Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mad Meat Beyond Saddledome

Behold ye the paragon of literal architecture and ironic nomenclature:


'Bout says it all. I could've gone with Pringledome as well, but Saddledome works too.

We'll get back to the subject of *.dome venues in a few, but first, a summary of the two previous cities:

Whur' ta hell is Kelowna? A fine question indeed. For some reason while we were there, I had a feeling that it was north of Vancouver but closer to the coast. I was wrong. It's in the mountains in the eastern portion of British Columbia, close to the US border. As the picture will show, it lies in quite the picturesque mountain valley along the shores of a lake, which resembles an egg noodle more than a pancake. Kelowna reminded me something of my hometown in northern Michigan, a town that thrives on tourism and comes alive in the summer, a place where everyone knows each other and it's hard to keep your business to yourself, a place more suitable for visitation than settlement. I feel I should write more, but the muse stands mute. A shame.

After the bleakness of Edmonton and the small scale of Kelowna, it was nice to be in a walking city of significant size such as Calgary, especially since it was here where we had our first day off. And (bonus) it was 57°(F) when we got there, thanks to the phenomenon known as a Chinook, which I understand to be a giant fire-breathing goose that flies down from the mountains, melting all the snow with promethean exhalations and a volley of thermonuclear flatulation, instilling fear in the hearts of the townsfolk while drinking all their beer. By the time we got there, the goose was gone (cooked itself, maybe?).

Just because it was well-suited for foot traffic, though, does not mean that there were always things going on for those on foot after, say, 6:00. Like any other upright city with a financially-slanted downtown area, everything except a couple bars and restaurants went dark come sundown, leaving the streets filled with goose feathers and the occasional tumbleweed. No, I never saw anything remotely Olympic-related, so don't ask. What, do you think I'm gonna spend my first day off ogling a luge run? Hmmph. I did manage, however, to take a run along the river and get my hair cut (twice!). During the run, I was struck by the number of people running in shorts and a thermal shirt, while here I am wearing a thermal shirt, t-shirt, and full windsuit. So not a local. The haircut(s) proved to be both necessary and ultimately satisfying. Side note: whoever dreamed up the scalp massage deserves a standing ovation and a year's supply of Molson.

Ok, back to *.domes. Every one of our venues since Victoria has been one of these multi-thousand-seater arenas. They look about as impressive empty as they do full, though they lack in internal distinction. On the left, Edmonton from the stage; on the right, Calgary from just behind the monitor desk. As we've been cruising across Canada, all of these venues have been hosting hockey games as well as concerts. (Oh hey, Dennis Quaid just came into the dressing room, sat down, and started playing guitar. Go figure. *) Just about every soundcheck has been pretty chilly, sometimes to the point of requiring a coat and gloves. It took me a day or so to realize that it's because underneath the stage and seats and chunks of flooring in each venue lies a giant slab of ice on which teams such as the Moose, Canucks, Hitmen, or Oilmen try to slap a small black thing (and sometimes each other) with sticks. Thank you, Captain Obvious. Put a few thousand people in there, though, and they warm up a few degrees.

Has anyone noticed how *big* these provinces are!? I'm not even talking about the territories, which could plausibly float off into the ocean and claim continent status. British Columbia, when hungry, could consume about seven New Yorks or one and a half Texases, depending on its tastes that day (Yanks or Wanks?). Continue east, and each can claim similar status, but then come Ontario and Quebec. Each of these honkers could knock everything from Maine down to Florida into the ocean if they kicked in their sleep. Of course, they've got those weenies like Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia to keep safe, but we can forget about them for now, as they are certainly the exception.

Just think about how simple it could be in the States if we had 20% of the states we have now. Why not consolidate? Why two Dakotas, or two Carolinas? Who wants to deal with Rhode Island when we could just have New England!? Are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia really all that different? Doesn't Iowilliandahio have a nice ring to it?

And on that note, I shall leave you all for the night. Until the next...

* Ok, so I wrote most of this in the dressing room Sunday but finished it today. Oops. But he really was there. I have proof, dammit!

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