June 28, 2010

My Last Weekend in Mexico

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?

Confession (Of The Month)

Okay, my first confession is that I haven't confessed in a while. Ive been distracted with other more recent skating topics.

So, my second confession is that I never skated for Ice Capades. But there I was making my second appearance at an Ice Capades reunion. Luckily, they let me tag along.

I have gone to these reunions because I know more people there than a Holiday On Ice reunion and Holiday's is in France. While I would love to get back to Nice, France, it's a lot more expensive. I wouldn't be ready to get back on a plane after only two days on the Riviera, you know.

This time I convinced one of my long time friends in joining us in Vegas. She, too had never skated in Capades either. Like me, she'd done several other shows, including Ice Follies. Turns out she knew more skaters than me and the other two Capettes in our group combined.

She had only come to see the small group of gals, but when she realized how many people she had worked with, she had to write the names down on a notepad. She scrutinized the list and planned to check off the names as she talked to them at the cocktail party.

Here's a hint for your next high school reunion: Go through your entire class in the last high school year book and write down the names.

What was great for my friend was that she was able to see the "angel" in her life ... Mr. Debonair, Richard Dwyer.

He's the guy who stared in Follies and Capades with a unique skating style and trailing showgirls in some of the biggest costumes ever worn on ice. Swizzles only.

My girlfriend was the most excited to see him because he had suggested she audition and skate with Follies when he saw her practicing at an ice rink in northern California one day. She had just graduated from high school and been kicked out of the house. She had a minimum wage job with no chance for college. So she took his advice.

She skated for over ten years and later turned to a medical profession. But I'm so glad she skated first, because after four different shows together, she's one of my best friends.

Here she is thanking her "angel."

June 23, 2010

Ice Capades 70th Reunion Street Dance

Just got back from the red eye flight out of Vegas, so I'm not ready to give you the full run-down, but I wanted to link to the You Tube Ice Capades 70th Reunion Street Dance.

Choreography by Randy Gardner, amazing production quality, and fun-filled dancing by generations of Ice Capettes. And I say not bad for some of those Capettes from the 50s!

More to come!

June 18, 2010


Yesterday I was told I was overweight. They brought the scale right into our apartment. Overweight. Reminded me of my first year in Holiday On Ice. Weigh-ins were a big deal in that show. An overweight fine could cost a 10th of your salary ... that was at least a meal. Ooh, maybe that was the point.

Being "overweight" in an ice show usually meant you were still well below the average weight for any (wo)man on the street, but being overweight you got invited to join the ice show mental freak out party. A hard invitation to turn down.

Luckily, not all ice shows were so strict, so I wasn't always as that party by the time the cops arrived.

Hey, Ice Charades, are you still talking about ice shows or that one time in college ...

So, anywho. There I was looking at another overweight fine yesterday ... for weighing over 500 lbs!

Oh, I kid. Actually, we're moving and we had a 500 lb air shipment limit and we went over. Ooops - I bought too much Mexican talavera (the homemade pottery that's so pretty and so inexpensive). Can you blame a girl?

I've now come full circle from where I once lived out of a suitcase and couldn't afford much in the way of souvenirs to weigh down my suitcase. Now we have my husband's company footing the bill for the shipping and so many goodies around to buy.

Now I need to go on a suitcase diet.

I promise to start that diet on Monday, yeah for sure, Monday, right after I go the market this weekend for some beautiful jewelry that costs no more than $3.

Can you blame a gal?

June 14, 2010

Scott Hamilton - The Actor

Here's a link to a video my friend sent me today ...

As an actor I think Scott's very natural in this clip, but the ice show theme they came up with? I think there are equally strange/totally inapropriate ice show themes to have used that wouldn't have the cringe factor.

Hooligans On Ice? I know, I know, soccer on the brain right now. How about The Fall of the Berlin Wall? Actually HOI did that one, it seemed an odd choice to me. A Salute to Spandex?

And what is with the stage name Lizzie Thomas?

What do you think?

June 8, 2010

The Sticker Book

Hey there skating fans, more on soccer in this post.

Oh, come on Ice Charades, will this have anything to do with skating?

Why, yes, eventually, thanks for asking.

Sooooo, I had to dig through the archives of Axels, Loops, and Spins to find a post that Aaron wrote about asking how to generate more money for the skating competitions. Hey, Aaron, where are you? We miss you! So, my idea doesn't speak to the networks airing or not airing skating, but rather a way to make money and generate interest in the competitions themselves.

Ladies and gentleman, may I introduce the official World Cup sticker book. I didn't know this, but the book has been around for generations. Okay, the cards may not have been self-adhesive back in the day, but the book's been around.

What happens is months before the World Cup, the book goes on sale in participating countries and it contains every country that made it in and their players. Plus there are cards for each stadium hosting games, the cup itself, team portraits, etc etc. The cards are sold separately in these little packages (like the baseball cards we used to buy as kids) and the goal is to collect a card for every player and stick it in the book.

These books are everywhere. Kids in school are trading the cards. Folks in the offices are trading cards. People brag that they have filled a book with the stickers of every player since 1968 or something like that. We even saw this in Panama ... a country that is not competing, hasn't made it to the World Cup, but loooooves soccer anyway.

It's pretty cool when your six-year old says, "Mom, did you know the goalie for Portugal is named Eduardo?" or a little embarrassing when she says, "Mom, why did you get so excited when I got a David Beckham card?"

So imagine the money the ISU could generate if they created a Grand Prix sticker book. (Granted, you have to know who the competitors are going to be well enough in advance.) But you could have all the competitions in one book, of course, some skaters are repeats, but you could learn who is skating where and what the other competitions would look like. Let's face it, most die-hard skating fans can't afford Skate USA, Skate Canada and the NHK Trohpy in Tokyo in one year, but they could follow along with the souvenir program of sorts.

I know there are more logistics I'm not taking into account, but help me out here guys, we could work with this ... what do you think?

June 6, 2010

Back from a break ...

There it was when I went to Axels, Loops, and Spins 's Figure Skating Blog Check on the lower right side. I hate to see it get that bad. Under Ice Charades it said

one week ago

I'm really sorry about that kids, but let's be honest, I bet you didn't even miss me. Skating is on hiatus everywhere right now. The GP season is hard to remember, the Olympics is long gone, Worlds were a blip, Evan's done dancing and I think the catfight is over, Johnny's busy writing a book right now, and my book sales are low, low, low right now.

The only thing I have to look forward to in skating news is IceMom's - Ask The Expert with Brian Boitano.

But I got to tell you, right now in Mexico and in many, many other countries in the world they've got the fever. World Cup fever!

Remember all the excitement we skating fans had leading up to the Olympics? Imagine if every one of your neighbors had been that excited too. Awesome.

I've seen it building for two to three months now. More commercials of the Mexican soccer team on tv, more South African World Cup souvenirs and green t-shirts everywhere in the grocery stores and malls, big, flat-screen tvs showing up in restaurants, food courts, hotel lobbies, etc etc.

And then came the official word - my husband's office will be officially closed for all Mexico games. I bet 99% of the offices will. That means this country is going to practically shut down for the first round of games. I'm suspecting that schools might close too. Nobody's getting any work done.

I wish skating had that kind of following, but I'm just glad the skating fans it does have are so solid!