December 23, 2015

For Judy



Everyone I talk to that's read Ice Charades has told me how much they love Judy.  His character (yes, it is a "he") is the most fun to write.  FYI, Judy is all over the sequel too.

But the real person Judy is modeled after, my dear friend, just lost his sister to cancer.  I'm so sad for my friend, his niece and the whole family.

My thoughts are with you now.

December 8, 2015

Save HOI



For those of you skaters or skating fans who haven't noticed the controversy in the Facebook group "Save HOI" - I'm about to wade in.

The controversy stems from a few posters who feel the latest versions of Holiday On Ice have lost the glamour and spectacle of the past. They point to a kick line of only eleven skaters, in the latest show Believe, and think the show can't be any good.

It's true that the days of 28 chorus girls wearing hats or wigs with gloves and jewelry in every number are gone and not coming back. Too expensive. There's a lot of concern there aren't enough skaters on the ice. Indeed, I called the decision to add dancers to the show "Speed" a bad idea, because I felt the skaters could the dancing if necessary, but be on the ice most of the time. But I didn't realize at the time, that dancers are cheaper, so the idea to add them may have been right for the time.

The reality is HOI, which used to play five divisions, almost year round is down to one division (and the addition of Ice Age for the kids). Up through the 90s, the shows would stay in towns like Paris for four weeks, Rio for six, but now the show run is three or four months in total staying four days in most cities. There are too many other entertainment options competing with ticket sales.

Having seen two of the most recent HOI productions, Speed and Platinum, I can tell you what they don't have in the number of bodies on the ice, they make up for in skating. As in they skated their a$$es off. The lights, props and special effects added a depth and "wow" the older shows couldn't.

So what it comes down to is this is not your grandmother's show anymore. It's a sign of the times of a leaner show that looks like a park show in a big arena. But as one poster on "Save HOI" said "I for one am grateful there are still shows." Me too.

What was most troubling for me looking, around at the venue of the Platinum show, was the majority of grey hair in the audience. That's the part of "Save HOI" I think we need to work on.
Any thoughts out there?

December 1, 2015

It's a sad day for ice skating

... normally, this is the time when everyone thinks of ice skating.  It goes along with December like penguins and candy canes.

But today, December 1, is World AIDS Day and a day to remember all of the skaters we lost.

And there is another skater we just lost.  By now you've heard the news and seen many news reports on the shooting at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where police officer and former Junior National Ice Dance Champion,  Garrett Swasey, was killed.  By every single account, he was a wonderful person.

A very sad day.

 

 

November 23, 2015

Life On The Road, Skating With Ice Capades

I saw this in my facebook feed today and thought it was a great thing to post (especially since Ice Charades didn't skate in Ice Capades ... she just thought the name was so cool.)

Here's Tim Estiloz chatting with WBZ's Jordan Rich about life on the road for four years.  That's a long time to stay with one show.


Tim really knows his stuff and he's well spoken ... so have a listen, you won't regret it!

Head Ewok ... that's something to tell the grandkids.

November 10, 2015

I'll ask again ... does a roller coaster have groupies?

The answer is probably yes.



But that's not the point.  The point is Ice Charades is going to trout out another rant about the lack of ice shows in commercials.  I saw a commercial for Royal Caribbean this weekend and didn't see any hint of ice.  Not a blade, not a toe pick.  Nothing.

Yes, in past years, 2013, 2010, and 2008  I was so frustrated.  It seems the agencies that whip up these commercials didn't get my memo.

So I'll post it here.  Yup, I'm posting a repost within a post of a repost.  Or something like that.  You're welcome.

Way back in June, 2008, I railed on the theme parks for not showing their own ice shows in their advertisements. Whether it was in print or television ads, there was no skating to be seen.

Here's my short rant in short:




Calling the PR Department of


King's/SixFlag's/Busch'/sSeaWorld's/Knott's/GreatAmerica's Theme Park


Why is it that there is rarely any press/commercial screen time/endorsements of the ice shows inside your park? Are you hiding it?

When I skated for King's Dominion and Williamsburg Busch Gardens, both times the ice shows were the #1 live attraction. Now don't get me wrong, people, I know nothing beats the latest/tallest/fastest rollercoaster for these theme parks, but the ice shows were packing them in -- if nothing else, so people could sit down and cool off -- Virginia in August anyone?

When I was at Busch Gardens, the park orginally scheduled two shows daily. Then the wizards working the numbers and crowd control realized the park would make more money if they canceled the early show and made people who wanted to see the show (a.k.a. the groupies) wait until 9 pm, meaning they would have to eat at the park, rather than catch the early show and head to town for dinner afterward.

Can a rollercoaster do that? Do they have groupies?

Okay, yeah, they probably do.


So today I'm calling out Royal Caribbean Cruises for doing the same thing. Last night I caught a commercial (I'm excited that I now get some American tv stations in Panama) for the cruise ship that never showed one clip of skating. Not the show, not even a passenger on a public session.




I don't get it. Skating is the number one, most popular Winter Olympic sport, in part, because it's so well suited for television. Why? It's got beautiful costumes (usually) on beautiful skaters (usually - which reminds me of another post I'm about to do) and the fast motion of jumping, spinning or plain old stroking. To me, it's more zippy than most anything dancing can do ... yet, they show a clip of one of the musicals (people singing, rather than dancing) in that commercial.

I just don't get it. RC is the only cruise line to have an ice rink and you would think they might want to highlight that aspect more. And I can't imagine that someone in the ad biz can truthfully say that "We tested for audience reaction to skating and they didn't like it" because they've never put the skating in there.

November 2, 2015

Happy Dia de los Muertos

 

Miss Ice Charades only lived in Mexico for two years, but that's enough to feel like I can celebrate Dia de los Muertos with the rest of them.

For those not so familiar with the Mexican holiday, which was me before going to Mexico, some describe it as "a loving tribute to a family member or friend who has died" but others seem to choose to honor a famous person who has died in the year.

It's only fitting then that my Dia de los Muertos ofrenda, or altar, is for Toller Cranston.


You have to look close to see the two photos of him, one as a skater and one as an artist.  There's lots of red in there because I know he liked that color.  There are also a few snacks and some red wine in addition to the water, since you are supposed to include these to "refresh the spirit after his journey" and candles.

What is missing is the Pan de muerto and the calaveras (sugar skulls) because there are hard to find in Princeton, New Jersey.



When we lived in Mexico City, we had an ofreda for Michael Jackson with a few more appropriate components on the table.


I wish I could have seen the bigger celebration at the Gala for the Ice Theatre of New York, but I'm honoring the most artistic figure skater ever, in my own small way.



October 20, 2015

October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month - this one goes out to Paul Wylie!


 

Let's face it, October is a busy month - (I'm looking at you pumpkin spice) and along with the month for Fair Trade, Breast Cancer, Vegetarian Awareness, International Walk to School (Canada only), and I kid you not, National Outdoor Lighting month (really, not December?) it's Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month.

So if you bear with me, I'm taking time out of my usual casting notices or reunion updates to address something dear and literally near to my heart.

that's not an ipod in my pocket                      


 
Yes, Paul Wylie and myself are lucky survivors of Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  It's different than a heart attack where blood is blocked going to and from the heart.  Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating.  A person often passes out.  Sudden collapse.  Especially on a young person, that's not usual.  Quick intervention from CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED), can increase the survival rate by 90%.

So CPR is crucial here.  If the moment ever comes, lock your hands together and press hard.  Sing the song "Staying Alive" by the BeeGees and press to the beat.  You're manually pushing blood to the brain which can prevent brain damage.  And of course, if there's an AED nearby, use it.  The machine talks you through the procedure.

 I also watched a bunch of AED and CPR videos (which was pretty depressing) so I can bring you one of the better and shorter videos.  Seriously, watch this and you'll feel more prepared.  It's very informative and spells out the difference between continuous chest compression CPR and regular CPR.  Watch the whole thing.  Please. 



I hope I can speak for Paul Wylie when I say, we thank you.


October 1, 2015

Happy "World Ballet Day"

Besides being the first day of fiscal 2016 for the US government and World Vegetarian Day, by North American Vegetarian Society, it's World Ballet Day!  That's the one I'm excited for.  I love ballet and I love seeing what dancers (and skaters too, of course) can do with their bodies.  I'm truly in awe.

 
Dance Anywhere 2015


I loved ballet as a kid.  Like many kindergarteners, I wanted to grow up to be a ballet dancer.  But by the sixth grade, I left ballet for skating.  Skating seemed more exciting because I could go faster (without even moving my feet).  And I stayed away from ballet for a while.

In college, I shunned ballet.  I embraced jazz and tap instead. I thought traditional ballet was boring.  And then I didn't see much ballet for thirty years.

I think seeing the documentary "First Position" sparked my interest in ballet again.  IMHO the movie was that good.  Really go see it.  If you haven't seen the movie yet, watch the trailer here.  Then go see it, I told you it's that good.




My only question - where is the skating version, as smart and entertaining as First Position?

Aaah, excuse me Ice Charades, you were talking about ballet?

That's right, back to ballet.  Enjoy World Ballet Day.




September 28, 2015

The Collective

It's fall where I am and I'm back to blogging.  Thanks for stopping by.



You may have seen them on Facebook already ... does Mazurka Monday or Turnout Tuesday ring a bell?  If not, check out The Collective on Facebook.

It's run by three amazing coaches, Chris Nolan, Vesna Markovich and Mark Hird and it brings such a fresh new take on skating.  Sort of the opposite of Ice Charades - while I'm looking for anything cheesy, quirky or downright goofy, they're bringing you all that's good in the world of figure skating.  Their motto, "moving classic basis forward" highlights quality and passion in skating.

Will you be in Toronto on Wednesday?  They're putting on a workshop at the National Performance Centre, York Univerity as part of the Skate Canada Development Series.   And it's free!  That's another classy move.



Check it out at npctoronto.skatecanada.ca.

August 19, 2015

Here's to the Chorus!


Here's to the Chorus - 

We'll never get our own TV special or Olympic commentating gig.  We'll never make a hairstyle famous or get our face on a box of Cheerios.

BUT, we will give the A-list skaters time to rest and change costumes.  We will be budget friendly and usually less demanding.  And most importantly, no single skater, no matter how good, can do a kick line like this ...
 



Ice Charades is going on vacation for a bit and won't be posting until some time in September.  Yes, Ice Charades is in there, but it doesn't matter where.

Have a great end of the summer.  Come back for fall!


August 12, 2015

Our pick for the best skater in the world ...



I had lunch with a former skater and ice show mentor when I visited the Twin Cities and much of our discussion came back to one skater.  We were both gushing, since he's a hometown boy.  I've never met him, but I've written about him, written to him, and have had the pleasure of seeing him skate live. 

If you were able to get to "Quiet As It's Kept" in May in Minneapolis or caught this beauty of a program, "A Journey to Solace" performed in June at the American Ice Theatre, then you would know we were talking about Rohene Ward.

Currently, he may be better known as Jason Brown's choreographer. 

And that's our pick for the best skater in the world at this time.  And perhaps for all time?  (Okay, that last part may be hard to declare, but it often gets me wondering when we'll hit peak skating) but for now ... we think Rohene's the best.  Seriously. 

Now I don't mean in a true, competitive, let's tally up the Code of Points (CoP) kind of way - more in an overall, performer-meets-athelete on the ice kind of way.  If you want to start the discussion, I'm cool with that, but before you say he doesn't even compete anymore/he can't be better than the Olympic or World champion ... I would say, he can do his doubles and triples both ways.  Can anyone else do that?

So there you go, I've included a You Tube video of the program where I first saw him skate.  I was in awe, but if you search for Rohene on You Tube, you'll be rewarded with a dozen different programs.

You're welcome. 

July 14, 2015

So This Happened ...



The Toller Memorial in Toronto on June 25, 2015.  Click here to see photos and read more about it.  It would have been amazing to have been there, but I'm grateful my family made the trip to visit in Mexico when we had the chance.

There's more happening for Toller, this time in New York City.  He will be honored by the Ice Theatre of New York on October 30, 2015 for their 30th Anniversary Benefit Gala.  Maybe I will make it to that one.


July 8, 2015

The Women's List



as promised ...

Same thing as the mens' list - it's in Spanish and it's got points if you want to rank them yourself.  Or you can just scroll down and ponder.

I can think of one missing skater .... nine-time US champion and multiple World and Olympic medalist, Maribel Vinson Owen.  She was tragically one of the skaters that died in the 1961 plane crash on the way to the World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia along with her two daughters.


I'm grateful to see a home-town (of St. Paul, Minnesota) favorite, Vivi-Anne Hultén make the list.  Considering she was a rival to Sonja Henie among controversial judging, I'd like to see her rank higher, but that discussion is for another day.

Can you think of anyone missing? 

June 24, 2015

Ice Cold Combos in Concert

They are so close to their fundraising goal ... can you help out?

The concert is June 26- 28 at the Ice Chalet in Knoxville, TN.  Tickets are available from www.productionsonice.com.

There's lots of chatter from the cast on Facebook and Twitter, so head to #iceconcert or #icecoldcombos if you want to get a sneak peek at rehearsals.

Toi toi guys!

June 22, 2015

Ranking the 100 Best Men in Figure Skating

No, I'm not prepared to name them ... but 20 Minutos is and it's a fun list to read, you can scroll the whole thing (no pesky "NEXT" buttons to keep hitting) and it does seem pretty complete.  But brace yourself kiddos, it's in Spanish.  I came across it from a tweet by Binky's Johnny Weir Blog.  And you can put in your own vote, so it's not over yet.


Can you guess who Binky's favorite skater is?


Anyone you can think of that didn't make the cut?  Personally, I would like to see Scott Williams up there, but this list skews toward competition, not shows.  This list also skews to younger skaters whose fans are all over the internet.  Where's Gary Beacom's internet fan base?  Anyone else?

Up Next - the women's list ...


June 15, 2015

As every showgirl knows ...

the art of the quick change.  It's demonstrated quite well in this clip filmed during the 2015 Tony Awards.


She's calm, methodical, and not naked for the camera, but did you notice something else?  How many dressers does she have?  Four - one, two, three, four.

That's a lot of dressers for one performer.  In Holiday On Ice, we were lucky enough to have dressers.  The show hired local dressers in each city we played.  It was a great way for us to ask where there were good restaurants open late at night or laundromats open all night.  But as with hats, wigs, and elaborate costumes, the Holiday On Ice budget for dressers got slashed.  Back in the 80s, the count was something like four or five dressers to 28 chorus girls.  But that's changed now.  First off, there aren't usually 28 chorus girls, even in Disney On Ice.

Today, Disney has roughly eighteen in the chorus, guys and girls, but they still have to have dressers.  Some of those costumes (think Sully from Monsters Inc.) have to have someone helping you get in there.

I was impressed that a few of the Tony winners thanked their dressers as well as family and directors and producers.  Not bad.

June 8, 2015

The 30 Best Figure Skating Outfits of All Time

Thanks to my mother-in-law, I got this email this morning: courtesy of Elle magazine, as the title claims, "The 30 Best Figure Skating Outfits of All Time"  ... so tell me, what do you think?

click on the link and I'll wait for you to wade through the 30 photos ... you're welcome!

One thing for sure, they managed to find some pretty unflattering poses and facial expressions to go with some of those beautiful dresses.  Another thing, if you're going back to 1924, you're going to have thousands and thousands of dresses to take into consideration.

I do like Peggy Fleming's green dress with the rhinestone-studded collar and Nancy Kerrigan's iconic Vera Wang dress should be included for sure, but where's Dorothy Hammill's famous pink dress from her 1976 win?  (Note: I'd insert that photo here, but it isn't available under "labeled for noncommercial reuse" and Ice Charades is a little weary of slapping up photos that she doesn't have the say-so for ...)

And for that matter no Ashley Wagner or the queen herself Yuna Kim?  I haven't even gotten into pair or ice dance skaters because they have worn so many beautiful dresses, my head would explode trying to list them.

Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful to see skaters from the 20's, 30's and 40's and see what the fashion of the day was ... but to compare them to modern-day equivalent of the richest Quinceanera dresses on ice ...



Come to think of more recent competitions, Gracie Gold also had a lovely blue dress and a striking red dress.  You know which ones I'm talking about ... here's the blue dress (with my friend, choreographer Scott Brown at her side, btw)


I guess you can't see much of the dress because of all the stuffed animals in the way, but heh, the photo is "labeled for noncommercial reuse" okay.


By the way, I downloaded these noncommercial reuse dresses of various wonderful skaters and I think some of these could edge out a few questionable dresses from Elle's list.

What do you think of these?





I've got more ...





Come on, let's see what you think?  Got a favorite dress to add to the list?

June 2, 2015

another turn that reminds me of skating ...

When you rediscover ballet, as I have done recently, you get a lot of the Balletoman in your Facebook newsfeed and you get clips like this ...



A "Very Cool Pirouette" looks a lot like a back scratch spin to me, right up until the ending.  When did these dancers get so many revolutions on their turns?

Okay, back to whatever you were doing.  :-)

May 21, 2015

When dance numbers remind me of skating ...

and this is one of my favorites.  My daughter and I (re)watched Strictly Ballroom the other day and I enjoyed it all over again.  It goes back to 1992, but the dancing doesn't seem dated - and I've been watching a lot of current dance lately (more on that in another post). 




Did you know they've turned Strictly Ballroom into a musical in Australia?  If you plan to go down under anytime soon, check out Strictly Ballroom The Musical.

For those in the US, have a great Memorial Day weekend!

May 11, 2015

Thought for the day ...

The great writer Stephen King once said,



I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they're like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day... fifty the day after that... and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it's—GASP!!—too late.”



 I'm starting to feel the same way about the Biellmann spin. 

And he's right about adverbs ... I'm busily editing the sequel to Ice Charades, keeping the adverbs to a minimum.  Hopefully t(T)he manuscript will please the reader.


May 6, 2015

Ice Show Reunions

Calling all show skaters, gypsies, or showgirls ...


you've probably heard of these reunions from somewhere else, but in case you haven't, take a look.

First up, very soon from now, via the I Love Holiday On Ice on Facebook,

Attention: All Professional Skaters and Holiday On Ice alumni worldwide! Are you looking for something special to do, during the long weekend in May? Well, look no further! Please stay tuned for full details of the upcoming ICE CAPADES REUNION / Canadian Tulip Festival - Festival canadien des tulipes CELEBRATION Weekend in Ottawa, CANADA. Starting Friday, May 15th to Monday, May 18th, 2015 (Victoria Day!). Celebrating the 75th Diamond Jubilee Anniversary of Ice Capades and the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Holland! It's going to be quite a wild weekend that you won't want to miss....stay tuned for full details, coming soon! Please feel free to "share" this with your wonderful Holiday On Ice FBook friends!


Don't get that confused with the Ice Capades 75th Diamond Jubilee Celebration coming to Vegas, June 22-24, 2015.  (Ice Charades has attended this reunion, even though I technically didn't skate in Capades.  I skated with enough Capades people in other shows- especially Nutcracker On Ice- that I saw plenty of friends at the cocktail hour.  So they will let you attend, but it's best for Capades folks.)

And finally, there's a cruise ship reunion in the works for 2016!  Spread the word!

Ice Show Gypsies Cruise Reunion 2016


I forgot I had posted this in November 2014, old show girl's do that, btw, so I'm posting it again for my sake as well as yours.  September 24 - October 1, 2016.  Let's do this!  


April 28, 2015

Quiet As It's Kept, May 1: 7:30, May 2: 1:00 & 7:30

Where will you be on May 1st or 2nd?


 

If you're anywhere in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, I would suggest making plans to see this show.  It's your chance to see Rohene Ward, one of the very best show skaters in the world perform.

I saw him skate in the last two Holiday On Ice productions, Speed and Platinum, and I can say I haven't seen anyone better in a show.  Artistically he's today's Toller, plus he does jumps in both directions, spins that I've not seen before.  How cool is that?  Some of you may know him better as Jason Brown's choreographer.  Remember the Riverdance number?  I know.  So you should go.

Plus, with all of the tragic events happening in the African-American community today, this seems especially timely.  Especially important.  Quiet As It's Kept is billed as, "A one-of-a-kind journey of African American history told on ice." (pssst ... that means bring a hat and gloves)

Aaaaah - I wish I could go!  



April 23, 2015

Wishing Paul Wylie a speedy recovery


What an amazing and inspiring skater ... and now, survivor!


This one hits close to home.  Ice Charades knows a heart abnormality all too well.  So I'm so very glad we're talking about his recovery instead of what happens to many more people who suffer heart attacks, cardiac arrests, or heart abnormalities.

Here's hoping he makes a full recovery and is back on his feet skates again soon!


April 20, 2015


Toller Cranston
April 20, 1949 - January 24, 2015

I think I speak for all show skaters when I say he was one of the greatest.

April 1, 2015

Have you seen the Ice Cold Combos

... on Facebook or Twitter?  That's how I discovered them.  Through little snippets of choreography randomly popping up in my Facebook feed, I've learned they will be putting on a live show this summer in Knoxville, TN, Richmond, VA and Charlottesville,VA.

But this 'aint your Grandmother's ice show.  And this is no April Fool's joke either.





This is genius crowdfunding that a bunch of us chorus girls trapped in penguin costumes could only dream of in 1983.

Pairing show skaters and live musicians helped sink the TV ice show of yesteryear.  Remember "Skatin' with Kenny Rogers or Kenny Loggins or Kenny G?"  But I think this show will be different.  The choreography is hip and sharp and the musicians in question, The Northerners are up-and-comers.  I bet this show will raise their profile. 

Adam Blake is the founder, director and choreographer of Ice Cold Combos and he's put the show on Rockethub for anyone to contribute.  Check it out here and if you're a fan of ice shows, considering donating!  Help them reach their goal!


March 5, 2015

Some Pretty Tough Shoes to Fill

entrance to Toller Cranston's studio

Can you see the shoes that are filled in the upper-right hand corner of the photo?  Those would be the feet of skating and artist legend, Toller Cranston.  In my mind, his shoes and his skates won't ever be filled.

But they can be displayed, right?

His famous house in San Miguel de Allende has been popping up on social media lately.  For an incredible look inside, click on the HGTV site here.

I was telling my girlfriend who sent this link that it would be great if some rich, rich, rich skater bought the place and kept in as a shrine to Toller.  That could be a hefty price tag (considering most every inch of wall space is covered in his paintings or Mexican pottery and those drive up the price).

Then I thought, perhaps Canada, yes you, Canada - the country, I'm talking to you, you've got some money loonies to throw around, maybe you need to step in and buy the house and keep it as a shrine.

Who's with me on this?

If not that, well maybe parts of his Hacienda (yes, it's big and fancy enough to call it a hacienda) could be reconstructed - paintings and all - in some skating museum, somewhere.  That would take some money too.  What do you say Canada?


February 20, 2015

My Oscar Prediction?

Can tell you right now, this post has nothing to do with skating ... but I still can talk about show biz, right?

Well, I don't know about you, but my daughter and I are very excited for the Oscars on Sunday.  It's the first time in over six years, we're able to watch it LIVE.  I've hardly seen three movies that are up for any Oscars, but I'm not that interested in the movies.

I'm dying to see Neil Patrick Harris and I'm wondering if he can top his 2013 Tony Award Opening number.  It's one of the most exciting eight minutes of live theater I could imagine.



This will be hard to top, though.  Let's hope he does!

February 6, 2015

This and That

There will still be another ceremony for Toller in Toronto ... some kind of skating tribute if I had to guess ... but there was a small ceremony in San Miguel de Allende on Saturday, January 31, 2015. 



Since I wasn't there, I'll let someone who was explain the day.  The beautifully written post from the blog Writing Under A Montreal Sky describes the nuance of the legend, as well as, resident of this iconic Mexican city.  More the artist, more the neighbor in this tribute.  Toller was amazing in so many ways, not just skating.



There is another sad ending for me today.  It is the last day of my most favorite blog ever - The Dish - by Andrew Sullivan.  This was more a news site than a blog, but it was my daily habit, no doubt.  It also inspired several posts (I always linked, btw!) of which I could riff.  And riff I did.

You may or may not remember a couple personal favorites ... "draw the rest of the fucking owl"  "best skater already alive" "badass of the week" and who could forget "everything's better with Muppets" ... they all started out with something The Dish wrote about.  I will miss this blog a lot.

So with that, I want to end on a lighter note.  You may have already seen this elsewhere but if not click here for a chuckle

Comedians Raise Funds For A Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding 'Museum' In Their Hallway!

Not sure how practical that is, but attention-getting no?  I'm not too far from Brooklyn, so I may be able to make a visit.



January 28, 2015

In honor of Toller Cranston, part 3

 reposted from 6/28/10


If you could stay in a guest room like this, you would right?



It came with an amazing bathroom and porch out the front and back.



And you could wander through the yard that looked like this and ...



this, on the way to the pool.



Let me show you this picture again. See the paintings on the wall? And the rug?

And in this picture ... the glass chandelier and the lighted fish on the wall?



He made all of it!

So why would we pass up a chance to visit Toller Cranston one more time. He had invited to stay the last time and he was as gracious as ever.

At dinner time we strolled out into the town and ate at the New Orleans restaurant called "Harrys" that sported two giant-sized paintings by Toller and an entire staff that knew him. He looked very dapper in an olive green suitcoat with embroidered beading all across the back in a native Mexican design.

The next day for breakfast, we went to another restaurant where he was equally known. He walked in wearing a crisp pink, silk button down and a giant, beekeeper hat that he recently purchases in Guatamala. He turned heads.

It was quite the contrast to see him inside his house where he was wearing some rags completely covered in paint. But that's his life now. He's a painter.

There are paintings (or pottery) covering the walls of every room of the 15-bedroom hacienda that is smack-dab in the middle of the old part of town. He told me, he figures the house is worth 7 million, but I say there is probably another 7-million worth of art, furniture, and "items" inside.

What you won't see inside his house are any photos or souvenirs of his skating. No trophy room, nothing. He mentioned his medals once (he said I could have them ... I'm glad he didn't say that directly to my 6-year old daughter, because she would have taken him up on the offer)but I never saw the medals.

It's not that he's bitter about skating or not winning (which I think he should have) the gold in the Olympics (call it the curse of the Canadian men). He's a painter now, living large in a beautiful colonial Mexican town. He has fabulous friends (Nat King Cole's daughter - no, not Natalie - the other one, Olivia was over for a visit when we got there. (If you look up Oliva Cole on IMDB, you'll see she's been in about 30 movies or tv shows ... I swear she's more beautiful now as a bald, almost 70-year old. Mexico has been good to her.)

But back to Toller ... the most amazing part of our stay was when he asked me to watch the reality show "Johnny Weir Be Good" with him. He had received all of the episodes from the producers who were asking Toller's advice for what Johnny should do next. Should Johnny keep skating? Competing? Should he try his hand at his own touring show? Should he quit and enroll in design school?

We watched the final episode and I couldn't help but wonder what Toller was really thinking. At times he spoke his thoughts out loud. He commented that he knew how Johnny felt to have skated so well in the Olympics and be placed so low. He also understood how Johnny wouldn't have wanted to go to Worlds after what I just described in the last sentence. Toller also couldn't believe that Johnny allowed the filming so close before, during and after the Olympics. "How could he concentrate?"

There are many parallels between Johnny and Toller. Skaters, artists in skating, and now writers. Although, remember Toller has written several books already. Trust me, they take a little time to crank out.

If he had advice for Johnny, one thing was not to do his own traveling show. "You always lose money when you do your own show," he demurred. He also felt Johnny shouldn't try to compete because he's lost the edge with all of the TV and PR distractions.

If I could thrown in my two cents, I would tell Johnny, he should plan a little retreat to a beautiful city in Mexico and stay with the master for a while. Toller could give him (and show him) about long-term plans as well.

What do you think he should do? Short term? Long term?



It is nice to read the posts again, because I had forgotten some of the details.  It was four and a half years ago, and Ice Charades memory is spotty at best.

But it is also sad to read about planning trips to Mexico, because there will be no more pilgimages to see the Legend.  For show skaters, this was as close to Mecca as you get.

January 27, 2015

In honor of Toller Cranston, this one goes out to Johnny Weir

reposted from 7/7/10


I didn't have a formal interview with him, because I'm a lousy interviewer, and Toller asks as many questions as he answers.

His curious mind has served him well.

But here are a few nuggets I asked, he answered, and I was later able to remember ...

How much time do you spend painting each day? Depends, sometimes it is the entire day.

Who lived in your house before you bought it? At one time it was a school for bad little rich kids.


He smiled when he said that.


Do you have skating dreams? Yes, his are of the competition variety where he's having trouble landing his jumps, or even getting to the ice.

Do you still choreograph in your head after hearing a song you really like? Yes, all the time.

What advice would you give to Johnny Weir?


The subject of Johnny came up a lot, partially because we watched his reality show, but also because Toller had just been asked this by someone in Johnny's camp. From the bits and pieces he mentioned, here you go Johnny: don't go back to competitive skating, but keep skating, and don't put money into your own show ... you always lose money on your own show. Stay true to yourself.


I sense that Toller is glad he had his life in painting along side his skating career. Skating can't last unless you want to teach or choreograph. The painting, on the other hand, will keep him very busy for some time now.

January 26, 2015

In honor of Toller Cranston

There's not much I can add to the wonderful tributes pouring in for Toller Cranston.  Even The New York Times has eulogized him.

But we shouldn't be surprised because he was the most artistic skater of all time (imho).  So in honor of the legend, I'm re-posting my posts about him.   Buckle up, there are a few of them.

Ladies and Gentlemen ... the first post about the first visit to Casa de Toller! 



reposted from 4/26/10


Hello folks. Just got back from a most incredible weekend. Yes, it's true the Ice Charades family drove to San Miguel de Allende on a pilgramage of sorts to meet Toller Cranston.

The Man - Extraordinary!

The House - Amazing!

Our Visit - Unbelievable!


It is going to take a day or two to boil down the essence of our 4-hour conversation and house tour. I want to think it through, so I can give you a proper description of our time there. But I will leave you with this quick recap:

It's almost impossible to count the number of talavera (Mexican-style pottery) plates throughout the 15+ bedroom estate ...

There may or may not have been artwork broken by my 6-year old ...

and we almost made off (accidentally, of course) with a pair of Toller's underwear ...




January 21, 2015

Listen Up, icenetwork



I follow a Washington D.C. radio sport's show on podcast and lately the host has been toying with the idea of a new TV show featuring two sport's pundits talking about an NFL game, while it's on.  Think "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and ESPN Classic's "Cheap Seats" getting together on Sunday afternoon to watch a football game from somebody's couch - that's what this show would be.

Cheap Seats, btw, a personal favorite of Ice Charades!  You should check out their "Spelling Bee" episode. 

So I got to thinking ... I think figure skating needs the "Mystery Science Theater" treatment.

Do you think it could work?

Imagine putting two veteran A-list skaters together to talk about World's or the Olympics during the short or long programs.  There's lots of dead time they could talk over with charming anecdotes of their own nervousness or costume malfunctions or what was going through their heads when they were really bombing their programs.  Don't think there's any dead time in live coverage of figure skating?  How about all the time waiting for the judges' scores in the Kiss-N-Cry or the two-minute glide around the ice that skaters take nowadays between their name being called and the starting position of their program and let's not forget skating's ultimate dead time ... the zamboni!

So we find the former champions sitting in one of their livings room ready to dish on the newest crop of competitors.  Who's game?

Wouldn't you pay to see the Brians chatting about Patrick Chan's quads and whether he's holding back during the short only to bring it later on.  (Wait a minute, Orser's coaching some of these skaters so he's already sitting in the Kiss-N-Cry.)

So, how about Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan giving us their thoughts on Yuna/Mao rivalry?

Excuse me, Ice Charades, but that's so 2010, can you get more with it please?

Okay, okay.  I think if you could pay the skaters to be candid enough, we'd have something people would want to see.  (Wait a minute, I guess we have The Skating Lesson for candid commentary.  And very insightful too.)

But I still think people want to see their old idols rehashing the glory days.  I do.  What about the king of skating commentary ... and I bet he's available.  Wouldn't you pay money to be a fly on the wall at Dick Button's house when World's or the Olympics were on?

What do you think?  Who would you pay to see "hosting" Nationals right now?

January 9, 2015

Skating in Florida

... seems like a nice place to work right now, no?  Luckily there's a job out there for one female skater.  How's your double axel?




Rosstyn Ice Shows. Figure Skating Ice Shows & Rink
IMMEDIATE CASTING FOR GIRL SOLOIST
Please Call Rosstyn 561-436-1028
Rosstyn Ice Shows is casting now for South Florida Fair 2015
January 16th. to Feb. 1st.2015

Girl soloist: must have solid doubles jumps preferably double axel, and variety of spins

Venue: South Florida Fair
Location: West Palm Beach, Florida
Dates: January 16th. to Feb. 1st. 2015
Rehearsals: January 10th. to January 15th. ( non rehearsal pay)
3 shows daily, 4 shows weekend days and Holidays
Requirements:
If you are not American citizen, you must have your own work visa
Transportation provided only in the USA, reimbursed with completion of the contract
Accommodations provided
For more information:
Email: rglproductions@me.com
www.rosstyniceshows.com