Monday, August 13, 2012

All in all an event of Olympic proportions

Successful landing of Curiosity on Mars also was an
event of Olympic proportions.
For the first time in my life, I have been able to watch almost as much of the Olympics as are available on TV.  Through life I have always been in school, or working or off on a boat somewhere and haven't had this opportunity before.

Part of the enjoyment has been seeing many of the London landmarks in the context of streets and geography, something new for me.  The marathons were especially good for that.

Over the course of the games I have been writing down thoughts and observations and considering this is the last day, it's probably time to post them.

Years ago a friend in the news business said he always liked to listen carefully to sports announcers and weathermen, because of the stupid things they often say.  I picked up a few during the Olympics:  (of course they are out of context)

"Aley and Gabby are capable of winning.  It's going to come down to performance, that's all there is to it."  Really?

"That's great playership on the part of Navarro."  Playership?

"The USA is running on adrenaline.  This is their sixth game."  Announcer at the gold medal women's soccer game.  Um, like Japan wasn't also in their sixth game and running on adrenaline?

"It's warm out there, particularly hot in the sun."  Again, really?

"Well, they're either going to win or they're going to lose."  No kidding.

"It could go either way." (score was 2-2)  Again, really?

On to other subjects:

The French women won a big basketball game and had a group hug in celebration. The star came running out of it and she had lipstick smears all over both cheeks.  Lipstick?  They wear makeup in these games?  A friend who is from London and a makeup guerrilla said, of course, for European women appearance is everything.  Love it.  I notice that to be true in other sports too, and not just gymnastics.

There is a Scottish rock bagpipe band called the Red Hot Chile Pipers.

How was Russia allowed to go to Pandora and recruit an Avatar for their women's volleyball team?

Early on I noticed some rectangular reddish patches on the backs of  some of the Chinese divers.  Then I saw them on others and some tape as well.  I wondered were half the Olympians quitting smoking?  But, turns out they are called kiniseotape and are for relief of strained, sore muscles.  One study said it was not certain that they work, but the tape and patches seemed to be the style du jour for this year.  If they do work, they probably will be banned in time for the Rio games.

Why do women's volleyball teams have to have a group hug after every point?  USA basketball teams didn't even do that after whole games until they won gold.

Doe it bother anyone else that foreign corporations sponsor and talk about "Our" Olympians.  BP was the most offensive, but Samsung was in there and a couple of others.

What was the purpose of the remote control model car running around the infield during the women's 400-meter final?  It looked like a Mini-Cooper, which was one of the sponsors of the TV broadcasts.

And then there's my own ignorance showing.  Some sports I was surprised to find in the Olympics:

Handball:  when I heard about that I pictured a big room with four walls and two guys slapping a ball around.  I had never seen the team sport played in the Olympics.

Synchro diving:  What?

And, BMX bikes.  Where have I been?

And after that some high points:

This Olympics may mark the day after a lifetime of ignoring soccer, that I came to enjoy it (and sort of understand it, too).  Particularly watching the American women in that epic game with Canada, but in a couple of others as well, I began to get excited about it, and see the organization and strategies on the field -- oops -- pitch.  Anyway American women's soccer was interesting and exciting.

Who could not love Missy Franklin's innocent enthusiasm along with her success in the pool, not to mention the viral video she and her teammates produced.

There was the USA basketball team against Nigeria which was a blowout game but set several Olympics records, including doubling the one for the number of three-pointers in a game. Afterward one of the Nigerian players asked Kobe Bryant to autograph his shoe.

And speaking of Kobe, seeing him in the stands at several non-basketball events, including getting stuck at the longest tennis match in Olympic history and having to forego other sports he'd had on his schedule that day.

And there were inspirational moments.

Paul McCartney singing "Hey Jude" at the opening ceremony. 

South African Oscar Pistorius, the first double amputee running on artificial legs competed and qualified for the 400 meters finals. And then, the eventual winner Kirani James of Grenada, asked to trade name tags with him.

You could almost see in Aly Raisman's eyes the energy she was drawing form the clapping audience as she performed her floor exercise to the tune of "Hava Nagila."

The presentation of John Lennon's ode to peace, "Imagine" at the closing ceremony.

Any complaints?  Just one.  The TV guide said the men's basketball gold medal game was at 6 this morning.  So I set my alarm and got up to watch it.  After the game and a nap I went back to the television around noon only to find the men's gold medal basketball game starting.  I wouldn't have minded waiting for the rerun on that one.


  1. Yeah, the stars and planets aligned just enough to let me watch most of Olympics. Hate to sound like a pollyanna but it feel damn good to see so many people from countries that normally hate each other working together.

    American politics on the evening news always was there to kill my good vibes.

  2. No problem with being a pollyanna. There were times I had tears in my eyes, sometimes for the same reason.


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve