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Monthly Archives: November 2004

My weekend? Boring. But that was of my own choosing. I’ve felt anti-social the past couple of days, and therefore have spent massive amounts of time reading. Yesterday I finished “Friday Night Lights”. Fantastic book. Yes it’s about football (I’ve been in a little bit of a mourning period with no football and no hockey), and how it’s an obsession in Texas, but it’s also about the oil boom, a way of life and ultimately, about the cost of success. Fascinating stuff. And did you know that the first George Bush is actually a Yankee – from Connecticut?

With that book finished, I had a hard time deciding what to read next. Satire? Political science? History? I settled on “The Kite Runner”. It’s been disturbing thus far, but obviously good enough to have me read the first 100 pages this morning. That doesn’t happen too often. Hopefully the next 300 will be just as good.

Since Heather was having people over for supper and I didn’t feel like sticking around and visiting, I decided to go and catch a movie. “Finding Neverland” is the story of J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. This movie is wonderful. Well worth the two hours. It’s really quite brilliant. And the ending – tears were in full force. I’ve never been a fan of fantasy books, but this movie has given me new insight into Peter Pan – I might read the book.

(Once again this is the 2nd version of this entry. Silly computer…)

So I went out to Molly and Heidi’s last night, where they proceeded to tell me about their little Grey Cup party they had last weekend while I was in North Vancouver. None of them knows a whole lot about football, and this will become more apparent in a few seconds. They made fun of Mike Clemons all game because they thought he looked like a Smurf in his blue Argos sweatshirt and Crest Whitestrip smile. I’d have to agree. He has now been ordained – “Smurf Coach”. Now I like Mike Clemons. He’s a good guy, but I really don’t buy him as a great coach. Or a coach at all. Molly’s next observation confirmed my suspicions: she thought he was a Make A Wish Foundation person who’s wish was being granted. She actually thought this and shared that thought with everyone. She held this view until the end of the game when Gatorade was being poured all over him and they interviewed him and under his name it said, “Head Coach”. Pretty funny stuff. Molly also commented that she thought the player’s butts where “tighter than usual”. And that’s a direct quote. Now I’ve never compared one CFL player’s Spandex-clad butt to another, but maybe the CFL should be keeping statistics and measurements on those things. It might garner more female fans for the league…

And now a story from Heidi. Heidi works at a K-12 school in Aldergrove. Now, this is an Adventist school, so they have chapel everyday. Well this week one of the American teachers was in charge of chapel, and therefore, everyday was focused on American Thanksgiving, or what this teacher deemed, “The REAL Thanksgiving”. She’s in a Canadian school, and she’s going on about American Thanksgiving being the real Thanksgiving. Okay. But then came the even more hilarious part. These teachers complained the whole week about not getting American Thanksgiving off. Who are these people?! You’re living in CANADA. C-A-N-A-D-A. You know, that land above your country? Where Thanksgiving is in October and the holiday isn’t overshadowed by the huge shopping blowout that happens the next day. Speaking of which…

As I was eating my Cheerios and strawberries yesterday, I turned on the TV, only to be greeted by a 7-foot-story Super Grover flying through NYC down 5th Avenue. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. I’ve never watched any of the commercial spectacle, but I had some time, so I decided to tune in. And during one of the commercial breaks there was an ad for Bon-Macy’s (which sounds so much sillier than The Bon Marché), where they gave a telephone number for people to call. Why? So that they can get PERSONAL WAKE UP CALLS and be at the store in time for its 6:00 am opening. And to potentially avoid the shopping rush. Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. But not as ridiculous as the song and dance number done by the Broadway cast of the what-looks-to-be-truly-dreadful new show, based on Elvis Presley’s music, called…wait for it…”All Shook Up.” Original, huh? Oh, it was bad. And then there was another number from the Broadway show, “Bombay Dreams”, sung by Tamyra Gray, and that was even more awful. Does she LOOK like an Indian princess to you? She sure doesn’t to me. And they were followed by Brooke Shields in a number from Wonderful Town (they should have picked a different scene to do), and then by country and pop newbies trying to pick up new fans. Commercialism abounded. And that’s the “real” Thanksgiving, huh?

There was a heavy rainfall warning in effect for the Vancouver area today. Really? I hadn’t noticed the deluge outside of my condo. But the nice thing was that it brought some warmer air with it. Five degrees here is really cold. I’m not becoming weak. Vancouver cold is penetrating and bone-chilling. Saskatchewan cold is…dry. It’s cold, but an external cold. But it’s also like comparing apples to oranges…

Today I heard the most intriguing/interesting song at masterclass. Would you believe that there is a Spanish composer who wrote an entire song about a swarm of mosquitoes bothering a couple as they’re consummating their marriage? Where do they come up with these things? Seriously. One of the lines in the piece has the woman asking for a mosquito net to put around her bed so she and her husband can continue, well…consummating. You learn something new everyday! Master class was a hoot today. It was as if everyone had had a chocolate bar for lunch. Everyone was hyper and the jokes were flying. It was a good time had by all.

After getting home from school, I traipsed downtown. Heather, Orest and I headed to Tinseltown, which is right beside GM Place, to see Bridget Jones’s Diary 2. First we had supper in their food court. Then, because we had time to kill, we voyaged to T&T Supermarket, an Asian supermarket where I felt like a giant. Intersesting things in that place, like duck eggs, canned vegetarian roasted duck (see a pattern here), and live crabs, and many more odd things. I honestly didn’t find it that entertaining.

BJ2. Good movie. Not as good as the first, but it was hilarious to once again see Hugh Grant and Colin Firth fighting like girls. Speaking of fighting…I’m getting back to my old self. It struck me today, after the incident occurred, that I haven’t hit anyone since I got here. It’s usually my first instinct when someone has said something I deem inappropriate or mocking, or just because. Well, Mexican football/hockey buddy Javier was irritating me in the library today as I was trying to translate German text. So, I did what I would normally do. I hit him. With my German verb book. He whimpered. I felt back in my element again. And my sarcasm is returning – ’bout time.

Anyways, time for bed. And I don’t have to wear 4 layers of clothing tonight – the heat’s back on!

So…

I spent most of the day clothed with two turtlenecks, socks and slippers, gloves at one point, pants (duh), and a blanket around me. I turned up the thermostat a couple of times during the day – nothing. I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on. The power did go off for a few minutes this morning – but it was cold before that. Well, Heather gets home with this awful movie (Before Sunset – ugh – I watched 20 minutes and gave up) and says, “The heat’s not fixed yet, huh?”. Didn’t know that. It’s not that I didn’t venture out of the condo today. I did. I went to library. The grocery store. Shopper’s Drug Mart. In the rain. I just don’t like to take the elevator – where the “Furnace Broken” sign has been transfixed. I’m actually a little scared of elevators – another one on my list of things that I’m scared of. But I decided to make some more chocolate chip cookies this afternoon and then made meatloaf (a good one – not a Luther cafeteria version) for supper, so with the oven on for a good 2 hours, the condo warmed up quite nicely.

What else did I do today? I watched “Corner Gas”. I love that show. I taped “Making the Cut”. Haven’t watched it yet. Todd Harkins and Kristjan Jefkins were cut last week, so it doesn’t matter who makes it from here on in. Todd Harkins is a 35 year old NHL has-been who auditioned to try and get back in the league. During a scrimmage he gave a two-handed chop with his stick to another guy’s head, ala Marty McSorley and Billy Guerin. For no reason. Sure the other guy had nudged him as he skated by, but a two-handed chop? Come on. “I’m a former NHler and guys should respect that. I’m just creating some space for myself.” Whatever. I’ve never heard of the guy, so he couldn’t have been that great a player. If he was Stevie Yzerman, different story. And Jefkins – he’s annoyed me from the beginning. All talk, no action. It’s the only hockey these days. I am going to go and see the Giants play one of these days, once I coordinate with my Mexican friend, Javier.

Javier is hilarious. He’s a baritone, from Mexico. One day during dress rehearsal last week he came up to me and said, in his thick accent, “So Nicole, I hear you are a Canadian football fan, and a hockey fan. You and I need to go and see some games, football buddy.” And now my name is “Football Buddy”, cadenced with a high-five. Works for me. I have a Mexican football/hockey buddy. How cool is that? And speaking of football, I’m reading “Friday Night Lights”, which follows a Texas high school football team through a season. Very good reading so far. And it’s scary how serious American high school football is. Have you seen Varsity Blues? And once again – no more football, so you’ve got to get it where you can…

I semi-practiced today, too. Semi-practiced you say? Well, it means that I sang some new songs, but I sang them half voice in my condo because I don’t want to get noise complaints from the neighbours, and because I was too lazy to walk to school today in the torrential rain. Also semi-practiced because I sang some new songs with French/German/Italian I haven’t properly figured out how to pronounce yet. So, right notes, homemade words. Most people learn the words first, and then the melody. I have to like the melody first, and then if I like it, I put the words in. And for fun, I took out some musical theater songs – I love Broadway tunes. If I don’t make it as an opera singer, I’m going to be a Broadway star. But not a dancing one.

I also finished my resumée. Oh, I hate résumées and cover letters. I’m applying to music schools in White Rock, Langley and Surrey. They’re looking for voice teachers, and hopefully they’ll hire me! It’s something I’m going to do eventually, so I should get started now. I have taught some voice – and I could teach piano too if they’d like!

La, la, la, la, la. I guess that’s about it. Back to “Friday Night Lights”. Rider training camp can’t come soon enough!

First of all: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Lions! Mwah ha ha ha! Now I feel better…

Now I need to answer Jolee’s question. I’ve been singing at the Vancouver Academy of Music’s Recital Hall the last couple of days. We’ve been rehearsing some opera scenes for about 6 weeks, and we finally got the chance to perform them. My favorite scene was from L’Elisir d’amore, a 19th-century comic opera by Donizetti. I played Adina, a wealthy, smart, sophisticated and witty landowner, who, in the scene we did, makes fun of poor Nemorino, a farm boy who is helplessly and hopelessly in love with her – isn’t opera great? The scene was so much fun because it wasn’t possible to go too far. And I got to work with a guy named David who’s a REAL tenor. That in itself was great. And, as in all comic operas, by the end, Adina realizes that she loved Nemorino all along, and they live happily ever after.

The other scene I was in is from The Merry Wives of Windor, another 19th-century opera by Otto Nicolai. The story is much more complicated. I played Mrs. Ford, who tricks her husband into believing that she’s having an affair with another man. So, he’s a little upset with me in the scene we did, and I am completely melodramatically sobbing and crying and whatnot. It’s long, it’s complicated and frankly, the music isn’t that great – the Donizetti is SOOOOO much better, musically speaking.

I was really happy with all of my performances. Today’s wasn’t as great as the other two, as vocally I was feeling a bit tired, but I was still happy. Happy because I actually have learned a lot in the past two months, and happy because I’ve made some good progress. But I am really looking forward to moving into some new repertoire. Bring on more Donizetti! Yeah!

After this afternoon’s performance, I headed to a Grey Cup party in North Vancouver at Donna’s house. Donna is the accompanist at the Academy, and is turning into a good friend. She’s from Prince Albert, and knows some people I know in Regina. And Donna LOVES football and LOVES the Riders. We had so much fun watching the 2nd half of the game – we missed the first half because of the concert – and it was so nice to be around musicians who like football!!!! And some who don’t, but still got into the spirit of it! We all cheered for the Argos – as much as it pained me to do so. Come on, most of us in that room are from Saskatchewan, and those cocky Lions needed to be taught a lesson. And taken down from their pedestal. A good time was had by all. And that’s NOT just because of the final result, even though it did play a little part in it…

And I had two new experiences today. I took the SeaBus, which goes across the water from North Vancouver to Downtown Vancouver. And then I took the SkyTrain! Finally!!!! That was very cool, too, even though it’s basically a subway. And I figured out two new bus routes to get me home from downtown so that I don’t have to chase the 98 B-Line all over the place. This place is fantastic guys – but I wouldn’t mind a little snow one of these days. It sure doesn’t feel like November…

I saw the most hilarious commercial I have yet seen about the (grrrrr….) NHL lockout. It involves a guy wearing a Canucks T-shirt (the T-shirt being the only problem I have with the ad) and going all around Vancouver, and looking in the strangest places for “Hockey”. Over and over again he calls, “Hockey!” “Hockey?” “Hockey!!!!” The commerical finally ends with him sitting beside a dumpster in a back alley, uncontrollably weeping. Then we see the logo of the Vancouver Giants (WHL team) and an announcer telling everyone to tune in to the evening’s news for Giants highlights. I found it amusing.

But what I didn’t find amusing today was the sermon in church. Church ticked me off. Church isn’t supposed to tick you off – it’s supposed to encourage you. I’ll admit that church HAS ticked me off before, but it’s usually some musical thing, or the Thanksgiving Sabbath when our pastor in Rosthern preached a Palm Sunday sermon (!?!?!?). But football was the problem with today’s sermon.

So Pastor Dan comes up to the front, and on the screen behind him comes a super-sized version of the front page of the Vancouver Sun from Monday, November 14th, 2004. And on it – the Lions’ Duncan O’Mahony and the title, “Man Oh Man!” My jaw dropped. How could this man be rehashing last week’s game in church? My wounds were just starting to heal – it was if a scab was being ripped off. And he continued flashing images from various newspapers, recounted the ENTIRE game, put up picture of poor, poor Paul McCallum, and continued pounding out his point – the Lions were behind, and it didn’t seem as if they’d ever win. But they did! I know what the point of the sermon was, but it was lost on me. I was too angry.

So what did I do? I told Pastor Dan after the sermon that as a Rider fan, I was slightly offended – and I was half-joking, half-annoyed. He apologized to me. In his sermon he talked about how the 55,000 people in that stadium cheering the Lions on could be compared to the angels in heaven, cheering us on in our faith journey on Earth. And I thought – hey, what about the Rider fans? Were they the devils’ angels, booing and snickering at the people? I didn’t ask Pastor Dan if he had thought about that part in his object lessonm, but the question should be answered! But having made my point with Pastor Dan, I left church feeling vindicated. I believe God is a Rider fan. And Rider fans are hard done by because God knows that only THEY can handle it. So there (and I know there are going to be some serious arguments against this)!

On Thursday night I made my Vancouver singing debut. And it was fantastic!! I don’t know why, but under the pressure of the lights and the audience, I almost always am able to do my best. And last night I had another show, and it went swimmingly as well! As my co-star said to me, “You sure kicked the crap out of that piece tonight!” 🙂 Having not performed since June, and having a new-found confidence that I gained somewhere in the past week (yeah!), I remembered why I love singing so much. The last couple of months have been riddled with questions for me: “Why am I here?”, “What am I supposed to be doing with this talent of mine?”, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?”, and “Do I really want to be a singer?” The answer is ‘yes’ to the last one – at least today! There is nothing that compares to the rush of being onstage, in front of an audience and communicating with them in only the way music can – though last week’s Rider game is right up there!

I have one more show with these scenes, and that’s tomorrow. And then it’s to a Grey Cup party! Yeah! I don’t like the Argos OR the Lions, but GO ARGOS! Somebody’s got to put BC in their place…

Okay. So I know in my last column I was emotionally spent. I was angry, frustrated and humiliated beyond belief – you try living in orange and black land. The land where the Lions are finally topping the news. The land where even the press calls most Lions fans “bandwagon jumpers”. I’m not lying about that last one. But before I went to bed on Sunday night I noticed an article on some website: “Kickers’ house attacked after Rider loss”.

What? Say that again?

And of course, out of burning curiosity, I clicked the link and read it contents. And I was shocked. Appalled. Dismayed. And humiliated yet again. Honestly – couldn’t they have at least dumped the manure on the right lawn? Not only do Rider fans everywhere look like complete nitwits, we’re also “directionally challenged” as well.

It’s sad that this happened. Riders fans are THE BEST fans in the world. I witnessed it first hand on Sunday. And we have a first-class team. We have a kicker that actually APOLOGIZED to us. What more do you want? Well, the NHLPA grovelling to the fans would be nice, but not gonna happen!

He’s human. He made a mistake. But other mistakes were made as well. Kenton Keith fumbling inside the 5 yard line. A holding call that wiped out a touchdown. Two TDs missed. 14 points. What’s 3 compared to that? And let us not forget the inability of the the defence to stop 2nd and long situations. Add it all up – it comes down to missed opportunities – by everybody.

Do I think it was wrong for Roy Shivers to place the blame on McCallum? I don’t know. In some ways yes, it others, no. But it’s time to move on.

The real question is, with 11 free agents, who’s coming back next year? We should focus on that and move forward – as hard as Sunday’s loss is to put behind us.

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