Sunday, October 30, 2011

#Curling Book Review: Curling For Dummies

Time for my first curling book review! October's book is...

Curling For Dummies
By Bob Weeks
2006 (updated version of the 2001 ed.)
384 pages

"Win or lose, I've rarely left a curling club without a smile on my face."
(p. 12)

Bob Weeks is pretty darn qualified to write about curling. He curls, is a prolific curling writer of books (four by my count) and newspaper articles (for the Globe and Mail) and most recently appeared on TSN last season during curling broadcasts with his insiders "The Weeks Report" (which I hope becomes a regular feature). Like any good journalist these days, he blogs at Bob Weeks on Curling and tweets @bwoncurling. So he knows curling.

Like all Dummies books, this book is a beginner's guide to curling, though it's also a useful refresher for experienced club level curlers. It includes information, tips and advice for all things curling including:
  • history
  • equipment
  • ice
  • terminology
  • technique
  • strategy
  • practice
  • kids
  • coaching
  • fandom
  • events
The book even concludes with some Top Tens: skips, shots, games, and sources of information. Again, like all Dummies books it's full of cartoons, diagrams, photos, lists, highlight boxes, icons, fancy fonts for headings, and a healthy dose of humour...yeah you know the drill.

I liked this book. It's written to be easily understood by everyone, and does present the basics of curling in a fun way. There's a lot to learn in the 384 pages, and Bob Weeks does a great job breaking the information down in detailed but not overwhelming chapters. The personable writing and humour is much appreciated and gives the book a light hearted and fun vibe - exactly what club curling is about. 

The only downfall of this book - parts of it is outdated. Though a lot of the information is still relevant, obviously the Top Ten section is five years behind. And it could do with updates on some of the new science of curling findings (like should I buy a fancy new broom or just put tin foil on my broom head?). This isn't really a fault of the book though, these things happen.

I recommend "Curling For Dummies" to newbie curlers, or experienced curlers like me who need a refresher every once in awhile. This book isn't in my library (yet) but I most definitely would buy an updated version - I wonder if there will be another new edition reprint soon?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#Curling Book Reviews

As the curling librarian, I think it's time I brought a little more librarian to this here corner of the internet! So what does that mean?

I'm going to start doing curling book reviews!!

I'm going to pick a different curling related book each month during this curling season. I'll write up a bit about the author and the contents of the book, then give my impressions and recommendations (or not).

I plan on getting most of the books out of the public library, but I do own a few myself (and I'll let you know if I own the book or not, as that might say something about it's worth as well). I'll even take recommendations in the comments section. There's quite a few curling books out there, so if this whole concept goes over well, I might have to double up each month, or save some for next season.

I hope you enjoy reading along with me - be sure to check out the books at your local library or favourite bookstore!

List of Curling Books Reviewed*

1. Curling For Dummies by Bob Weeks (October 2011)
2. Open House by Scott Russell (November 2011)
3. Between the Sheets by Guy Sholz and Cheryl Bernard (December 2011)
4. The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon by W.O. Mitchell (January 2012)
5. ? (February)
6. ? (March)
7. ? (April)

*Curling book titles are so super awesome cheesy - what would you name your curling book?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why I'm A Terrible #Curling Fangirl

Fame is weird, eh?

I've met a number of musicians and curlers over the years, mostly in autograph lines. Sometimes they are grumpy, sometimes arrogant, but mostly they are friendly and appreciative. It's always a bit awkward, what do you say? Hey, great concert? I totally love your new cd? Great game today? I'm a big fan? Good luck next game?

I'm not a good fangirl

I love Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo). I once had a chance to watch an onsite interview in the same room which probably meant I would've gotten to talk to him and get a photo with him etc.

And I turned down the offer.

I've been backstage at a curling event, where curling rockstars are hanging around. I've had a few small talk type conversations with curlers. I once talked to Russ Howard about tea and timbits. I told John Morris we were out of chocolate milk.

Yet when Kevin Martin visited the club where we were holding the Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships at last spring I hid in the office. I only got this (awesome) photo because @1CathyC dragged him into the office to meet a big fan.

I'm scared of talking to rockstars.

There, I admitted it. I've been thinking about this ever since I got the first volunteer newsletter from the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. In February I will once again get to hang out with not only the best curling staff and volunteers, but with rockstars from across the country. And I'll be too embarrassed and shy to say hi.

Indulge me as I tell you why I don't talk to "famous" people.

I used to work at a store in the World's Biggest Mall, West Edmonton Mall, here in Edmonton. This was way back in the day before my second career, before the London years, before my first career, during my undergraduate days. I worked at La Senza - think Victoria Secret but with more flannel pajamas because it's Canadian. It was just another minimum wage job that went towards university tuition.

The benefit to working in a famous mall is that famous people often came to shop. I helped news anchors. I once sold dozens of flannel pajamas to Ryan Smyth's wife because she was holding an Oilers wives sleep over. I once rang through a purchase for Jeff Martin of The Tea Party. Yes, his eyes are just as intense in person. I once told Ashanti that no, she couldn't have a 50% discount on pj pants that were already on sale for $10 because she was famous (like she couldn't afford the extra $5, and no her rather large security dude didn't scare me).

Once a figure skater came in. She wasn't quite famous, but was on the verge of fame. At that time she was a nobody, unless you followed figure skating. I used to be a huge figure skating fan (about as big a fan as I am of curling now), but then my embarrassing story occurred, followed by the whole 2002 Olympic gold medal block judging scandal, and now I can't stand to watch it. I make a point of not watching figure skating at all. Except I really like Battle of the Blades, where hockey players are paired with figure skaters and then the public votes etc.

Back to my then unknown figure skater. Shortly after this incident she gained national fame. She might've even gained international fame after that, but I stopped following remember. Now she's on Battle of the Blades, and was on last season as well. And that's what's got me thinking about this story. Every week I watch the show on CBC and see her skating. And I don't cheer for her, no matter who her hockey player partner is.

Right. So she comes into the store shortly before the Canadian national figure skating championship of whatever year this was (she was practicing locally at the time) to buy bras. As I'm wringing through her purchase, I casually said "Are you so-and-so?" Yes. "Cool, I'm a big fan. Good luck at nationals!" Great. Thanks. And she left. Pretty tame conversation eh? Exactly what a huge figure skating fangirl would say in that situation? I totally thought I might've made her day. She was a nobody, she probably never got recognized. Yay me for being nice to a not-famous person who I looked up to because she was part of my favourite sport!

A day or two later there was an article in the newspaper in which she was interviewed about how she was about to launch her career to a new level at the upcoming nationals. They asked her if she was starting to feel like a famous athlete. And she said something like "Yes! I can't even go buy bras without getting recognized!"


I was mortified. How embarrassing!! I said something nice to a nobody-about-to-become-a-somebody and she ruined it. How dare she think she was a somebody, the only reason I knew who she was was because I was a huge fan of the sport. She was no Kurt Browning, that's for sure. It bothered me that she was so arrogant, and that she tainted the nice thing I said by taking it totally out of context.

She ruined the fangirl in me.

Maybe you think I'm overreacting. Looking back, I did probably, but at the time I was embarrassed about being called out in a public forum by someone I (at the time) looked up too. I was young, naive, impressionable, lacking in self confidence. She made me feel like a stupid redneck fool.

Whatever. I vowed to never again give a famous person the chance to think I was an idiot. I would never again give a famous person the chance to embarrass me.

So that's why I can't talk to rockstars. I know they're real people who just happen to have a cool job. I know they're mostly nice and down to earth and appreciative of their fans. I've even superficially chatted to a few of them on twitter. But until I can think of something not stupid and inconsequential to say, I'll just blend in with the background, and watch from afar.

Stupid figure skating.

Monday, October 03, 2011

How They Make #Curling Ice

This will be my fifth season of curling. I bought new shoes because my old ones were coming unglued, a new broom because my old one was cracked, and a new pair of gloves because my old ones were ripping. So that's it, I'm all sorted for equipment.


There is of course all the "equipment" my local curling club provides. Concession. Lounge. Rocks. Ice.

That's right, the most important piece of it all - the ice. What would curling be without it?! (And don't say shuffle board, there ain't no bending or sweeping in that. I don't think...)

@1CathyC, my curling club's manager, tweeted a couple photos of the club's ice making preseason process. I started posting them to the club's facebook page and it turned into a neat album: Ice Making - September 2011.

It was interesting. I learned stuff. Did you know the lines are actually yarn frozen into the ice? Who knew?

Last week, the Canadian Curling Association posted a 20 minute video detailing how they make championship arena curling ice. My eyes were glued to the computer screen - it was so interesting!

Very much like the club process: I knew it was a lot of work, but I had no idea it was that much work. Again - yarn!

Let's not forget ice makers are rockstars too!