Monday, March 01, 2004

Oh, Canada!
I really do think the best channel we get on TV here is the Canadian channel. I realized over the weekend, though, that if Canadians ever have any complaints about the stereotypes people hold about their country and culture, they have the CBC to blame. For the past several weeks, they've been pre-empting Solstrom to show hours and hours of NHL hockey. Yesterday, they showed 3-4 hours of curling, followed by the Opening Ceremonies of the Arctic Winter Games. And yes, I watched. Curling is still boring, but the Arctic Winter Games look really interesting.

The Arctic Winter Games are for all the countries or groups who live above the 60th parallel. Some of the stuff they do seems like normal winter sports, like biathalon, cross-country and downhill skiing, hockey, and speed skating. Other stuff, though, was very much not your average winter sport. The "arctic sports" are things like high kick, knuckle hop, and head pull. The knuckle hop looks really painful, as you are supposed to hold yourself in the down position of a push-up, and hop yourself down the floor on your knuckles and toes. The "Dene games" are things like snow snake (throwing a spear about 2 inches off the ground, sometimes more than a football field's length), and a "hide the stick" hand game.

The other thing that really amused me during the opening ceremonies was not actually the ceremonies at all, it was the commercials. The Games are being held in Fort McMurray, which is apparently known for its oil sands. The big tourist attraction at the oil sands is not really the sand, apparently, but the truly, utterly, astoundingly HUGE dump trucks they use to haul the sand around after it's mined. They have to have a staircase on the front of them to get up to the cab. All of the tourism board ads feature these huge trucks prominently, and in fact list them first amongst the main attractions at the end of the ads. If that doesn't make you want to go to Canada, I don't know what would.

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