Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Catching up

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OK, so instead of owning the podium, we just rented the top floor.

(I have to give a CP reporter the credit for that quote.) Wasn’t that fun? The Olympic withdrawal is going to be tough. It’s been the framing device around all events for the past two weeks. Furthermore, that’s been true of almost everyone else. What else does that anymore? Not the Oscars, not the series finale of Lost, not the Superbowl, not even the Stanley Cup.

Big eating weekend

I described last weekend (Feb. 19–21) as my “big eating weekend.” For the Friday, well ahead, we had arranged to meet up with friends at Verses. They were particularly pleased to have meat there. “We’re coming off a month of veganism,” they explained. “If you think vegetarianism is hard? Try veganism.”

Then on the following Saturday, our neighborhood association held a wine tasting dinner at Solé. Solé generally does an excellent job with these, and the featured wine was from Rosewood Estates, which we really like. So we had to sign up for that as well. We ended up sitting with the owner of the winery, who proved to be a very interesting guy, with rather strong opinions about wines of different price points, and the marketing strategies of various regions.

And it was a great meal. It started with their Sémillon, which I judged reminiscent of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, so was pleased when informed that’s what they were going for. It was delicious, as was the smoked trout served with it—amazing stuff, the food highlight of the meal. The main course was chicken with wild mushrooms, and it was served with a Meritage wine. (I was hoping to get their Pinot Noir again, but the 2007 is apparently all sold out.) Dessert featured honey wine, served with an apple caramel tart.

Olympic-wise, that was a pretty quiet weekend. That’s when there was all that grousing about Canada’s performance being somewhat disappointing, which I mostly found irritating. But since we don’t really know our neighbours (and besides the wine people, that’s who was there), it was very handy to have that to talk about.

Shall we dance?

Despite some moments of mild panic—me on the “hockey stick” step (seriously, that’s what it’s called) of the cha-cha, Jean on the intricate shaping of the slow fox—we’re fumbling our way reasonably well through our ballroom dance classes for people who had taken a seven-year break. This week’s class coincided with the Russia-Canada hockey quarter-final, but late arrivals reported on the already lopsided score involved there, and we stopped worrying about that too much.

But our dance instructor wanted to talk about another sport:

“Why did they win?” he asked. After some brilliant responses like, “cause they were good,” the issue of synchronicity came up. “That’s right!” he said. “They danced as though they were one.” Which is what we were all striving for. “And if you practice for 8 hours a day, for 12 years, maybe learn to skate… Who knows?”

That night I planned to finish watching the ladies’ short in figure skating, recorded the night before, but I got distracted by all those other medals by all those other Canadian ladies: gold and silver in bobsled. Silver in short track.


The day after dance class, I attended a Waterloo-hosted a TEDx conference. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and the motto is “Ideas worth spreading.” In 21 minutes or less.

The event started by being delayed by technical difficulties. This is when I discovered that I was, apparently, the only person in the room whose iPod was not Touch and whose cell phone was not i.  That is, no portable Internet connectivity for me. So while everyone else tapped away around me, twittering about the delay and receiving updated ladies’ curling scores… I read a magazine. I mean, a dead-tree edition magazine.

There’s some message there somewhere, and I don’t really like it. But at least I didn’t have to worry about any batteries dying.

But once the conference got underway, it did feature some interesting speakers and ideas. Terry O’Reilly from CBC’s The Age of Persuasion on the underrated importance of friction in selling products. An exploration of living architecture (using materials that respond to human touch—a bit freaky). The director of of the documentary Prom Night in Mississippi, who also shared information about how meeting The Beatles played a role in his spiritual awakening. Caroline Disler on how much of “Western” civilization actually comes from the east. And a study of the ecology of restoration, using Sudbury as a model.

And back home, the very good women’s gold medal hockey game! And the equally tough, in their own way, women of figure skating singles. Yu-na Kim perfection, a woman who does triple axels better than many of the men, and Joannie Rochette, showing it’s about more than medals (though it is great she won one).

Timmins wedding

It’s my wedding year, I guess, as we traveled again for a wedding on the weekend, this time to Timmins. But we weren’t on call to do much the Friday night, so after spending some excrutiating time watching the women’s curling final, first with my family, then with Jean’s, we went out to bar with my brother and his wife to get away from sport a bit and listen to some music.

The young singer, Louis-Phillip Sébastien, was quite good. But he was also fighting a cold, so his set was short. Really short. So then the bar turned the TV on the men’s hockey game, which seemed to go pretty well. It was only after getting home we found out that they nearly lost it in the last few minutes.

The wedding on Saturday was lovely, and I think most people had a great time, with lots of dancing. I’m not sure what the attendance would have been had a major hockey game been scheduled that night, but people were content to merely zip into the bar on breaks and report that the men’s curling team were winning gold.

The invitation to the wedding has specified “black and white dress.” On first reading that, I assume that was some other way of saying “dress up nice,” and planned on wearing a fancy black and red dress. But, it turned out that they actually wanted people to dress in black and white. We found this out only late in the game, though, and at that point, I wasn’t too thrilled by the idea of going out to buy a new dress. I just threw in a white throw to cut the effect.

So in case you’re wondering… it is a bit odd being the only person wearing red in the room.

At least I was, until the red sock dance—a weird, franco-ontarian wedding tradition whereby any unmarried older sibling has to, well, dance in red socks. I have no idea why.

The opening of the wedding presents was on Sunday, about an hour before the Gold medal game. We overheard the first period there (knowing by the cheering that it was 1-0), watched the second with Jean’s Mom, and the third and overtime with my family. Scoring with 24 seconds left? Are you kidding me? And then Crosby again scored when it really counted.

While I really think hockey got too much emphasis overall, I must admit that was quite the capper.

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