes physically attack the coaches and referees as well. It doesn’t verge on abuse; it is abusive.

One of the answers happening in some leagues and schools is to have sports without keeping score. They have decided there are no winners or losers, just players. This is another example of the overly coddled era we live in, where playground slides are lowered because kids might tumble, safety measures are enforced and basically everyone walks around padded from the real world.

While it may be a good thing in some instances, especially with children, to lower the competitive level, I don’t believe it should ever be eliminated completely. Yet, there are two sides to this coin. One extreme was the example above of people pressuring their children to win win win, or Amy Chua’s (the tiger mom) father saying second place wasn’t good enough and a disgrace. Winning definitely can give a person a sense of confidence and yet, not everyone wins. But one can try to do the best possible. Winning is what the Olympics are all about and most sports. There are the best in their field. But to obsess over it can be an imbalance in life and psyche. I remember playing on a dart team where we were the division that wasn’t very good. We played, we wanted to win but we didn’t beat ourselves up if we didn’t. Yet there was one guy on one team who was so adamant about winning that he was a giant jerk. Even his team apologized for his rude behavior. The Tonya Harding figure skating debacle where her ex-husband and goons tried to break Nancy Kerrigan’s leg is an example of how extreme that need to win can get. The movie Black Swan is an example of the fears of not being the best. Extreme obsessive competing can drive you crazy.


Creative commons: From Scrape TV News http://scrapetv.com/

The other side is that there always must be someone who losses. Sometimes a person doesn’t try hard enough and sometimes they just cannot beat the others no matter how hard they try. This is the state of the world, whether in sports or jobs or almost any other aspect. One person wins, others lose. It doesn’t mean they’re failures; they’re just not the best in that category. I’ve lost some things, I’ve won some things. Sometimes I didn’t care enough and sometimes I did but my skills weren’t there. That is life and to remove the winning and losing from a child’s rearing only makes them unprepared to hand the ups and downs of the real world.

But there are ways to balance these sides. Make sure a person is encouraged in what they do and encouraged to do well. Don’t berate them if they fail, if they’re trying. Help them learn to cope with not being the one winner and keep the winners from becoming terrible blowhards. As a shy child I was often picked last for all sports in school. I didn’t have a chance to shine, already being singled out as “different.” I became self-conscious. If the teacher had divvied up teams instead of having the same kids do it all the time, that would have helped level the playing field. It’s okay to lose but it’s not okay to be a loser and cliquey behavior, bullying and mob mentality happen in children with fewer social nicety filters.

Even being one of those who did not excel in sports as a child, I would not eliminate sports where you compete against someone. As a writer, I have faced a lot of rejection, but it makes me try harder, and become better. That too is competition and I live with it. We need to be more accepting of people being at different levels and abilities, yet still encourage people to compete and excel but in a healthy and balanced way, with few emotional scars.

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Big Brother Watches You Sweat

Creative Commons by Unfocussed Mike

Last year, the local community gym, Britannia Centre in Vancouver, decided to go big brother on our sweaty asses. Suddenly, there were cameras cameras everywhere with these cute little signs saying something similar to “This area is monitored for your safety.” Maybe it was part of the whole Olympic movement, a way for Big Brother to surreptitiously move in and monitor everything and never leave, or maybe the gym was experiencing some great surge of violence or thievery.

However, as happens when one works out sometimes body parts need adjusting. Guys need to shift genitalia, women need to shift breasts in bras. One can turn away or go into the cooldown room and quickly make an adjustment without anyone seeing. Not so now. It’s recorded on cameras. But perhaps I was just being paranoid as I sweated away, so I wrote the name located on those cute little signs.

Dear ,

I have several questions about the spyeye cameras at the Britannia gym.

  • Was there an incident or incidents that caused the need for cameras? If so, what was it? Should I be on the lookout for suspicious and dangerous characters?
  • If someone were to attack me in the mat room, or elsewhere, would these cameras save me, as in, is someone actively watching them and will run to my aid, or will they just have evidence when they pick up my pieces?
  • Who is authorized to watch these videos from the camera?
  • Are they watched as they run or reviewed at a later time?
  • How often are they reviewed?
  • Where are they stored and how?
  • How long are the videos kept?
  • Are they a deterrent for public mischief or for personal harm?

I have never had or seen any altercations in the gym in all my years there. How should I feel more protected now?

Thank you,

Colleen Anderson

Having once worked for a hi-tech company I knew what some of the answers should be so I was curious to see if this person was a buffer to what was already set in stone or if they were willing to hear other sides. Here is the first response (I’ve only corrected the typos):

Hi Colleen,

Thanks for taking the time to communicate with me regarding your perspective on video cameras.  We have had cameras in the fitness centre since the late 1990’s.  Recently we upgraded the system.  The research is inconclusive as to the efficacy of cameras as a deterrent, that said we do need balance the needs of our community.

Staff requested the video cameras because of a number of instances where they felt unsafe with patrons who were aggressive and potentially dangerous, they were also dealing with increased number of complaints of theft inside and outside the fitness centre – bikes.  We have excellent staff who work hard to de-escalate conflict situations, this is just one tool that works alongside other strategies to assist in their work to create a comfortable space for all.  We have an obligation to support staff to the best of our abilities, this includes training, adequate staffing levels and communication tools.

They are just cameras and will not ‘save’ you.  The deterrent is in the collection of evidence for prosecution in the event of a crime – property or personal.  They are not used for surveillance, no one monitors or reviews recordings, images are relayed in real time to a monitor at the pool counter, but their role is not to monitor.

Footage is recorded and kept for 30 days unless there is a Britannia incident report or a police criminal report, in that case the Executive Director, who is the only person authorized to access the recordings, may request that recordings over a particular period be saved.  These recordings must be appropriate labeled, viewing logs set up and they may be saved for up to one year.  Only the Executive Director has the authority to release or view the recordings under specific conditions such as a written request from authorized law enforcement.  The recordings are labeled and stored in an area that is secured.

We follow the guidelines provided by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC.

It is great to know that you have never experienced any altercations in the gym, we most certainly hope to keep it that way.  If you have any other question please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

I should point out that the gym has a large space with all the weights and other machines. Off of that is a small room with windows overlooking the stairs up to the gym, that has mats and is for stretching/cool down. There is no way to exit that room without going through the gym. Yet they decided to put a camera in this room. Stealing a mat or a dumbbell would mean carrying those rather large and bulky objects through the rest of the gym. Someone would probably notice. However, next to the mat room is a balcony on which people can work out or walk outside for a breath of air. It’s not large but there are no cameras on it, only pointing inside. It’s much easier to take a mat or a medicine ball and toss it over the ledge to someone below. So I responded:

Dear ,

I do understand the need of some cameras at the gym, outside the building and perhaps at prime entries, but I think there is an overkill going on.

There is a camera in the cooldown room. There is no way in or out of this except through a door that enters into the gym proper. Anyone stealing anything would have to tuck it (mostly mats and medicine balls and weights) under their clothes to get it out through the gym. There isn’t even room in there for people to bring a pack. If in fact something went missing and the staff said, someone stole a weight, would these videos even be looked at for something like that? If I’m being mugged in that room I’m sure someone would hear it in the gym.

So if they won’t “save” me and their efficacy as a deterrent is nebulous, why are they in there? A camera at the gym doors, and maybe where people put their packs makes sense but I feel there is absolutely no good reason to have them in every corner or in the cooldown room. You also say they are not used for surveillance yet images are relayed to the counter which means in fact that people can monitor them or watch.

So anyone working there or standing at the counter can see what’s going on, at least in part. This is not a secure monitoring.

I still cannot see how this measure protects staff, clients or deters thefts and vandalism. Why not have one in the locker rooms then too to make sure people don’t break into lockers? I would support some cameras but not the one in the cooldown room and perhaps there are others but I use the gym and not the pool areas.

Thank you,

Hi Colleen,

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on cameras in the fitness centre, the fitness centre has a number of blind spots which is why so many cameras, as you so eloquently stated – overkill, are required. Staff, in reference to security, requested that cameras, which have been in operation in the facility since the 1990’s be upgraded and increased as they often are working alone in the space. The fitness centre facility was originally built in 1976 and was actually a quarter of the existing space, over the years we have eliminated the pool lounge and spectator areas to make way for more fitness gear, consequently the space is extremely cut up. In order to maintain a consistent presence we required a number of cameras. You are completely correct in saying that the efficacy of cameras have not been proven OR disproven, however as an employer it is incumbent on us to address staff safety concerns. It is in poor form for Management to insinuate that we know better than the individuals involved and determine what makes them safe or feel safer.

We conducted a survey with staff and provided opportunities for patrons to comment on the use of cameras – you are the third person responding.

That said we depend on a number of tools to ensure good customer and staff experience in our facilities, this includes better conflict management training, site signage and lighting. If you are being mugged in the fitness centre – we have already failed our responsibility. The key for us is to prevent/deter any conflicts and create a positive environment.

You have not been specific about what you would like as an outcome.  I hope my comments have been helpful, if you have other concerns please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

I guess I wasn’t specific when I said it was overkill. Of course I need to send another letter pointing out that the cameras rarely deter the thieves because they probably know the images are rarely perused. The camera certainly didn’t make me feel better when I walked into the mat room one day to find this weirdo in his tighty whities laying on a map and humping it from what I could tell. By the time I could even find an attendant the pervert had wandered off. Had he been a different style of pervert and fondled me the cameras would have done nothing in stopping that. As I’d pointed out in my first letter, the cameras wouldn’t save me, they didn’t deter a pervert and should there have been pieces of me then the videos would be surveyed but only then. This person never addressed my comments about the non-secure monitor at the front desk after she told me that only the director could view them. So let’s see:

  1. no proof that it deters thieves
  2. will not keep people safe, will not endanger them
  3. no one can view but the executive director
  4. everyone at the counter can view the cameras in present time
  5. cameras are in spots where they do no good
  6. cameras aren’t in spots where things could actually be stolen
  7. Nebulous…the staff would be safer
  8. didn’t stop a pervert
  9. management doesn’t know what would make staff feel safer (her words)

In the end it seems a knee-jerk reaction in this world of everything under surveillance, and as she said I was only the third person to comment it tells me that we’re complacent to the infringement of our rights. The biggest pervert is the constant stare of those cameras and while management pretends they’re making their staff safer (as opposed to having to people on at a time) they are ignoring the fact that they’re infringing on their patrons’ privacy. When the tanks start rolling down the streets I imagine it will be much the same. Big Brother took a little longer to get here than 1984 but be assured he’s here.

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Olympic End and Aftermath

I did actually venture into the crazed throng on Saturday night. First we gathered at a friend’s near to the SkyTrain and had drinks at her place, knowing that places would be packed downtown. Then we (seven of us) walked over to the SkyTrain and boarded, losing half our party immediately. But we yelled that we’d meet them off the train since one of our party needed to buy a ticket (and some of us didn’t bother I think).

At around 9:30 pm we boarded a pretty full  train where people were cheering and toasting with beer bottles, and got off two stations later and immediately found our friends. The escalators to and from the trains were absolutely packed with people cheering and slapping each other’s hands as they went by. When you think of all that loose young testosterone mixed with booze and euphoria it’s amazing how friendly everyone was.

I’ve been in this city a long time and know the downtown well, yet when we exited onto the street I had no idea where I was. One reason was that I had not taken that particular (and new SkyTrain) that exits onto Granville St. (I think). But we felt like we were spawning against the flow of thousands of people. And that is not an exaggeration. From one side of the street, across the road and to the other side of the stores, were hordes of people walking, dancing, stopping to take pictures, slap hands and give a woohoo. There was such a flow of people in red and white, Canadian flag capes and painted faces that it did indeed look like a red tide.There was supposed to be the decentralized dance party at the art gallery but we either missed it or it was smaller than we thought. The city had put plastic tiles over the grass to save the lawns from all the feet. Still it was a muddy morass and I wonder if the lawns recovered (remember Vancouver has green grass all year long).

We managed to get down to the new skating rink and I couldn’t tell you if there was anything going on in the rink. I think it had all stopped by then but there was a live band. People were packed in, sitting on the cement steps and standing crammed in and even though it was raining lightly people stood and watched, umbrellas folded. One woman had short red red hair and was dress in a red polka dot mini skirt, white vest, white legs and was dancing. Next to her was a guy in the plaid mac lumberjack shirt, holding a Mountie nutcracker. As they danced I joined in and there was another guy just dancing with anyone who would dance.

One of my friends was wearing a red velvet dress with white fur and a matching red sequin santa hat. We joined in the dancing as much as we could and when I accidentally lightly bopped a guy in the head with the umbrella I was dancing with, I apologized and then told him it was good luck. He just laughed, no dirty looks. Truly for the thousands of people, there was nothing but euphoric happiness and maybe a bit of overwhelmed stunned looks. There was one couple, their faces fully painted with Canadian flags, their clothes matching, just sitting against a wall looking exhausted. I didn’t see any porta potties though I hear there were a few but there were obviously way too few and the clean-up today in parkades and out of the way places is not pretty.

We passed a band playing on the street; a bit of funk reggae and they were pretty good. We danced (a few of us) there for a bit as well. I have no idea who any of these bands were and I really couldn’t keep my directions straight with all the people. We eventually made it over to Yaletown, where the streets were also blocked off for the sea of bodies. There were white tents set up in front of some restaurants, probably to fit extra bodies. Two of my friends had left by this point, already hitting the full point for crowds (how can you tell we’re not in our twenties).

Every place had a line-up that would have taken at least an hour to get into. We finally wandered into one restaurant, a sake bar. I didn’t have my glasses but can read okay close up. I had to ask my friend if the prices for the bottles of sake were real: $132, $156, etc. No wonder this restaurant didn’t have a crowd. We ordered a bottle of wine and small appies/tapas as everything in Vancouver is called regardless of ethnicity of the restaurant. I split two deep fried prawns and one scalloped covered in coconut like, very light and crispy batter. They were actually very good and cost $11, an average cost for very little fancy food called tapas.

After that, around midnight, we were all full on the crowd fount. People were still going pretty strong but there is only so much people watching you can take. The trains were moderately full leaving downtown and now completely empty entering. Still the tired partygoers kept their good mood and there was relatively little bad attitude given the numbers we had in a party that rivaled everyday life in India, and Mardi Gras mixed together.

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Ebb and Flow of the Olympics

We’re nearing the end of the Olympics and this is partly what it’s been like on the streets: traffic has been far better than normal. There are fewer cars, even if going away from the downtown core, so either everyone is at the Olympics or they left town. Which means I’m not looking forward to Monday morning traffic, which will be heavy and chaotic.

This lack of car traffic has all translated into a feast of famine aspect for many merchandisers and restaurants in the city. There are so many people in the downtown core that even the street food vendors are making thousands to tens of thousands a day, and the restaurants have constant lines. Olympic related merchandise is selling but little else. Yet if you’re in the food and drink business you are truly making a killing.

On Commercial Drive near where I live, it’s a different story. On Tuesday night I walked up the street to have a drink at one of my regular spots, The Libra Room. I passed the Latin Quarter and thought it was closed. Not a soul inside except one person at the bar watching a TV screen, and he was most likely staff. A couple of the Italian restaurants were equally void of life. Only the Charlatan, a sports bar with several large screens, was busy because of the Olympic sports. The Libra Room had a few people but they were way down on patrons and I’ve never seen the owner looking so unhappy.

What this means in the long run is that there are a few places and people making a true killing downtown and business has gone down everywhere else. In total revenue for the city, it is probably higher than normal but not as high as one might think. And yet, everyone who has been going downtown says that it’s crazy but it’s fun and the energy is so positive. Some people have just gone to people-watch.

Although I hate crowds I was planning on going down tomorrow night but I’ve now injured myself at the gym so it might not be possible. And should I manage it, one friend lives downtown so we can take refuge when it gets too cold or wet or crowded.

This is also the end of February. Two years ago, come March, I started this blog and have tried to write five days a week except for when I was on holidays. I think it might be possible to run out of opinion on things but I’m not there yet. However, even though some of these pieces have less research than they would if I was employed to write them, they still take time. I will be cutting back to writing three times a week as of March, hopefully giving me more time to write on other things, such as my novel or short stories.

With that note, Aberrant Dreams is relaunching with hopefully fewer of the time snags that caught them last go round. I will be back editing as senior fantasy editor. If you want to check out the site (still developing but submissions can be sent in) then go here http://aberrantdreams.com/content/ and read the guidelines. It’s hard to run any kind of magazine these days and Joe Dickerson and Lonny Harper have been trying it without any sponsors so it’s out of pocket for them to pay people. Some day I’d like to run my magazine as well but that will take some $$ first.

So in the meantime, go enjoy the last of the Olympics any way you want, whether that’s staying far away, just checking stats on the computer or going into the throng. And here’s to all the amazing athletes who have competed, whether they won or not. They’re still the best in the world and have dedicated time and energy to their achievements and sports. Go World!

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VANOC, RCMP and the Olympics

Okay, another update. I didn’t post for the last two days because yes, I’ve ventured into Olympic land, only because friends came up from the US and I wanted to see them. Wednesday I braved driving downtown. Yes, driving, not busing, walking or other. One friend works for city parking and he said the parkades downtown are nearly empty because no one is driving.

Well, “no one” isn’t quite true but I left New Westminster around 4:30 pm, took the highway to E. 1 Ave., then turned down Clark Dr. to Pender St. I took Pender to downtown (already knowing which streets were closed) to Gastown but anticipating Gastown’s usual traffic jam I turned up to Hastings St. In retrospect I should have gone through Gastown to Richards. On Hastings I had about four blocks to go to Hastings and it took about 20 minutes, or about four lights to get through each light. Yes, there was traffic there but there was nothing to do but just endure. And true enough the parkade was empty.

I met my friends at the Kingston Pub on Richards St. and yes there were people but I seriously didn’t look around at anything else. The Kingston’s alcohol seems to be in the normal range but they had an ahi tun caeser salad for $19. That is overkill. I did get a serving of calamari for $10, which would have been quite fine but the batter wasn’t cooked all the way through, but they were crazy busy.

On Thursday I spent the day with my friends on Granville Island (where they are charging for parking, with a 2-hour limit, where normally it’s free parking). There was a huge Francophone pavilion but we didn’t go in, but we wandered into one studio to see a video broken glass show that was short and interesting. Bridges Restaurant is the Swiss House but there was a line-up even for a drink (the Swiss-Canada hockey game was about to start) so we didn’t get in there. We got into the Atlantic Provinces show (we say Maritimes) because a friend was working the show. Music with some tales of the musicians’ homes and slide shows behind. It was very good and fun. I wished there’d been room to dance as Maritime music always has you toe tapping. Basically there were line-ups for everything and I hate line-ups so a lot of patience is needed to get into any of the houses. But it is a free cultural Olympiad (some of it) and that’s kinda cool, fun and informative all at once.

Now I’ve been looking at the results for the Olympic games online but have not been able to get any so-called channel (CTV) to actually show what’s supposedly being broadcast live.And I have not gone to see the Olympic cauldron for which VANOC has received huge criticism for putting it (and everything else) behind huge chainlink fences so that people couldn’t see or take pictures. They’ve now cut holes and moved the fence in but it’s typical of the VANOC heavy handedness and the blocking of lanes (which they somehow didn’t have to do in Salt Lake City). And I’m not venturing to Whistler where you need a permit to drive (or do it after 6 pm) or have to take a bus that yes, you must also buy a ticket for.

Another aspect of the whole Olympics is the SECURITY, which doncha know does not include taking care of the violent anarchists. That falls to the city’s police force and is not included in the budget. But there’s the tale of a guy who is a doctoral student and works at a local hospital in one of the labs. He decided to be part of the Olympics and was interviewed to be a guard. He got his uniform, was accredited and worked two shifts. When he showed up for his third shift his security card didn’t work. In between the accrediting and working and the nonworking card he’d been called and questioned by the RCMP, that bastion of moral righteousness and law.

It’s not that he’s a protester. It’s not that he belongs to any subversive organizations. It’s not that he has any criminal record. It’s because he works with a nonviolent protester of the Olympics, a professor by the name of Chris Shaw. He works with the guy but doesn’t really know him and was in fact a supporter of the Olympics and did not believe in Chris Shaw’s point of view. But it seems even if this man who had already passed all the testing to be security for the Olympics did not pass the RCMP’s scrutiny because of working in the same lab as a nonviolent protester.

This is typical of the ineptitude and misplaced scrutiny of the RCMP. Of course, any time the media asks for the RCMP to comment they say they can’t because of privacy concerns. Those privacy concerns are really only for themselves because the media has usually already talked with the person on the other end. And if the RCMP actually used this tight of a scrutiny of their own members we might not have a man tasered to death at the Vancouver airport, or a man shot in the back of the head while in a holding cell. The RCMP used to be reliable, balance and upheld the law. They are so tarnished now they may as well get rid of the brass buttons on their red serge. They continue to pull the “Homeland Security” fiascos that George Bush would be proud of, while at the same time doing nothing to stop the anarchists who did smash store windows and injure city police. Between VANOC and the RCMP it’s amazing that we’re not all being questioned and ticketed.

So while you’re here enjoying Canada’s open hospitality (why is it that I almost wrote hostility) make sure you’re squeaky clean. And if you’re not, don a black hood and the RCMP won’t be able to see you. It’s just to bad the sports and arts of the Olympics are constantly overshadowed but the idiocy of ineptitude of the various arrogant and money grabbing Olympic committees.

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Indian Olympic Team Snubs Charity

India has a small Olympic contingent in the 2010 Olympics. Although India sports a warm climate, there are mountains in the country but not a lot of winter so it makes sense that there might only be three winter athletes. It also makes sense that although India has over a billion people and a sixth of the world’s population that there might still be a lot of poverty.

It doesn’t make sense that three athletes representing their country should not even be given matching outfits for the opening ceremonies. The Indian government spent about the equivalent of $2000 for each of the eight team members, which is not a lot for the length of the Olympics. I don’t think the government is that poor but I’m not an economist.  But here’s something else that doesn’t make sense. On arrival of the eight members (including the three athletes) in Canada the local Indo-Canadian community found out about Team India’s plight. A local Indo-Canadian businessman chipped in, and had suits made up, and the community raised $8,000 for expenses through a local radio host.

Before that, luge athlete and flag bearer Shiva Keshavan was given about $9,700 by a group of lawyers so that he could get a new sled. The Indian government has put out a statement saying they did supply uniforms (which were supposedly mismatched) and some money, as well as giving Shiva $2o,000 the year before for his training. I don’t know how $20,000 translates in India compared to cost of living and other expenditures but it probably goes farther than here, but how far?

It’s unclear whether the outfits were done in time for the opening ceremonies but most likely were. However Keshavan was not wearing the outfit. And it seems that the $8,000 raised by the Indo-Canadian community has been turned down by Team India (after Keshavan said they were grateful) with the comment that they will not accept charity and are embarrassed.

I think it’s time to leave egos at the door. Olympic athletes don’t just compete for themselves but for their countries. A country is made up of individuals and it’s obvious that the Indo-Canadian community here cared enough to want to help. They wanted their athletes to look good and do well and win for all of them.

And on top of that, Keshavan accepted money from the government of India as well as from the lawyers. In fact, almost all Olympic athletes accept charity, or donations to further their training, whether from governments, organizations, benefactors or other commercial donors. How does the Indian team (which member has his knickers in a twist over this?) decide that this is not acceptable? If they’re embarrassed by their government’s lack of funding, the damage has already been done. They should be grateful that their fellow country men and women are wishing to participate in their own way and help out.

If a country is poor and people chip in I think that just shows more of a team spirit to those who are happy to be behind a team, to support them and cheer them on and do a little bit in any way they can because they are not the athletes. It should be country’s pride in helping, not embarrassment in accepting.

And what will the overabundance of Team India’s pride get them in the end? Probably nothing, including no support from the local Indo-Canadian community and no medals because they didn’t accept what was needed. Team India, take some humility here and use your pride in your athletics, and be happy that some people were willing to help.

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Vancouver and the Olympics

Well, I wasn’t really going to post much more on the Olympics. After all, they’ve started and no matter how much I dislike the amount of money spent, they’re in full swing. And it’s time for the athletes to shine.

I won’t be going to any of the paid venues because I can’t afford them. I’m not a big fan of crowds but there’s still a chance I can take in one of the many free events going on. It’s a bit odd on how quiet the media was about these until just a few days before. One or two newspapers listed them but I heard little on the radio, my main form of news.

Grey skies and flowers in Feb.

In the transportation end of things VANOC stressed (with many signs on the major thoroughfares) to take alternative forms of transportation for the Olympics. Walk, bike or transit the signs said. Then the “buts” began. But, said John Furlong, try not take transit when people are trying to get to their time-sensitive venues. He somehow missed that people had time-sensitive jobs and not all of us get free time to watch the Olympics. You can bike but don’t use transit at the same time because, although people are normally allowed to take their bikes normally, they can’t during the Olympics. Oh and you can walk, but don’t expect to actually get to where you’re going. Areas are cordoned off  without even a walkway through.

A friend of mine tried to get to the Arts Club Theatre to see a play a week ago, before the Olympics started. She gave herself plenty of time and took the SkyTrain. When she got off she went to take one of the small boats to Granville Island but the route was blocked off. She called Arts Club who would not change her ticket to another time and gave her a long circuitous route, involving a lot of walking, two buses and a shuttle to get to Granville Island. She never made it and found out later that Arts Club neglected to mention the train running from where she was, at Science World, right to Granville Island.

However, that said, extra SkyTrains and buses have been running, and another friend reports that her sister (visiting from Scotland) has made it on time to every venue in under an hour. VANOC seems to be doing a good job in having extra vehicles, as long as you can take transit under their terms. Don’t count on anything else and don’t count on taxis. In regards to other traffic around the lower mainland, it’s been the same as always or lighter and I’ve not had to deal with any changes, but then I’m avoiding downtown.

I live near one of the practice rinks. A few weeks ago they started cordoning off the rink from the gym, school and other facilities. I work out at the gym and was made aware well in advance of the upcoming inconvenience. They put up large concrete barricades and started erecting the chainlink fence. It’s not just a single fence but the outer fence is around six feet and the inner fence is 8-10 feet high. Thankfully, there is no razor wire at the top or slavering dogs running about. It was uglier until they put up the blue green branding tarps that’s part of the official Olympics look. I have to say this, the colors are nice and the blue and green must represent the greenery of BC, available all year round in the grass here in Vancouver, and the blue of the ocean (certainly not the sky, which is often grey in winter). And a bit of white.

Cameras clustered like grapes.

I wasn’t too happy to see Stalag 2010 going in and I still think it’s overkill. There are two security checkpoints around the rink, but not where the vehicles drive in. There is a third one for the official vehicles. But what I find even more ridiculous is the overkill of the spyeyes. These cameras are in clusters of three, plus a few other individual ones, plus the people in the three security booths, plus the guys in the parking lot, plus the person checking people’s passes, all behind the blue-green fence. And this is only a practice rink for something, hockey I would presume. Yikes!

Now as to the Olympics. Yes, I’ve seen some on TV. I watched some of the opening ceremonies and from what I saw they did look spectacular. Nicely done and I loved all the First Nations dancers and the giant drum. The speculation over the final torch bearer probably met everyone’s expectations with five bearers (Rick Hansen bringing the torch to the four: Nancy Greene, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash, Catriona LeMay Doan), and eight Canadian greats bringing in the Olympic flag (Donald Sutherland, Anne Murray, Romeo Dallaire, Betty Fox representing Terry Fox, Bobby Orr, Jacques Villeneuve, Julie Payette, Barbara Ann Scott).  But I didn’t watch it all. Still it does look world class.

The sports proceed apace and so do the protests. It is the right of every person to protest or not and do so peacefully. Unfortunately black robed and hooded thugs who care nothing about either the Olympics or the protestors’ legitimate concerns joined the crowds to cause violence and general anarchy, and put eight police in hospital the first night. I do not condone this nor support it in any way and those people should be arrested and locked up. They hurt everything, from the Olympics to the protestors to the police who are just doing their jobs. It’s one reason why I worry about going downtown and getting caught in some thug’s idea of a good time.

I hope the Olympics go well, I hope the athletes do fantastic and I hope the next venues to do the Olympics don’t feel the need to do one  upmanship and increase the ludicrous spending.

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