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« Olympics Crack UPDATE: Chinese Women's Gymnastics Team Permitted To Live Another Day | Main | Olympics Crack UPDATE: Splash »

Olympics Crack UPDATE: Shiny, Shiny Italians

-When I was a little girl, I used to watch Chris Collinsworth play with the Bengals, and I would say to myself:  "Someday, I will look up, and see that man at the Olympic Games... sitting in the stands next to the mom of the gold medalist in the 200 butterfly."

-This is the truly the Olympics Games Of The DVR.  It was clearly invented for the sole purpose of ff'ing through fifty-five minutes of sob stories, Costasizing, in-depth feature stories about what Michael Phelps eats for breakfast, Sluts In the Sand, rowing qualification heats, and commercials featuring teenage gymnasts thrusting calorie-laden chicken sandwiches in the air, all to catch forty seconds of equestrian footage taped two days prior.  I cannot imagine how we endured before it.

The downside, of course, is that the suffering is greatly enhanced when we wish to watch a live event.  Josh The Pilot is conditioned to the point where he blinks in confusion at the remote control when it fails to zip us through a half-hour report on the 16 year old shot putter from Zimbabwe whose sister's cousin's best friend's dog's head fell off three years ago, inspiring him to Olympic Glory.  His impatience is even beginning to creep into the events he wants to see; when he came to Phelps' world-record performance in the 200 meter freestyle, which was accomplished in about a minute and half, he watched all the way to the halfway point of the first lap before announcing, "I'm burned out on this" and fast-forwarding to the final turn.  This from a person who will quite happily sit and watch a pack of cars tuned to Optimum Whine go in a circle for five hours.

-BTW, you know you've been on a medal podium a few times when you're using it as a stretching post.  I saw Phelps do this last night.  By Thursday he'll be showing up with a mug of cocoa and curlers in his hair.

-I'm doing my best to maintain By-Proxy Sports Win Pumpitide over the alternate-heavy men's team bronze in gymnastics, especially since it was such a surprising achievement.  I am afraid to love them, however, given the Morgan Hamm doping scandal and the fact a few of them wilted, committing such mental errors as stepping out of bounds during a breather on the floor exercise.  Dude, it' s the only apparatus you can't fall off of.  But then again, I'm a medal-grubbing, couch-sitting, success-obsessed blog-American.

-Speaking of the Men in Chalk, I am much very much taken with fellow near-Christmas birthday sufferer Jonathan Horton, who, despite being born on New Year's Eve, was the only member of the team who stuck all his landings, refused to fall apart under the pressure, and also pointed into the camera and went "WOOOOOOOOOO!" a whole lot.  If I were 23 years old, male, five foot one, and had the the ability to support my own body weight on my hands for several minutes at a time, I'm thinking my Olympic reactionism would go a lot like his.  Only, instead of serving as the performance rock for the rest of the team, I'd curl in a very tiny ball under the judges' table and dry heave.

Mostly, I felt happy on behalf of the gold-winning Chinese team, who stood on the podium and pumped their arms in the sheer relief that they now stand only an 85% chance of being whisked into prison immediately after the Closing Ceremonies.  In the event of a silver, I'm thinking, a trap door immediately beneath the medal podium would have swung open, swallowing them forevermore into the People's Athletic Failure Dungeon.

-NBC's coverage, predicated on taking advantage of the time delay to splice and dice the taped events absolutely to death, only began to care about men's gymnastics when it looked like the United States might medal.  To the Live Coverage Icon!  By the end, the rotations were broadcast "without interruption," which meant that excruciatingly long pauses between routines and scores stretched out for eons, TV-wise.  Rather than showing tapes of other routines which had taken place earlier in the evening, or even from athletes of other nations, heaven forfend, the broadcast audience was subjected to images of a terrified Sasha Artemev pacing in front of the pommel horse, clearly trying not to chunder upon it.  The commentators were reduced to such sparkling conversation as, "What's going to happen is, once the score is tabulated, it's going to flash up on a screen."  This would have been freudenschadally delicious to watch, had it not pissed me off so very, very much.

-The Italian men's water polo coach is utterly unashamed to wear a uniform shirt involving sequins.  BTW, apparently there is a shot clock in water polo.  Also, power plays.  If they can somehow throw in sharks and an air rifle, this just might be the perfect sport.

COVERAGE QUOTE OF THE DAY:  "We are talking about a new era in whitewater kayaking for the nation of Togo."

runner-up:  "These men need to squeeze the pommel like they never have before in their lives" at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (18)

No kidding, on the People's Athletic Failure Dungeon!!! We were watching an interview on U-net or something (one of the 4 channels airing the Olympics - I actually watched Alemania (that would be Germary in Spanish) beat Cuba in Women's Volleyball on Telemundo! How expressive their announcers are, even though I only understood about 3 words of what they said....)
As I was saying, the interview on the channel with the Chinese gymnast... He kept saying, "The pride of my country rests on me..." and other realllllly heavy things about how if he failed, then everyone would die of disappointment. It was scary and disconcerting to me. YIKES.

August 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKris

I *wish* I had Tivo. Your post really hit my funny bone today. I cackled like a maniac and had to say YES, YOU UNDERSTAND!!! Whatever happened to covering other events, other countries...?

Whatever happened to your Amazon Honor System button? I want to tip the bartender.


August 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLynD

You put into words every thought that ran through my head when watching the coverage lastnight. I knew I kept you around for a reason!

August 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChelsea

" By Thursday he’ll be showing up with a mug of cocoa and curlers in his hair."

LOL No kidding! Or maybe he'll send a friend, or an indian woman to accept the medal in his place ;-)

OK, about the Chinese and the People's Athletic Failure Dungeon, these athletes have obviously been indoctrinated into believing the entire fate of their Nation rest on their shoulders. There's clearly a goal to win more medals than the US team, which may not be so difficult considering the size of their team dwarvens the entire population of some small island nations of the South Pacific.

Hopefully, these games will be the detonator for a much needed change in Chinese society, something that also happened in Mexico in 1968 after we held the Olympic games... and after the Tlatelolco saughter of October 2nd.

Over here seems that people are real happy over the first medal won by the Mexican team, and the President has already congratulated Paola Espinoza and Tatiana Ortiz over their bronze in sinchronized diving. I don't care much about sports, and particularly hate anything Soccer-related, but I do admire the amateur athletes for all the things they sacrifice and the lack of support they get from the Olympic Comission (if an olympic athlete gets a pension of US$500 a month to support his/her training, he/she's one of the lucky ones), and the fact that after all this they are still able to win a medal in the most important sport event in the World desserves nothing but an standing ovation.

August 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

Oh, but look how happy the Togolese kayaker was with his bronze medal! That's a reason to love the Olympics right there: Imagine being the first person *in your country* to win a medal. Ever. Even without a Wheaties box in your future, that has to be overwhelming.

August 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Exactly, it was awesome! He was so excited : )

August 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Speaking of the Phelps games...did you catch the Italy v. US water polo game today? They actually compared the swimming speeds of the water polo players with "Mr. I just broke a world record and won antoher gold but am going to throw a hissy fit cause my goggles got wet Phelps" The commentator said they had an actual race b/w the swimmers and the polo boys can outswim them in the very short distances but over 50 m and the swimmers took over. (BTW, the US won.)

At this rate, I am fairly sure the length of the long jumpers jumps will be compared to the length of Phelps starting dives.

No offense to Mr. Phelps but if it wasn't for your blog, I would never have known Togo even had athletes in the games. Now I have to find coverage.

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKell Belle

Congratulations RPJ on your nation's medal! I watched the diving, and I have to say I was highly amused that the girls said "¡Arriba!" when they were ready to go. Up until now, I've only heard that in the context of Speedy Gonzalez and very heavy drinking.

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

I agree all the Michael Phelps stuff gets old, but you have to blame the media for putting such a huge spotlight on him. He seems pretty modest in interviews, more focused on the swimming than the fame.
And though I admit the stretching on the medal stand was a bit tacky, I have to give the guy a pass. He was trying to cool down so he could warm up (yeah, I don't get it either. Something about lactic acid burn and resetting the body, if the announcers can be believed) for his next swim, less than an hour after the gold he just won.

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjcat2323

I need to know, MB, how you feel about the little Chinese girl lip synching at the opening ceremonies because the actual singer didn't have enough of the "cuteness factor" for the Chinese officials. I could NOT believe it when I read that story. It's like C&C Music Factory or Milli Vanillia all over again! :)

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSara N

@jcat: Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking Phelps. I think he's incredible, especially given the insane schedule he has. I just thought it was funny to see him using an Olympics medal podium as a stretching post.

@Sara N: I know, poor little Actual Singer.

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Let us not forget the taped and faked fireworks during the opening ceremony!

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChelsea

I know how JTP feels when watching TIVO in real time. I still make the "blip blip" noise, though. It makes me feel better even though nothing happens.
Go Togo!!

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBB


I've done more research in the older Olympians catergory. There is a woman on the shooting team who is 56. We have plenty of time and for shooting you really don't have to be in shape. You just have to be able to aim well.

I am actually going shooting this weekend so I'll have a baseline for the improvement I need. I know I have a good 20 more years to get it right.


August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKell Belle

"People’s Athletic Failure Dungeon." Love it!

August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKT

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August 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterOn Giving Me Money « Blo

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