Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: The Sisters Brothers

Every year, the university I work at chooses a book of the year. We all read it and then the author visits and there's public readings, workshops, etc. I was super excited to read this year's book because rumour said it was a darkly humorous western - I like dark humour (I think) and I hadn't read a western in...well ever but I super love Firefly so I couldn't wait to read it. I was able to convince book club to read dark comedies for February and couldn't wait to take The Sisters Brothers along with me to Moose Jaw for my vacation!

February 2015: Dark Comedy

The Sisters Brothers
By Patrick deWitt
2011
325 pages

Charlie and Eli Sisters are infamously known as the Sisters Brothers - hired, brutal killers. The Commodore sends them out to San Francisco to find a prospector who assumably did wrong. The brothers head out on their new used horses, and after a series of misfortunes (and killings) eventually find the prospector. But things don't go as planned and the brothers' future is irreparably changed.

This book is full of shooting and dirt and horses and gold dust. Eli is the narrator and deWitt does a suburb job giving insight into his character. The younger brother is a pensive man; seeing the wild west through his eyes somewhat tempers the violence. You can really feel his inner dilemma about his chosen career. deWitt does a great job overall of making the killing not overly violent, and I guess this is the dark humour of the novel. Consider Eli's unfortunate horse, Tub, who is a most tragic character, yet all the ills that befall him are actually...funny, in a perverse way. Poor Tub.

Besides the violence, which is really in the background, I really enjoyed reading this western. It makes me wonder why I don't read more westerns - something I will definitely fix in the future! I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes westerns, and horses,  or darkly humorous books, or those who aren't scared of violence. It's a quick read, I think y'all should pick it up and follow the Sisters Brothers through their gold dust tinged last job!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

2015 Scotties Canadian Women's Curling Championship: Update 2

Thursday. I slept through my alarm and thank goodness my lunch friend texted me to confirm a reservation at our favourite cafe, otherwise I would've slept through the draw and my job! I made it just in time though, with extra time to proofread my stupid text so I don't make anymore embarrassing typos!


I love watching multiple games at once!


Brian Mudryk filming a 5th end interview.


Another cute kid, for those who where wondering where Cameron was.


Rider Kevin Glenn was around to say hi to Team Saskatchewan.




Another delicious lunch at The Gallery Cafe. Another game. A wee nap? Dinner of poutine in the Heartstop Lounge with a volunteer. Another game. Completely unbiased media cheering for the last shot of the night. Bedtime!


***


Friday, only two draws today. The first draw was media overload - everyone was in town, even though apparently the highways were full of cars in the ditch!

My poor camera suffers from somewhat of an inferiority complex.


There was a long break because there was no tiebreaker game, so it was another delicious lunch at The Gallery Cafe, followed by some quality time with a book, and then back to the arena!

What a game. Close. Heartbreaking. Playoffs are intense - 4 more games to go!

Getting ready to play the 1 vs 2 game.


Tough battle out there.


***


Saturday. Another 2 tense games. Seriously, I could feel my chest tightening for those women. In the end both games were great - came down to the last rocks. Couldn't ask for better curling!

Christmas colours 3 vs 4 game.

Final shot...


Final shot...


Media was just buzzing about the Saskatchewan win!


Team Canada (Rachel Homan) won't make the semi.


Team Saskatchewan (Stefanie Lawton) ready to go for the evening's semi final!

AB vs SK in the semifinal.


Slider dances to the Rider's Pep Band. Dude is hilarious.


Happy winner Val Sweeting (Team Alberta) ready to go to the final!


It was sad today to eat my final lunch from The Gallery Cafe, and this one was the best one! I'm totally putting turkey, brie and pear on a sandwich or something in the future.

As it was an early night, I had time to blog a bit, read a bit, internet a bit, and sleep a lot!


***


Sunday. Last day of curling. This was bittersweet. I'm ready to go home, but I am having as great time and have settled into the routine - basically I don't want to go back to work. It's also that time when you have to say goodbye to all the people I've worked with all week. I know I'll see some of them again down the road, but this is still the hardest part of the end.

No morning game so I got to sleep in and relax before heading to the arena for the bronze medal game. And it was a sad one for the home province. Saskatchewan lost a tough one, 4th 4 years in a row. Hopefully they come back and get themselves into that final next year!

Another Christmas game - this time for the bronze!


Intense!


Last tv time out!


Rider's Pep Band getting the crowd excited for the 10th end.


I think I'll watch the final end from here!


Great win by Team Homan (formerly known as Team Canada).


Sad loss for Team Lawton - I hope they'll be back!

I finally tried Taco in a Bag - and it wasn't that bad! I wouldn't eat it regularly, but it made for a not horrible dinner!


The final was another intense game! It never gets old, waiting near the gate with the herd of media, then running onto the ice, filming the skips with terrible background songs as audio, then watch the closing ceremony, then film/edit/post - all done!!

Mascot dance off! Live it live!


It's the final! MB vs AB!


Slider's found himself some wheels!


Such a great game!


And this is what they're playing for!


Going to miss my hockey dressing room office! I really enjoyed working with all the media guys, the CCA folks and the volunteers!

Sad. It's been a great event! Fantastic venue, super friendly people, great town - I'll miss it for sure! Bittersweet to be leaving, especially since it was suck a fun week and my last event of the season. I hope I'll be back for another couple events next year, and I can't wait to do it all again!

And that's a wrap from the Moose Jaw Scotties! See you next year!



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2015 Scotties Canadian Women's Curling Championship: Update 1

It's Monday! Hard to believe it's only day 3, seems like I've been here forever, but in a good way! I think I've endeared myself to the media volunteers and enjoy their company in the lounge between games and then backstage waiting for the media show to start.  And I think I have been accepted by the media guys, which is much quicker than usual - either because they're super friendly or I'm just getting better at this whole pretending-to-be-a-cameraman thing. Regardless, it feels like home and should make for an excellent week!

So I set a challenge for myself and think I came out on the losing end. Taco in a Bag is a thing here, as I'm sure it is in many small town prairie rink, but I've never sampled it. What is Taco in a Bag you ask? Split a bag of doritos down the edge, add taco meat, lettuce, salsa, sour cream and cheese, throw in a plastic for and voila! Cuisine. Or something. I said I'd eat it if I got 12 recommendations and between twitter and Facebook it didn't take too long. I promise, one day this week...

Today was busy for the media. Being more comfortable with the job and the media guys means I'm piping up and yapping at everyone a bit more so it's been fun. Actually, it was quite fun. It was Family Day in Saskatchewan on Monday so I got to put together this...


Crap. Typo. sigh.


Cute kid alert #1! This is Isabella and Jennifer Jones. I tweeted this photo and it's gotten the most retweets/favourites of any tweet I've ever tweeted. Ever.


Cute kid alert #2! This is Eric and Stephanie Lawton. His yawn in the video above is just the most well timed cuteness ever!


View from the front row.


An ice tech shares his fries with Richard Hart, who shares them with the TSN boom camera operator. Curling is such a sharing sport.


***


On Tuesday there was no morning game, so we went to the Tunnels of Moose Jaw - and they were AWESOME!! I was sad to miss the tourist spot last time I was here for curling in 2012 so we made sure we got out this time. There's two different tours. One is very historically reflective about the hardships endured by Chinese immigrants in the early 1900s. You get to tour an underground laundry and a couple other areas - it's a sad story but very interesting. The guide did a great job conveying the trials of the labourers. I knew about the head tax, but I never knew how marginalized the Chinese people were at that time. The second tour was about Al Capone's bootlegging operation. We saw a lounge, some of Al Capone's rooms, and of course the tunnels where they hid the booze. The guides were fantastic: very in character and had the group laughing or screaming. The Capone tour was a bit more interactive as the guides voluntold people to do different things, whereas the laundry tour was more of a group immersion into the hard lives of the workers. All in all, I was very impressed with staging of both tours, and especially with the guides -  they were fantastic, very informative and in character. It was pretty neat to be lead around the different tunnels knowing that this was all happening right under Main Street! I would highly recommend the Tunnels of Moose Jaw to anyone travelling through town as they were well work my 2hrs/$25. And next time I'm here for curling (?) I'm totally going again!

Now if only I'd remembered a bathing suit for the spa pool...

Moose Jaw is a nice town. I quite like it here.


After a lovely late lunch at The Gallery Cafe (why don't I ever think of putting brie and pear into a turkey sandwich??) with a CCA friend, I couldn't stop smiling! It was like I was actually on vacation. But back to the curling world!

Also on Tuesday, my media utopia was somewhat trampled. I arrived to find large news networks had usurped my spot in the media workroom and moved their cameras into the scrum area. I forgot this would happen later in the week, and not like I begrudge the national broadcast of my favourite sport, but they do make me feel like an amateur. Luckily, I've made enough friends with the local and CCA media and with the volunteers plus my CCA friends to keep me going and despite my new "cosy" spot in the media workroom, I'm still really looking forward to the rest of the week!

Those hardworking mascots, putting in such long days, they must be exhausted!


Except somewhere in the third end of the evening draw on Tuesday I signed up for Plenty of Fish. Again. What was I thinking?!


***


Wednesday. Typo day. The powers that be spotted 3 and I got all ashamed and had to make more work for someone to fix it and crap they can't fire me now but what if they don't want me back. sigh.

Also there was some curling and I had a delicious lunch again at The Gallery Cafe and interesting conversation over dinner with the media guys and also there was some curling.

I kept Cathy's seat warm for her this morning.


There's some lovely Scotties and curling art at the Gallery.

I can't believe I let 3 typos get uploaded to youtube. I guess this is why I'm a librarian and not in the actual media business. I'm such a schmuck!






Sunday, February 15, 2015

2015 Scotties Canadian Women's Curling Championship: Opening Weekend

I'm back! The 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian Women's Curling Championship is being held in Moose Jaw, SK and I was happy to be asked to revive my job as that media girl who films/edits the media scrums! I've been looking forward to it ever since last year's Canada Cup, which was a good time.

I flew out to Moose Jaw on Friday morning. I chatted to a curling fan sitting beside me on the plane. I chatted to curling fans waiting for my luggage. I chatted to curling fans waiting for the shuttle. I chatted to curling volunteers/staff on the shuttle. This is why I keep saying yes to doing these events: the people are so fantastic! Everyone, staff, volunteers, curlers, fans, every single one is super friendly and happy to chat curling or otherwise. This is why I keep coming back. Sure, I could go on a fancy holiday somewhere fancy (or warmer) but I've learned over the years it's not about where you go, it's about who you're with. And I'd much rather chatter to curling strangers and friends than go exploring the world on my own. So that's that.

Pretty. Flat.


On the shuttle from Regina to Moose Jaw, it struck me that Saskatchewan really is flat, flatter than Alberta, but beautiful country. I was in Moose Jaw for the 2012 Canada Cup and I remember the city being very friendly. Also, the arena is perfect because it's smallish and right across the street from a Safeway, which is very important as otherwise I'd have to eat arena food for 10 days! After checking in to the hotel, I walked the 5mins to the arena. See, perfect.

Location, location, location.


I got my accreditation and acclimated to the venue. I set up my laptop and 'stuff' in the media room, and helped set up the lights for the scrum area. Then I watched the Hot Shot Qualifier for a bit, caught up with a CCA (Canadian Curling Association) friend for a bit, relaxed at the hotel for a bit, then headed to the opening banquet. I'm not much for small talk so I always find those things a bit awkward but I did have some lovely conversations with Cathy Overton-Clapham and a few fantastic CCA/Krueger people. I always learn so much about the business of curling from these great people. And, as I've never been to a Scotties banquet, I learned all about how the jewelry for the curlers works: after they win their province, the get a 4 Heart pendent and then every year they qualify after they get a diamond (up to 4), then for the 6th trip to the Scotties they get a tennis bracelet with a diamond every year after, and for every Scotties win they get a ring and progressively bigger diamond every year after. And Cathy O has been there the most so she has an extra special bracelet. Lot's of gold and diamonds but diamonds are a girl's best friend, right? (I'll keep my opinions on that to myself, but will admit the jewelry is pretty - you'll be able to see the pendants on TSN).

Hot Shots qualifier - one of my favourite events - wish I had those skills!


Saturday I woke up to wind and snow and cold. I made it to the arena too late to catch all the opening ceremonies, but did see some past Saskatchewan Scotties winners throw out the first stone. Then I prepped a bit, and watched the Hot Shot finals. How cool was it that Heather Strong (NL) won twice in a row! It's a hard event to win and I love that the superstar skips rarely win it - it's someone else who plays lights out and takes home the truck!


Newfoundland/Labrador for the win!


Wrong box!


One of my favourite parts of working these events is walking around backstage. I love this stuff! I did screw up though (forgot to push record, oops) and then when I tried to fix it I annoyed a curler. Oops. Lesson learned! I'm not fired yet, but I still felt bad about that a day later. I guess I'm not quite cut out to be a full time media pro.

Sunday marked the start of the routine. Get up, walk to the arena, watch curling, film, edit, post video, walk to Safeway for lunch, watch curling, film, edit, post video, walk to Safeway for dinner, watch curling, film, edit, post video, find a ride home or walk, sleep. Repeat!

Repping my province!


The Eye(s) on the Ice - Ice Techs rock! Oh, and you can see Taco in a Bag! More about that next post...


Sometimes this is my view, but that's ok too.


These "soft" mascots are walking around, just waiting for you to take your picture with them.


I told you last event what NFG means - anyone remember?


This is a good view too.


The one blip in my routine this week will be making the Influential Coaches videos. I've been asked to put a few together over the week and the first one turned out pretty well. I love this idea - it's great that the ladies are so keen to show their coaches some curling love!