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Friday, May 6, 2016

Basic Biittner: O Canada, O My!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Like many people, I spent some time watching the 2010 Winter Olympic Games on television recently, and I agree with the 41.7% of the respondents in a recent Chronicle Times poll who felt the Games were fantastic from start to finish.

After starting out with the tragic death of the Russian luger and the failure to successfully light one of the legs of the Olympic torch at the Opening Ceremony, I was afraid that the 2010 Winter Olympics were going to be re-run of the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, where everything seemed to go wrong, from the killing of the athletes and their captors on down to several unfortunate (though much less serious, in retrospect) events for the U.S. team in track and field and basketball.

But not to worry. Following the inauspicious start, our neighbors to the north pulled off one spectacular event after another, and both the U.S. team and the Canada team were the "stars."

And, aside from all that, Canada showed that it has produced a lot of talented people in the arts, and many of them showed up at the Opening and/or Closing ceremony to show their support for, and pride in, their country - Michael J. Fox, Donald Sutherland, William Shatner, Anne Murray, Neil Young, Sarah McLachlan, k.d. lang, Bryan Adams and Michael Buble were all there participating, as were NHL legend Wayne Gretzsky, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and many more.

And, great as all these artists and athletes are,they really only scratched the surface. Though some have put Canadians down over the years and dismissed them as somehow being second tier to the U.S., make no mistake about it - Canada has given the world some pretty talented people. Others whom I haven't already mentioned include Joni Mitchell; Leonard Cohen; 60's folk duo Ian and Sylvia; 70's rockers The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive; 80's-90's rockers Rush; Paul Anka; Celine Dion; Shania Twain; Gordon Lightfoot (Sundown, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,etc.); Santo and Johnny ("Sleep Walk"); Alanis Morissette; Barenaked Ladies (If I had a Million Dollars); Diana Krall; the SCTV comedy troupe, including the late John Candy, Eugene Levy (Best in Show, Love Actually, Splash), Catherine O'Hara (Home Alone); Martin Short; and Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis aka the MacKenzie Brothers. And then there's Saturday Night Live with Canadian Mike Meyers (later known as Shrek). SNL, of course, is produced by native Canadian Lorne Michaels.Not bad, eh?

In addition to the great exploits on the slopes, the half-pipe and the ice, the Opening and Closing ceremonies, though they may not have, in some people's minds, lived up to those staged in Beijing at the last Summer Olympics, were still spectacular. And saluting the native tribes of the vast Canadian region, using their original dances, was a great touch.

Yes, I feel we Canadians did ourselves proud with "our" Olympics.

Oh - Did I mention that my father's side of the family came to the U.S. from the Canadian province of Ontario?

Yah, they did. For sure, eh.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner