Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic Observations

I have been good and taking my pictures and thinking of summer-related essay topics, but the first week of August all I did was work and last week all I did was work and watch the Olympics so I'm two installments behind. But I can't help it. Work stuff aside, I'm an Olympics geek. Normally I have a slight preference to the winter games, but during the last summer Olympics I was painting my kitchen cabinets. It was just me and Bob Costas for howevermany weeks painting and sanding and learning the minutiae about every athlete. So this year I feel like I'm being reunited with a lot of old friends. I'll get back to my summer assignment shortly, but to get the typing fingers limbered up again...

1. I am not tired - nor will I tire any time soon - of Michael Phelps coverage. Run him into the ground all you want to NBC, I can take it. Dooce named him to her top five list of male celebrities - twice - and I would have to agree with her. I did do the math first though and while it isn't entirely impossible, I am not realistically old enough to be his mother. So I feel okay in going on and on about him. What is it exactly? Is it that he is both terribly hot and adorably dorky all at the same time? Or that he is hottest WITH the swim cap on. What other human even looks good - let alone BETTER - with a swim cap on? He needs another gold just for that. Or that when asked if he was going to get to enjoy the rest of his time at the Olympics, he said he was, but that he did want to get home soon because he missed his dog. That would have made ten gold medals if I were judging.

2. Speaking of swimming... it's been well-established that I am not a flag-draped, "U-S-A" chanting patriot. I get just as excited for other countries when they do well in the Olympics. But when our men's relay team came from behind and beat those snarky, trash-talking, little Frenchie bastards it was almost like I was nine years old again watching the US beat the Soviets in hockey. Not quite - but still pretty damn good. It was made all the better when they showed such good sportsmanship and class and walked directly over to the French team after the race and shook their hands. Makes me want to wear one of those Uncle Sam hats. Okay, not really...

3. One of the many things that keep me from being a flag-draped, "U-S-A" chanting patriot is someone like the women's pole vaulting coach. If I could hand Michael Phelps gold medals for Wearing a Swim Cap Hotly and Total Adorableness for Missing His Dog, then I would so award this dude golds for Extreme Jack-Assedry and Being a Serious Tool. An American pole-vaulter-woman comes in second, losing only to what is apparently the Greatest Female Pole-Vaulter in the Known Universe Ever. After winning silver, she goes over to her coach in the stands - and he berates her! And he's mic'ed so the entire NBC viewing audience gets to listen as he says things like "When you can't even do [pole-vaulty lingo] what do you think is going to happen!?! All you get is silver! That's what happens!" Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I'd be such an arrogant and condescending pig toward a woman who carries around a giant pole for a living...

4. There are a lot of adjectives to describe gymnastics. Funny and refreshing usually don't make the list though. It's always so serious. Everything is so dire and intense. But with the scrappy US men's team's jubilation in working toward an unexpected bronze medal and Bela Karolyi getting all riled up about underage Chinese and bad judging, gymnastics has been a breath of fresh air. I love it when people on camera stop with all the pretense. So many other times we have to endure people who are disappointed WITH A SILVER MEDAL or are so prepped and rehearsed about what to say on camera that it gets to be tiresome. But when the guy on the men's team turned to the camera and genuinely and excitedly shouted "Bronze medal, baby! That's how we roll!" or when Karolyi in one of his tirades kept shouting "ez repoof!" (is ripoff) about the judging of the women's vault - I was cracking up.

5. There have been several "celebrity" deaths this spring and summer that have really affected me. They each seemed to be a genuinely good person who went about doing what they loved with passion but without a lot of fanfare. Most famously in the news have been Tim Russert and Bernie Mac. And even though I didn't know them, I really do miss them. But while watching the Olympics I have also been missing Jim McKay. For my whole childhood he was the voice of the Olympics (not to mention the Kentucky Derby). I can hear his voice and see his golden blazer perfectly in mind. NBC has covered the Olympics for a while now and in general I think they kind of suck at it (even though I do admit to having a geeky crush on Bob Costas). No one did the Olympics like ABC and that was mostly because of Jim McKay. He would have really gotten a kick out of Michael Phelps, the men's gymnastics team, and Bela Karolyi. Plus I'm pretty sure he would have had a few choice - but tactful - words for the French relay team and that pole-vaulting coach.

3 comments:

Katie said...

Before you take another breath on this earth, I have to tell you that Dustin did an IMPRESSION OF THE FRENCHIES for a speech at Toastmasters this week. And brought down zee house. He was tre' proud.

Hey, I did not receive that book yet - should we worry about the Pony Express?

gertrude said...

Awesome. And I would be willing to wager a few dollars that the impression also sounded a lot like the Holy Grail French guy.

Book??? Oh hell no, you haven't gotten it yet. That would require me having the presence of mind to bring it with me to work so that I could mail it. However, it has progressed from the bookcase, to the stack of crap by the front door that I'm supposed to do something with. So I have faith that it might actually make it to the car tomorrow. From the car to my office is another story...

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I totally agree with you about the flag draping--when they beat the French swimmers I was totally hepped up!

And after learning what Mr. Phelps has overcome in his short life, I'm even more in love with him...totally maternally;)

I was happy for the guy from Uzbekestan (?) for winning his country's first medal in the men's gymnastics. Pretty neat.