OLYMPIC DENOUMENT

The Olympics are over.  One conclusion I have come to is that I gave NBC too much control over my life.  I let my hatred of their incredibly lame coverage affect my feelings toward the Olympics.  I let them suck all the joy of the Olympics out of me.  Yet NBC is crowing about this being the most watched Olympics.  Does the term “captive audience” mean anything to NBC?  That number has everything to do with the draw of the Olympics and nothing to do with NBC.  It really didn’t matter what channel the Olympics were on, the number watching would have broken records.  That would even include CNN, whose viewership is at a 20 year low.

Final thoughts on the 2012 Olympics, in no particular order of importance.

Beating the dead horse a little bit more just to make sure:  Why did NBC decide to show a 6th grade history lesson on World War II?  The History Channel does it, and a lot better.  NBC seemed to think that the reason we watched the Olympics was because of their cute little special reports, and not to watch the competition.  What about the closing ceremony?  I know a lot of people love the Spice Girls, but showing them and cutting out The Who? Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Who?  I am seeing some Gen Xer at NBC looking at the schedule and thinking, “The Who?  If the organizers don’t know the name of the band, we can probably show our special at this time.”

Why do announcers insist on telling us what the athlete is thinking:  I remember watching on of the Fab Five sprinting down the runway to perform her last vault.  The announcer is screaming at the top of his lungs “here she comes!  She is thinking that she has to stick this so America wins the Gold!”  Mr. Announcer, how do you know that?  How do you know she isn’t thinking “I hope I don’t miss and break my freaking neck!”  Or even “I hope that boy in row three thinks I’m cute.”  The cost of the Olympic announcers could be cut in half by getting rid of all the lame-o color announcers that are hired.

My favorite “this announcer is a dummy” moment”  Watching the gold medal women’s archery match between South Korea and China.  A South Korean archer was taking aim and the announcer is breathlessly shouting (why is it always shouting?) “She’s taking too long!  She’s taking too long!  SHE’S TAKING TOO LONG!”  Zing! Swoosh! Thunk!  The arrow smacks right dead center in the bullseye.  Announcer’s lame cover-up: “well, usually when you wait that long, it means you don’t get a very good shot off.”  If you had any integrity, Mr. Announcer, you would fire yourself.

The biggest travesty of justice in these games:  In women’s fencing, South Korea and Germany were tied in a match to see who would battle for the gold.  When the fencers are tied, 1 second is put on the clock and they fence again.  In their third overtime, the clock malfunctioned.  As video later showed, 1.17 seconds went by, yet the official match clock never moved.  The South Koreans protested and the SK fencer, Shin A Lam, had to stay in the piste, bawling her eyes out while the protest went on.  If she had left, it would mean she accepted the defeat.  The protest took almost an hour.  When it was finally over, the South Korean lost.  She had to be escorted from the piste and immediately fence for the bronze medal.  She lost that match.  Later, the powers that be finally figured out that, yes indeed, the clock did malfunction and Shin A Lam should have won the match.  They proposed giving her a sportsmanship medal as a “oops, we are sorry we screwed you” consolation prize, but the South Korean declined.  I am hoping she said something like this: “감사합니다,하지만 메달을받지 않습니다 …태양이 빛나지 않는 메달을 넣어”  (translation by Google Translate.  My words, not Shin A Lam’s)

The TMI moment of Olympic coverage:  I am referring to a special report by local news dude Mark Curtis and others about the mating habits of the Olympic athletes.  I don’t care if some additional Olympic events were being held on the grass between buildings.  Nor do I need the report that half way through the Olympics, the athletes had already gone through the 150,000 condoms that London provided for them.  In the first place, make them buy their own and chalk it up to training expenses.  In the second place, let’s give the Olympics the same treatment we give Las Vegas.  What happens at the Olympics stays at the Olympics.

Nanny state moment after the Olympics:  Gabby Douglass was on the Tonight Show along with 1st Lady Michelle Obama.  Gabby admitted that to celebrate the Olympic gold by eating an Egg McMuffin.  The First Lady commented “your setting me back, Gabby.”  It depends on your political point of view on how to interpret this exchange.  The Right is saying that FLOTUS was chastising one of the darlings of the Olympics.  The Left describes it as friendly teasing by the First Lady.  Like I admonish announcers to do, I am not going to read Michelle Obama’s mind or assign a motive to what she said.  Only she knows if she was kidding or not.  I just would have liked Gabby to have said “I already have a mom, and she does a great job.  I don’t need another one, thank you.”  I also wonder what FLOTUS thinks about Gabby and her endorsement of Corn Flakes.

You have the right to your opinion but let’s keep it civil #1  Continuing with Gabby Douglass, I am sure everyone is aware that she gives all the glory to her Lord Jesus the Savior.  Someone on the left wrote in tweet how this was disturbing.  I did see any responses like that when two of the women sprints medalists said the same thing.  I do not know why this profession of faith bothers some people.

You have the right to your opinion but let’s keep it civil #2:  Cory Cogdell is an Olympic skeet shooter and an avid hunter.  She only finished 11th.  Because of her enjoyment of hunting, she received some very disturbing tweets.  Just one example:  “CoreyCogdell I hope that someone someday shoot your whole family just practicing.”

Most useless made-up press controversy:  The Brazilian women’s volleyball team apparently danced around like it was Mardi Gras in celebration of their gold medal victory over the USA team.  The press thought this was excessive celebration and started asking the American players what they thought.  Most felt it was just Brazil celebrating the way their culture always celebrates.  Note to the press: America leads the world in excessive celebration in its sports.  We even had a girl take off her uniform top after the ladies won the World Cup, and that made the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Most useless speculation at the Games, but everyone knows the answer:  I think the Dream Team should have been no more after the original Dream Team.  We made our point.  Let’s go back to the college kids.  Having said that, one of the current Teamers suggested that the 2012 team could beat the ’92 team.  Although that answer will never be known, everyone knows the 1992 team would beat the 2012’ers.  Even the people who say the 2012 team would win are just whistling through the graveyard.  The only chance the 2012 team would have is if the ’92 team let Christian Laettner play at all.  Experience always trumps youth.  The only people who disagree with that saying are part of the youth.  Here is one example of this truism.  In the mid-eighties I was working at Glendale High School.  The basketball team was second in the state that year.  In the spring there was a charity basketball game between the faculty and this basketball team.  The word on the street was that the basketball team was going to rough up the faculty and win by 30.  Early in the game, one of the faculty came down with a rebound. The best player on the varsity basketball team came over and tried to body him.  The faculty player gave him a nice elbow into the chest.  Game over.  Faculty won.

So yeah, the new guys have LeBron, but he is the only one I think could play with the ’92 team.  And just think if they had taken Shaq instead of Laettner.  But the cool thing about these arguments is that the answer will never be known.

Most useless speculation at the Games, part 2.  Who is the best athlete?  Apples and oranges.  Swimmers have the opportunity to enter eight events.  Track athletes have the chance to only enter four events.  So I don’t believe medal counts  are a good indication.  Throw Usain in a pool.  See if Phelps can run a lap.  Apples and oranges.  Does being the fastest man in the world make a person the best athlete?  I am of the opinion that the decathletes and the heptathletes are the best athletes in the world.  Yet I would still like to throw them into a swimming pool.

Most useless statistic at the Olympics:  The medal count.  This is a holdover from the Cold War.  Not necessary in this day and age.

2nd favorite Olympic moment:  Watching Georganne Moline run in the Olympics.  I have posted about her earlier.  I don’t know her personally, but my high school track team competed against her track team for four years.  I may have even congratulated her on her victory once or twice.  It’s just nice to see some one you know compete.  One of my retired teaching buddies was getting his tires changed in Flagstaff.  The kid doing his tires had run at Thunderbird High School and was the boys’ captain when Georganne was the girls’ captain.  This young man texted Georganne “good luck from the Apollo High School track coaches.”  Nice of the kid to do that.

1st and best favorite Olympic moment:  The performance of the athletes.  Not only the winners and record breakers, but every single athlete that participated in the games.  They are the best of the best that their countries have to offer.  It sounds corny as all heck-i-darn, but everyone who participates is a winner.

I will probably remember something else after I am done and have posted, but this is all I have for now.  The next Olympics is in two years.  I fully intend to be blogging about my brides and my weddings and posting pretty pictures by then.  So cue the music and extinguish the torch.  I am done.

The best photograph of the 2012 Olympics by Reuter’s photographer Luke MacGregor

In honor of the performance I did not get to see or hear Sunday night, today’s inspiration were songs performed by The Who.

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Y2K OLYMPICS

Reading some tweets about a workshop that was talking about what it takes to make an awesome website.  All this time I thought it would just b posting gorgeous pictures of me, but maybe it takes more than that.  How disappointing.

Y2K had everybody in a panic.  For those too young to remember, there was supposed to be some huge computer glitch when the year changed from 1999 to 2000. This would shut the world down.  People were stocking up on water and food and buying Y2K survival packs, even my dad.  Of course there were other alarmists who said that Y2K would actually happen in 2001 because the 2000 didn’t actually count as a year or some such nonsense.  To me, the experts were listening to too much Prince and watching too many Stanley Kubrick movies.  On New Years of 1999 I made homemade pizza, bought diet root beer, nonalcoholic champagne and an extra couple of bottles of water and hoped for the best.

January 1st came an went with no problems, so the 2000 Millenium Olympics went off as planned.  Local residents Gary Hall, a swimmer, and Nick Hysong, a pole vaulter, both won gold for the U.S.  When the Apollo track team was working out at Glendale Community College, because our track was being resurfaced, Nick Hysong would sometimes be at practice.  Nick’s dad is the pole vault coach at GCC.  Nick is a very nice young man and willing to help our kids out.  A funny story he told was about his skateboarding.  Seems he skateboards everywhere, and it does cause a bit of an uneven gait for him when he goes down the runway to vault.  Didn’t seem to hurt him too much.

The Williams sisters began their dominance of Olympic Tennis that year.  File the next story under “these are the Olympics, what were you thinking?’  In women’s gymnastics vault competition girl after girl were missing their vaults, some even getting injured.  Finally, in the middle of the second round, a lightbulb appeared over someone’s head and they went to check on the vaulting horse.  The vault was set 5cm too low, which threw everyone off.  They fixed it, but by then the injuries and miscues had already taken place.

Marion Jones became the first track Olympian to win 5 medals in track.  Too bad she was using banned substances to enhance her performance.  Sadly she was stripped of all her medals and awards and spent some jail time for her indiscretions.

Summer Olympics 2004-2008.  The 2004 Olympics went back in time to hold the games in Athens, Greece.  Athens started the Olympic career of Michael Phelps, who took home 6 golds and 2 bronze.  The marathon was ran over the same course that the original marathon was run.  Remember, at the end of that run the original guy died.  Thankfully the athletes are in much better shape today.  And in a huge upset, the Dream Team suffered a nightmare and finished 3rd in Athens.

The 2008 Olympics were awarded to China.  These Olympics were the most watched Olympics. The Opening Ceremony is considered to be the best of all time by many.  Michael Phelps got a record number of gold medals in swimming.  U.S. Basketball coined itself the “Redeem Team” and won the gold.  Jamaican sprinters dominated track and field.  The Chinese dominated women’s gymnastics, only later to be accused of using underage girls. Misty Mae-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won their second Olympic gold in beach volleyball having not lost a set in two Olympic appearances.

Winter Olympics were held on 2002 in Salt Lake and 2006 in Turin, Italy.  Salt Lake is special as it was so close to 9-11 and there was even talk of moving them or cancelling them all together.  They went ahead as planned.  The 1980 U.S. Hockey Team lit the Olympic Flame.  It was the first Olympics to be opened by a sitting United States President.  The American Flag that flew at Ground Zero in New York was present at the games, as well as an NYPD officer singing “God”Bless America” and honor guards from NYPD and FDNY.  The flag of the ill-fated Challenger shuttle was also brought into the stadium.  Filed under “would you believe these two groups performed at the same venue at the same time”, the Closing Ceremony featured Kiss and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The 2008 games were held in Turin, Italy.  The majority of the American medals were won in Snowboarding.  Apolo Ohno became a household name in short track speed skating, in spite of the misspelling of both his first and last name.  He currently is the most decorated American winter sport athlete.  He is also seen in Subway commercials. I have come to the conclusion that if a person is a short track speed skater and working out all the time,  that person can eat 2 or 3 $5.00 Subway footlongs at a time.  I eat at Subway, I just get fat.

As I have been recalling what I remember of these various Olympics, I find that the events of the more recent Olympics are not as memorable to me as the events of much earlier Olympics.  I think much of it is due to network overkill.  The announcers in the ’70’s and ’80’s were inclined to let the athletes and events speak for themself.  The drama was in the competition, not in the droning on of the talking heads.  Today, all the announcers want to prove they are the smartest person in the room so they talk incessantly.  They also tend to try to tell us what the athlete is thinking.  They have no idea what an athlete is thinking.  Mind reading does not exist as far as I know.  All these announcers are doing is projecting their OWN feelings and thoughts onto the athletes.  Many years ago NBC, as an experiment, broadcast an entire NFL game with no play-by-play or color announcers.  It was a beautiful thing.  They only tried it once.  I think it dawned on them that if they did away with announcers, there would be no high paying jobs for ex-jocks.

The 2012 Olympics have been an interesting Olympics.  I will wait until they are over to blog about them.  Which on the downside means I will have to think of topics to write about the next few days.  Maybe I will come up with some ideas about what makes an awesome blog.  In the meantime, I shall post pretty picture of me.

 

Welcome to the 21st Century. Me, rocking the SNAG (sensitive new age guy) pony tail.

Tonight’s inspirational soundtrack: the Geico commercials featuring Maxwell the Pig.  Wheeeeeeeee!  Wheeeeeee!   Wheeeee!

 

 

FREE DAY – 1 DAY LATE

I have posted something like this before, but I thought it would be nice to through out this little disclaimer again.  I am writing this blog as an aspiring wedding photographer.  I have no doubt that the word “aspiring” will be dropped as an adjective some day, when I get clients and actually have brides and grooms and pretty pictures to write about.  Until that time it is pretty much random free thoughts about those subjects that interest me.

I decided to continue with my break from the History of the Olympics as seen by Tim and just free write in my usual  thoughtful,humorous and light-hearted manner about  a couple of subjects that were on my mind.  But with the shootings in Wisconsin, I  decided to postpone my blog for a day.  Basically, this post is all the subjects I was going to write about yesterday, with a bit of a mention about the Wisconsin tragedy.

NBC’s coverage of the Olympics is horrible.  No Broadcasting Clue.  NBC chose not to  show the United States’ own Georganne Moline’s heat in the 400 meter hurdles.  Georganne won her heat, and had a better time than the other two Americans, whose heats NBC did decide to televise.  NBC did choose to rerun a segment of an interview with “Blade Runner”, that had aired the night before, and they also showed a segment on James Bond and Ian Fleming.  Could they not have cut back on the special segments and found the extra time to show the other two heats of the 400 hurdles?  Besides that, NBC shows three or four different replays of each race.  One and done, please.  Absolutely no reason to show a race from straight above.  Georganne apparently doesn’t fit into whatever template NBC  has for who and what that they choose to cover.  Much like NBC not televising the opening ceremonies tribute to the UK subway terror attack in 2005.

Like Olga, Nadia, Mary Lou, and Keri before her, Gabby Douglass has become the sweetheart of the 2012 Olympics.  I am happy for her.  It is well deserved.  And from listening to her interviews, she is very well grounded for a 16-year-old, and remember, I dealt with 16 year olds for 31 years.  Gabby now has a $90 million dollar endorsement deal and is on the cover of Kellogg’s Cornflakes. I may even start eating Cornflakes again.  But as is human nature, Gabby is getting her share of criticism about the stupidest things to be critical about.  Some are criticizing Gabby for her profession of faith when interviewed.  Others are criticizing her hair.  Soon, I predict that when it is figured out that 10% of her income will be donated to her church, that will be criticized too.  Go get ‘um, Gabby.

Yesterday, August 5th, is truly a “free day’ for American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.  Three years ago on that date, Laura and Euna were released after almost 5 months of captivity in North Korea.  Their team was doing a documentary for Current TV on North Korean defectors in China.  On March 17th, 2009, they followed their Korean guide across the Tumin River and were briefly on North Korean soil.  The team was chased by two North Korean soldiers who caught up the two women on the Chinese side of the river and violently dragged them back into North Korea.  The women were put on trial in June and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in one of North Korea’s notorious prison camps.  Only after former President Bill Clinton met with dictator Kim Jong-Il were the girls pardoned and sent back home.  Laura Ling’s sister is journalist Lisa Ling.  Lisa used all her press and political contacts to eventually get the story out to the public and keep the pressure up to get the ladies released.  One thing she did was to post a tweet about how much she missed  and worried about her sister.  That tweet went viral and spread via the social media like wildfire.  From the networking on social media people began attending vigils, writing letters, signing petitions and communicating with each other via Twitter and Facebook.  A young writer named Lillian Wu wrote a letter on her blog in the voice of Hana, Euna’s 4-year-old daughter, from the perspective of 12 years later.  This letter on the blogosphere reached a lot of people and stirred them to get involved. That moving post is here. http://teenwritershaven.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-mother-is-hero.html

I remember in March hearing about North Korea arresting two U.S. reporters but I just figured they would be released in a couple of days.  I did not hear about them again until the verdict of the trial was handed down.  At that point I researched what I could on the story.  The primary reason I joined Facebook was to get connected and to keep up with the news.  I wrote some letters and sign some petitions.  When they came home, I remember watching their arrival live on tv at Bally’s Gym.  Laura and Lisa Ling wrote the book “Somewhere Inside” and Euna Lee wrote “The World is Bigger Now.”  I found Laura and Lisa’s book interesting because not only because Laura details her months in captivity but Lisa also gives us the behind the scene look at the negotiations and the struggles of the families at home with not knowing what was happening to their loved ones.  Euna’s book details her version of the story, but what makes it unique is how much her faith in God and her Christianity helped her through those dark days  And both books give the readers a glimpse into mind-set and the workings and beliefs of North Korea.  I would highly recommend reading their books.  They will touch your heart.

Finally, let me express my sympathies for the victims and families of the Sikh Temple shootings yesterday.

 

                                       

   

THE DREAM TEAM AND NIGHTMARES

Since I am behind today it seems only logical to create 2 posts to get back on track to write one post a day for 31 days.

The Olympics changed in the 1990’s.   This change pretty much started in 1989 when Communism started to collapse, the Soviet Union broke up, and the Cold War essentially came to an end.  One thing this meant is no more boycotts.  Yay! This break-up led to many new countries getting into the Olympics and Germany would now compete as one country. The Olympics also decided to let professional athletes compete in the Olympics.  Finally,  the Winter Games and Summer Games split from each other so they were no longer held on the same year.

The ’92 Winter Olympics were held in Albertville, France.  I won’t even pretend that I remember anything about these games.  I know I semi-watched them.  The wife will not miss a minute of figure skating which means I don’t miss a minute of figure skating.  Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States and Midori Ito of Japan won gold and silver respectively.  These ladies were the first figure skaters of Asian decent to win Olympic medals.  Midori was also the first female to land a triple axle in the history of the Olympics.  She apologized to Japan for not winning first place.  Midori was given the honor of lighting the Olympic flame for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.  Kristi Yamaguchi turned pro after the Olympics touring with Stars on Ice.  More recently she made news by winning the 6th season of Dancing with the Stars and for endorsing Mitt Romney.

The excitement of the 1992 summer games was dominated by one main event.  The rules now allowed for professional basketball players to participate in the Olympic games.  The United States dominated Olympic basketball.  However, in 1988, the team finished in 3rd place.  Now the United States had the chance to put its best professionals together and take back our game.  They were dubbed the Dream Team.  Chuck Daly of the Pistons was the coach. The co-captains were Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.  Also on the team were Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Phoenix favorite Charles Barkley.  Sir Charles had been traded to the Suns that summer.  He, Jordan and Pippen would later play against each other in the NBA finals that season.  The Dream Team went on to win by an average of 40 plus points a game.  They were usually posing for pictures before the game with their opponents, which regarded members of the Dream Team as their heroes.  I recommend reading the new book out called “Dream Team”.

In 1994 one of the more bizarre incidents occurred in that most violent of Olympic sports – figure skating.  Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were the two of the top US figure skaters in ’94.  During practice for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked and struck in the leg by a police baton.  The blow was intended to break her knee, but only bruised the thigh.  It was discovered that Tonya Harding’s ex-husband hired the thug that attacked Nancy.  The ex implicated Tonya Harding as being involved in the attack.  Both women went to the Olympics that year.  Harding finished 7th.   Nancy Kerrigan won silver.  Kerrigan retired from competition and has kept involved figure skating and charity work in various ways.  She had a tiny part in “Blades of Glory”.   In an effort to somehow connect this post to the world of weddings, Nancy’s Olympic final outfit was designed by famous fashion and wedding dress designer Vera Wang.  Tonya Harding pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution of the attackers.  She was stripped of all her skating titles and banned for life from competing in skating.  Because of her involvement in the attack, the professional skating circuit shunned her.  Tonya gained a little more notoriety by releasing a sex tape of her honeymoon.  She later dabbled in ladies’ boxing, finishing her short career 3-3.  She still claims she is innocent of any involvement in the assault on Kerrigan.

Atlanta was the site of the 1998 Summer Games.  Of note at these games was the lighting of the Olympic flame by Muhammad Ali.  Michael Johnson won the 200 and 400 meter races.  The U.S. women’s soccer team won Olympic gold.  My favorite moment ot the U.S. team,  and the favorite moment of many other people as well, would not occur until the World Cup finals in 1999.  Keri Strug won the hearts of the nation and world when she vaulted with torn ligaments in her leg.  She stuck the landing on one leg and then collapsed unable to walk.  This gutsy effort of hers helped the U.S. to win the Olympic team gold in gymnastics for the first time.

The nightmare of these Olympics occurred when a bomb went off in Century Olympic Park, killing 1 and injuring over 100.  Richard Jewell, a security guard at the park, found a suspicious backpack, called the proper authorities and helped evacuate the area while they awaited the arrival of the bomb squad.  Richard Jewell was hailed as somewhat of a hero and is actions had helped to save lives.  But then the nightmare began for Richard Jewell.  Three days after the bombing, the Atlanta Journal and Constitutional wrote an article which said the FBI considered Jewell to be a “person of interest” in the bombing, based on some “lone bomber” profile.  While the FBI investigated Jewell, the press went into full “guilty until proven innocent” mode.  The press investigated every aspect of his life, camped outside his house 24/7 and pretty much had Richard Jewell convicted of this crime.  His motive was, according the press, the “failed police officer syndrome.”  They figured Jewell had set this all up so he could be a hero.   Jewell was sued by some of the victims, even though he was never charged with the crime.  After he passed a polygraph, the FBI took Jewell off the suspect list.  After this, Jewell filed several lawsuits against various media outlets for slander and libel.  All but one was settled out of court.  Jewell was finally and completely cleared of any involvement in the bombing when the real bomber confessed in 2005. Richard Jewell went on to work in various law enforcement jobs.  He died of natural causes in 2005 at the age of 44.

The decade finished with the 1998 Winter Olympics held in Nagano, Japan.  Compared with the last two Olympics, this was a nice, peaceful time.  Of note, women’s ice hockey made its Olympic debut with the U.S. team winning the gold.  Snowboarding also made its debut as an Olympic sport.  A Canadian won the gold, although he had earlier been removed from the competition because he was found to have marijuana in his system.   Go figure.

In a cute current Olympic moment, I can hear my wife yelling at the tv for Michael Phelps to hurry, even though she already knows he won.  I guess that’s just human nature.

Coming up next: the 21st century games and a special post about the 2012 games.

Musical inspiration: The sound of the Olympics on television.  The performances are inspiring, the talk and the hype and the look how smart we are NBC announcers only inspire me to put the tv on mute.

Apollo Track and Field 1998.  I do not play golf.  I do not know why I have that hat.