Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016 Canada Cup - Las Vegas Rocks

A year ago, last January, my mom was watching the Continental Cup. They announced that the 2016 event would be in Las Vegas and - much to my surprise - my mom decided she wanted to go. When your mom asks you to go on vacation, and you've never been on vacation with just your mom before, and you love curling, but you don't really like Vegas, what do you say? The answer could only be yes. So that week, we bought a hotel/event ticket package. Good thing, because it was popular and they opened up more hotels and eventually sold out!

Las Vegas is not my type of city. This I know. I was there for a bit in 2008 and decided it was everything I disagreed with. Waste of energy. Waste of water. Excess. Debauchery. And watching all those people gamble away their childrens' inheritances breaks my heart. But when your mom asks you to go on vacation, you say yes. And this was to be the first event since 2007 that I just watched and didn't work or volunteer!

So last week, we headed to the desert for some curling. We...and 9000 other Canadians!

The Event

I like the Continental Cup (volunteered in 2011) - it's a really fun event! North America vs The World, mixed up teams, doubles, singles (which they got rid of, boo!), curlers cheering on other curlers: guaranteed good time. And it was a good event.

In fact, the last end of the last draw was the most exciting 10 minutes of live curling I think I've ever seen! And I've seen 10+ major events, so that's saying something!

I also found myself liking skins and mixed doubles - 2 events I've never really taken to when watching on tv. I saw a ton of people I knew, starting with the officials we met on the plane down, and some familiar fans and staff. I like to think my mom was impressed I knew or recognized people around every corner. The curling world is a nice place to visit every once in awhile.

Opening Ceremonies. Not super Vegas, no showgirls or anything. Cute wee piper though.

Team meetings.


Treated to the Norwegian Pant Dance!  (This is my video, but here's the view from the front)

Eventually the showgirls showed up and Slider got into it! He even did the Norwegian Pant Dance at one point!

The next generation of curlers.

Dude is a star!

The end. So exciting!

Other than the watching-not-working, this curling event felt like one in Canada. The arena was nice. The curling was fun. The crowd was full of Canadian seniors. It was Vegas that was different.

The Hotel

Y'all forgot to tell me that people smoke cigarettes in casinos. Ew. Gross. The hotel was nice, and it was great being so close to the arena, but I just can't handle that smell. I had to get out of there over the lunch break and found myself walking laps around the outside, scanning license plates in the parking lots. The sun was out and it smelled mostly fresh. Ug. The stench of cigarettes. And for this reason alone, I probably won't ever go back for a Vegas curling event.

The City

We had a chance to walk the strip the day before we left. Vegas is as Vegas always is...something else. I think, like Paris, you need to go once in your life. I walked the sidewalks I walked in 2008. Some things were different, but some things were the same. And I finally got to Fremont Street! The light show was cool. The street, meh, not so much my thing.

The desert during the day.

The desert at sunset. Also a parking lot.

Inside The Venetian. Hotels are worth looking around in. Crazy.

Fremont Street

Bellagio was doing "Billy Jean"

All in all, a good trip. Great curling. Ticked everything Vegas off my list. I don't ever need to or want to go back - but I hope I'll get to see the Continental Cup again once of these years!

(For the record, I prefer working/volunteering. Fortunately, the day we set out for the airport on the way to Vegas there was a big event announcement leak, and an hour later I might've agreed to be a director on the local organizing committee...)

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Book Review: Modern Romance

I'm a card carrying member of The Spinster Club. People on occasion ask me why I'm single, and the response I usually give is "You want the list?!". One of the things on that list is that I hate dating, and I am currently particularly disillusioned with online dating - but how else are you going to meet that someonewhoisacceptingofyourweirdness?

A member of my book club recently reviewed Aziz Ansari's new book, Modern Romance, and it sounded like maybe Ansari had some of the answers...

Modern Romance
By Aziz Ansari
277 pages

Apparently Aziz Ansari is a comedian (yeah ok so I'm not up on my pop culture). When a comedian writes a book on romance, usually it's not super stuffy or depressing, right? Well that's certainly true of this book. He goes through some current trends/thoughts/ideas (in a vaguely social-sciencey way that isn't over your head) about love/romance/dating, and the past/present state of each, including a lot of discussion on how technology is affecting the quest to find a partner. There's pie charts! And graphs! There's personal stories! It's funny! And not overly depressing!

I do think singles, or those looking for a partner will get the most out of this book. He does give some interesting truths about the current state of dating including:

  • Our idea of "the right person" has changed from agreeable companion to super perfect solemate.
  • Dating today is more complicated and stressful than in the past.
  • Technology has made dating more challenging, but also easier to find potential partners.
  • It's easy to forget people online are real people with real feelings.
  • Online dating has made it easier to choose people superficially.
  • Online dating isn't dating: it's more like an introduction service. 
  • Now we often get lazy and just go for a drink instead of actually try going out on a "date".
  • ...etc

Nothing earth shattering. You know all of this if you've spent any time in the dating world lately. I knew all of this. Most of this is why I quit dating. So when I read this book, I was nodding in agreement, not writing down things that would help me not be so foreveralone. (Although, probably if I'd done more than skim I would've written down the tips he gives which would've made me better at dating and maybe I wouldn't die alone? But I didn't have a pen handy. Oh well.)

It was funny. And worth a quick read. I'd recommend it to the other singletons out there.

At least it will make you feel like it's not just you.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Book Review: A Song of Ice and Fire

I finally did it. I finally finished the Game of Thrones books. And it only took me two years...

A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
By George R.R. Martin
>5000 pages

In 2014, I watched the first two season's of the HBO show Game of Thrones. I'd been avoiding it until then, blathering on about how I didn't like the violence. Then I watched it and got completely addicted to the violence, I mean storyline. It was compelling, to say the least. So I decided to stop watching the show and read the books, the rewatch the entire show. Two years later...

That wasn't two years of solid reading. I'd pick up a book, read like the mad king, then put it down again for months and months. Start, pause, go, stop, repeat. But this Christmas vacation, I finally finished not only the books, but also the show (up to book 5 and season 5 obviously). It was a violent Christmas.

So what did I think? The books were fantastic - very compelling, addicting, super action packed. I often couldn't put them down. I really liked how the chapters changed viewpoint as it kept me reading to find out what had happened to so and so (although I'll admit to flipping ahead to see who died...). The short chapters made it easy to keep reading. I couldn't avoid spoilers from the show obviously but whatever, there were other characters to follow that I didn't really care who died at the Red Wedding. I found that I didn't care about most characters, but really loved a few, and was very interested in what happened to everyone in Westeros in general. I like epics - falling in love with a world and characters and staying there for awhile, so I really enjoyed this series. Magic, but not too much, action, violence, minimal romance. It was a win win.

Except for two things.

First, I had a hard time getting through book 5. It's not that it was bad: it was still a good story, but it was...slow. So not bad, and not necessarily boring (though yes sometimes), just slow. It took forever for stuff to happen. There was too much talking, too much thinking, too much of the desert. But I prevailed and finished it. And now I'll wait with the rest of the fanatics for book 6. Sigh. So close yet so far.

Second, I had a hard time with how different the show became. Season 4 was a bit different than the books and it was a bit annoying, but season 5, whoa boy - so different from the books. There were different characters doing the same thing, and the same characters doing different things. And as I said, it's not like it was bad. The show in itself is very good, and the books are very good, but they have become very different. And that's ok, unless you're like me and live by routine haha. I think it will be good to finish the show before finishing the books, as will probably happen. As he said himself in his post, they are different - people live and die differently, people are omitted etc, so I'll have to get over it.

Regardless, now I'll wait for the next season, the next book, just like everyone else.

For the record, the books are much better. You should read them...