Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Horsies - Two days at Spruce Meadows covering the 'National'

Mexico's Nicolas Pizarro Suarez, atop Crossing Jordan, competes in the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.

The 'National' show jumping tournament took place at Spruce Meadows this past weekend. The annual competition opens the Spruce Meadows Summer Series and attracts competitors, both human and equine, from around the world.

The summer culminates with the prestigious 'Masters' tournament in September.

Last year, during a brief conversation, a visiting official with the European Equestrian Federation (EFF) explained the significance of Spruce Meadows to me, and in particular the 'Masters', by comparing it to Grand Slam tennis.

The international events at Spruce Meadows hold a similar importance on the show jumping calender that Wimbledon and the US Open do in the tennis season, according to him.

He went on to explain that he had been with the federation for a while, but had never made it to Calgary before last year - he had been aspiring for this visit for a long time.

Conversely, the sense of 'not knowing how good we've got it here' lingers - though there are those who get it, and attend the tournaments at Spruce Meadows regularly. The weekends of the 4 to 5 day long tournaments are always very well attended.

This is world class competition taking place at a grand venue, and that sometimes seems lost on some people in Calgary and area.

Spruce Meadows would do well to average the same numbers that a regular season Calgary Flames NHL hockey game gets. And as anyone who has followed the Flames in the last few years can attest to, it would be pushing it to describe those games as world class - I'm sorry to say.

I only made it to Spruce Meadows twice last week - once for preparations on Tuesday and once for competition on Saturday.

There are worse places to spend an afternoon working - so long as care is taken and you stay out of the way of the athletes, who on average weigh half a tonne.

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Horses are led to and from the Chinook sand practice ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Tuesday, June 4, 2013. The 'National' competition started Wednesday and ran to Sunday.

USA's Ashlee Bond, atop Wistful, competes in the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.

Horses are led to and from the Chinook sand practice ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Tuesday, June 4, 2013. The 'National' competition started Wednesday and ran to Sunday.

American Kent Farrington takes first place, atop Uceko, in the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.

A horse is led to the stables at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Tuesday, June 4, 2013. The 'National' competition started Wednesday and ran to Sunday.

American Reed Kessler, takes second place, atop Cylana, in the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.

A worker helps prepare the International Ring for the 'National' at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Tuesday, June 4, 2013. The 'National' competition started Wednesday and ran to Sunday.

Clouds blow over during the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.

Matt Kuechler, of Cremona, prepares a horse shoe at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Tuesday, June 4, 2013. The 'National' competition started Wednesday and ran to Sunday.

A horse receives soapy sponge bath at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Tuesday, June 4, 2013. The 'National' competition started Wednesday and ran to Sunday.

American Kent Farrington takes first place, atop Uceko, in the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.

USA's Rich Fellers, atop Flexible, competes in the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.

American Kent Farrington is all smiles after taking first place, atop Uceko, in the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.
USA's Christine McCrea, atop Romantovich Take One, competes in the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.


Canada's Eric Lamaze practices in one of the practice rings at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Tuesday, June 4, 2013. The 'National' competition started Wednesday and ran to Sunday.


Canada's Ian Millar, atop Star Power, competes in the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.
Members of the Lord Strathcona's Horse regiment at the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.





USA's Lauren Tisbo, atop King Kolibri, competes in the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the 'National' in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.

A possible future competitor tests out the ground in the International Ring during a break in the action at the CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier during the  'National' at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Saturday, June 8, 2013.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Recent work - mostly work photos

A stargazing self-portrait at Lake Okanagan in British Columbia Sunday, June 2, 2013.

Here are a few single images from the last few weeks. All are for work - except one.

The stargazing, with hands-on-hips, self-portrait (above) was taken during a recent four day getaway and was my first ever attempt at capturing the night's sky. Hoping to try again later this summer.

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A witness is comforted by friends at the scene of a vehicle vs pedestrians accident at the intersection of Shawville Blvd and Shawville Gate S.W. in Calgary, Alberta Thursday, April 25, 2013. A 2 year-old girl died from injuries resulting from the accident.

Calgary police attend to the scene of an accident involving a vehicle at the intersection of Shawville Blvd and Shawville Gate S.W. in Calgary, Alberta Thursday, April 25, 2013. A 2 year-old girl died from injuries resulting from the accident.

Richard Duck Chief looks out upon line ups of job hopefuls at the City of Calgary Youth Employment Centre's 15th Annual Youth Hiring Fair at the Big Four Building in Calgary Alberta Tuesday, May 7, 2013.

Students, including Elese Parker-Szolosi (third from left) take part in trust/support exercises at Tim Horton's Children Ranch in Kananaskis Country, Alberta Wednesday, May 8, 2013.

A young student takes aim at the archery range at Tim Horton's Children Ranch in Kananaskis Country, Alberta Wednesday, May 8, 2013.

Cole Shaigec, grade 6 student at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, releases a butterfly in tribute to residential school students on the memorial grounds of St Joseph Industrial School, a Catholic residential school, south of Calgary, Alberta Wednesday, May 22, 2013. Students from Strathcona-Tweedsmuir visited the former site of St Joseph Industrial School to mark aboriginal awareness week. (CLICK TO VIEW STORY)

The hands of former Canadian soldier Aaron Anderson. Anderson took part in a therapy program for Canadian soldiers who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and their families at a ranch northeast of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta May 11, 2013. The program using horses to improve interpersonal communication between military veterans and their families. Anderson served in Afghanistan but was medically discharged due to his PTSD. (CLICK TO VIEW STORY)

Commander Paul Francoeur, commanding officer of HMCS Calgary, with a model of the ship on display at City Hall in Calgary, Alberta Tuesday, May 14, 2013.

A man walks across a pedestrian walkway at The Core shopping centre in Calgary, Alberta Wednesday, May 16, 2013.

Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac performs at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Friday, May 17, 2013.

Daniel Bryan, top, and Roman Reigns in their tag team bout during the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013.  (CLICK TO VIEW STORY)

Horses are led to and from the Chinook sand practice ring at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Tuesday, June 4, 2013. The 'National' show jumping competition starts Wednesday and runs to Sunday.

A workers helps prepare the International Ring for the 'National' at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta Tuesday, June 4, 2013. The 'National' show jumping competition starts Wednesday and runs to Sunday.

Michelle Thrush, Gemini Award winning actress, speaks at the first day of the Three Days of Solidarity with the Hupacaseth for Canada and Freedom event, at Olympic Plaza in Calgary, Alberta Wednesday, June 5, 2013.

A man walks through a Plus-15 above MacLeod Trail in downtown Calgary, Alberta Wednesday, June 5, 2013.

Linden Chagnon, 4, plays with a fountain at Olympic Plaza in Calgary, Alberta Wednesday, June 5, 2013.

Graduating students at the Mount Royal University spring convocation ceremony at the university in Calgary, Alberta Thursday, June 6, 2013.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wrestling is Shakespeare - WWE in Calgary

Randy Orton plays to the crowd during the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013. 

Wrestling is Shakespeare. (I know I know, but please bear with me)

It's often forgotten that Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed for the masses. At the time they weren't necessarily hoisted up as the height of artistic achievement. It was entertainment pure and simple.

Standing on the muddy floor of London's original Globe Theatre, patrons expected to be treated to dazzling sights and sounds - story lines playing-out before them through unlikely and unbelievable situations.

Often, performances were greeted with raucous audience interaction fueled with the alcohol consumed before and during the night - today's theatre goers, sitting silently in their chairs, most likely wouldn't recognize a 17th century Shakespeare performance as such.

It can be said that today's pro wrestling, with its manufactured plots and larger than life characters, provides a similar sense of theatre.

Centuries from now will World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and its like, be held in such reverence as the works of The Bard of Avon? Probably not.

But those who were in the Saddledome in Calgary this week to see WWE's Monday Night Raw, an evening dedicated to former wrestler and Calgary native Bret Hart, couldn't care less.

"Entertain me," everyone seemed to be thinking in unison - Shakespeare's clients demanded the same.

And though I heard more than one irony-void "You f---ing suck" directed at the ring from an adult fan, most see it as the show that it is - at least, I really hope they do.

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Cody Rhodes, right, grapples with Sheamus during the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013. 

Daniel Bryan, top, and Roman Reigns in action during their tag team bout during the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013. 

The WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013. 

Bret Hart makes an appearance on 'Bret Hart Appreciation Night' during the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013.

Sheamus and Damien Sandow in action at the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013. 

Daniel Bryan, bottom, and Seth Rollins in action during their tag team bout during the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013.

John Cena, left, and Curtis Axel in action at the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013. 

Daniel Bryan, top, and Roman Reigns in their tag team bout during the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013.

John Cena, bottom, and Curtis Axel in the ring at the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013. 

Bret Hart, right, with Vince McMahon on 'Bret Hart Appreciation Night' during the WWE Raw live event at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta Monday, May 27, 2013.

Former Stampede Wrestling and WWF/WWE wrestler Bret Hart in Calgary Monday.