Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Thought Women's Curling Involved Blow Driers

These are tough days for anyone not very interested in the Olympics. I like sports, and even in unfamiliar ones a close match or a come-from-behind victory can be exciting, even inspirational. But the sheer obsessiveness of it all descends into fluff of the worst kind: endless/pointless human interest stories and the same athletes and their families being asked the same questions over and over during the broadcast, and then again on the morning shows. It's the sports equivalent of the American vice-presidency: we get all worked up about that every four years too as if nothing else mattered and, when we're done, we throw a coat or some spare linens over them and forget they're there for another four years. A few passing observations:
  • I don't know whose brilliant idea it was to require the ice dancers to do something based on some country's traditional dances, but I've got to believe anything that involves a white couple from Russia dressing up like Australian Aborigines is probably not going to end well.
  • Curling would be more interesting if small furry animals were used instead of flat stones.
  • It looks like we can now file Johnny Weir right along side Posh Spice and Adam Lambert in the "You Didn't Invent a Cure for Cancer - Get Over Yourself" folder. (It's amazing how people see themselves as having star power when it's really just the general public's fascination with twisted metal at the side of the road.)
Anyway, I'm just back tonight from Williamsburg, VA, where I attended a children's entertainer's conference. Readers with me this time last year may remember the "Back to the Future" theme and the photos of a full-scale DeLorean made from balloons. This year's theme was "South of the Border.") As always with hotels, there were the challenges of yet another set of shower controls - whatever happened to the standard hot water on the left, cold water on the right, and you just turn each until you get the amount of water you want at the temperature you want? - and another in-room coffee maker (coffee maker first, by the way), and of being reminded that able-bodied people, even well-intentioned ones, have no idea how to design an accessible hotel room. (Hotels please note: it requires a little more than attaching a set of randomly-placed grab bars on one of the walls in the bathroom.) We've learned to carry our own shower bench and toilet handle bars when traveling. It's a lesson taught to me years ago in bartending school, and that I may have mentioned here before: Who's better at protecting your butt than you are? Nobody.

This year, there was also a large children's soccer tournament in the area that had several teams staying at the hotel. A couple of hundred entertainers (mostly clowns) and a couple of hundred kids in the same hotel. You connect the dots.

People sometimes ask about what goes on at children's entertainer's conferences? There are competitions, of course - balloon sculpting, skits, face-painting - but mostly it's about lectures and vendors. Topics this year included making low-cost props; magic; storytelling; make-up development; business promotion and sales; working restaurants; and protecting yourself and your audiences from diseases, allergies and people who like to hurt clowns. (Did you know that the glue on stickers often contains peanut oil? There, I just saved you a potential lawsuit. Remember where you heard it.)

It was a weekend of seeing old friends, too. Close friends my wife went to college with, others we get to talk to less often but that it's still great to see. One more year of being struck by the irony of how many people at a "happy" conference are in, or have left, really bad marriages. In one small group, people were swapping divorce stories the way middle-aged guys trade anecdotes about colonoscopies. I felt so left out, though one old friend I'd not seen in years had heard from someone that I'd gotten divorced a couple of years ago. This is not true, of course, at least as far as I know, though I'll confirm this with my wife and probably should check the tax records too.

Perhaps most significantly, on the long drive home I had my first Red Bull. I'll write more about that in a couple of days after I finally get to sleep.

6 comments:

Tawnya said...

I agree with the curling thing. They are totally pushing it in prime time. I can't even figure out how the game is scored. I mean with hockey it is easy, the puck goes in the net it is a point. BTW, the men's US hockey team beat Canada, a game we were not really supposed to win... Canada spent BILLIONS on this Own the Podium thing for the Olympics... It's not really working out well for them.

Ben said...

Well, technically the Canadians do own the podiums...

Angie said...

What I'd like to know is who's the conference FOR really. I mean all those kids' entertainers need kids to practise on. So I can see how the entertainers come to be there but if there are kids who invites them? And does somebody tell them when to laugh? And if there are no kids, how do the entertainers know if they're on the right lines................oh, my head hurts....

oldhousegal said...

I met a woman recently whose hobby is... women's curling. Small world. I have no idea what curling is about, but I'm sure I wouldn't like it at all if small furry animals were involved. In my world, small furry animals exist to give me something to spend large amounts of money on. (Ask me about my cat's recent hip surgery sometime.)

I have not watched the Olympics at all. It's not lack of interest, just my husband's need to watch "Das Boot" (All 6 hours of it!) over and over and over again. Can you say obssessive-compulsive?

The convention sounds like it was not your same-old-same-old. You have such interesting hobbies! More interesting than curling for sure!

Washer Mom Val said...

Ben, once again you have me chuckling and actually reading your post out loud to my husband. As a displaced Canadian, I've been loving some of the Olympics. More the wierd things that happy, disgraced US snowboarder having his bronze medal kissed, Canadian ladies hockey "smoking" on the ice wiht alcohol, all the while being under ages....etc etc. Started bad with a death, then the 4th thing-a-ma-jobber not raising because it didn't get its viagra....ok, I'll quit. How does the Red Bull taste?

DB said...

I'm with you on the Olympics. I didn't watch it, only had to read about it on every page it seemed. The curli8ng is a hoot. How it ever got to be an Olympic sport is one of life's ironies. The best part was the girls drinking beer and smoking cigars on the ice.