Sunday, April 6, 2014

Team Ulsrud Update

It's confirmed the team is breaking up.

But they're going out World Champions!

In a post game interview, the interviewer was rehashing the game. Then Thomas said:

"Yes, I made a mistake. I don't care. I'm World Champion!"

This is why I love this man.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thomas Ulsrud, 2P4H, and the pursuit of excellence.

I was very torn about the Olympics. I have huge issues about how LGBT people are being treated in Russia, yet I also wanted Thomas Ulsrud (I've written about him here) to win a gold medal and watch him do it. So I made a deal with myself. I would only watch curling. I do love the spectacle of the opening and closing ceremonies but I refused to watch China's and I had no problem missing these as well.

Most of the matches I wanted were only available by internet stream anyway so I wasn't feeding the corporate machine - too much.

It was a rough go. There were times I didn't understand why he was calling the shots he did, but this happens when you're in love with a high-risk, high-reward player. I watched him lose some tough matches, nothing more heartbreaking then watching him lose the the tie-breaker to get the final playoff spot on the final rock. He slumped against the boards in shock after congratulating the victors. You could tell the team was devastated.

Later on in the day he did this interview. I don't expect you to speak Norwegian,  so I'll give you the highlights.He is thinking about quitting as his competitors now get to curl full time while his team has to balance practicing with working full-time. The funding for their international competitions the last few years has been coming out of his own pocket.Without sponsorship to allow them to devote their time to the game, they will no longer be able to compete.

This didn't surprise me. You could see the decline in their results since the last Olympics and the rise of dedicated curlers after Canada was so successful in turning a men's curling team professional in advance of the Vancouver Olympics. How hard must it be to watch others surpass you, when you know you can match them if you had the same resources.

I'm reminded of 2 Pianos 4 Hands. The play (one of the most successful ever produced in Canada) concerns two boys who have dreams of being concert pianists. We see their trials and tribulations as they grow up. One of the boys is told by his father early on he's only allowed to rehearse an hour a day because the father wishes to see him live a normal boyhood. Near the end of the play, the boy auditions to get into a conservatory program. He is reamed out by the examiner for not having put in nearly enough work as the people he's competing against. This was heartbreaking to watch and has stayed with me. To have the desire and not the resources is something I'm familiar with.

I now see this with Thomas and his team. For four years the dream had been to return to the Olympics and claim the medal that they came so close to having. And now that dream is drifting away because they don't have the opportunity to be the best they can be. It saddens me, the thought they could retire, because I love to watch them play and they've done so much to popularize the sport. 

But I totally understand and respect the choice.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The most fabulous twitter list in the world

Is the one featuring our fabulous interviewees! You can find them here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Umbrella Talk with Alix Sobler

Something very cool is going on in Winnipeg. (Besides the weather.) Their theatre season will see premiers by 7 women playwrights, which as a percentage of total premiers may be the highest in a Canadian city theatre season. (I'm just guessing but sadly, either way it's pretty remarkable.) They're being referred to as the Group of 7 and have done some joint publicity. I'm trying to get as many of them here at Umbrella Talks as possible. Here's the first.

A Little More about Alix Sobler

Born and raised in New York, Alix Sobler is currently a proud resident of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  She is a writer and performer whose solo work and plays have been seen all over North America. A Fringe Festival veteran, she has toured Canada many times and she was a regular on CBC's DNTO from 2006- 2010.  She is serious about her love of pets and homemade crafts. Her new play The Secret Annex will premiere at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in February 2014. Find out more about her at

What do you drink on opening night?
Come on, really? Champagne! What else?

Who would direct the coolest production of one of your plays?
Aside from my current director, Heidi Malazdrewich who is amazing, brilliant and kind? There are many wonderful directors I would love to work with both in Canada and the US. At the moment I am super interested in the work of Nicole Holofcener.

What scares you? What can't you write about?
Israel and Palestine. The idea of the research alone scares me.

What do you want to write about that you haven't yet?
It's not so much what I want to write ABOUT for me, but what genre I want to write in. I would really like to write a musical. Also I would love to write for television. I love the idea of crafting a whole season, even a whole series. It gives you so much time to develop character and relationships.

If someone was to write a play about your life, what genre would it be? (eg. comedy, tragedy, melodrama, horror)
It would be a comedy with tragic elements. You know, like life itself.

How do you deal with praise? With criticism?
I love it all! You can't take every single thing you hear to heart, everyone brings their own baggage when watching or reading a play. But it is valuable to hear what moved people and left people confused or wanting more. It's an art form that is very audience focused. If you are not interested in praise and criticism, why do it?

Where would you like your work to be produced?
I am very excited to have my work produced at the RMTC, that is a bit of  a dream come true. But I would love to see my work done at Soulpepper, Tarragon, the Arts Club, the Guthrie. As a born and raised New Yorker, there is a special place in my heart for the Public, Playwright's Horizons and many others. Broadway would also be nice.

Where do you write? Pen or keyboard?
A bit of both.

What would you like academics to write about your work in 50 years?
"Alix Sobler had much to say about the human condition, but if one must take a simple lesson away from her work it is this: love is awesome and life is worth it."

What inspires you?
Memories. History. Images. Dreams. These days I can find the seed of a story just about anywhere.