Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Skating in the pre-Tonya Harding era

In a previous life, I used to figure skate. My idols were Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay, a brother/sister dance team from Aylmer, Quebec that skated for France after being criticised for being too weird by the Canadian figure skating establishment.

In 1990, they performed an incredible program entitled "Missing", choreographed by Christopher Dean (of Torvill and Dean fame), a piece calling attention to the dissapeared of Argentina. In 1991, their free dance was a sequel. When I found this on the gold mine that is YouTube this weekend, the shivers I experienced while watching it were the very same as when I saw the program the first time, over 16 years ago.

If there was ever an argument for the artistic potential of figure skating, this is it. There is nothing particularly spectacular about any element of the program, but it's just amazing overall. Now that there's all sorts of new rules governing ice dance, folks like the Duschesnays would never be able to perform something like this.

I 've always said that figure skating would be so much better if it weren't a sport. There's a whole lot of artistic potential that is lost in lieu of the conventions of competition. There's just no room for the Gary Beacoms of the world. Sure, Beacom is a rather eccentric fellow who, among other things, was jailed for refusing to pay taxes and insists on keeping his money in gold coins rather than relying on banks. He also doesn't believe in stop signs and speeding limits. But man oh man, he's incredible. His understanding of the physics of skating is apparent from his programs. No jumps, no spins, just the use of his edges...it clues you in to why it's called "figure skating."

When I used to skate we had to do what was called "patch" session. Each skater got a patch of clean ice to use to do what is called compulsory figures. You'd basically draw various shapes and loops on the ice, making sure to balance your weight just so, in order to make sure that the turns and loops you drew were precise. The jumps that are so popular are simply these "figures" done in the air. A loop jump, for instance, employs the same body positioning as a loop drawn on the ice. In fact, compulsory figures were worth 60% of the marks in figure skating for quite some time. Sure, figures aren't particularly fun to watch on TV, but they are incredibly hard to do. In what I think was a big mistake (though probably good for business), figures were completely eliminated from competition in 1990--and this meant that new skaters stopped practicing them altogether.

What makes Gary Beacom amazing is that he is able to demonstrate just why it's a shame that figures are no more. He's a master of the discipline...I remember when I first saw him skate. I couldn't believe it. See what you think...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The City that MOTO-vates Canada

How fitting that the day I discover the craziness that is Facebook and end up reliving my teenage years in the Shwa is also Stephen Colbert Day and Mr. Darrin Rows, the man who used to be the boy who prevented me from entering Madame Hoef's French class, is opening the festivities.

I have to say though, I am rather distressed to find out that they've dispensed with the old motto for "Prepare to Be Amazed". Amazed by what, pray tell? The Oshawa Centre? The Genosh? The Automotive Museum? Oshawa never even had Wheelies or Stairways. If they did, that'd be another story.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"It was planned that way, carefully worked out. These people are scientists, ladies and gentlemen."

In the wake of a computer disaster, Red X, the CD king, is keeping my hope alive. His 30th mixed CD, A Different World, simply rules. Sure, it'd be nice if he left some fo the tunes for more than 45 seconds, but it's a pretty wicked mix. And man, Red X's anthem on his myspace--wicked.

If you too are stressed out, listen to to "Rationalize" by Brian and Tony Gold: "No matter what the tribulations in life, just hold tight". Gotta live the Di Ting riddim.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A man after my own heart

In a moment of insanity I did a google search for "I hate comprehensive exams." This is what I found.
I also found a picture of someone's shelf, full of books for their comps. Maybe I should do a photo shoot of my stacks.

Also: note the sun outside the window in the photo. I saw this and realized that there is a bright side to all this. At least it's not June.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Purty as a picture

This piece looks pretty, dontcha think? I really think the picture is quite beautiful. Folks should really come out to see her at the Goods this weekend. I do have an unedited version if anyone's interested. Voice does, most certainly, have plenty to say and it was tough as all get out to cut anything...thanks to Dave for the help--I know you were wicked busy!